Early signs of ADHD traits that we missed.

When  I received my diagnosis for ADHD it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders; a weight I had been struggling to carry for 13 years. 

When I was in year eight and was diagnosed with ADHD, my pastoral officer did try and explain the struggles I experienced with ADHD, to my teachers. Some said they understood however I highly doubt that they did. It seemed to me that boys with ADHD, whose behaviours manifested differently to my own, were more understood by teachers. That’s not to say that they struggled less than I did, however if you can see something usually it makes you understand a bit more. My ADHD symptoms are not ‘visible’.

My experience with teachers in a classroom was fairly negative; however I think it’s important to say I did know a few teachers who were very supportive. Nevertheless, majority were not and when I asked questions about how to do something I was told me to pay attention or was even met with comments like, ’it’s not that difficult; focus’. I felt that when the boys were fidgety or couldn’t sit still the teachers were more empathetic.

On the outside, for much of the time I come across as a grounded, together person. At other times, I feel as if I’m shrivelling inside and that my organs are turning upside down inside of me. When I have tried to explain this to teachers the responses varied but were often met with disbelief and that’s frustrating. I couldn’t offer people a coach trip inside my brain to prove it. Then my thoughts spiralled; I thought that if the teachers didn’t understand me, maybe I didn’t understand myself and maybe it was all in my imagination. That made me feel very insecure. Now I know that the challenges people face, and particularly girls face, must be talked about and shared. Boys and girls struggles are both very tough. 

Now I know more about ADHD, along with my parents, we can see that there were signs that were missed when I was much younger. Exaggerated emotional responses is certainly one of them. I think this is because often I don’t know what reaction I should have; it’s as if my brain buffers and whatever comes out, comes out. Other times, I feel so overwhelmed emotions just spill out and I can’t control the frequency or the strength of them. 

Excessive talking is an interesting one for me because I veer between not shutting up about something I want to talk about even to the point of talking to myself. I am so invested and interested in a particular topic that I want to waffle and it’s fun. The flip side of this is when I am very distressed I often completely clam up and don’t speak. I am aware that there are crossovers with my ADHD and my Autism. 

I can also be verbally impulsive. There are multiple occasions when I can recall things that I have said that I wish I hadn’t. It’s like a thought comes into my head and it must be spoken regardless of the impact it has on others. Through self-reflection, and I do a lot of it, this is something I’m working on. 

I have always been over-sensitive to noises, smells and textures. If I find one of these things unpleasant I have a physical reaction; I immediately want to throw up. For me it is actual pain at hearing the particular noise; smelling whatever smell it is or feeling a particular texture. The feeling washes over me immediately and only gets worse over time so I have to act and remove myself from the situation.

 As with all of things I have described so far, impatience is another that has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. It definitely impacts my parents the most. They are very understanding and are patient with me. They understand that I can’t always help my impatience. I am slowly working on this as well. 

Overall, I don’t think people realise how hard it is for girls who have inattentive ADHD and just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there. 

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