David’s Story

The earliest I remember is when my Mother was trying to push me from kindergarten to first grade. I was born about a month below the deadline. I have vague recollections of the psychologist saying I was hyperactive. 

As a young child, the teachers always complained that I was looking out the window and didn’t pay attention. I guess at that time they considered ADD a bad attitude. You didn’t want to pay attention and listen. I also had these stupid looks on my face (usually smiles) that caused people to wonder what I was thinking. 

I had problems adjusting socially and with coordination as a young child. I remember the class laughing as I was doing jumping jacks erroneously. But I did work that problem out. I did get into a fair amount of fights as a young child and early in my teens. 

My junior high years were still a problem. I was disheveled, had acne and continued to have problems adjusting socially. I was withdrawn. And i remember getting hit in the eye with a softball because I wasn’t paying attention. My attention was certainly a problem sometimes in sports. I really lacked confidence and would continually make missteps. I remember people laughing in Spanish class when I could not find my assignments when called on. I remember people laughing in Math class the same way when I was out of it. I spent almost the whole year of Math not paying attention in eigth grade and almost flunked the class. In 9th grade, I actually got put in the brightest class because I was the top student on a history exam. out of about 220 children. And many of these went on to Harvard and Penn. But although I did acceptable work, they decided to push me back to a lower section particularly because of English class. I wasn’t motivated. And again the teachers talked about my goofy looks in class. 

High school didn’t get much better or worse for me. I was actually quite willing to accept challenges (fights) my first year there but cooled off after that. I joined the wrestling team and was kind of considered a head case. I remember an ear injury my senior year and the coaches saying the problem wasn’t my ear but between the ears. I was inconsistent, had some good efforts, but concentration lapses and perhaps a breathing problem plagued me. In academics, i don’t think I had any interest in doing much. Did not take any honors classes, took the lowest math classes I could find. Took orchestra (played the violin) and this was kind of easy credit. Academically, I did nothing in high school and wound up right in the middle of the class. Did well on the SAT. 

I did develop some techniques in high school for avoiding being embarrassed when called on. Just raise your hand and answer a question you know the answer to. If there are 20 problems, do a few before class and then raise your hand when that one was called on On books you haven’t read, just re-emphasize something that you haven’t read. I actually worked hard on a few reports in junior high and did well on them. But I slackened off in high school. I don’t remember any reports I did in high school. 

Went to college. Now I was working in a parking lot on the weekends with a grad student from Penn. It was an easy job. I actually studied hard for the first time in my life and got 3 A’s and 2 C’s. But two of the professors (both gave me A’s) did note that I looked out of it in class. One wanted to talk to me when I got a 99 on the first exam after I couldn’t seem to answer a single question in class. (was not paying attention) But I was diligent at doing the homework when working in the garage (putting in about 24 hours on the weekend) and this was the first time in my life I did my homework regularly. In Calculus, I actually got a 100 on my first exam. 

(Just as an aside, I think with ADD children, you have to be reviewing them constantly to make sure that they are doing their work You probably even have to get in their face sometimes even if this is unpleasant. Having the Penn graduate student in the garage pushing me helped. Having no distractions such as a television in the garage helped me) 

Not that my college grades were great. I did slack off in my senior year as I lost interest and wound up just below 3.00. 

I aced the CPA Examination but had problems on interviews. Eventually wound up in the tax field where I was able to develop and create different types of opportunities and really spot things that others failed to. 

But I have to say the experience of a lifetime of ADD has left some scars that are difficult to clear up. I think you have to deal with it as soon as it becomes apparent. And teachers and parents need to be trained on how to motivate the ADD studen