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October Is National ADHD Awareness Month — Help Is Available If Students Need Assistance

by Parker Montour

Commemorative months are a way for specialized groups to bring awareness to issues, celebrations, and events.

The month of October is well known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While this is important, there are other important issue awareness topics that are not nearly as well known or recognised as breast cancer.

ADHD awareness month takes place during the month of October. ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.nimh.nih.com defines ADHD as “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”

“Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioral condition affecting 11% of school-age children. Symptoms continue into adulthood in more than three-quarters of cases. ADHD is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.” says chadd.org.

ADHD is not something that can be cured. It can last for years or be life long. ADHD might not sound like a serious disorder, but left untreated, it can cause major problems. Children with ADHD will show physical symptoms such as aggression, excitability, lack of restraint, fidgeting, hyperactivity, impulsivity, persistent repetition of words or actions, and irritability. The person might be absent-mindedness, have difficulty focusing. They would be very forgetful and problem paying attention/short attention span.

A child with ADHD would have a very hard time working in a school environment. They might have a hard time paying attention when the teacher is talking, or blurt out questions and whatever else comes to mind. Staying still in a seat is difficult for someone with ADHD. Most will tap their pen or shake their leg. Some children will get up and walk around the classroom just to ease their restlessness.

Nimh.nih.com (National Institute of Mental Health) stated that “[They might] overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities, have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading, not seem to listen when spoken to directly, not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked. Having problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order.”

These children can have messy work and poor time management and can fail to meet deadlines. They will avoid or highly dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms or reviewing lengthy papers. “[they will] lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones. Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli. Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments.” (https://www.nimh.nih.gov on symptoms of ADHD, innatention)

People will often get testy toward children with ADHD. They tend to squirm in their seats or be unable to engage in hobbies quietly, causing disruption in their class. “[They will be] constantly in motion or ‘on the go,’ or act as if ‘driven by a motor’. Talk nonstop. Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in conversation. Have trouble waiting his or her turn. Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities.” ( https://www.nimh.nih.gov)

As you might be able to tell, children with these symptoms would not only aggravate teachers but other children too. People tend to avoid children with ADHD because some see them as “annoying” or “talkative”.

While you might believe these things, calling them out on it can cause the child to show signs of depression and anxiety. additudemag.com stated that “Depression is especially common among teens and young adults who have attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD). In many cases, ADHD-related problems at school and with family and friends trigger depression by undermining a child’s self-esteem. This is called “secondary” depression, because it arises as the aftermath of another problem – including ADHD.”

“ADHD kind of sucks,” stated junior Miles Dice. “I’ve had it since I was a child and I still struggle with it. One moment I’ll be working on school homework and the next I’ll be pacing the house contemplating life. Like that dog, Doug, from the movie Up. I’ll be talking to my friends but in the next moment I’ll get distracted by a squirrel.”

I was re-diagnosed with ADHD not long ago, but I have been struggling with it for years. I was originally diagnosed back in second grade, but my teacher was unreliable and my parents took me off medication. It took me a long time to realise I was different than other students. I would get too distracted in class. Teachers would call me out over and over and over again for not paying attention. I never told my parents about what was going on because I was way too embarassed about it.

I would ask myself why I couldn’t be like other students. All my friends were getting great grades and getting great grades on tests. I would take the maximum time to take a test because I would get distracted by the smallest things. I would read things over and over again praying that I’ll understand. I would remember the words but not what they were about, nor the contex. No matter how much I tried, I could not focus for the life of me.

Reading novels would take twice as long as a normal student. I realise I talk a lot and about anything that is not important. I get distracted easily. I am in tuned with others emotions and can read others easily, which can be a good thing, but when you see how fed up everyone is with you, it hurts. I would say something and no one would listen. Sure, it might not have been important but it was to me. The fact that no one listened at all hurt more than it should. My parents would do the same thing. I would talk about something silly that interested me or how my day went and I could tell exactly when they lost interest. Usually my face would burn with shame. I would stop talking and find a way to leave the room. Embarrassment is the reason I never told my family. I did not think like normal kids. I felt like I wasn’t the kid my parents wanted because of my disorder.

I have been told many times, by friends and acquaintances that I just need to “work harder” on focusing. I need to “pay attention.” or that my disorder is not real, It’s all in my head, I have no problem and I need to get over it. I never intended to use ADHD as a crutch. Any mistakes I make are my own. I know this and I have accepted this. I think different than others and I understand this but it is hard being different. It is hard having to learn different than all of your friends. I have never been good at studying and it is tough to see everyone able to spend hours studying when I can’t even sit for a solid ten minutes without having to go do something else.  

Shame is why I never told anyone what was going on until it was almost too late. My grades were suffering. My parents were mad and disappointed beyond belief.. They could not understand why their perfect little girl would get C’s and D’s on her report card. I blame myself for my grades. Sure, ADHD may have played a part in it but it was my fault for not speaking up. It was my fault I did not stay after school for help.

I cannot say I’m particularly proud to have ADHD. In all honesty, it makes everything so much harder. They way I set up my life is completely different than anyone I know because I cannot work like them. My talking and excitability has damaged friendships and relationships with loved ones. People will ignore me or shut me out.

“Well for the most part I make it a task just to look forwards. I like to time myself to see how long I can focus. I read a lot because I feel it helps my attention span. I sleep a lot but that’s probably not because of if it. It’s hard but you have to learn to live with it.” said an anonymous student at Walkersville High School.

Special Education teacher Michelle Baughman said, “The way to help students with ADHD is to begin by determining how their ADHD is impacting them in the classroom. Students that have ADHD do not always have the same classroom needs, so it’s important to know what their needs are. Many times I help them through accommodations, for example, with larger assignment and projects breaking the project into manageable pieces with due dates. Try to help with organizational skills and monitor grades for missing assignments. Give positive feedback and allow opportunities to get up and walk around the classroom.

“For independent class work walking by their desk, without signaling them out,  make sure that they understand the expectation . Use preferential seating (some students work best by the teacher and others might need to sit in the back of the classroom or away from possible distractors like a window or door)
“Many students with ADHD work well when they are able to follow a schedule and have consistent expectations. These are just some examples of possible accommodations. The most important thing is spending time with the student and figuring out their learning style and their educational needs.”

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates the number of American  kids diagnosed with ADHD in 2011 are about 3-5 % of the population aged 4-17 years old. “ said Walkersville High School therapist Mary Johnson, “There is an inattentive type where a student might fail to give close attention to details, has difficulty sustaining attention, does not seem to listen, does not follow through, has difficulty organizing tasks, is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort, loses things, is easily distracted, is forgetful in everyday activities. Or, there is a Hyperactive type of ADHD  with characteristics as follows: Fidgets, leaves seat, runs/climbs in situations where it is inappropriate, inability to play quietly, “on the go”, as if driven by a motor, talks excessively, blurts out an answer, difficulty waiting one’s turn,  interrupts others. Students do not need EVERY feature described in order to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. There needs to be a persistent pattern of difficulty. Hyperactivity and/or Impulsivity might also be a part of the presentation. ADHD characteristics MUST begin before age 12 to meet clinical criteria and manifestation must occur in more than one setting (like home and work, etc.)”

“I teach strategies for behavioral inhibition, how students think about their thinking (self-management), reframing negativistic perceptions, empowering and reinforce the idea that they’re in charge of their own behavior,” said Johnson, “Students with ADHD needs clear instructions for tasks and they might need  to have tasks broken down into steps that can be done one at a time. ADHD is more frequent in males that females (two times more prevalent for males) Females are more likely to present as inattentive. A clinician has to be very careful not to diagnose ADHD when the diagnosis might be something else. Most commonly ADHD might be confused with many others disorders There is a requirement that 6 or more symptoms be evidenced by age 12 to try to make sure a diagnostic error is not made. Functional consequence is connected with reduced school performance and academic attainment, some social rejection. Sometimes kids with ADHD tend to get annoyed more often than kids who do not have ADHD.”

ADHD is not fun. Using October as a awareness month for ADHD is a great way to get people to speak up about their ADHD. It brings awareness to those who need it and informs those who are unaware. October can be used to recognize and uplift those who struggle. It can inform them that they are not alone and there are others out there who deal with the same things.

ADHD is a real disorder and is not something you can get over. There are medications and treatments out there to lesser the effects of ADHD. ADHD is just as important as any other disorder and deserves to be brought awareness of those struggling with ADHD and those helping a friend or loved one who has ADHD.

Sources: http://www.chadd.org/Understanding-ADHD/About-ADHD.aspx

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1015.html

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml