My report cards from school are like everyone else’s report cards from school.
That is, they have grades and comments on them.
And they are like the report cards of everyone else who has ADHD. Especially the comments.
The grades probably bear some resemblance to the grades of other people with ADHD as well, but let’s not get into a contest here, ‘kay?
The comments tell the story
“Kelly could achieve his goals if he would only concentrate.”
“Kelly needs to apply himself.”
“Kelly has a wonderful mind, if he could learn to focus it he would succeed quickly.”
“Well, Kelly has problems you can’t begin to figure out!”
In fairness, when “Kelly” was a student in public school, ADHD was unknown.
There was a disorder called Minimal Brain Dysfunction and it became ADD by the time I was in high school, but it was assumed not to be present in my community.
Because it wasn’t known about in detail. Because it was not considered valid. Because at least ten percent of the time it was being described to people who thought those were not symptoms but the way humans were.
And sadly, because every now and then something would come up in school that I enjoyed or was interested in, that triggered the chemicals in my mind, that caused me to focus, assisted me in concentrating and resulted in me “proving” that I was capable of what was needed to succeed.
The problem was never that I didn’t want to concentrate. It was never that I didn’t want to succeed. It was never that I didn’t want to please my parents or my teachers.
I remember having one on one discussions with teachers who would ask me what was wrong in leading ways. “Do you not want to get your work done?” “Yes, I would like my work to be done.” “Do you have a problem with me asking you to do things?” “No.” “Are you unhappy here in my class?” “No.”
The answers I wanted to scream at my teachers during these little interviews were more along the lines of, “Yes I want my damned work to be done so you will quit singling me out!” “Yes I have a problem with you asking me to do things, it sincerely feels like you’re choosing things that I have trouble with and then pretending that I’m incompetent, inept, and a failure.” “And ye, Yes, YES! I am unhappy here in your class. would you be happy in this situation? Of course you would because you’d just do the work without noticing the world around you and then spend your time pointing out how slow I am.”
Sorry, I get emotional when I recall school days.
But there’s a secret
At the start of my second time through my fourth year of high school I dropped out. I’d had enough and I was finally old enough. I took three jobs on and found life to be better because I took those jobs on all at once. I was working in a hotel kitchen, driving a rural mail route, and selling auction sales as well.
But I wasn’t making enough money to keep myself in the style to which I wished to grow accustomed to, and eventually I ended up signing up to finish High School.
When I had been in school before, the goal was to just keep people off my back and survive until I was old enough to quit. I’d been mostly a C- student. When I went back with a different goal, suddenly the whole thing was interesting. Now the plan was to graduate so I could get a better job.
Suddenly my grades were A’s and A+’s and I was still working and partying when not in school. The chemical high came from doing something I wanted to do.
And so I came to the conclusion that the comments on my report card were actually accurate, I could succeed if I wanted to, but what wasn’t understood was what made me want to.