March 1999 - Volume 2 - Issue 3
This is Sam's story. Sam is a fictional child based on the stories of many children with ADD/ADHD. This is the final article in the PresidioNews Feature Series: Learning about ADD/ADHD.
My name is Sam. I am 11 years old and I have ADHD. When I was little, it seemed I was always getting into trouble. I didn't mean to, but sometimes it was like my brain was going too fast for me to think straight. When I was 3 years old, they called me the "human tornado", charging around and disrupting everything in my path. Racing from one activity to the next, leaving a trail of toys behind me.
As I got older I was still careless and reckless, running into the street with oncoming cars, no matter how many time my mom explained the dangers or yelled at me. I had the tendency to overreact - like socking kids just because they bumped into me. So, I had a hard time making friends. Kids didn't want to play with me because I was too busy or I played too rough and they'd get hurt. I guess they did get hurt sometimes, but I didn't mean to. I had a hard time with that because I didn't remember doing it, but they said I did. I'd feel really bad and say I was sorry, but it didn't seem to help much.
At school I'd get in trouble, mostly for not listening or blurting out the answers before I was asked. My teacher told my mom I never paid attention in class because I was always humming, tapping my feet, whistling, looking here or looking there. She said I just wouldn't sit still. The thing is, I couldn't sit still. Everyday I would go to school and tell myself, "This time I'm going to listen and not get into trouble." But every day some how I'd get off track. It was so hard to listen to the teacher because there was always birds chirping, cars going by and people talking in the hall. I could never understand why these things didn't bother the other kids. With all those distractions, I could never seem to get my work done. By the time it was quiet again, Mrs. Jones would ask us to turn in our papers. Of course I was not finished. I think that was the worst because I would know all the answers, but I just didn't have time to finish. It just wasn't fair. I finally decided to pretend it was like a race and when she would give us our paper I'd hurry and see how fast I could go. That didn't work either because I'd either not finish because something distracted me or I'd get a bad grade because the teacher couldn't read my answers.
My parents were really getting frustrated and didn't know what to do. My grandparents would say, "Boys will be boys. Don't worry, He'll grow out of it." But I never did. I was really getting confused. No matter how hard I tried it seemed I never could do anything right. I always had somebody mad at me. Mom would say "think before you act," but I had a hard time doing that. It seemed my brain just jumped around and before I knew it, I was acting first then thinking. I wasn't feeling very good about myself anymore. I was always letting someone down, even myself. I was beginning to think something was really wrong with me. I decided to tell my mom how I was feeling and how I really didn't mean to do the things I did. I told her how it seemed like my brain just thinks too fast. My mom told me she loved me and that we'd work this out together.
My mom made an appointment with my doctor, Dr. Write. She said it was this big long word: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. She said it just means that my brain goes too fast for my thinker and that I have a lot more energy then most kids. She told me that I am not the only one who feels this way, that there are lots of kids just like me. That made me feel better, I didn't feel so alone. She explained that there were different medicines that could help and she thought Ritalin would be best for me. She also explained that there were other things we could do that would help like, making lists, schedules and charts to help me remember things. Dr. Write then explained just how the medicine was going to help. She told me that what was happening was my brain would start working real fast, but my thinker was a little slower. The Ritalin speeds up my thinker to catch up with how fast my brain works.
It's not so bad now that I understand. Now I am doing much better in school. I am in sports and am the star player on the intramural soccer team. I still get into fights now and then, but my therapist is helping me learn to control my tantrums and frustration. I can make and keep friends now and am feeling pretty good about myself. The charts really help because mom doesn't have to keep reminding me to do things. I also use the lists in school for homework. Dr. Write told me that there are a lot of famous people that have been thought to have ADD like, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin. My mom has been doing a lot of reading and she said that for some reason people with ADHD tend to be pretty smart. Oh ... and my grandparents, they say "We knew he'd turn out just fine!"