ADHD and Memory Problems.

I’ve been meaning to write about ADHD and memory problems for some time now but I kept forgetting Boom Boom. Silly joke out of the way, I would like you to think about the list below and try and imagine what life would be like for someone living with the following difficulties.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  4. Problems with words in speaking or writing.
  5. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  6. Changes in mood and personality.
  7. Decreased or poor judgment.
  8. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  9. Confusion with time or place.

For me the list above sums up exactly what ADHD is like, this is what children with ADHD experience and for many people with ADHD these problems never go away. The surprising thing about the above list is that I took from an Alzheimer’s website describing Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s. http://www.alz.org

Memory loss that disrupts daily life.

Many people with ADHD struggle with memory problems, and just as it is for those with early onset of Alzheimer’s, people with ADHD constantly forget information that they recently learned. Every day is a battle to remember important dates or events and you will find someone with ADHD asking for the same information over and over due to the inability to save the information in their mind. People with ADHD are also encouraged to use memory aids such as electronic devices and reminder notes and often rely heavily on family members to help keep them on track throughout the day. For me I experience waking up every day with a blank slate almost like switching off your computer without saving your work. No matter how hard you try to retrieve the information you can’t seem to find it. This loss of information also happens throughout the day and causes the person to feel extremely frustrated and angry at self.

slide_232172_1087543_free

Challenges in planning or solving problems.

Due to impaired processing in the prefrontal cortex, people with ADHD often have severe difficulty planning, solving problems, keeping track of monthly bills, completing tasks and due to problems in concentrating, those with ADHD often take much longer to do things than other people.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.

As I said previously people with ADHD find it hard to complete daily tasks and this is mainly due to short term memory problems and presents itself as unfinished household chores, incomplete and inconsistent patterns of work performance and letting friends down by forgetting to turn up at arranged times. These examples can cause strain on relationships with family members, work colleagues and friends.

Problems with words in speaking or writing.

People with ADHD often have trouble following or engaging in conversations. They may stop in the middle of a sentence because they have completely forgot what they were saying, which can be extremely embarrassing because it’s so unusual. They often interrupt when others are speaking mainly because if you don’t jump in you will forget your point and this can come across as being rude to the other person. Partly due to memory difficulties in childhood people with ADHD may have issues remembering how to spell words or may have missed out on vital aspects of learning at school due to distractibility and forgetfulness.

Withdrawal from work or social activities.

Due to the stress of everyday life with ADHD the person often removes themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. It is widely known that people with ADHD are at higher risk of comorbidities such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse and social isolation.

ADHD Memory Problems

Changes in mood and personality.

Again due to a life time of ADHD related stress the person can become depressed, anxious, confused, suspicious and many people with ADHD are diagnosed in adulthood with bipolar disorder due to extreme highs and lows in their mood. Without adequate support, understanding and acceptance of the condition a person with ADHD can frequently be upset at home, at work, or with friends especially when a routine is disrupted.

Decreased or poor judgment.

People with ADHD often repeat negative patterns of behaviour, are more at risk of getting in trouble due to poor judgment, decision-making and processing risk. Young people with ADHD especially, are much more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by people pretending to befriend the person for their own gain.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

Just like it is in the early signs of Alzheimer’s people with ADHD constantly lose things like keys, mobile phones, homework books etc. and due to memory problems the person is often unable to go back over their steps to find the missing items. The person with ADHD may accuse others of stealing due to the confusion and frustration which again causes fractures in relationships with others.

Confusion with time or place.

People with ADHD constantly lose track of dates and time. Due to the impulsivity and forgetfulness the person with ADHD will do what is immediately in front of them and because of this miss important meetings and schedules.

ADHD Memory problems 2

Some may find it a shocking that I’ve compared ADHD to the early onset of Alzheimer’s but I’m pretty sure anybody that is affected by severe ADHD will agree with the comparison. The major differences with Alzheimer’s is that the person with Alzheimer’s will often go from normal functioning to the above list which I can only imagine is terribly frustrating for a person who had normal functioning previously. As well as the fact that the person with Alzheimer’s gets progressively worse over time until it completely takes away a person’s identity and ability to connect with others as well as their ability to think, eat, talk and walk until they eventually pass away. However, many people with ADHD live their whole lives never knowing what it is like to function ‘normally’, whatever that means. Instead the person with ADHD has a life of frustration due to a combination of problems that society continues to dismiss as non-existent.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Shame on Who?

There is an aspect of ADHD that many people over look which it is extremely common in both children and Adults with ADHD and severely detrimental to the person’s wellbeing and that is a deep sense of shame.

14289-290x290Parents, school teacher, sports coaches and even employers use shame as a method of behaviour modification to try and assert control and discipline. Whether the shaming is obvious or subtle it can be extremely demoralizing for the individual receiving the shame, placing them with a negative self-image as well as feelings of inadequacy, despair and powerlessness. This often leads the shamed person to behave with increased destructive actions or attitudes and in regards to ADHD increases compulsive, impulsive, irresponsible and even addictive behaviours which the individual believes to be alleviating the feeling of shame.

Shame ADHDIts common knowledge that parents and teachers find a large majority of children with ADHD harder to manage and due to this the children with ADHD are more likely to be on the receiving end of shaming. “Bad girl!”, “Act your age” “how many times do you have to be told to be quiet”, “tell the class what I have just said, you don’t know, that is because you were not listening”, “Why do you have to act so stupid.”, “if I have to tell you one more time, you will be sorry”. Back in the day physical shaming was commonly used, I remember on many occasions a teacher lifting me clean off my school chair by both ears and feeling so ashamed and embarrassed. There is also the non-verbal shaming such as angry looks or ignoring the individual. These are all examples of techniques authority figures such as teachers, parents and many others use without fully understanding the impact that the shaming may be having on the individual.

I write in a previous blog about the connection between Oppositional Defiance Disorder and ADHD, or as I called it  “Piss Off You Won’t Tell Me What To Do Syndrome”and perhaps shaming is one of the primary causes of defiance. If you constantly publicly shame someone through an abuse of authority you will often see the person on the receiving end acting out in defiance of the mistreatment. If the child grows up experiancing those in charge criticizing and shaming than there will be a feeling of anger, and mistrust of all those in positions of authority. Many people affected by ADHD will understand exactly what I mean.

A life time of constant shaming because of the ADHD or should I say lack of understanding from others about ADHD often results in the individual experiencing extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, higher rates of self-harm, destructive behaviours and eventually the person will withdraw from society and experience deep depressive episodes. Studys have shown that people with ADHD are at higher risk of suicide and due to the stigma and lack of understanding regarding ADHD I personally can see why this is happening. In my experience only in desperation do we find the courage to share our deep feelings of shame.  Shame is a debilitating emotion however it can be alleviated by talking through your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust or a professional therapist.

Shametree

I will reiterate what I have said in previous blog posts.  Society needs to recognise that both children and adults with ADHD have greater difficulty focusing, regulating their emotions and actions, filtering out or ignoring distractions, delaying gratification as well as organizing and prioritizing their work, to the frustration of many parents, teachers, employers etc. This is due to an Imbalance of chemical messengers in the brain  These individuals need open minded support, positive reinforcement and not to be shamed or humiliated as a means to assert control. There are fantastic ADHD support services in many areas willing to support parents, educational providers and employers to help them understand ADHD and as a result this will help the individual thrive, to feel valued within their community and reach their full potential.

FB_IMG_1445445280160I want to end this Blog with a special thank you to Rory O Donnell from my own County Fermanagh who is going to run the Dublin Marathon on behalf of Adult ADHD NI a support service here in Ireland that my partner Emma and I founded. Thank you and good Luck Rory!!

If you wish to sponsor Rory a few quid please follow the link below.

http://adultadhdni.org/en/Rorys-page/

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

ADHD and addiction.

A theme that has been reoccurring in the ADHD support groups recently is addiction and this is no coincidence because research has shown that people with ADHD are at higher risk to substance misuse than the general population. Many adults that seek support for their ADHD are also struggling with drug, alcohol, gambling addiction etc.  For me, due to my own experiences I believe without a doubt ADHD is linked to addictions. In this blog I am going to try and break down my own experience of addiction and try to identify some of the factors that I feel play a part in people with ADHD being prone to addiction.     ADHD addicted to everthing I had my last drink and illegal substance on the 12th of September 2004. I remember that date only because it was when I hit the lowest point of my life and suicide seemed like the only option. At only 24 I was tired and exhausted of life and very alone in my mind. Alcohol in particular seemed to have a powerful hold over me, an obsession of the mind, I kept repeating the same mistakes and couldn’t find a way out. In my mind it didn’t feel like I had a drug or alcohol problem, I was sure it was a money problem. If only I had enough money to keep me out of my mind in oblivion, all the time, then I wouldn’t have to feel so low when I was sober.

From I had left school I had been living a very chaotic existence, moving from country to country, never being able to hold down a job or pay my bills such as rent and was constantly having to think of my next move when life would completely break down. The only benefit of this kind of life style was that my fast thinking and problem solving ability had increased. When I was in complete despair I suddenly would think of something that would land me back on my feet. That is exactly what happened on the morning of the 13th of September 2004 I had a single moment of clarity and I realised I could no longer drink alcohol or use substances to escape the pain of living, I sought help for my addictions and to this day I am petrified of ever returning to that place. I was extremely lucky to have had access to support to help me through the difficult days that followed and all I really had to do was ask.

ADHD the chain of Addiction

Today I can see that I have always had an extremely addictive personality and it goes right back to childhood and up to the present day. My earliest memory of addiction was sweets; I had no cut off point and would literally sicken myself. I used to get 20p on a Sunday morning and I’d fill my mouth with golf ball bubble gum and I could never eat my Sunday dinner because my stomach was sick and my head and jaws were sore from all the sugar and chewing. Just like a typical little addict I’d never learn my lesson and i’d repeat the same mistake every week and suffer my withdrawals in silence.

ADHD sugar overloadWhen I was 13 it was smoking, studies show teens with ADHD are more likely to smoke and I believe this is due to the nicotine’s stimulant and a sedative effect. I also got a high from the risk factor involved in smoking, the fear of getting caught mixed with my defiance against authority figures gave me a constant stimulant effect.

Then there was the magnetic effect of gambling machines. Just like a moth is drawn to the light of a flame it seemed I had no power over the draw of the flashing lights of a gambling machine. Due to my ADHD there was a combination of risk-taking, sensation-seeking, intensity-seeking, and impulsivity left me extremely vulnerable to problem gambling as a young adult and I’ll never forget the desperate lows that followed including depression and suicidal thoughts.Gambling ADHD

Luckily part of my personality type is its all or nothing and to overcome my addictions I’ve had to identify, accept them and simply stop doing things that cause me emotional and mental pain using whatever resources I can find to allow me to do so. I have all the addictions and some more. Some were less destructive but still left me feeling like crap. I was addicted to Candy Crush, Facebook, shopping addiction, junk food and the list could go on endlessly. If it gives me a high or takes me out of my mind I am liable to get addicted.

Over the years since I’ve had to seek support and delve deep within myself to try and identify negative thoughts, emotions, behaviour patterns and triggers that cause me to want to escape from reality or seek a high. As well as recognising vulnerabilities, identifying the patterns of poor self-control, Impulsive and compulsive behaviours and by doing so I’ve been able to overcome many of the more destructive addictions and in the process get to know and accept myself. The addict in me Is still there but manifests in less obvious ways and when I identify an addiction as becoming problematic I cut it out of my life. That’s why I’m 2 years clean from Facebook lol.

Many ADHDers like myself and plenty without ADHD will relate to the shopping addiction, online or up the town, compulsively spending money on crap you don’t need. When it comes to money many adults with ADHD simply mismanage it and this mismanagement affects other areas of our lives leading to stressful, depressive and anxious states of mind.

Compusive spending ADHD

In regards to what we can do as a society I feel the education system should be changed to allow young people with conditions such as ADHD to find jobs and opportunities that are more fulfilling and suitable to their personalities. Instead these young people are leaving school feeling like failures and entering jobs that are mundane and unfulfilling with the result of escaping into negative habits and addictions.

Lastly I’d like to say every person presenting to healthcare professionals with addiction problems should be screened for ADHD. In my own experience over the years I’ve met lots of addicts, gambler’s and alcoholics and I can always identify the ones with ADHD because of their extreme nature and the unmanageability of their lives. I feel that until the core issue of ADHD is identified, their lives usually continue to cause them tremendous emotional and mental pain and the chances of relapse will be greatly increased.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Stress Management.

ADHD is extremely stressful, not only for the person with the condition but also partners and family members. Many people effected by ADHD often report feelings of anxiety, depression and extreme frustration on a regular basis. In this blog I’ve put together some of the things that I have found that help with my ADHD, and I hope others may find useful as a way of coping with their difficulties.

Stress ADHD

Over the years I’ve resorted to many methods to try and reduce the stress I have experienced due to my ADHD. Before I was diagnosed my approach to stress was simple as soon as I had money, I would just black myself out with a concoction of drugs and alcohol and I can assure any readers that approach is ill-advised and makes any difficulties much worse.   However since I was diagnosed there have been many other stress reduction tools that I found to be of great benefit for me.

Participating in hobbies and social activities is extremely important for my ADHD. I love Drama, not the Jeremy Kyle type drama, but doing plays, pantomimes and musicals. Not only is it one of the things that that I enjoy but it gets me out and about meeting new people and allows me to participate in my community in a positive way. I feel it’s very important for me to be a part of rather than apart from.Jeremy Kyle ADHD

I also like having a laugh and not taking myself too seriously.  Growing up one of my defences was playing the class clown and I suppose it as became part of who I am. Accepting this side of my personality rather than supressing it is a much easier approach to life for me.   Although the disorganised mind, forgetfulness and impulsive behaviours can still  be stressful I don’t go hard on myself as I once did. Being part of a support group has greatly helped with this. When I hear other people going through the same difficulties due to ADHD it’s much easier to identify which of my own problems are due to the condition and which of the difficulties can or cannot be changed.

I would also encourage the practice of yoga, mindfulness meditation or even just doing a bit of training in the gym as an effective way to reduce symptoms and even help bring clarity to a mind that is often extremely cluttered. I find meditation to be a great preventative measure for stress and found it beneficial in developing better self-awareness as well as greatly reduce some of the more chaotic symptoms of ADHD giving me increased ability to prioritise what needs to be done more easily.

Lion king ADHD

Many Adults with ADHD have extreme difficulties prioritizing tasks so I’d suggest taking 10 minutes before you go to bed and writing a list of things you need to do. Then rewrite the list in order of what is the most urgent. I would also recommend colour coding the tasks and setting deadlines and reminders on your phone to help maintain structure through-out the day. This may sound ridiculous to some but when I am busy I even have to set reminders to eat otherwise I would completely forget.

I would also recommend not taking on too much. I have often found myself saying yes to things that I realistically haven’t time to do, causing me to stretch myself too thin, make mistakes and let people down. I have blogged before about sticking to one goal at a time and for me without that simple approach I would get nothing done. Prioritising the ONE goal is the key.City slickers ADHD

Lastly I would encourage finding some regular peer support and a safe place to talk about your thoughts feelings and any stress that you are experiencing. There are also ADHD support groups becoming more prevalent and are a great place to access information and support to help you understand and deal with the stress due to the condition. The groups can help you understand the condition, change unhealthy habits, challenge negative beliefs about yourself, help develop and improve social skills as well as repair and bring better understanding to relationships.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Lost in transition.

ADHD is a hidden neurological disorder that is extremely complex which in many cases lead to school exclusion, family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, homelessness, as well as a range of anti-social behaviours and psychological disorders. In this post I will give my top 10 reasons why we as a society need to get the finger out and start to create the much needed stability and extra support to ensure our children and young people no longer get lost in transition.

  1. Approximately 4% -5% of the population have ADHD – one child in every classroom of 25 and an estimated 50–66% of those will continue to have difficulties managing ADHD in adulthood.
  2. People with ADHD don’t always present as predominantly hyperactive but may be extremely disorganised, impulsive and impatient which causes great frustration and stress on the individual. Due to large scale lack of knowledge and understanding of ADHD many people remain undiagnosed, untreated, stigmatised and fail to reach their potential due to their condition.
  3. People with ADHD, a classified mental health condition, are significantly more likely to be arrested, convicted and incarcerated due to aggression and antisocial behaviour.
  4. Many studies have shown the correlation between the early onset of substance misuse and ADHD and it is extremely common for Adults with ADHD to have a drug, alcohol and/or gambling addiction.cocaine_2118089b

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research indicated that ADHD was in the top 5 factors that can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction. Here in Northern Ireland, disgracefully, there is not one mention of ADHD in the Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs 2011-2016 and although we have wonderful 155 page detailed autism strategy action plan, and rightly so, ADHD services continues to be ignored.  The picture below will give you an idea what young people and their families are currently experiancing in regards to their ADHD healthcare here in Northern Ireland.index

  1. 75% of adults with ADHD will present with other psychiatric comorbidities such as sleep disorder, anxiety, depression, personality disorders and addiction.
  2. Many people don’t realise that ADHD is a condition that is treatable. Studies have revealed that those who have had their ADHD treated adequately have shown marked improvement in self-confidence, better professional and academic functioning as well as healthier family relationships. Results have also shown overall improved psychological functioning with reduced risk of comorbidities including substance misuse and other addictions.
  3. In the UK the population receiving treatment for ADHD is lower than the estimated population prevalence of the disorder, we have asked for the Northern Ireland figures and we were told they are non-existent.
  4. Studies have shown that untreated ADHD is extremely costly to society. Due to increased unemployment, increased rates of early drug use and alcohol addiction, as well as significantly lower academic outcomes, higher rates of marital breakdown and increased criminality.
  5. Young people with ADHD are at higher risk of self-harm, suicide attempts and completed suicide due to a combination of ADHD and comorbidities.                                      language-of-depression-620x400
  6. Despite many of the myths surrounding ADHD it is a condition that you can have regardless of IQ, socio-economic background, religion, or gender. ADHD does not discriminate..

Although it feels like we are fighting a losing battle in regards to ADHD Awareness, every now and then something positive and reassuring happens.  Only last week I was invited alongside Rose Kavanagh as representatives of Adult ADHD NI & INCADDS to Leinster House in Dublin to help implement ADHD into the new drugs strategy in the Republic of Ireland.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

  1. ADHD Institute                                                                                                                                             http://www.adhd-institute.com/burden-of-adhd/epidemiology/#sthash.ymQtEZal.dpuf
  2. ADHD Awareness Month                                                                                             http://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/adhd-facts/
  3. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland                                http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/new_strategic_direction_for_alcohol_and_drugs_phase_2__2011-2016_
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.                                                                            https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg72

ADHD Stigma

Many people with mental health conditions report the stigma and discrimination they experience from their families, friends, employers and society as a whole. As with other Mental health conditions there is the same stigma associated to ADHD and like other mental health conditions just because you can’t see ADHD it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The more negative aspects of ADHD frequently present as behavioural problems and as like people with specific types of mental health conditions people with ADHD often have difficulty controlling how they think, feel and behave yet there seems to be less tolerance for those with ADHD. They SHOULD just know better, and are often labelled lazy and told their ADHD is just an excuse for bad behaviour.

adhd-djecak-pred-plocom

People in our society generally don’t understand ADHD and when we generally don’t understand something, we tend to fear it. That is why in the old days here in the UK and Ireland if you had a mental health condition you were branded a lunatic and locked away. Looking back it was society that was insane treating the vulnerable so poorly. Look at our prison systems today, or perhaps they should be called our modern day lunatic asylums, 40% of young offenders present with ADHD. Again fear and lack of understanding and our refusal to look at ourselves as part of the problem. I’ve personally spoken to young people that find life easier locked up because of difficulites they have living in our society due of their condition.

tumblr_m865xbnZlh1rzqlezo1_500

Even when ADHD is treated it can be extremely stressful and lonely. Especially if you have no one else to talk to about what you are experiencing. Not only do we have our condition to deal with the traits of ADHD, having ADHD means you are also six times more likely to have other conditions such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, social exclusion as well as finding it extremely hard to maintain daily structure, manage relationships with people or hold down jobs.photo.PNG-48

Let me make this clear WE DON’T GROW OUT OF IT. Like other mental health conditions some of us manage it better than others, depending on our circumstances, or the severity of the ADHD. I recognise that it can be very difficult for people prone to prejudice and judgmental thinking to accept that some of us find life more difficult but that is the reality of mental health conditions such as ADHD.

prejudice-2

There is a major difference that I have identified between other mental health conditions and ADHD. If a person with depression for example felt that they were being stigmatised by family, friends, employers and society there is usually a reasonably adequate mental health system that understands the condition and willing to help the person experiencing the depression reduce symptoms. In regards to ADHD this is simply not the case. Healthcare professionals throughout Ireland and the UK are simply not trained adequately to help people with ADHD. There is a lack of willingness to try and understand and treat the condition and this mistreatment can have devastating effects on people’s lives. Many psychiatrists don’t realise that Antipsychotics are not recommended for the treatment of ADHD in adults. Here in Northern Ireland adults have been misdiagnosed and given Antipsychotic medication simply due to untrained psychiatrists refusing to recognise ADHD as a real condition.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

The day I met my Teacher!!

A few weeks ago i was in town and I bumped into an old maths teacher of mine. For this Blog I will call her Mrs A. Mrs A is quite a pleasant lady who always had a big smile and hello for me, which is kind of surprising and makes me feel a bit guilty for some of my behaviours towards her when i was at school. Back then I hated all teachers, the authorities. For me they were the enemy and I’m sure they didn’t think much of me either. I recognise that I didn’t give teachers an easy time I lacked the empathy and understanding to recognise that many teachers were just trying to do their best to do their job.

That day in town Mrs A and I had an interesting conversation regarding ADHD. First of all we did the pleasantries, asking each other how we were, Mrs A explaining she had been retired for a number of years and then we briefly discussed how great it is to see the sun. In Co. Fermanagh it is always a topic of conversation if the sun comes out because it usually never stops raining.   Then Mrs A asked me what I was working at these days and I explained that I was a founding director of Adult ADHD NI an organisation set up to support Adults and families affected by ADHD etc. etc.. Mrs A said “well done Niall, that sounds like good work your doing”. Then brightly laughing she said “isn’t it funny in my day there was no ADHD we called them BOLD CHILDREN

Well I was glad she said it because I went on to tell her the following story, perhaps not quite as detailed, but she got the idea. It was actually Mrs A’s class that gave me a greatest understanding of how my school had failed me due to lack of knowledge or willingness to support students with various needs.   It was in year 4 that i ended up in Mrs As math class. Mrs As math class was what ye called top maths at my school. The maths class for the brainy students, the students that got everything really easy and the students that automatically understood how a2 + b2 = c2. So what the hell was I doing there? I was still trying to work out when they started adding the alphabet to sums, I must have missed that day. The reason I was there was due to the teacher I had from the year before. For this Blog ill call her Mrs B.

Mrs B was my ultimate nightmare. From the very first moment I met her at the door of her classroom Mrs B was screaming at me. At that particular moment she had no reason to scream at me but I can only assume that she had heard from other teachers that I had been a handful and she was not for taking any nonsense. Nonsense was my speciality, if I couldn’t be nonsensical I had no idea what my role was. She ordered me to sit right in front of her at the top of the class and the second I opened my mouth she was down on me like a ton of bricks.

index

When Mrs B screamed the walls shook. Her face would go red then purple and what was even more frightening 10 seconds later she had a big smile on her face talking rather soft and polite. This woman scared the living crap out of me. Every day she was on my back, screaming, shouting and humiliating me in front of my classmates. If I missed homework she would scream at me, if didn’t understand something she would stand over my back and in my mind torture me until I understood it, which kind of motivated me to try and learn because I hated her and I didn’t want her in my vicinity. But most surprising of all at the end of the year I got the highest mark in the whole year and because of this I ended up in ‘top maths’.

During that time I also received a hard punch on the arm by a geography teacher who was sure i cheated because i got 97% in the geography exam he gave us. He received a punch in the face in return. Let us call him Mr C because that is the alphabetic letter that describes him best.

So there I was in Mrs A’s maths class and in with the brainies if ye don’t mind. It was like heaven in comparison to Mrs B’s class. I could sit were I wanted, usually as far to the back as possible and Mrs A didn’t even care if I didn’t understand or I missed my homework, she was a nice teacher, or perhaps indifferent.

images teacher

For someone with ADHD, especially untreated ADHD the entire situation was recipe for disaster. No structure, no support, no attention and no care. I failed that year and I was dropped to lowest maths class and then I flunked it also. I left school with no GCSEs and to be honest not much hope for the future. Mr C got his own back for me hitting him by simply not accepting the only bit of course work that did for my GCSEs but at that stage it hardly mattered.

That day in town I explained to Mrs A how Mrs B had given me a bit of one to one attention every day, even when i didn’t want it, whilst other teachers just saw me as the Bold Child and ignored me. I explained a little bit more about what ADHD was like for me then and the struggle maintaining attention during classes and how many people we support have had similar negative experiences. I felt Mrs A was beginning to get the picture. Perhaps some of the Bold Children as she called them, had also a condition that prevented them from learning as other children do. I also wondered how many of these bold children’s lives ended tragically young through drugs and alcohol or suicide.

Mrs B although her methods may be questionable, her intentions were good. She was a good teacher with a great heart but if i met her my legs would probably go to jelly, especially after writing this. By screaming at me, she must have created enough dopamine in my brain to sustain my attention long enough to learn the boring math and my attention possibly filtered over to Mr C’s geography classroom. My wish is to raise awareness and to offer support and understanding to not only people with ADHD but their parents, teachers, and healthcare providers I hope to reduce stigma and help those with the condition to reach their potential and live healthy fulfilled lives.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com