What’s it like to have Attention Deficit Disorder?

“I received hundreds of punishments for messing around in class”

Mental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·
image: freshidea/stock.adobe.com


Henry is 17 years old and is going into his final year at school. He loves going to the gym and golf

How I came to terms with my Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

All through my school career I have struggled with work. This is due to my concentration levels – I’ve tended to have a loss in concentration, which has led me to mess around in class and not learn my subjects as well as I could have done.

At the beginning of this year, I tested positive for ADD, which made a huge difference to my school life as I started to gain help from my teachers and learned how to increase my attention capacity. It was a struggle at first, but I have learnt a lot and have improved my work massively, which my school has acknowledged.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological disorder that causes a range of behaviour problems such as difficulty attending to instructions, focusing on schoolwork, completing tasks and social interaction. In the past year, I realised that I had these problems – and that I had done since the age of around 13.

There are five types of medication licensed for ADD, which include: methylphenidate, dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine, atomoxetine and guanfacine. However, for various reasons I decided that I didn’t want to use medication to manage my ADD.

The way I had struggled since joining my secondary school in Year 9 had really got me down. This led to me struggling throughout my first three years at school, and I only received six GCSEs results.

I also received hundreds of punishments for messing around in class, mainly related to my ADD. However, neither the school or I ever considered, or talked about, the fact that I may have had an attention disorder.

I decided to do some research on ADD and this led to me asking for a test. Since testing positive for the condition, the school and I have worked together to learn the ways in which I could increase my concentration.

There is a big link between ADD and depression, which is estimated to be 2.7 times more likely among people who have ADD than among the general population. However, there are ways to avoid it, such as making sure that your ADD is properly managed and treated. It’s also important to talk about your depression, either with family or maybe a counsellor.

I have had parts of my school life where I have felt down and angry, mainly due to me being punished frequently and getting bad grades. I never suffered from the depression side though, because of the school helping me. We figured out a way that best suited my way of learning and the learning support department had a big impact. However, many schools may not have a learning support department – in which case a counsellor is probably the best way to sort out the depression side of ADD.

I used to think that messing around in class was fun and exciting, because I got attention from the class. However, now I have come to terms with the fact that you can get more satisfaction from working hard than from messing around in class and getting bad grades.

The Coronavirus has actually had a big impact on my attitude to learning and effort. I have found online school much better for my ADD, as there are fewer distractions around me and the lessons are shorter. This has led to a better learning environment and improved grades.

I have come to terms with my ADD since receiving help from the school and taking more responsibility for my studies. There will definitely be other people my age that have struggled and need the help and motivation from other people to overcome their problems, even if it isn’t ADD.

The best approach is to talk to people if you feel you are suffering from depression or even feeling down. Talk to your friends about it, and you will hopefully soon be succeeding in your school life and in whatever you decide to do in the future.

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