I apologize for those of you who enjoy the early morning blog reading. As with many aspects of my life, I was challenged by AD(H)D this morning and forced to adapt! Before I dive into my blog post, I want to share a part of what happened today. For any of those who know, or are, someone with, AD(H)D, you understand the importance of routines and rituals, and the struggles to plan ahead. As an adult with AD(H)D, I have found that the best way to combat AD(H)D is by establishing well formed rituals for mundane tasks (such as the order of showering, breakfast, getting dressed, in the morning.) By allowing my muscle memory to take over this aspect of my life, it frees up my mind to focus on other, more important things. The pitfall of this is the chaos that is followed when your rituals are interrupted. That happened to me this morning (I just moved into my first house, so everything has been chaotic) and as a result, I forgot to post my blog before leaving this morning. I received an email reminder around lunch and that super attentiveness kicked in. I knew I forgot. I knew I had to get that posted. I knew I couldn’t post until I got home. What. Could. I. Do. ?. My heart filled up with uncombatted tension. This was the super attentiveness. This was the super fixation, concentration, and frustration that is hardly spoken of in the circles of AD(H)D. I could not take my mind from thinking of it until I got home. Now I can breathe, adjust my blog, and post it. I can turn this experience into an opportunity to make my blog more real, more relative, and more thoughtful.
Richard’s last post featured a cartoon that I have posted on my facebook page already. It’s a great one. I try to advocate for education amongst other things on facebook whenever I see the opportunity (yes, I’m one of those!) I wanted to share another image that I feel relates to Richard’s comic:
As a teacher, I understand that standards are hard to meet, given, every student learns and does differently. We can’t force students who excel at verbal communication, to fail at written communication. In real life, those people become radio hosts, newscasters, etc. They do not force themselves into jobs like journalists that would challenge them to not be fired everyday. Our school systems need to match the way the real world works.
This was part of my undoing in school. I will be frank, I take as much responsibility for my education as should any person under the age of 18; absolutely none. I believe by 18 you reach a level of maturity (or around that age) that allows you to better understand choice and consequences. Argue with that as you will, but as soon as you accept that concept, getting students to succeed (no matter who they are as learners) becomes almost too easy.
I entered high school already socially challenged by both my social disabilities associated with AD(H)D, and the issues that come with changing schools in grade 6. Friends did not comes easy. Despite my desire to play sports, that didn’t come easy either. Academics were never my strengths either, so I was left with very little to make me fit in at my school.
I managed to make a few friends, some of which were great, some of which I now understand to have been disguised as friends. My first day of class I was all over the place. It took me half a period to find my grade 9 English class and when I entered, I was immediately told to leave. Apparently the answer to being late, was not to be in class. I skimmed by with a 51 in that class, having never read a book. It took me a week before I figured out how to skip classes. In business, it took me 3 days to figure out how to copy and paste the mind numbing typing exercises, and another 4 days to figure out how to just copy files from the other class. My mediocre grade 9 year finished with an average of 60 and one failed class. My parents met with my business teacher to work out a deal; if I upgrade my English credit in summer school, she’ll pass me in business. Logic I still don’t understand.
That summer my IPRC (identification, placement, and review committee) meeting came up. A very intimidating site. Here’s how it felt as a student:
I was there to be judged by my principal, a psychologist, a student councillor, teachers, and some board people. My only friends there were my two parents, and I wasn’t gonna say nothing if I didn’t have to. The meeting started and almost abruptly reached the conclusion:
“Your son will be placed in the basic program at century where he can focus on workplace skills.”
My mother tells me this story all the time, and my own memory helps me form the next part:
“Oh really….” asked my mother. “And what assistance did you offer him this year to prevent him from failing?”
You’re probably thinking now that I never mentioned anything. Well….I had nothing to tell you about.
“Well, there doesn’t seem to have been much offered, but clearly your son is not interested in school.” answers some bigwig. I never once heard someone say “clearly school is not interesting for your son.”…hmmm….
The rest of the conversation was very one sided. It ended with the IPRC allowing me to not only remain at Massey, but register in the enriched courses as well. This was my request. I loved math, always understood it, and wanted to be great in it. The IPRC also promised better support, and more resources for the following years.
Grade 10….57 average, two failed courses. No support. No resources.
Grade 11….54 average, two failed courses. No support. No resources.
Grade 12….52 average, three failed courses. No support. No resources.
By the end of grade 12, I was skipping classes more often than I was attending them. I scored in the top 25% of Canada in two math competitions, finished my second year on the swim team, and was getting into drugs. I could feel my future in the balance. Then my parents received a call from Mr. Cousineau.