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Old 09-30-05, 07:01 AM
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Slowpoke Slowpoke is offline

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I survived university, here to help.. ask me!

Hey all,
having FINALLY made it through university and graduating this past may (hooray! hooray!), I would love to be able to encourage and support anyone who has questions or needs some advice.

not saying that I'll have the answers, but I'll try my best.
I was actually diagnosed in university.. .third year. I ended up taking two extra years to finish my BA (psychology and minor geography), worked part time as a lifeguard and swimming instructor on campus, was on residence councils (president of residence association, as well as practically every other position at one time or another except for treasurer b/c I hate numbers); was a first year orientation leader and planning committee person for 3 years, was part of the cycling club and triathlon club, went out to night clubs, made friends, loved it!!

So I was involved. What do I walk away with?
A swank diploma in the swankiest frame they had.
A resume that is awesome!
I'm applying for jobs and they don't ask for university transcripts. All that matters is that you got the BA.
The other stuff I did speaks more it seems...
I have leadership and event planning experiece
I can hold down a job
I have first aid training
I've been on planning committees
I was able to complete a university degree - which apparently is impressive in itself whether the degree pertains to the actual position or not.

I struggled through university, the lecture format is NOT suited for ADHDers. I had to really work to make it work - with the support of the disabiity resource centre, mad accommodations and extensions and medical notes from the student health director who was acting as my GP...

I ended up with an anxiety disorder and am on meds for it, but i"ve always had a mood disorder lurking around my brain.

I've had to advocate and e-mail profs directly to explain why I wasn't able to complete whatever assignment

the most I've ever owed the library is $ 876 or something like that. I argued it down to $30. medical notes will take you far.

you can appleal ANYTHING. remember that.
keep the profs informed, prove that you're getting the support to get through it and that you're taking responsibility to take care of yourself.

My supports:
arts academic advisor
geography department advisor
psychology dpt advisor (once to check my degree fulfilment)
disabilty resource centre advisor
strategic learning content tutor
boyfriend to listen to me ***** and whine
friends at work to goof off with
the little kids I taught to help me feel good about myself
student health director as my GP (not just as drop in)

so I had LOTS of supports. no shame in it.

let me know if you need advice!
I'm now in college taking a career program to become a special education teacher assistant, and all I can say is: college is kick ***... 25 students MAX per each class!! and it's waaaaay more interactive and the teachers make efforts to make it easier. NO TESTS OR EXAMS. NO BIG LONG ESSAYS. group presentations, group work, short oral presentation, project work that is EASY. short homework questions.

I wish university was like college, but then it would be too much work for the profs to prepare.

am I bitter?
I would be lying if I said no.
"ADD?...yeah well, at least I'll never be accused of being BORING!!"
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Old 09-30-05, 11:55 AM
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Tell me more. Why is university different for u then college??? I too am considering becoming a spec ed teacher. I think it owuld be amazing to be able to see someone just like me succeed.
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Old 09-30-05, 04:47 PM
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I can go out of my library fines?!?!!?!??! **** YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've already given them $150, but it's just getting ridiculous now.

Um, how'd you survive the social part of it??
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Old 10-04-05, 06:33 PM
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I was just recently diagnosed with ADD, and have realized that I've had it all my life...I am currently back to school myself, for a career change to court reporting. It's difficult enough, with testing twice a week, and its like learning a different language and learning to play the piano at the same time.
Anyone have any insight on trying to keep myself focused and not distracted?
I started 25mg Strattera Sunday, along with 50 mg Zoloft....
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Old 10-16-05, 04:38 PM
onemoreyear onemoreyear is offline
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How do you force yourself to get started on things?

How do you not freak out before an exam because you KNOW you are less prepared than the other students?

How do you you convince your Physics professors that, even though you have a learning disability, you have just as much of a right as ANYONE else to be a Physics major??????
Everything is always okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end.
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Old 10-25-05, 05:25 PM
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drug holidays...possible for students?

Hi...I was diagnosed with ADD my sophomore year of college and my dexedrine prescription throughout the rest of my college career changed my life. I graduated in May and I am now in my first semester at law school. Law school has been a whole new world as far as my ADD. In my first few weeks, I ended up going through an entire month's prescription of dexedrine within 2 weeks just to get my required reading done for each day's class. My doctor has since upped my prescription but I still feel as though I have developed a tolerance to amphetamines in general.

I have researched so-called "drug holidays" as a remedy, but I need to know, from other college students out there, how to go about doing this. To keep up in my classes, I need to read at least 6, if not 7 days a week. I have also come to rely on dexedrine to get me though the classes themselves. Has anyone tried taking a drug holiday to revitalize the effects of their stimulant medication? How long of a 'holiday' does this require? Thanks so much.

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Old 10-27-05, 08:12 AM
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Is there a way around homework short of paying the kid down the hall? I dropped University because there was no need for me to do homework...So I didn't. Now being treated makes homework even more meaningless. I would read the book in the bookstore and be able to refer back to it like it was in front of me during the tests. I just had no ability to focus on sitting there.

Near-Photographic memory is what the dude in the office with the green carpet called it.
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Old 10-28-05, 06:42 PM
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Hey, wow, I can't believe you managed to do all that, I think a big problem for me is admitting to my teachers i have ADD, I don't like it being perceived as an excuse...though I guess thats exactly what it is...but I mean the bad type of excuse.

How did you go about appealing to your teachers without sounding like your just trying to make excuses and aren't putting work in? Thanks!
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But with ebola.
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Old 10-29-05, 11:01 AM
theluckyone theluckyone is offline

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Aced the tests, slept through class mostly, misbehaved. Since I would rather not have a special "understanding" with each teacher, I made a point to live up to their worst expactations. Gave me the rebellious label and worked on subs too. I was more than a rebel though, I was a strategic excuse hunter. I found that the best way to handle being sub-social is trouble, then you're the center of attention all the time. Might be why little kids use it too.
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Old 11-11-05, 10:25 PM
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Sorry I've been away.

I'll try to answer the questions asked.
Casper, you asked "Why is university different for u then college???"
In university, from my experience in psychology and other courses, the class structure was usually found to be lecture style. More students (talking about 200), less time to get to know each student. Teacher stands at the front and talks and talks and talks. You're left to your own devices to try and make it through... unless you can bring yourself to make the effort to book an appointment with the prof to clarify questions.
If anyone is in university and is having trouble keeping up with stuff, I totally recommend going in to see your prof... guaranteed (OK for the most part) that they will feel appreciative that someone is taking the time to ask for help - it shows the prof that YOU WANT TO DO WELL in the class and care about understanding it.

University: this is my own idea... the profs often have their own side projects going on and lecture b/c it's part of the contract... so less of the focus on the student learning, less emphasis on the EFFECTIVE transfer of knowledge from the prof to the teacher.

College in my case seems like the instructors are passionate about TEACHING others how to do things, or teach them what they know. My program is a bit different, since the class size is kept at a max of 25 and the profs are all people who work for the district schools. But the profs all have taken the time to have lots of different learning methods it seems. Lots of discussion, more relaxed atmosphere. More joking around.

BCADDKid, you asked " Um, how'd you survive the social part of it??"
what are you specifically having a hard time with?
I've just come to the realization that being blunt about my certain characteristics and making a joke about them help.
Also realize that in the grand scheme of things, you don't want to spend time with people who think you're an idiot. Why waste your time? You'll just harm your self-esteem.
Just make the conscious decision to hang out with and share your ideas and quirks with people who find you interesting, exciting, funny, entertaining, fascinating...
People who just let you be who you are.
The people who make you feel like you can just be yourself and not have to worry about "watching your behaviour" are the people who are going to be your best supportive friends.
People who make you actually forget that you have ADHD or make you forget that it's a big deal to the majority of the world - those are the keepers.
YOU have the CHOICE to decide who to invest your time with.
I'm lucky I found my best friend (my boyfriend.. sounds immature since we're almost 27. but we've been together for over 7years); and he just lets me be all scatterbrained and disorganized and is super patient. I feel the most free when I'm around him. He shrugs off my stupidities.

Another one of my friends I just met this past year is also another "keeper". She's so supportive in the fact that she recognizes how hard I try at EVERYTHING. She's dated a guy with ADHD, and was able to give me some info on how he and I were different in terms of how we were in conversation. But she doesn't see it as a big deal. She finds it really funny when I get all crazy and dress up in a funny costume for halloween. I was the only one at the table wearing something outlandish. But she just lets me be.

I think the main thing socially is to really understand that if you feel like you have to constantly be trying to manage your behaviour around that person, then they're not really a "keeper" friend. Real friends are those who laugh at your stupidity b/c it's entertaining, let you laugh at theirs. They listen to your *****ing, and ***** to you when they need to. There's a mutual understanding there. Unspoken understanding that they don't think you're stupid. They like being around you because your energy and ideas make them feel alive.

Does that make sense?
Just CHOOSE to be around people who are nce.
You don't have to tell anyone you're an ADDer. There are ways to say the difficulties without using that label.

I read your challenges with girls... just be yourself!! If you feel stupid and don't catch on, be straight up and say "I'm pretty much clueless when it comes to picking up subleties, so if you can make things really obvious for me that will help. I think you're really cool and am intrigued. You're fun to talk to/talk at. I hope I see you around here again."

I have social anxiety by the way... and I LOOOOOVE talking to people, I'm a paradox. I can get up in front of large groups (100+) and be a first year orientation leader b/c I know what I'm doing. But put me in a peer group at work and I feel really stupid sometimes.

If you feel like you need to "get" social stuff more, you can "study up" on it.
Look up books on "Body language" and social psychology, social skills etc.
There's a lot of good stuff out there because of the need to teach social skills. (Not just for ADDers but for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder too)

Mymind, you asked: Anyone have any insight on trying to keep myself focused and not distracted?

Ha ha... insight? The funny thing is, with ADDers, you can read a lot of what others say... and some of it will make you go "AHA!" and other stuff will make you go "HUH??"

The main thing I have realized is that decision making and the emotional component of motivation is what is the hardest.
If you focus on the emotional aspect of things, it helps a lot. Having a focus on WHY you want to get this done, helps me to focus.
Like this forum, it's really important to me that I help people. It makes me feel good that all the junk (revised vocal word there) I've been through might actually help someone else have an easier time with ADHD.

What I've learned is that anything you have in your head without writing it down somewhere is taking up RAM, like in your computer. You have too many "programs" running at once, you start to slow down in processing b/c your brain can't differentiate between what it needs to do right now and what can really wait. That's for the non-ADDer... since we have an issue with prioritizing to BEGIN with, we're really S.O.L. Hee hee hee.

So, I made my own planner which is the only one that's really been useful for me. I had it saved on my old computer which I stripped down and havn't put the old hard drive in my new computer, so the files are "stuck" in the HD (think zoolander scene where they're acting like monkeys hitting the computer... hahaha).
I also took the forum's ideas and made a list of goals - what I want to accomplish if I could do ANYTHING in my life. I just let it go.

Together with the get organized now forum, I set out to get better at time management so I'm spending the most time on things I care most about.

Check out the threads and let me know if you want/need help. It takes a fair bit of work to do it, but it's TOTALLY been worth it. I FEEEEL more productive and am more effective the past few days.


onemoreyear you asked:
How do you force yourself to get started on things?

ah, the problem here is maybe the fact that you're thinking of the term "FORCE MYSELF"...
try this... when you think of the phrase FORCE MYSELF, what kind of emotion does it create in you?
I bet it's not of happy faces and straight A's, of confidence and cute little kitty cats.

What about if you say "How can I MOTIVATE MYSELF" to study?
That is... why will my life be better if I study RIGHT NOW??
write them out, put happy faces on it or whatever visual symbols make you feel that "warm fuzzy" inside. I'm serious.
Sit and think about inspiring people you look up to. My brother liked on of Einstein's quotes (of course I forget what it is, but it's a good one). Don't just read them, or you won't REACT to it. the key is to read it, take it in, start thinking, experiencing it. Get excited about your committment to getting through the course.
Let yourself be proud of conquering that dread of sitting down and picking up that d**n book.

Why do you dread it? What are you afraid of? Why do you NOT want to study?
Don't just say, I'd rather be doing something else...
think of WHY it's hard.
Do the words overwhelm you? ... does the very visual representation fo such a thick book make it seem like you have to KNOW ALLLLL THE BOOK? try sticking a sticky note on the frist and last page of the reading assignment.... or if you have a s**tload to do, then put a sticky on the first page and one on the 5th page.

Break things up into little bits, and try just writing out the ONE VERY LITTLE ACTION you need to do on a piece of paper and put the list away someplace.
Do the action.
look at the next action and write it out.
write it out and do it.

if you look at the next action and it's still brining up dread in your tummy, then the step is too big for you to handle... so break it down even more.

It could be that you have to break it up into little bitty parts like:
get my bag and put it next to my desk
get pencil case out
get textbook out
get notebook out

that's totally fine. if it's overwhelming to see all the steps on one page, then like I said write them on separate pieces of paper so you only can see one step at a time and then when you do the next step, put the step you've already done away.

waste of paper? (I'm an environmentally conscious person)
how so? not a waste if it helps you get better at getting studying done.

If you have a hard time figuring out the steps, go find your academic advisor, and see if you can get hooked up with a tutor. Maybe your school has a learning specialist or counselling services?

As well, what I do a lot is I just read this kind of stuff and think yeah, that's a good idea... and then I don't do it. b/c I somehow think that it's too simplistic and that I can do it without "sinking" to that level of simplicity... and then I don't get it done.

You asked for help, what you're doing isn't working to your satisfaction, so try this. REALLY TRY IT.
If you don't, then I've wasted my time. I would also like to know if it works.
And be careful that you stick to it... if you forget to do it and you're getting stuck starting again, IT'S BETTER to implement it again and start it up than to ignore it and say it didn't work.
most of the time it's that I don't keep with something that has sort of worked.
Do it.
Do it.

don't mean to come across as a B***H but I've had to wrestle with my own brain to get into this routine, and I STILL struggle. I have to be my own nag. like I have a split personality - one that wants to get stuff done, and one that just says "screw it"

And no, I'm not going to spank you if you don't do as I say.
Your loss if you don't.

Sorry, I've been typing for a while so I'm getting a bit crusty. Just talking about this brings up the crusty-ness of past failures I've had in school.
But this semester I've gotten good grades in school because for the first time I LOVE classes!! yay!

Kebs... warning... you might not like what I have to say or agree with it at all... and I recognize that. please don't hate me. I realize that it's entirely possible that you can have a sucessful drug holiday program...
Holy crap dude...
Drug holidays???
It's been my experience that if I'm on the PROPER DOSE that you DON'T develop a tolerance to it.
There's probably something else that needs to be dealt with.
Maybe you havn't learned how to do flexible reading?
Are you trying to read stuff allll the way through?
Have you been assessed for a learning disability?
It's a good thing to bring it up though... I'm a strong believer in relying more on developing and analysing other aspects of it than meds to help me become better at learning.
I'm just terrified of the effects of medication if I take too much, I have too much at stake to be messing with drug holidays and going off it. It just isn't convenient to do it now that I'm an adult. If I were younger and I had my parents who would be taking responsibility for the parts of my daily routine that would be affected by going off meds for a bit, then it would be fine for me.
It's disturbing how Drug "tolerance" is similar to the definition of "addiction".

I've been at the same dose for about... 3 years I think.
Am I a slow reader? yes.
so it could be you're a slow reader and it's just going to take you longer to get through it all..?
Maybe there are other methods to help? take notes, learn a more visual system for flagging stuff, maybe you need to be having a conversation with someone to really get it to sink in.
Not everyone is a "reader" type learner. You probably aren't??
University sucks for that.
But wow, I commend you for your perseverence with law! I had a roomie who was taking it and it was nuts how much she had to read...
she said about 5 hours a night of case studies.

But I'm realllly worried about you just taking more and more meds to try and help you understand. I have a feeling it's the way you're trying to process it that's not working.
This is just my opinion, but my philosophy is that ritalin is to help your brain stay at a steady level of processing efficiency. I can only take in so much at one time, with meds it makes it better but it's NOT going to make me better at learning at all...
I had to FIRST go back and LEARN HOW TO LEARN stuff so it sticks in my brain better and so that I can understand it.

I can't just sit and read stuff.
I have to do the general overview... only expecting to get about 50% of the detail. skim for names, headlines, the "feel" for it.

then go from there... each step is a higher detail of understanding.
So start from a reallllly general understanding and then work closer.

I hope this helps... needing more and more meds is definitely something to be worried aobut...
I overlapped my meds once and got waaay too perky. I felt stupid and out of control of how I was acting. Since then I'm really careful about it b/c I have too much at stake if I mess it up like I already said. I don't want to have to need any more meds, I've had to look reallly realllly hard at HOW I've been going about learning and trying new strategies. I've gotten into a lot of the psychology of learning, the emotional aspects of it and accepted that it's going to be tough for me b/c as soon as I get stressed out I lose focus. I have to be really careful of how a study, but it gets done.

Oh yeah, if you don't get enough sleep the meds don't work. they'll keep you awake but they're useless in terms of focusing and information processing.

Again I apologize for my rant. Just be careful please??? I'm worried about you!!!
Let me know if you've already gone through the drug holiday.
Maybe I shouldn't have said what I did, since I've never been on one?
Does anyone have a positive experience with "tolerance" and drug holidays???
I'm just TERRIFIED of getting hooked on a substance... or needing more of meds to keep focused.

How do you not freak out before an exam because you KNOW you are less prepared than the other students?

I just do it. Deal with it. It was my responsibility to know the info. If I don't, then it's a strong indicator that I need to learn a better way to get it into my head. It means that what I did to study for the exam didn't work and that I need to change it.
Then I breathe, just do the best I can and just say that I can take the course over.
I've had to learn this the hard way.
I've dropped courses right before the exam so I don't get an "F" grade.
I still get nauseous when the teacher is about to hand back assignments...

It's NO ONES fault but MY OWN for not having learned how to best make it stick. It's hard work, hard to figure out how to make it stick, but I'm the one who is going to have to deal with the guilt of not having passed or whatever.
That was the reality for me.
I have to basically look at how to change how the process went to be able to change the result.
Once I'm at the exam and unprepared, it's too late to do anything.

How do you you convince your Physics professors that, even though you have a learning disability, you have just as much of a right as ANYONE else to be a Physics major??????
Ha ha... convince?
You get the disability resource centre at your school to give the prof a notice. You have to get tested for the LD and give it to the disability services (or whatever it's called at your school) and they will type up a letter with what accommodations you get.
As far as having to CONVINCE them that you have a right to have a physics major... I don't see how that applies. Anyone can study anything they want to, providing they make the requirements. The profs and disapprove of your choice of major, but if it becomes a problem, find another prof, or report it. Depending on the context, it could be discrimination.
By the way, ADHD in itself IS NOT a learning disability.
At my Alma Mater I had to get tested for LD ($1200.. ouch) and have that documentation before I could get accommodations. There are no acommodations at present time at my former school for students with only a diagnosis of ADHD.
Oh, and you don't even need to tell your prof you have it.
I had one prof tell me that I just had to learn how to write papers, b/c it was university... I'd told him I have a LD and was having trouble with writing the paper and asked for an extension...
I dropped the course after getting 96% on the presentation component b/c I didn't feel like dealing with his attitude.

Bottom line is: YOU CAN DO IT.
It took me a long time combined with a lot of work to figure out how to deal, and the sad thing is the way the system is structured wasn't in my favour in terms of having a free tutor. At college there is a learning specialist with a M.Ed. who helps me... not at university. it's just the way the system is, but I dealt with it.

If things are really tough, you might just have to face the fact that it's going to take a long time to finish, or that you need to take less courses (I had to... not worth all the stress in my case) so that you can sort out ways to strengthen your skills for learning before you take a full courseload.

It's taken me a loooong time to get stuff sorted out, between 5 different mood disorder medications over the last 8 years, and both ritalin and dexedrine in combo with those other meds... I finally found effexor to be working and the dosage has finally settled down to where I know when to take it so I'm not totally tired that ritaling doesn't work, and how much ritalin to take when... 30mins before I get up to help make that transition easier, then every 3 hours and 15 mins, and how much long acting dexedrine to take to help with the time awareness (a little bit helps).
It's taken me 4 years to figure out how I react to meds, when to NOT take ritalin so I don't get dehydrated, when to take it so I can do my job properly and when to take it so that I'm more effective as a person.

I know that I can not take it on weekends when I have NOTHING I have to do... so maybe that's me taking "mini-drug holidays". During a regular school schedule though, I'm like CLOCKWORK with the meds. Top it off with hormone issues with being a girl (PMS and mood disorders makes the depression come back and the anti-anxiety meds and ritalin less effective for a few days. it's lovely.) and it's one complex situation.

But I stuck it out.
Just be careful, meticulous. Take note of how you react to medications. Look for patterns.
And look beyond meds.
I'm still an anti-medication kind of person... I would rather look to other things than switch meds.

anyone going to tell me off?
I'm scared that I might get a warning...
oh well.
I hope everyone is doing OK.

School is still hard, I struggle, but I'm tougher at kicking my butt into gear.
I hope you guys keep at it and stay tough.
I made it through 6 years to finish a 4 year degree, low average (69%) graduating, but I still got into the college program I wanted b/c of my experience from work and volunteering.

Thanks for listening.
Sorry if I offended anyone, and sorry if I've been ignorant...
"ADD?...yeah well, at least I'll never be accused of being BORING!!"

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Old 11-11-05, 10:42 PM
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Slowpoke Slowpoke is offline

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Window licker, just realized I didn't reply back to you.
you said:
Hey, wow, I can't believe you managed to do all that, I think a big problem for me is admitting to my teachers i have ADD, I don't like it being perceived as an excuse...though I guess thats exactly what it is...but I mean the bad type of excuse.

How did you go about appealing to your teachers without sounding like your just trying to make excuses and aren't putting work in? Thanks!

First of all, thanks for the "wow". it was hard work, I got depressed a lot but I didn't give up... I'm really really reallllly stubborn so that helped.

I have a problem with how you worded your post...
"Admitting" you have ADHD?
maybe I'm getting the meaning wrong, but I just feel that it's not admitting you have it. I understand that people have this totally stupid misconception about what ADHD actually is... and there isn't anything I can really do to change the mind of professors. I don't tell some profs. The accommodation letter just says I have specific accommodations.

To my friends, they all know I have ADHD... some still think the whole thing is a hoax, and make silly comments about "kiddie cocaine"... to which Irespond "Yeah, it's addictive, if you go and SNORT it." I've done the research on the brain region affected and speficically HOW it affects me and WHAT kinds of issues I have with information processing. I find that if I explain it to people in that way, they seem to get the idea that it's not just "Hii'mhyperandonritalinandigetspecialpriviledgesand specialtreatment".

No one says you have to disclose your "condition" to anyone, actually, I think it's against confidentiality (is that the word?) regulations to disclose that infomation in the school system here. Unless you want to.

What I usually do if I don't feel that an individual will be open minded about ADHD is that I've had tests done (for LD) that I have audio processing issues, and short term memory difficulties. And then if they look lost, I give a specific example. If you havn't been tested for LD, you could just say what you have difficulty with if the prof asks you when you give the accommodation letter in... or whatever. that's how it worked at my school anyway (letter saying I get extra time, private space, etc)

It's funny how sometimes I don't feel like revealing I have ADHD but other times I just don't care.
I did however have a really negative experience with a former employer... and that totally threw me off and gave me anxiety attacks about applying for the school board here (the person who runs special ed is MY PROF for a course I'm currently about pressure!!).

But then again, I've had a realllly positive experience where the father of a girl I'm a youth worker for (father and daughter both have ADHD) told me that he'd rather me (B.A. and ADHD) be working with his daughter than someone with a B.A. and who has read a lot about it. The girl also feels good about the fact that I "get her", unlike her Sp Ed Aide in her high school.

there will always be people who thing silly, misinformed things about ADHD... but why bother? Those who are going to brush me off as less capable are not worth working for. I've been fortunate to have had a realllllly awesome boss in the past, and the most recent work as a youth worker was odd... the people with the organization didn't really understand ADHD, they'd only been supporting people who had it. So I'm hoping that they'll realize what it's really about. A lot of the stuff that's said about the girl I'm working with is junk, I love working with her. It's just that people don't understand her.

But that's just me.
I'm still stupidly stupid about a lot of things.
It keeps life interesting.
Hope my rambling can be somewhat understood, my meds ran out about 3 hours ago.
"ADD?...yeah well, at least I'll never be accused of being BORING!!"
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Old 11-27-17, 06:54 AM
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Re: I survived university, here to help.. ask me!

This thread is 12 years old.

EDIT: Seems like first time poster bumped a 12 year old thread to spam a website.
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Re: I survived university, here to help.. ask me!

Congratulations, university is my criptonite.

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