A day in the life: Living with ADHD and dyslexia

Ever since I was a child, I struggled with an uncertain feeling that something was different about me. It wasn’t until third grade that I found out I had ADHD and dyslexia. 

I was like most children, always hyper with my head in the clouds. My family had an idea that I had a disability because I was always bouncing off the walls, even at 6 a.m. I was a handful for my parents and teachers. When I was in kindergarten, I couldn’t even spell my name. It’s three letters and the same backwards. However, my teacher would always tell my parents I was doing fine and just needed a little bit of help. I felt dumb. I felt like I could never read at the same level as the kids in my grade and that I would never learn as fast as them. My parents knew something was wrong but couldn’t quite put their finger on it. 

After a long, stressful kindergarten year, I was now in first grade. It took my teacher one week to figure out I had a learning disability. She was hesitant, however, because she didn’t know how my parents would take the news of their child having this issue. Hearing this news changed my life forever. 

Shortly after my teacher told my parents and me what she’d noticed, I was sent to take tests. I remember the tests so vividly, because it was the most boring thing I’d done in my life. I had to sit in a room for six hours and tell my instructor what shapes I saw and what words popped up on the screen. It was miserable, but worth it. After being diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, I began to take medication. I started with Adderall, but that didn’t work. Then, I started ADHD patches, pills, and liquids. NOTHING WORKED. I would either come home crying every day, having not eaten that day or falling asleep right when I got home from school. It took over two years to figure out what medication worked for me. 

The next step I took was finding out how I learn. I wasn’t sure if should ask my teachers for accommodations or just try to keep up with the class. When I finally became comfortable with asking, I would take my tests in the closet or just somewhere quiet. Taking that step helped me grow as a student and individual. 

Fast forward to present day 2019: I am a 17-year-old student at St. John’s College High School. I recently graduated from the Benilde Program at SJC, which I never thought I would be able to do. As a student with ADHD, I tend to pay attention to everything that is going on around me rather than focusing on the lesson. I have to work extra hard to achieve the grades I have.

A strategy I learned that helps me in school the most is writing down everything I have to do today. It might sound simple, but it does wonders for me. Since I have ADHD I forget or daze off often, and writing down what I need to complete keeps me on top of things and betters me as a student.

Something most people don’t know is that dyslexia doesn’t affect intelligence. There are many stages of dyslexia, and I like to think that I am at a lower stage than most. To this day, I hesitate to read in my classes because I still mix up my words and stutter. My previous teachers, who specialize in helping kids with disabilities, have taught me many reading techniques that I like to use. I usually use my fingers to follow what I read to keep me focused.

While I have faced many challenges in the classroom, I’ve been able to meet my academic goals due to my continued persistence and being open to help. It takes time to learn the ways that best benefit us, but it is all worth it in the end.

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