Good morning friends of the LDAWE community,
My name is Matt, and I have been given the pleasure to share my personal experiences on the LDAWE blog. I hope that through this journey, I can continue to learn more about myself, while aiding those who may be going through similar situations.
I will try to give a general backstory for myself in my first post and follow it up with some detailed and intense stories of my childhood; I have 10 posts scheduled for this year, and I, myself, am excited to see what I will post for each of those (one of my always relevant struggles with AD(H)D is planning ahead.)
Before I can continue about my backstory, I feel that I should cover a couple of preambles. First, I do not keep up with the ever exciting and always changing, never to be agreed on, terms for Attention Deficit Disorder. When I refer to Attention Deficit Disorder, I will use the acronym AD(H)D. Many of us have seen the variations including, but not limited to: ADD, ADHD, AD/HD, ADD/ADHD, HDD, and ADD+H. Personally, I feel that much of the confusion is because AD(H)D manifests itself differently in different people. I have seen this first hand in my own family and friends. Between me and my two other brothers that were diagnosed with AD(H)D, only one of us showed signs of hyperactivity. In fact, our original diagnoses were ADD, HDD, and ADHD (although, the third brother was diagnosed long after they stopped using HDD.) Of the struggles in school, it seemed that the brother with the HDD (hypoactivity deficit disorder –if I remember it correctly) experienced a more subtle set of challenges. From watching and learning within my family, I believe that the hyperactivity is more of a hit or miss part, which is why I use the brackets around the “H.”
Secondly, and most importantly; no matter the tone, the dissent, nor the disapproval I may have for my family, friends, teachers, etc., it is not a reflection of who they are, but of the situation they were presented with. I grew up in a time that “ritalin boy” was an appropriate way to describe a hyperactive student. Despite how hurtful that was in school, ritalin has been a fairly obsolete drug since the mid-90s. For sake of example, my parents made many ill-fated choices as parents. This wasn’t because they were bad parents, but because raising a child with AD(H)D was challenging on its own. We speak all the time about my childhood, and they openly admit that they would have done things differently had they a second chance. I always explain to them, however, that I wouldn’t ask for it any other way as I am extremely happy with my life.
I have worked very hard to meet many accomplishments in my life, and I am continuing to strive to meet more. One of my proudest was finishing my four university degrees. After nearly failing out of high school (another great story for a future blog,) I quickly adjusted myself to make it through another year of high school and seven years of university.
Halfway through my university “career,” I discovered that there was a special bursary for students with a disability (BSWD) that I could have been taking advantage of (another great topic for a future blog.) As part of the process, I was given a psychological assessment to further explore my umm…”capacities” ☺ After a full day of testing, and a long process of evaluation, it was determined that I had a reading disability, a learning disability, and a memory disability, in addition to AD(H)D. Whenever I tell this story, I try to always include that they found my IQ to be in the 97th percentile, along with upper 90th percentile in the majority of my other areas. It’s a great example of how we are all created equal, one way or another.
This was not, however, my first psychological assessment. I was originally diagnosed around grade 3 with some tests that I now remember as fairly comical (apparently in grade 3 I thought the world of Michael Jackson as he was my go-to answer.) Since my original diagnosis, I have taken ritalin, dexedrine, adderall, and concerta. I have since weaned myself off of medication (I will explain how in a later blog as well) as I continued my studies in university.
After finishing university, I found employment as a teacher with the WECDSB. I have dedicated myself to continuing the successful strides our schools have taken to ensure the success of students with special needs. I have received my special education qualifications, along with three other additional qualifications. I feel that this blog will be a perfect opportunity to continue my efforts to help students (and parents) to succeed with a learning disability.
Please follow my blogs, my next one will be on August 9th. I would like to leave you with one final thought:
Many people tell me that AD(H)D is a disability. I tell them all the same; AD(H)D is not an inability to focus, but an ability to see everything that is happening. When I drive my car, I notice every car, when someone is changing lanes, where the pedestrians are, just everything. AD(H)D is not the inability to focus, but the ability to focus on EVERYTHING.
Till Next Time!
Matt (Mr. Casey) Wachna
Follow me on twitter @followmrcasey
or visit my website: mrcasey.com