Such a negative sounding term, don’t you think? Growing up with my little brother, Tommy, first brought this term into our family. When his second grade teacher brought my parents in to discuss the fact that she thought Tommy needed to be tested for ADHD, my mother lost it. I was only in 6th grade at the time and all I could get out of it was that Mrs. Such and Such knew nothing and that Tommy was completely fine. I vaguely remember, “He’s just a little boy being a little boy. He doesn’t need medication!” But she was wrong, and Tommy did need medication. He needed help. He acted much more immature than his classmates and he struggled with keeping friends. He couldn’t concentrate in class and it was as if his brain was moving a mile a minute. He was all over the place. Taking his teacher’s advice, Tommy began taking medications. He had to try at least four before they got it right. Some made him gain weight, some made him mean or angry and some made him a zombie. They finally got it right. He’s taken this medication ever since and now, as an 18 year old high school senior, he has spectacular grades, he’s a D1 prospective athlete and he has goals to become an electrical engineer. It’s not a learning disability. It’s a bump in the road.
Until this year, Tommy used his “disability” to his advantage. He would get a C on a test and his argument would be, “Mom! I’m not Jaicee! I can’t get all A’s. I have a learning disability!” He knew very well that he wasn’t learning disabled, but he would argue it anyways. I was always the straight A student. I read well above my reading level and I never struggled in school. Then, this year, my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with ADHD and now take medication myself. Tommy can no longer use his famous excuse of “not living up to his big sister” and I realized that just because there is an issue that gets in the way of learning, does not mean that, with the right steps, it can’t be overcame. I will say, however, growing up with Tommy and the experiences that came with his ADHD, taught me so much that I apply to teaching. No one case is the same, but my experiences sure enlightened me. ❤