I have a beautiful bright daughter with severe ADHD – strong on the H. For those of you that may not know what it is, ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As soon as some people hear the letters they roll their eyes and call it an excuse. Mental health issues create a lot of stigma and discrimination. Most of this comes from not wholly understanding what this science is about. When someone has a physical disability it is a little bit easier to have empathy. Other than a callous psychopath or bully no one would tell a wheelchair bound person he is just lazy and faking it. ADHD is one of those disorders that is hard to comprehend because the person could be otherwise very normal and healthy. Because BEHAVIOR is impacted everyone has an opinion whether it is based on science or not. My daughter was tested by a psychologist and she hit all the markers for ADHD and was especially Hyperactive. She is a funny, loving, academically gifted child so I had a hard time convincing some of the teachers that she had a disorder. How can a kid that scores 99% on tests have ADHD? The mother just must not discipline enough. She has trouble focusing or concentrating on tasks unless it is very interesting to her. She is forgetful about completing tasks. She is easily distracted. She has trouble sitting still and she will interrupt people while they are talking. All of this also sounds like a spoiled brat right? LOL I understand why people think it is a made up disorder since unruly children also exhibit these same behaviors. The difference is people with ADHD truly do not WANT to act this way. Because she is predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and a GIRL that caused even more problems. Society thinks it is okay for boys to act impulsive but not girls. Girls should be quiet and complacent. So when she fidgets, talks out of turn and gets angry when confronted she will be called down or punished. If a boy does it he is more likely to get warnings. Weird right? Even though she has ADHD she can super focus on something she loves for far too long while ignoring other tasks. This further “proves” to the naysayers that she does not have attention deficit. I agree it is confusing. Some kids with ADHD do not do well in school but my kid happens to have a near genius IQ so she is wicked smart. That makes her even a harder student to have in class. So far in NC public school we have had 50% support meaning she was supported depending on the teacher. Kindergarten was stellar because her teacher was well versed and very educated (over qualified really). Her class soared and did very well. My daughter was understood, loved and felt comfortable. First grade was a struggle as the teacher was more “old school” and wanted my daughter to sit still and listen and not interrupt – which is perfectly acceptable for students like me and my eldest but not so much for my husband and youngest. Second grade teacher was understanding, third not so much, fourth grade yielded one understanding teacher while the other was just perplexed, fifth grade was touch and go but mostly good. As a parent I try to be involved as much as possible and I support whatever the teacher puts forth even if I do not whole heartedly agree with it. We just make it through each year. Some years she has to have talk therapy to cope. We finally turned to medication when she was in grade 3. We tried the usual suspects but they had terrible side effects including sleeplessness and loss of appetite. One of them even made her aggressive. So we settled on Guanfacine. Unlike other drugs used to treat ADHD Guanfacine is not a stimulant. Science is still learning why it works for some patients. Luckily it seems to affect receptors in the parts of the brain that lead to impulse control. We discovered that is what she needed help with the most. It makes her a tad sleepy so she takes it an hour before bed and she can usually do well until around 4pm. We are grateful for this aid. It does not change her into a zombie or someone we do not recognize. She can emote, she is happy and she still shows symptoms of ADHD but it is not as pronounced so we feel like this is a happy medium for now. Once her hormones started, it became less effective so we are watching her to see if we need to increase the dosage or change it out. So far, because she is learning from home virtually and I am not working, we have been able to get through the first semester of grade 6 with very little problems. We may have to revisit the medication amount once she goes back to school physically. I was a high school English teacher for 7 years in the 90’s (you know when there was no running water and stuff) and I can tell you that there are so many learning modalities even among the “normal” kids. Add to the mix the many disorders that are out there and you have a very difficult task ahead of you. I sometimes had 30 kids in a classroom and it felt like I could never service each of them the way I wanted to. See why I only lasted 7 years? On top of that they were paying me $26,000.00 a year salary. Yeah, teaching is not for pu$$!@$! Our family revere teachers and we thank them often for their service. Yes, I call it a service because they do not get paid as if it is a career which is a crying shame. Now, more than ever their job is even more difficult as they are being asked to teach in person AND virtually essentially doing TWO jobs simultaneously. What is wrong with our education system? Yes, I know “they are doing the best they can during the pandemic” but this has been going on for hundreds of years. Teachers are not respected as professionals nor are they treated as such. I better get off my soapbox and save that for another post. So, if you have ADHD know that people get you. We love you. We respect you. If you meet people that do not, speak up and be heard. Do not let people discriminate against you. You are fabulous – you have a BEAUTIFUL BRAIN. I highly recommend https://www.additudemag.com as a great resource.