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  • Writer's pictureNikki Hardy

MY ADHD STORY – Part 1


How the f@#k did I get here?

How I reignited the spark that had long since been extinguished!!



Everyone has their own unique ADHD story. This is my own ADHD story starting from school.



Part 1: School

School for me as an undiagnosed ADHD’er, I didn’t stand a chance!!

For as long as I can remember I have always cared so deeply about everyone and everything from ants not being able to find their family to making sure I ate all my carrots so they would all stay together. Those things genuinely worried me!!

All I wanted to do was please people and be kind.



I was full of love, light, wonder, curiosity and possibilities – and then I went to school…





School reports

Through my diagnosis process I found my old school reports I looked at them, highlighted all of the ADHD difficulties I had, laughed at myself and thought how prevalent my ADHD symptoms were as child. For this blog I have highlighted everything ADHD related and Executive Function challenges in red – red flags!!

What I didn’t do until six years later was look at them for what they were – extinguishers of the light!


It made me feel so sad for myself as a small child trying her best. I started school with a bright light inside of me. School changed that for me – significantly, there was no light left in me by the time I left school and the hatred that I had for myself was real. Dr William Dodson MD estimates that children with ADHD receive a full 20,000 more negative messages by the time they are 10. 20,000!!!!


Can you imagine the amount of negative messages accumulating throughout your education, work and life until receiving a diagnosis (in my case, at 43). That is a lot of negative messages and a lot of those become negative self-talk.



5 Year Old Nicola

So I want to set the scene me as a 5 year old girl, from a loving family with two older sisters going off to school on that first day, full of hope, love, wonder, possibilities and kindness. My light was shining bright. So how did my light get extinguished to the point that when I left school I didn’t even like myself. I would do anything to avoid being on my own alone with my head that was so full of negative self-talk which was the result of all of the negative messages I had received and they had now manifested themselves into my thoughts.


Before knowing about my ADHD, if anyone had mentioned school reports I would use one of my top strengths and most definitely a coping mechanism – humour to laugh at how bad they were, I’d always felt like the black sheep of the family and the reports were proof of this. I used to absolutely dread getting my school reports. My two older sisters, neither of them have ADHD were both high achievers and as far as I know did not get negative comments, so it must have been a shock for my parents to receive my school reports.



So what did they say…


Year 1

Year 1, a year that is far more self-directed, more freedom, the ability to be creative and no huge expectations.

Maths

Good, quiet (obviously quiet = good) steady girl, gained a good understanding of number.

English

Reads well, written work is good, always gets down to work without any fuss and produces some very nice stories. (freedom, no constraints)

Art

Paints very nicely and takes a lot of care with her work – (creativity)

Head Teachers Comments

A quiet dependable little girl with much charm. She enters into everything willingly, is popular with her peers and has made good progress all-round this year.

Attitude to work

Very Good

Behaviour

Very Good

A very pleasing year’s work, well done Nicola.






How happy would I have been receiving that report and the praise from my parents.


= Happy proud little girl

= Happy proud parents

= Life is still sunshine and roses


It didn’t last!!!!!!







Year 2

Maths

She has a rather uncertain knowledge of number which isn’t helped by careless attitude to work. She can work well but too often sloppy presentation reflects her attitude. She is hesitant about new work.  (I clearly didn’t understand)!!

English

Nicola’s creative work can be good but again poor presentation and careless errors give a poor impression.  She is a capable girl but her written work does not reflect this at present.

Project Work

The same attitude goes with her topic work – she seems interested (I obviously wasn’t) but cannot channel this constructively. (Probably zero interest)

Arts and Crafts

Nicola’s work can be very good.  This is an area where she shows care and effort (good example of situational variability)

Head Teacher's Comments

Nicola is a bright and able girl but at present she is not progressing. Her work is not of the standard of which she is capable of. Her attitude must change considerably if she’s not going to lose ground.

Attitude to Work

Poor/Fair

Behaviour

Good – (how the f**k can my behaviour be good but my attitude to work only poor/fair)


Report

= Disappointed parents

= Maybe my first experience of RSD (Rejection).

= Negative messages had begun.

 

The light began to fade…



Year 3

Maths

Very slow through lack of concentration (zero interest and probably dyscalculia) and has to be constantly chivvied. She could do a lot better.

  • Negative self-talk

  • RSD

  • Lazy

  • Stupid

English

Reading good. spelling good, handwriting fairly good, English and comprehension- could be better with more concentration, though improving (yes please).

Project Work

Shes not really enthusiastic and tends to do the minimum required (probably zero interest) I am still waiting for her pets folder to be put in order – now this bit still makes me laugh! you just know it would never been put in order – I mean, how do you even do that??!!

PE

Doesn’t show any enthusiasm for anything.

Arts and Crafts

No great flair, but usually is helpful setting out and clearing up.

= movement

= helping someone

= people pleaser

= no expectation

Music

Is showing promise on recorder – go me, my London’s Burning was on point!!!

Nicola lacks sparkle (no s**t – the extinguishers had been at me) and enthusiasm, she is reasonably intelligent (thanks!!!) but her work is lethargic, she gets by with the minimum effort.


Attitude to Work

Could do a lot better – there it is again!!

Behaviour

Acceptable – what does that even mean??!!

Keep trying Nicola – FFS, always!!

Report

= More negative messages for the bank

= Even more disappointed and probably exacerbated parents

= RSD

 

The light in me is merely a flicker…



Year 4

Maths

Worked steadily throughout the year and assimilated a number of new concepts. A little unsure of herself at times, once she has gained confidence she works well. – In other words I understood so I was able to work with confidence.


Geometry good, she’s turned out some very original pieces of work

  • freedom

  • creativity

English

Nicola puts her thoughts into words well and has some original ideas. Work a trifle too slow for a girl of her calibre, she tends to allow herself to be distracted by less able children – I would want to help them, imagine ‘allowing’ yourself to be distracted!! However the general standard of work is good.


Project Work

Good, but doesn’t extend herself very far beyond set work – was I interested – unlikely!!

PE

She participates well with real enthusiasm and appears to enjoy herself – I don’t understand this??!!

Arts and Crafts

A pleasing style developing particularly with graphic work.

Nicola is a polite girl and has very pleasant nature, she has done some excellent supervisory work with the infants during lunch breaks – helping people – she has worked steadily throughout all spheres of the curriculum. She has not yet reached her full potential – I’m expecting full steam ahead next year. – and there it is, not yet reached her full potential, and full steam ahead – how can I go any faster??!!

Music

Is showing promise on recorder – go me, my London’s Burning was on point!!!

Nicola lacks sparkle (no s**t – the extinguishers had been at me) and enthusiasm, she is reasonably intelligent (thanks!!!) but her work is lethargic, she gets by with the minimum effort.


Attitude to Work

Good


I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching her and consider her to be a very useful member of the class.

Behaviour

Acceptable – what does that even mean??!!

Keep trying Nicola – FFS, always!!





Report

= RSD – I was trying so hard, but still not good enough!!

= Some praise from parents

= Everyone’s favourite – she has not reached her full potential.


Blimey if I had a pound or even a penny for everyone of those messages / thoughts, I reckon I would be a millionaire – so maybe have reached my full potential!!







Part one of my blog can’t go on forever so luckily I only have 2 other school reports. Two of my happiest years are missing maybe, I have rose tinted glasses on but I believe the first 18 months of secondary school were good, I loved the school and was in top sets for everything. I lived in beautiful village with my mum, dad and two sisters. This all changed halfway through secondary school when me, mum, dad, moved to a remote village in Cambridgeshire and I started a new school halfway through the 2nd year.


So the reports I have are from the first two years of that school, I probably lost the last ones, definitely on purpose!!



Secondary school


Year 2

Nicola is a quiet member of the tutor group

Nicola’s not found it easy to settle into her new work

Music

Is showing promise on recorder – go me, my London’s Burning was on point!!!

Nicola lacks sparkle (no s**t – the extinguishers had been at me) and enthusiasm, she is reasonably intelligent (thanks!!!) but her work is lethargic, she gets by with the minimum effort.


Biology

Nicola has not found it easy to settle into class. She must have the confidence to accept she can catch up. – (how, seriously?) Greater effort is needed with homework and contribution in class.


English

Has the ability to do well in this subject in the future as long as she does not relax her efforts.

PE

I feel a definite improvement in effort is required if she is to reach her full potential –there it is again



Year 3

Just satisfactory with a strong indicator that Nicola is capable of great improvement.

Home Economics/Food

Nicola works steadily but very disorganised – I do remember my kitchen bench looking like a bomb it going off.

CDT

Shows considerable enthusiasm for this subject. She must concentrate on this now thoroughly if she wants to do well.

Chemistry

Satisfactory progress but well below her true capabilities (there it is again) her work is quite credible (thanks!!) but she often lapses into a very careless approach I shall expect better next year.

English

Nicola is outstandingly good in oral work. ( I actually remember this because it was a debate about fox hunting, and because I felt so passionately against fox hunting and it came from the heart I was amazing – I remember getting my only ever A for this.) She is now taking more care over the detail of her written techniques. I hope she maintains her interest in efforts. (Well that just depends what it is!!)


French

With more work Nicola could do better, I’m expecting her to try harder.

History

Nicola is not without abilities she started the year with a very casual attitude, failing to hand in a number of homework assignments on time, however she appears to have pulled herself together.


Maths

Makes an initial effort to cope and understand but she does not sustain this interest throughout the lesson.

PE

Nicola is underachieving at the moment, due to a lazy and uncaring approach to her work, I look forward to a change of our attitude

RE

Nicola has the ability to achieve a good standard in this subject she needs to make a real effort to concentrate on her work.



That is just some of it and I’m going to leave it there but not without adding more negative messages to my bank!




Have you had similar experiences with ADHD at school?


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