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Excerpt from PROJECT JUNE BUG by Jackie Minniti

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Excerpt from PROJECT JUNE BUG by Jackie Minniti

(Reprinted from the Morrison High Courier)

By Michael Tayler
Have you ever tried to watch TV when somebody else has the remote and keeps flicking the channels? You get bits and pieces of a lot of different shows, but you never get the complete story of any of them. This is what life is like for me and millions of other people like me. We have a condition known as ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt different. I can picture myself in kindergarten, wiggling and squirming while the other kids sat quietly and listened to the teacher. In elementary school, I was the kid who was always getting into trouble. It was like I had a motor inside me that was revved up too high. I really wanted to pay attention, but when my teachers were talking I’d get bored after a few minutes. Their words would get all jumbled up, and my mind would wander. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stay focused. When I asked questions, the other kids laughed at me because I was usually asking about something the teacher had just explained.

After a while, I stopped asking questions because I felt so stupid.

It was hard for me to make friends. I had a reputation as a troublemaker. I had to be the first one in line, the first one out the door, the first one the teacher called on. I was always saying and doing things without thinking. Since I got bored so easily, I couldn’t stick with any activity long enough to see it through. I’d lose my temper over the smallest things, usually because I’d misunderstood somebody’s words or actions. When I got angry or frustrated, I’d lash out at anybody. The other kids didn’t want me around. I figured it was because there was something wrong with me.

Doing assignments was always a major problem. I’d start off fine, but before I could finish one thing, I’d get sidetracked by something else. Then I’d focus on that until another idea jumped into my head. I felt like I was being pulled in a hundred different directions. If I managed to finish an assignment, it would be full of mistakes because I never took the time to check it over. Or I’d put off doing an assignment until the last minute, and then do a rush job that was never as good as it should have been. Often, I’d forget to do the assignment at all. My grades were in the cellar. My teachers thought I didn’t care. My parents kept telling me I had to try harder. Only I knew how hard I was trying. I started to believe I was a total loser, so I finally stopped trying altogether.

Things got worse as I got older. My teachers said I wasn’t motivated. My parents were always arguing about me. My dad said I was being lazy and stubborn. My mom said I just needed to apply myself. My parents tried everything to get me to succeed. They bribed me. They grounded me. They moved me from one school to another.Nothing worked. The thing they didn’t understand was that I couldn’t control the way I acted. I got so sick of hearing them, I’d go into my room and lock the door. I thought a lot about running away. I really started to hate myself.

This year, something happened that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. When I got the news, everything fell into place. Finally, I saw that there was a reason for the way I was. That reason had a name, and it wasn’t “Michael Tayler.” It was “ADHD.” Best of all, there was something that could be done about it. There are medications that help with the symptoms. There are also lots of things I can do to help myself. I was lucky to find a teacher who understands my condition and works with me. I’ve learned ways to be more organized. I take lots of notes in class and write everything down. I use a calendar and a notebook to keep track of my assignments. I’m learning how to manage my time. When I have to learn new material, I break it down into chunks so that I can study more effectively. I try to work in places where I won’t be distracted. I remind myself to think before I speak and to consider the impact my actions may have on others. It’s not always easy,but it’s a lot better than feeling like a victim with no control over my life.

I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. I’m still impulsive and I’m easily distracted. It’s a real effort to stay organized, and waiting in lines still drives me crazy. But I understand now that these things are just part of my condition, not flaws in my character. I know that ADHD won’t go away, but now I know it’s something I can live with. I often wonder how different my life would have been if I’d been diagnosed when I was younger. But I realize it doesn’t help to dwell on the past. Instead, I try to look to the future. Everyone faces different challenges in life. ADHD is mine. Now I see it as a challenge I can rise above. And I know that by doing this, I can finally become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Copyright 2008 by Jackie Minnniti
Used by permission of the author

Lesson by Jackie Minniti

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