View Full Version : High Achieving Students With ADHD


bzybee14
07-26-15, 10:37 PM
Hello! I was wondering if anyone here did well in school, but also had ADHD (whether diagnosed during school or after high school graduation.)
I myself haven't been diagnosed with ADHD, but I'm wondering if I might (my mom and sister also show symptoms of ADHD.)
I am 18, almost 19, and I graduated as valedictorian of my high school graduating class (2014,) but I was an A-B and sometimes C student in middle school (at the beginning of my freshman year I viewed to be the top of my class.)
Anyways, I'm not looking for any informal diagnoses, but I am interested in hearing stories about high achievers with ADHD.
:thankyou:

BellaVita
07-26-15, 10:47 PM
I was a high-achiever with ADHD, I was diagnosed in summer of 2011.

I did well in school, only made a B twice in my life. (Only once did it land on my report card)

I also took all advanced classes, skipped grades in certain subjects, had a position in the NHS, teachers urged me to skip a couple grades but I didn't because I wanted to graduate with the friends I grew up with since kindergarten.

I also took a college course in high school.

BUT even though I did very well, I had zero social life and worked on homework 6hours + a day.

I struggled with focus and attention, yes I was a high-achiever, but it came with a cost. I hardly slept, and would work 10 x harder than everyone else.

Was always exhausted.

But had to get those good grades.

sarahsweets
07-27-15, 04:14 AM
What were your symptoms in childhood? Beyond and before middle school I mean.

dvdnvwls
07-27-15, 12:56 PM
I have very obvious ADHD and was the top student in my high school. I started to "crash and burn" in university but I made it through.

(My ADHD diagnosis wasn't made until my 40s. For a while, when I was small, I was in advanced classes and remedial classes at the same time. :) )

TygerSan
07-27-15, 01:28 PM
The structure of high school can allow higher achieving students to thrive. Lots of external cues to do work/turn it in, etc. Personally, I found grades to be incredibly motivating and my anxiety over them pushed me to pull long hours/late nights in college. I also loved school and learning and had accommodations throughout my school career that helped me not hate school.

That's not to say that I didn't have trouble with those in charge from time to time. It was always a fine balance between advocating for my needs to be met (longer time on tests and assignments, reduced workload) and insisting that I be challenged intellectually ( I spent around a week in a standard level history class and, while I didn't like history as a subject, I was so frustrated with the pace of the class that I begged to be moved into the more advanced class).

I often feel as though I don't have as valid a claim towards the disability label because a lot of what I do well helps me to function well in society. My strongest assets are my ability to process and produce language, for example, so people see what I write and assume that I am highly competent. That is mostly the case, but I have real trouble organizing and sequencing my thoughts and physical environment. I also process nonverbal and spatial information incredibly slowly.

dvdnvwls
07-27-15, 01:43 PM
The structure of high school can allow higher achieving students to thrive. Lots of external cues to do work/turn it in, etc. Personally, I found grades to be incredibly motivating and my anxiety over them pushed me to pull long hours/late nights in college. I also loved school and learning and had accommodations throughout my school career that helped me not hate school.

That's not to say that I didn't have trouble with those in charge from time to time. It was always a fine balance between advocating for my needs to be met (longer time on tests and assignments, reduced workload) and insisting that I be challenged intellectually ( I spent around a week in a standard level history class and, while I didn't like history as a subject, I was so frustrated with the pace of the class that I begged to be moved into the more advanced class).

I often feel as though I don't have as valid a claim towards the disability label because a lot of what I do well helps me to function well in society. My strongest assets are my ability to process and produce language, for example, so people see what I write and assume that I am highly competent. That is mostly the case, but I have real trouble organizing and sequencing my thoughts and physical environment. I also process nonverbal and spatial information incredibly slowly.

We have a great deal in common. You seem to have a better understanding of yourself and make more effective choices than I do.

Luvmybully
07-27-15, 02:31 PM
My oldest daughter was diagnosed when she was in grad school.

That's when she was really on her own, (paying her bills, responsible for her own medical issues, all her financial stuff for school..) she just could not function in a healthy way anymore.

She is so completely different from her adhd suffering father and younger sister, it was missed while she was in primary school, and she squeaked by as an undergrad.

bzybee14
07-28-15, 04:55 PM
Okay... Symptoms... (I'm gonna try to list all that I can think of...)
-Every year since kindergarten, my tardies per quarter increased (and my tardiness in kindergarten was to the point where my teacher said that it was "a concern"... I rode the bus to school from kindergarten through second grade.) I'm also usually the last one ready to go anywhere with others (my mom would be the other one lol.) Also, I was tardy for school the majority of my middle school career.
Procrastination. I think that I've always done this... Every big project I've ever had since elementary school has been last second.
Forgetfulness. My first grade papers were a mix of As and "please finish"es (I came across a box of these papers.) And I seemed to forget parent signatures often, a reminder was written at least on my fourth and fifth grade journals. Also, I'd forget to correct my journals and write at least half a page often.
Along with this, I may not necessarily remember further back, but for as long as I've paid attention to it, I tend to forget a word/what I was going to say several times a day. Also, I misplace or forget things. Not sure to what extent is normal.
Disorganization. Well, there is currently a big pile of clothes and miscellaneous stuff on the floor of my room. I rearranged it without bothering to clean up first. My room can never stay clean and organized. Heck, it's the same way with the entire house.
Distraction. When taking tests, I'm usually the last one done, and I can't concentrate when others start talking, and I start to freak out and look at the teacher for help with the cacophony. White noise or music without lyrics helps me focus better though. I have to sleep with a fan on at night. I also have light sensitivity. Hopefully that's sufficient for now.
Hyperfocus. On the flip side, I've been known to be completely immersed in a book, even in a noisy classroom or band room. I'm oblivious to the noise. I could also read in a gym during a basketball game! Others have asked me how I can read with the noise, and I've responded that I don't know. Also, when given something to do, like keeping stats for the basketball team, I become completely immersed in the game. And when I was on my high school's scholar bowl team, I'd be in the zone, adrenaline pumping, and everything.
Other random things... I used to doodle a lot during class, but I told myself that my notes needed to be neater in high school, and I think that pencil/eraser twirling replaced the doodling. I think that I fidget a bit (I even have a leg that bounces better lol, my foot is shaking as I write this.) Shoot... There was something else I was going to say... I can't remember at the moment. And also, I've been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and OCD. Oh yeah! The depression came at the end of high school. I've realized that I'm not good with transition/change. And I get confused very easily (and I'm sure that my friends would agree.) The spoken word and listening is harder than understanding written word.

Ummm... That's all I can think of now... I tried to keep it relatively short, but I probably left out some important things.

bzybee14
07-28-15, 05:02 PM
I apologize... That's fairly long, oops. I also suck at time management... I just discussed that with someone yesterday. And I see my therapist tomorrow. I haven't specifically said ADHD, but I've mentioned things that could be related... It's hard for me to get to the point I suppose. Oh! And I've had like random little projects and things that garnered my attention at random times... Poetry, knitting, triathlon, etc. I suck at explaining things... Like my emotions and actual things if that makes sense. Or I misspeak... Use the wrong word, such as Mario instead of Margo when talking about Paper Towns. Okay, I'll shut up now. XD Maybe I've covered enough lol.

Pilgrim
07-28-15, 07:29 PM
I use to leave the fan on all the time. And I didn't like going outside.

Yeah I always loved the anxiety of better marks and that cloistered environment of high school /college.
And I did well. Graduated in the top 5 percent.
Uni was hell but I would have made it with meds. Might go back next year, but I'll never be a Queens counsel.

It's all about focus, and removing those barriers in the way; if you can.
Great support is needed if you need it find it. Depending on how much it impairs you and how hard your willing to go, might determine your success. I think life's boring if you don't have a crack at what you want.

hg12345
07-28-15, 08:28 PM
I did very well in school in the subjects that I enjoyed. I wasn't medicated at that piont and didn't have a diagnosis then. Once I got to college though, and the demand increased tremendously, I wasn't capable of doing well even when I enjoyed the class. That was when I realized that I needed help. So to answer ur question- yes- many ppl with adhd are very bright and learn to compensate for things that are hard for them. But that is only possible to a certain extent.

bzybee14
07-29-15, 12:42 AM
During my first semester of college, well, I technically did take summer classes, I somehow was convinced that I had dyslexia. It felt like something was wrong. Later on, after going to the college's Learning Skills Center and being "diagnosed" with some light sensitivity, I wondered if my "messed up" writing and rewriting and rechecking work was an OCD like behavior (I was later diagnosed with OCD.) But when I thought about it, couldn't that be an overcompensation I developed in high school? My handwriting morphed many times through my school career, and on one freshman year spelling test, I swore that I spelled extemporaneous correctly, but concluded that the teacher probably misread my handwriting (I've had my n's misread as u's, y's misread as 4's, and 3's misread as 8's before.) Since then, I've wanted to make sure that everything looked clear to me to avoid confusion. Also, I've made dumb mistakes on assignments and tests before, so I always at least double check tests to ensure legibility and make sure I didn't make a mistake. And there usually is at least one mistake which just strengthens my checking. And making sure that I didn't miss a question... I've developed a habit of putting a big star or circle on a question I need to come back to. And I always cram for tests.
Okay... Ramble over. XD

sarahsweets
07-29-15, 05:28 AM
Ok, no one freak out here but I am of the belief that people with adhd can be very smart, intelligent, book smart, even street smart. What I have an issue with is demonstrating those things. I think I am smart enough but having the smarts = results in school and life is where the disconnect occurred. I guess in environments where adequate coping skills have developed, maybe this can translate into results but because adhd is a doing disorder and not a knowing disorder, it would seem like for me, I was unable to demonstrate in any reasonable way, that I had the skills to be successful. It depends on the circumstances too. In school, I had very poor grades and behavior issues until my junior year in high school when it seemed like my learning environment changed to better suit my needs. I went to college and f**ked around for 2 semesters and then got married and had a baby. I resumed college and did much better because I think I had the desire to get done with it because I had a family. The degree never translated into a successful career or job because again, my output or performance inhibited my ability to perform even the simplest tasks. Ive had more jobs than I could count and all of them have been terminated due to my getting fired or quitting abruptly.
When my oldest daughter was 2, I made the decision to apply for disability because it became obvious that the adhd and BPII was making it impossible to do anything that was contributing to the welfare of my family. Maybe one day I will get to the point I can work again or even go back to school, and maybe I will find a dream job that is perfect for my skill set. I think my goal though is going to be volunteering somewhere.
Adhd isnt a knowing disorder, its a doing disorder. Knowing what to do and not doing what you know.

Pilgrim
07-29-15, 06:31 AM
I apologize... That's fairly long, oops. I also suck at time management... I just discussed that with someone yesterday. And I see my therapist tomorrow. I haven't specifically said ADHD, but I've mentioned things that could be related... It's hard for me to get to the point I suppose. Oh! And I've had like random little projects and things that garnered my attention at random times... Poetry, knitting, triathlon, etc. I suck at explaining things... Like my emotions and actual things if that makes sense. Or I misspeak... Use the wrong word, such as Mario instead of Margo when talking about Paper Towns. Okay, I'll shut up now. XD Maybe I've covered enough lol.

Let's say it is ADD, how much does it impair you. I think NT's think life is a pick nick on meds. It actually just levels the field. I would hate to think of what life would be like without meds, because I lived without them for so long.
So how impaired do you think you are?

hg12345
07-29-15, 01:42 PM
Adhd isnt a knowing disorder, its a doing disorder. Knowing what to do and not doing what you know.

Well said. I believe that many maladaptive coping skills develope at a young age to compensate. However, the coping skill may actually help them be successful in the moment. Something like perfectionism was a skill that I developed really young. It's horrible but it made me fight through school and do pretty well. It was by no means worth it- I'm suffering from it now. But at that piont it was my means of survival.

bzybee14
07-29-15, 05:23 PM
Let's say it is ADD, how much does it impair you. I think NT's think life is a pick nick on meds. It actually just levels the field. I would hate to think of what life would be like without meds, because I lived without them for so long.
So how impaired do you think you are?

That's part of the problem... I'm horrible at self evaluation. For example, when my therapist or psychiatrist asks if the medicine for, say OCD, is helping. I usually am like I have no freaking idea... I don't pay attention to it. Or when I forgot about my medicine over winter break... I don't know if I felt worse off of it. And I suck at figuring out my feelings and emotions.
I did try those online self tests, and they suggested that I look into ADHD because it was likely I had it.
Well... It is frustrating and nerve wracking when I misplace things, such as one thing I've currently lost: tax return paper things. And I hate how I always procrastinate on everything... It makes me so anxious, but I have to be in a certain mindset in order to work on a particular thing. And stumbling on words, losing what to say, not having the right word... Maybe that led to my social anxiety. Dang... And... Ummm... One more thing... Distraction. It does take me awhile to do anything... With cleaning, I can jump from hanging up clothes to sorting my jewelry. And I can't concentrate with noise (especially with words or lyrics.) It is impairing me to an extent... I feel like I could be better... My therapist asked if some of this stuff was just due to laziness... I'm not sure... I don't think so. :/ I don't know is my go to answer I suppose. But, yes, I do think these symptoms impose at least some impairment. I don't know to what degree is, well, diagnosable? Confuzzlement...

daveddd
07-29-15, 10:23 PM
i was put in high achieving situations and classes but never achieved highly

tested great on ACTs , and standardized testing, but never thrived in the classroom

i recalled something when i had to obtain transcripts for a job recently

i did poorly until i needed to either sink or swim

so all the time i knew what to do, and it just wasn't that i couldn't do what i knew, it seemed i needed emotional ultimatums in order to do it

i failed out of college soon after the classes passed that i could just show up for tests

the structure and all the temptations did me in


i really don't think ADHD should be classified in ant intellectual academic achievement category , some people are better in some areas of life than others

Powderbucket
07-30-15, 03:41 AM
My psychiatrist told me that a level of intelligence has nothing to do with ADHD. You can have a super-low IQ or a super-high IQ and it doesn't indicate anything about yourself having or not having ADHD.

I was the highest achieving student in school and, while that's great and all, I struggled and I was depressed most of the time. I think my ADHD has helped me to think laterally which may have contributed to me getting away with good marks where I didn't study as much. Not sure....

Although, since school has to do with sitting and patiently reading and listening.... I could see why an ADHD person would suffer. It's not that we're dumb, it's just that the school environment doesn't work so great for us.

TygerSan
07-30-15, 10:05 AM
I often feel that school is both the best and worst thing that happened to me. The structure gave me the ability to achieve my highest potential. It was also an anxiety factory. The same structure that worked well for me also constrained me, if that makes sense? I don't function as well in the real world as I did in school or even college, but I am much more relaxed, and less stressed without looming deadlines.

I continued in school for as long as I could because that's what I was best at. Working with my hands would have been an absolute disaster. I have never held a retail job, and it's actually come to bite me in the rear a couple of times. My first job was in a research lab.