This I Believe

Lindsey - Hickory, North Carolina
Entered on August 3, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that ADD is a real disorder. It is not something that can be fixed by a change of diet or exercise. It is real. Here is my story.

As I went to school for my first day of third grade, like any child I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to begin another year of school. Little did I know that I wouldn’t enjoy this year of school as much as I had in the past, nor did I know that every school year from that point on would be a nightmare.

My third grade year I noticed that I began to struggle to make the grades that before had come so easily. My mother told me I just needed to try harder as did my teacher, but they didn’t know that I was trying as hard as I could. I made it through the third grade with C’s that I struggled to make. Then came the fourth grade where the class began to use phonics. Everyday we broke into groups based on our reading levels and for about an hour we sat down and read books. At this point the strange things begin to happen. All the children in my reading group were classified as Exceptional Children. I was the only one who didn’t go to special classes. My English teacher suggested that I come to an after school program that had been set up to help the children who were having a hard time reading. My mother didn’t know how to help me so she agreed to send me to the program. Once again I was the only one who wasn’t considered an Exceptional Child. One of the girls had a hard time sounding out the word “the”. As a young child, I began to think I was stupid and that I wasn’t as good as all the other kids, so my self esteem slowly started to deteriorate. My teachers told me I was lazy and that if I didn’t like being in the lower classes, I should try harder so I could get out of them. No one, including my mother, seemed to understand that I was trying as hard as I could to get out of them. She didn’t know what was happening: her child who once loved to learn was now coming up with new excuses every day as to why she couldn’t go to school. The only thing that my mother could think of was to talk to my teachers. They told her I was lazy, I didn’t care about school, and that I didn’t put forth enough effort in y work and that the work that I did turn in was very sloppy and very hard to read. Hearing what the teachers had to say made my mother angry with me, so for every bad grade I got, she began to punish me.

This “discipline” progressively got worse. By the time I was in middle school I was failing all of my classes. Luckily my school offered remedial classes so I was able to make it through the seventh grade. My eighth grade year I wasn’t as lucky. We had just come back from a field trip and the teacher announced that she was going to hand out papers to the people who had failed the grade and would need to go to summer school in order to move on to high school. This was one of those things I thought would never happen to me, but in a spilt second, I felt like my whole world had completely crumbled beneath my feet. The teacher had handed out all of the papers except one, so I thought that I had once again barely slid by, but I was wrong. The second our eyes met, I knew that this last paper was mine. I thought to myself, “how could I have failed a grade?” I came from a good family, I had a lot of friends, I wasn’t a trouble maker. People like me weren’t supposed to fail. I went to summer school and I finally accepted that I had failed although I was never the same person after that. I moved on to the ninth grade and with absolutely no self-dignity left, I gave up on myself. I began to make myself sick just so I wouldn’t have to go to school. My mom got desperate and thought that if I changed schools it might help me.

My junior year I took a psychology course, and I noticed that the teacher had taken a special interest in me. One day after class she asked me to stay and talk to her. She showed my a paper I had written for her and began to point out errors that resemble those that a person with dyslexia would make. The second I heard the work dyslexia I felt like I had been liberated from my past. I rushed home to tell my mom what the teacher has said and she immediately made an appointment with a psychologist for me to be tested. Within a few weeks, we got the results back and they stated that not only was I dyslexic but I also had ADD and a learning disability in math (LDM).

The psychiatrist prescribed me Adderall for the ADD and we filed a 504 plan at school. I can’t began to tell you how much of a difference this made in not only my education but my life. I began to make A’s and B’s and took my first honors class. I also began to regain some of my self esteem. I am now a rising sophomore at Meredith College and I absolutely love going to school and learning. I have developed and interest in science and especially the study of diseases. Now I want to pursue a career as medical scientist so I can help save people’s lives. Had these disabilities not been discovered I seriously doubt I would have gone to college, but now I can’t imagine a day in my life without learning something new.