FHS Students with ADD and Their Everyday Struggles

Valerie West

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High school is hard for everyone. From those who sail through with A’s to constant strugglers, high school is a common time where nearly everyone has a mental breakdown daily. Learning in a general setting is already difficult, and it gets even worse for those with learning disabilities.

According to specialists, 35% of all public school students are treated with learning disorders, and 18% of those students eventually drop out or fail, and that isn’t even counting the students who go unnoticed and untreated.

These disabilities range from dyslexia to dyscalculia and affect not just these students, but the students around them, causing distractions and not being able to stay focused in group work. Even with all the medications and treatments, students still deal with ADD daily. My question is: How does it affect their learning, and their overall ability to function in a normal classroom setting?

In order to get more information to answer that same question, I interviewed a student at FHS who has been diagnosed with ADD. For the sake of keeping their anonymity, I’ve chosen to call this student Jimminy Billy Bob.

“It’s like there’s this constant bee in your head buzzing around taking all your attention,” Billy Bob  said. “I can’t pay attention, so I can’t do my homework, and I fail my class. What seems like a small problem at first becomes much bigger over time. It snowballs on itself.”

“My teachers called me lazy and said I needed to work harder,” Billy Bob said. “This made me stop trying all together. No one really believed I was trying.”

Not knowing the root of a problem can make every day easy tasks very difficult. What may be easy for one person poses an entirely different challenge to another.

“I got mad at the teachers and gave them attitude when they’d ask me to spell or say a word I didn’t know,” Billy Bob said. “My attitude saved me the embarrassment of feeling less than everyone else.”

“I got notes sent home every other week saying I wasn’t ‘fulfilling my full potential’ and I ‘wasn’t paying attention.’ Even though the teachers were wrong, it wasn’t their fault,” Billy Bob said.

Not every problem in life can be linked to something you can’t help, but in this case, it can. Even just knowing why something is happening makes it easier to deal with.

“When I finally got diagnosed, it helped a lot, but the medicine and treatments only ever lessened the symptoms,” Billy Bob said. “I still try and try every day to make sure I’m paying extra attention in class. My grades have gone up and so has my self-esteem. I don’t give much attitude anymore because I know I’m not just some dumb kid. Knowing the problem is half the solution.”

Even with all this improvement, problems like this don’t just magically fix themselves.

“It’s still a constant battle,” Billy Bob said. “I have to work twice as hard and not many teachers care because everyone nowadays has some form of ADD. Most people think kids are just being overly sensitive and lazy and want to blame all their problems on something else so they don’t have to face them.”

“I just wish it was easier for students to come forward and say something,” Billy Bob said. “So many of us drop out because no one really helps us, and we don’t come forward and say something. We’re too scared because we think no one is going to listen anyway.”