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“My Life With ADHD”

One in 10 teens has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Here’s what it feels like for LeAndra, 16.  

Leah Nash for Scholastic

    Growing up, I was always getting in trouble at school. My teachers said I was too distracting to other kids. They even created charts about my behavior. Every day, I’d have to take them home to my mom. It made me dread going to school.

    Mostly I was just confused, because I was never trying to be bad. I knew I wasn’t a mean kid or a sneaky kid. I just had so many questions. And I hated sitting still!

    At home, I could play with LEGO™ sets or other toys when I had a lot of energy. But at school, I had no way to let that energy out. Everything I did always seemed to be against the rules.

    When I was younger, I kept getting in trouble at school. My teachers said I was too distracting to other kids. They made charts about my behavior. Every day, I’d have to take them home to my mom. It made me dread school.

    I didn’t mean to be bad. I wasn’t mean or sneaky. I just had so many questions. And I hated sitting still!

    At home, I could play with LEGO™ sets or other toys when I had a lot of energy. But at school, I had no way to let that energy out. It seemed like everything I did was against the rules.

    Growing up, I was constantly getting in trouble at school. My teachers said I was too distracting to other students. They even created charts about my behavior. Every day, I’d have to take them home to my mom. It made me dread going to school. 

    Mostly I was just confused, because I never misbehaved intentionally. I knew I wasn’t a mean kid or a sneaky kid. I just had tons of questions, and I hated sitting still!

    At home, I could play with LEGO™ sets or other toys when I had a lot of energy—but at school, I had no acceptable way to let excess energy out. Everything I did always seemed to be against the rules.

Getting Answers

    By second grade, I still hadn’t outgrown my behavior. So I went to a child therapist for tests. For four hours, I played games and did math problems. The therapist watched me as I did. 

    The results of the tests showed that I had something called ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It’s a medical condition that affects the brain. People with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention. They may also struggle to control their behavior. 

    At the time, I didn’t really understand. But as I got older, it all started to make sense. I finally had a name for the challenges I had been facing my whole life.

    By second grade, my behavior had not changed. So I went to a child therapist for tests. For four hours, I played games and did math problems. The therapist watched me.

    The tests showed that I had something called attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s a medical condition that affects the brain. People with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention. They may also struggle to control their behavior.

    At first, I didn’t understand. But as I got older, it started to make sense. I finally had a name for the challenges I faced.

    When I still hadn’t outgrown my distracting behaviors by second grade, I went to a child therapist for tests. For four hours, I played games and did math problems while the therapist watched. 

    The results of the tests showed that I had something called ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), a medical condition that affects the brain. People with ADHD often have difficulty paying attention. They may also struggle to control their behavior. 

    I didn’t really understand at the time, but it started to make sense as I got older. I finally had a name for the challenges I had been facing my whole life.

Hard to Focus

    Soon I learned that all people with ADHD face different obstacles. Some have a hard time controlling their impulses. For me, that often looked like talking in class when I was supposed to be listening.

    ADHD can also affect a person’s ability to concentrate. Sure, everyone’s mind wanders once in a while. But for someone with ADHD, it can feel nearly impossible to complete a math problem or homework assignment. 

    Even getting ready for school can be difficult. If you don’t have ADHD, it may be annoying to pack your bag, grab an umbrella, and lock the door. But if you have ADHD, you may need a lot of reminders and checklists just to get it all done.

    Soon I learned that all people with ADHD face different obstacles. Some have a hard time controlling their impulses. For me, that meant talking in class when I was supposed to be listening.

    ADHD can make it hard to focus too. Everyone’s mind wanders once in a while. But for someone with ADHD, it can feel nearly impossible to complete a math problem or homework assignment.

    Even getting ready for school can be hard. If you don’t have ADHD, it may be a pain to pack your bag, grab an umbrella, and lock the door. But if you have ADHD, you may need a lot of reminders and checklists to get it all done.

    Soon I learned that all people with ADHD face different obstacles. Some have trouble controlling their impulses. For me, that often looked like talking in class when I was supposed to be listening.

    ADHD can also affect a person’s ability to concentrate. Sure, everyone’s mind wanders occasionally—but for someone with ADHD, it can feel nearly impossible to complete a math problem or homework assignment. 

    Even getting ready for school can be difficult. If you don’t have ADHD, it may be annoying to pack your bag, grab an umbrella, and lock the door. But if you have ADHD, you may need a lot of reminders and checklists just to get it all done.

Coping Skills

    In the years since I found out I have ADHD, I’ve learned ways to cope. One thing that helps is art. When I’m drawing and making crafts, my mind feels calm. It also boosts my confidence to see that I can focus and finish something that I start. 

    I also love doing yoga, working out with my mom, and going for walks with my dogs. All of these activities are healthy ways to let off extra energy. And I see my therapist once a month. It helps to have someone to talk to.  

    But even with these coping skills, school has always been hard. That’s why last year, my mom and I decided to try homeschooling. It turns out, I’m much better at learning at home! I can sleep later, and feeling rested helps me focus throughout the day.

    Over time, I’ve learned ways to cope. One thing that helps is art. When I’m drawing and making crafts, my mind feels calm. It also feels good to see that I can focus and finish what I start. 

    Other things help too. I do yoga. I work out with my mom. I take walks with my dogs. These are all healthy ways to let off extra energy. And I see my therapist once a month. It helps to have someone to talk to.  

    Still, school has always been hard. So last year, my mom and I decided to try homeschooling. It worked! I learn better at home. I can sleep later, and feeling rested helps me focus.

    In the years since I found out I have ADHD, I’ve learned ways to cope. One thing that helps is art. When I’m drawing and making crafts, my mind feels calm. It also boosts my confidence to see that I can focus and finish something that I start. 

    I also love doing yoga, exercising with my mother, and going for walks with my dogs. All of these activities are healthy ways to let off extra energy. And I see my therapist once a month. It helps to have someone to talk to.  

    But even with these coping skills, school has always been difficult. That’s why last year, my mother and I decided to try homeschooling. It turns out, I’m much better at learning at home! I can sleep later, and feeling rested helps me focus throughout the day.

Leah Nash for Scholastic

Art Therapy
Drawing pictures and doing craft projects helps LeAndra feel relaxed and calm.

Happy to Be Different

    I’ll often hear other kids say “I’m so ADHD.” Sometimes it’s when they forget their homework. Other times it’s because they’d rather look at TikTok than read. 

    That doesn’t bother me. But it doesn’t really make sense either. You can’t “be” ADHD. It’s a medical condition, just like anything else you’re born with. 

    Plus, having ADHD is not just being forgetful or bored. It’s like having a mind that moves nonstop. It’s like wanting to try every single flavor of ice cream, all the time. It’s like wanting to squirt all the paint on the canvas at once. 

    Still, there are things I’ve learned to like about having ADHD. I like that I see the world differently. I like that I’m more understanding of other people. I get that we all have some kind of challenge we’re dealing with. ADHD is mine. 

    I’ll often hear other kids say, “I’m so ADHD.” Sometimes it’s when they forget their homework. Other times it’s because they’d rather look at TikTok than read.

    That doesn’t bother me. But it doesn’t make much sense. You can’t “be” ADHD. It’s a medical condition. It’s something you’re born with.

    Plus, having ADHD is not just being forgetful or bored. It’s like having a mind that moves nonstop. It’s like wanting to try every flavor of ice cream, all the time. It’s like wanting to squirt all the paint on the canvas at once.

    Still, there are things I’ve learned to like about having ADHD. I like that I see the world differently. I like that I’m more understanding of other people. I get that we all have challenges to deal with. ADHD is mine. 

    I’ll often hear other kids say “I’m so ADHD” when they forget their homework, or because they’re happier looking at TikTok than reading a book. 

    It doesn’t bother me when people say that, but it doesn’t really make sense either. A person can’t “be” ADHD. It’s a medical condition, just like anything else you’re born with. 

    Besides, having ADHD is more than just being forgetful or bored. It’s like having a mind that moves nonstop. It’s like wanting to sample every single flavor of ice cream, all the time. It’s like wanting to squirt all the paint on the canvas at once. 

    Despite the difficulties, there are things about living with ADHD that I’ve grown to appreciate. I’m glad that I see the world differently and that I’m more understanding of other people. Everyone has some sort of challenge to deal with, and ADHD is mine. 

ACTIVITY: 
Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “‘My Life With ADHD.’” Now it’s time to do this activity.

You’ve just read “‘My Life With ADHD.’” Now it’s time to do this activity.

You’ve just read “‘My Life With ADHD.’” Now it’s time to do this activity.

Tip: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result.

Tip: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result.

Tip: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result.

What to do: Fill in the missing uses and effects below by writing your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

What to do: Fill in the missing causes and effects below by writing your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

What to do: Fill in the missing causes and effects below by writing your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

Cause: Why did something happen?

Effect: What happened?

Cause: Why did something happen?

Effect: What happened?

Cause: Why did something happen?

Effect: What happened?

Cause: As a young child, LeAndra couldn’t sit still in class. 

Effect:

Hint: What did LeAndra’s teachers do about her behavior?

Cause: As a young child, LeAndra couldn’t sit still in class. 

Effect:

Hint: What did LeAndra’s teachers do about her behavior?

Cause: As a young child, LeAndra couldn’t sit still in class. 

Effect:

Hint: What did LeAndra’s teachers do about her behavior?

Cause:

Hint: Who did LeAndra go to see about her behavior?

Effect: LeAndra found out that she has ADHD.

Cause:

Hint: Who did LeAndra go to see about her behavior?

Effect: LeAndra found out that she has ADHD.

Cause:

Hint: Who did LeAndra go to see about her behavior?

Effect: LeAndra found out that she has ADHD.

Cause: LeAndra does yoga, works out, and walks her dogs. 

Effect

Hint: How do these things help LeAndra?

Cause: LeAndra does yoga, works out, and walks her dogs. 

Effect

Hint: How do these things help LeAndra?

Cause: LeAndra does yoga, works out, and walks her dogs. 

Effect

Hint: How do these things help LeAndra?

Cause: 

Hint: What change did LeAndra and her mom decide to make last year?

Effect: LeAndra can now sleep later and learn better.

Cause: 

Hint: What change did LeAndra and her mom decide to make last year?

Effect: LeAndra can now sleep later and learn better.

Cause: 

Hint: What change did LeAndra and her mom decide to make last year?

Effect: LeAndra can now sleep later and learn better.

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