ADD. I don't know how to do this.
I'm a junior with good grades (94 avg) and SATs (2270). I'm in a highly selective high school that sends many students to top colleges, and I'm doing pretty well there, but I spent sophomore year upset because people who I didn't think of as significantly "smarter" than me were getting much, much better grades. My mother and I had assumed that I have ADD for a while, but the discrepancy between my "potential" and my performance became extremely apparent this school year, and in December, I was diagnosed with ADD (inattentive).
I've spent the past hour reading various articles about "gifted" kids with ADD, and all of it rings true. It's so, so, so psychologically debilitating. When I was younger, I knew I was smart, and assumed that I'd be going to an Ivy (not that I knew if I even wanted to go to one). That's not going to happen, though. My friends dismiss it, saying that they'd also do better on stimulants and that everybody has some degree of it. My best friend also has ADD, but sometimes I'm reluctant to talk about it with her because she's doing much worse in school than I am. (For the record, I LOVE the creative advantages of ADD, and I don't think I'd give those up for anything.)
I've been on Focalin for a few weeks, but I don't know how much it's helped -- I've been crashing pretty hard, and I still have trouble not procrastinating, although when I do work I'm able to focus more easily. I still leave things for the last minute and find it hard to self-regulate. If I start using the computer while I'm on meds, it's really difficult for me to stop. I have a lot of theoretical motivation, but I don't seem to be able to apply it.
Does anyone have any coping strategies other than "giving yourself a schedule"/using a planner better/stuff like that? I have a very hard time sticking to a routine. I know I need to do behavioral therapy, but I don't see when I'd fit that in after school. I know there's personal weakness here -- I just want ideas.
Should I disclose to colleges? What if my grades don't improve enough?
I don't even know what specifically I'm posting here for, but any suggestions/support would be welcome, as I'm kind of in a pit of despair at the moment.
First, take a deep breath. Second, have you discussed this with your mom and asked for assistance from her?
Third, and most important, who is writing the rx for your meds? ADD is a funny thing. You have to find the right meds for you. You can also have other things going on that need to be addressed. Contact the person that is prescribing the meds and describe what is going on. They may want to make some adjustments.
Fourth, dont take this the wrong way, but maybe an IVEY or other very high pressure school is not for you. I have a very smart, but ADD child. We have been dealing with it since he was young. I always thought that he would go to a very tippy top school. Finances do not really support that. But additionally, I don't think that it the best place/environment for him. He will be much better off in an environment that is not a shark tank and has support services available if needed. That was a hard reality for me, but one I am glad I came to. It is not a failure, rather a better path for success for MY son. So look for your path, make that path one that you can follow and can be excited about. And one that you can be successful on.
fifth- there are lots and lots of ideas and resources on here. Do some searches. Find some ideas and try them. Work out your own system that works for you. Here are some ideas below:
1. "reward" yourself with computer time.
Make a list and agree that you must complete ___ number of things off the list before you can get on the computer for ___ minutes. Use a timer.
2. Time your activities, use a kitchen timer/cell phone timer
If you need to study for a test, agree to do that for ___ minutes each day.
3. Always do your homework right after school, before your medication wears off.
4. Use lists. They are wonderful things, can be carried in a pocket, and are fun to check off.
5. Go easy on yourself. Do not set up an unreasonable schedule. Junior year is a bear. You need to survive this year if you are ever going to make it to college at all!! Ask for help from parents/school.
As a fellow student with ADD who is also "gifted", I will say that you are on the right path believing that it can be a blessing rather than a plague. I think that if I didn't have ADD, I wouldn't do half as well as I would without ADD. For the record, I do not take medication (not because it wasn't prescribed to me, but because I hate how it makes me feel.) I feel like I do better because ADD allows for in-depth thought and detail. The issue is not focusing, it is focusing on what you should focus on. (Think about it, when you are inattentive, you are focusing on something that is more interesting at the time being, then what you are supposed to be paying attention to.) I try to limit distractions when I do homework to get it done. Ironically, I accomplish this by listening to music while doing homework. (For me, the music isn't that interesting but it blocks out all other noise that can distract me) Procrastination is always an issue, but that's because hw isn't very interesting so we would rather do anything but that (hence the procrastination). However, I curb the procrastination by rewarding myself for getting things done by planning something the night or late night to do (whether it be hanging with friends or playing video games) so if I want to do that interesting thing I have to labor through hw to do it. I understand that while we may have ADD, it affects us differently so I apologize if what I have said does not apply to you. AS far as telling colleges, unless you find a way to significantly change your performance and found a fool-proof method to make sure that your ADD will not affect you. Otherwise, it is an excuse that will not help you because you haven't shown how you will do better in college. If your grades don't improve enough you will be alright, it's not the end of the world. There are plenty of really good colleges that may be a better fit than the ivies. (I'm not applying to any despite 4.00 uw and 34 ACT.) I am sorry to write so much, but I thought I would give you as much as possible. If any of this helps or if you want more info, feel free to PM me. Lastly, Good Luck, I'm confident that you will find a way to succeed.
Yeah, my mother and I have been trying to work some things out. She has ADD, so it's not like she's modeling particularly good behavior.... I think we'll be able to accomplish more on this issue once midterms are over, since life will be a lot less stressful then.
My psychiatrist is absolutely wonderful and I have a follow-up next Thursday, so we should deal with medication issues then. The Focalin's not bad, just not perfect; we might try another drug. (Unfortunately, my insurance doesn't cover very many drugs, and rarely covers long-acting...)
I don't think I even want to go to an Ivy -- it was just the assumption I had made in middle school. I do, though, want to go to a toptoptop school. I know I need one with support, but from what I've heard, top LACs (Swat/Oberlin/Vassar) are pretty good with that. I've survived five years in a totally pressure-cooker high school (many of my graduated friends say that college is almost a relief in terms of pressure), and although my experience hasn't been perfect, I don't think that a high-pressure college would necessarily be a bad thing. (I wouldn't go to, say, Harvard. But Bowdoin -- sure, why not?)
Thanks for the ideas -- I've been trying stuff like that, and it's been working off and on. I feel as if sometimes when I make a list, I don't follow it because I feel as if simply by making it I've already done enough...but I'm working on that!
toomanychoices -- yeah, music and having to get homework done by a certain time helps me, but not consistently. I don't dislike my medication, so I'm happy to be on it; it does curb the "I have to check facebook or do something else NOW" impulse that I often have while doing work. Procrastination is still probably the biggest problem; time seems to somehow mysteriously slip away. And yeah, I'm wary of it seeming like an excuse if I put it on an app. I don't know if I should mention it to my college counselor (the principal and the learning specialist and my teachers know), since I'm worried that she'll put it in my rec even if I don't want her to...
and thanks to both of you :) back to studying!
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" - Albert Einstein
I'm in the same boat but I wouldn't trade ADD for anything either. It is hard being in a "one size fits all" school system but it really is possible to succeed. The first piece of advice I have for you is don't get frustrated! Easier said than done right? It is incredibly frustrating to be "twice exceptional." What has always helped me is finding a topic that I am interested in and developing a passion for it. Nurturing your strengths will make you a) successful in the long run and b) have something tangible to show colleges besides your transcript and c) allows your creativity to shine. There are many schools out there that support unconventional thinking and love to see students that pursue their passions (the University of Chicago especially! And the LAC.). I know how disheartening it is to feel half a step behind in everything but there is a lot of beauty in ADD - it just takes the right educational environment. Honestly, what I would recommend (this is what worked for me) is get a 504 plan ASAP and stop taking medication. The meds made me so awful. What is going to get you through this is your willpower and our family. I wish there were easy fixes... Cognitive behavioral therapy helps though! Good luck!
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