Here are extracts from my childhood: school reports. Although I was academically able and enjoyed most aspects of school, my problems with listening; impulsiveness; issues with group work; and troubles with friendships were evident even when I was seven. I was never an obvious ‘daydreamer’ and my inattention manifested in a difficulty with listening to instructions; I also had difficulties regulating my excitement and also disliked most group work from an early age. By the time I got into year seven, I had developed an anxiety condition and was having increasing difficulties with keeping and maintaining friendships.
Not all girls with ADHD are inattentive daydreamers – I was hyper-enthusiastic; impulsive; excitable; and fiercely independent! I loved learning from the moment I started school; this definitely helped me achieve good grades and kept my behaviour regulated much of the time!
Obviously I enjoyed English, but I always remember struggling with some aspects of my behaviour regulation, especially when I had to listen to other people. Handwriting was really my nemesis when I was younger and I vehemently disliked joining up my text!
I struggled with listening then and still struggle with listening now! I also struggled with impulsiveness then and I still struggle with it now! It’s amazing how, even as an academic child, evidence of my inattention and impulsiveness was evident at seven years old!
Again, I was ready to start before thinking through – impulsivity just runs through these reports like a tangled ADHD-themed thread!
Oh, how I hated working on computers! The lack of tactile opportunity and the insistence of working in groups obviously made my symptoms much more evident! However, I never really demonstrated any problems with crafts as found them largely enjoyable!
I remember being an impulsive child and this is so evident in my report from 1997 (gosh, I feel old). I raced through pretty much everything and managed to succeed because I was relativity academic and had a good all-round ability! I still struggle with all of these things even to this day, although my coping mechanisms are much better!
I started a new school when I was 9 (year 5) and I found it incredibly difficult to make friends and cope with larger class sizes. My problems with listening and excitability were to continue and I also developed an anxiety disorder in year 6 which resulted in me missing lessons for a few months.
New school, new teachers, same problems! Nobody could fault my enthusiasm, but I still had problems with inattention (listening) and beginning too early.
By the time I got to eleven, my anxiety was much more obvious and I started to really doubt my own abilities. I’d had problems with group work since primary school (see previous section) and the combination of larger classes and impending puberty only exacerbated my issues. At this age, I was missing quite a lot of school due to anxiety and I am proud that I coped well enough to work well most of the time.
Art has always been one of my favourite subjects, but I struggled with it at school. Telling a hyper-creative ADHDer to draw something specific at a regulated speed is like trying to stop a Ferrari with bicycle brakes; I remember never really achieving my potential in this subject due to my excitability and disruptive tendencies.
Computer technology – how I hated this subject! I just didn’t listen and this particular report didn’t even note anything positive! In hindsight, there was nothing more boring for my creative mind than staring at a screen whilst following linear instructions!
In year seven, I got a new teacher called Mr. Swallow. Thanks to his kindness and patience, I developed so much as a person during this year. Even though I still struggled with controlling my excitement and regulating my pace of work, he got me back attending school full-time and helped develop my love of science, which continues to this day!
I hope you have enjoyed reading these extracts from my childhood. Even though I was only diagnosed with Combined ADHD in July 2020, it is evident, from looking through my reports, ADHD-tendencies were clear even when I was as young as seven!
Remember, even with ADHD, you can succeed and be awesome!