My first issues with ADHD began in pre-school. Basically, I had a problem paying attention. At least a problem paying attention to one thing at a time. If I was playing with blocks and listening to the teacher I was fine. But when I was made to only listen to the teacher I had trouble. If we were having circle time I had a tendency to spontaneously get up and do something else. I just found myself being easily distracted. In my mind I was not misbehaving or being disrespectful. I would often get and pick up toys that had been left out to be helpful. Looking back I guess I was a little low on focus and high on activity. At this point my problem was mainly attributed to my being a little younger than everyone else by a few months. It was felt that I was simply immature and not quite ready to enter a school environment. A lot of parents would have held me back but I am glad my parents did not. My problem, as I would later find out, was not that I was too young to start school. I have a separate article that I wrote about why my parents did not hold me back and also my opinion on the subject.
FIRST SYMPTOMS – Easily Distracted. Can’t stay on task. Spontaneous Behavior. (misdiagnosed as a lack or readiness) Difficulty staying still.
NOTE – A persons ability to stay focused and successfully complete a task is called “readiness”.
When I was in kindergarten I had the same issues that I had in pre-school. I did well in areas that did not require a lot of focus but not so well in other areas. I started to fall behind and was made fun of by the other kids because of my difficulties. My teacher, Ms. Prochaska, was great and recognized that although I was very capable and plenty smart, there was something getting in the way. She observed me and noticed that if I was doing something with my hands I was actually able to focus better during reading time. Almost like I needed to be doing two things at a time. She worked with me in kindergarten but told my parents that this issue was going to create more difficulty in first grade because I would be expected to stay at a desk and would not have the flexibility that I had been given in kindergarten. This turned out to be true.
First grade was more difficult for the exact reasons that my kindergarten teacher had pointed out. My parents worked with me and I was able to keep my grades up but it was becoming increasingly difficult. I did not know why I was having so much difficulty. It was in first grade that my problem began to show up in my grades. In pre-school and kindergarten we received a satisfactory or unsatisfactory but in first grade we started getting scores and the class became more structured which was not good for me. At the end of the year my parents had a conference and was told I was being placed in IEP which stands for Individualized Education Program. This really just meant that there may be a problem and they were going to be monitoring my progress.
SECOND SYMPTOM – Poor or declining grades and Difficulty finishing schoolwork.
Being in second grade was even harder than first grade. My second grade teacher, Ms. Grainger, had a son who had ADHD and recognized some of the symptoms in me. This was really the first time that this was mentioned. I was able to work hard and keep my grades up but because of my grades I was left on the IEP program. There was never any discussion about holding me back. I think that if I had given up and not tried there would have been. I did feel like no matter how hard I tried I just could not stay focused. I kept a notebook and was supposed to write down all my assignments but would forget. I meant well but would get distracted and then something would happen or the bell would ring and I would forget about writing down the assignments. Also, as school became more demanding I began to forget more things. Once, I forgot to wear my shoes to school on FCAT day. It did not very much to distract me. Also, I found that I became angry very easily. I guess the stress of things always had me on edge.
THIRD SYMPTOM – Forgetting things. Frustration. Easily angered.
Third grade was the grade when things become bad enough for me to be tested. It was strange because my sister as being tested for the gifted program while I was being tested for a learning problem. Since this article is on the symptoms I am going to cover being tested for ADHD in my next article.