One of the most prevalent memories from my childhood is sitting at the kitchen table hysterically crying because I didn’t understand my math homework. Or, sometimes, I understood the concept, but my method for getting the correct answer differed from what the teacher showed in school, which was a major no-no (Assuming I could even remember what the teacher had taught just a few hours prior).
My poor parents tried their hardest to be patient, but they misinterpreted my inability to focus as a lack of interest. To understand/empathize, they often compared me to my elder sister, who also did not like math but did not have the same issues I did with starting and finishing tasks.
It also didn’t help that teachers would assign multiple pages of homework in a single night, which would take me far longer to complete, delaying dinner together as a family and any other activities we’d had planned.
ADHD is criminally misdiagnosed in girls and young women. Like autism, it was long believed that these conditions were unique to males and that females didn’t have the same issues. More recent studies show gender is not a factor in whether someone will develop ADHD. We can place much of the blame on genetics, yet there are other determining factors.
One of the top reasons for misdiagnosis is that a child can/will be hyperactive, inattentive, and hyper-focused on ‘less important things’ but they may not have ADHD. Those actions may be a facet of their personality and means of self-expression. When something like this happens consistently, however, it is time to consult a medical professional.
According to the American Psychiatry Association, there are two main types of this condition: inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive (I have experienced all of these things at one point or another).
Some highlights in the inattentive bracket are:
- making careless mistakes during school/work tasks
- can’t stay focused during long lectures/readings
- has trouble starting and finishing tasks in a reasonable time
- has difficulty with time management and organizational skills
- losing items such as keys, wallets, cell phones, and glasses
Some highlights from the hyperactive/impulsive bracket are:
- constant fidgeting
- always moving, as if driven by a motor
- nonstop talking
- has a tendency to blurt out answers or finish others’ sentences
- will mentally respond to a conversation but forget to speak the thought aloud (this wasn’t included in the list but definitely should have been)
When I was a child, I had several developmental issues that often varied in their intensity. I was born nine weeks premature, spent 53 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, needed a feeding tube, didn’t talk until I was three, and strongly favored being creative over being analytical.
Combine these issues with loneliness, a predisposition to misunderstanding social cues, and the general cruelty of kids, and you could say I had a rough go of it.
As I grew older, I used books as an escape from my everyday life. It got to a point where, when I was in high school, I would borrow large stacks of books from the library and read all ten of them cover-to-cover in a week. (I basically went full-on Matilda, and I’m not sorry for it.)
Books were some of the only things I could focus on for long periods of time. I could spend hours saying ‘one more chapter’ and ‘one more paragraph’ to myself, but do not understand that any time had passed at all.
So, you might be wondering: what does this all have to do with ‘growing out’ of ADHD?
According to CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder):
“… about 80 percent of young people will continue to have ADHD into adulthood.”
The thing is, those young people probably won’t meet the clinical “requirements” of ADHD, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone away. In reality, the condition likely matured to compensate for the different brain chemistry that comes with getting older, but it is still very much there.
“It used to be thought by professionals and parents that children and teens affected by ADHD would eventually grow out of the disorder.”
Conversely, some people may have exhibited lesser symptoms of the condition when they were children; so, when they are diagnosed as adults, they would rather ignore its prevalence and keep chugging along because that’s what they’ve always done.
I admit, this can seem like an easier option, but it’s not. Why should you force yourself to struggle when you can get help? Because you don’t want to be a burden to someone else?
Experts say that ADHD rarely exists by itself, and it’s quite common for someone with the condition to have other mental health issues. It’s a part of being neuro-divergent, unfortunately, and until scientists can do more research, there’s no way to fix it permanently.
There are options, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Zoloft, and others; but prescribed stimulants are a slippery slope, especially when you have a proclivity for substance abuse as an additional side effect of your ADHD. (Man, this gift just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?)
In the end, it’s your responsibility to yourself to remember that having ADHD isn’t a bad thing. It can be a superpower if you let it. Finally, you’re real, you’re here, you’re valid, and you’re not going anywhere.
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Brianna Bennett is a blogger, self-published author, Bookstagrammer (booksby_bri), and Tweeter, (BooksByBriannaB).
She has a B.A. in Professional Writing and will have a Double Degree in Publishing and Creative Writing in May 2021.