Consider what a child with ADHD might write in a diary…
I’ll Do Better Tomorrow
Mom's yelling that I need to turn out the light, but I know I'm supposed to write this diary thing for Dr. Baker. He says that if I write about what was good and what was bad every day, then he can help me more. He says that I'll be able to figure out how to use strategies to help myself during the day (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2002). Dr. Baker is a behavioral psychologist; I've been going to Dr. Baker for a while now, ever since I was told that I have ADHD. ADHD means that I have trouble staying focused on the right things at the right times, that I look like I'm not following directions or listening, and that I forget stuff a lot. Every year, it seems, teachers have been telling my parents the same things: "if Jon would just try harder" or "Jon needs to take time to do his work better" or "Jon constantly distracts the class by interrupting" (Friend & Bursuck, 2009, p. 282). Dr. Baker told me that I shouldn't feel bad about all those things the teachers have said because it wasn't like I was choosing to act that way. So he told me to do this diary so that he can help me see what happens each day and what I can do to help myself -- he calls it learning coping skills.
Today started out like any other; mom knocks on the door and wakes me up...then ten minutes later, she comes to my door and finds me sitting on the floor zoning. She yells get going or I won't get breakfast, and I look around me at the pile of clothes on the floor and reach for a shirt and a pair of pants. I know she's going to take one look at me and ask if I'm wearing clean clothes; the fact is, I don't know if they're clean or not...I try to remember to put the clean ones away and the dirty ones in the basket, but most of the time, most of my clothes lay in a heap on my floor. Mom says she has to choose her battles and pretty much leaves my room alone. Sometimes when mom finds me zoning, she just says "focus;" that's kind of been our code word since I was in pre-school. She even taught my teachers to whisper or mouth the word to me if they found me zoning in class. Now that I'm in middle school, though, mom is less patient and just yells.
Anyway, I walk to school and hang out in the library before school; I don't have many friends at school, but a few of them hang out in the library too. Most kids think I get in trouble too much or say I'm dumb and don't want to hang out with me. My friends in the library are okay with me and we usually talk about computer games. If I didn't have to go to school, I would be so high up in WOW (World of Warcraft) by now; on Saturday, I did a three-hour dungeon run with my guild members...we rocked that raid! My guild is so cool; they always say "lol" after everything I say...they're really my real friends. When I told Mr. Roy, my history teacher, about the dungeon run, he looked at me and said how on earth do you play a game for three hours when you can't listen to me for ten minutes! I guess he doesn't get it...WOW is different. Maybe if Mr. Roy would break up his talking with a raid, well, I mean, like a group thing where we talk with people near us and...hey, yeah, I know...like today in class he was talking about the industrial revolution...what if he let us form groups and come up with our own industry and see if we could make it work and how long we could make it work and we had to make sure we were working with the other industries and no one could just sit and everyone had a job...well, I think I wouldn't zone so much if we did stuff like that in class (Weinfeld, Barnes-Robinson, Jeweler & Shevitz, 2002, p. 226).
After history, I went to math...I hate math. Every year I get a D, if I'm lucky. The teacher usually thinks I'm lazy because I don't always do the homework; sometimes, though, I did the homework but I couln't find it. Now, mom makes me take a "Planner" to school so that I can write down all my assignments -- I've had three of those planners this year and it's only January -- I try to keep it in my backpack, but then I get in trouble for not using it, so I take it out when I'm supposed to be writing something in it and when it's time to leave class I don't have time to put it back in the backpack and I just carry it with all the other books or papers that I don't have time to put away and the next thing you know, it's gone...along with the papers too, come to think of it. Mom just keeps getting me a new one and we start over. She says that I live "in the moment and plan to improve later" (Lovecky, 2004, p. 184). Dr. Baker says that it will become a habit to use it, but I've been trying for almost a year and I still don't do it right.
Mrs. Michaels showed us something in computer class that I want to use; she showed us how Google calendar lets you put stuff into it and you can color-code the things so like all my assignments for computers could be in blue (because I like blue) and all of my math assignments would be in orange (because I hate orange!). I told Dr. Baker about Google and he said he wants to see an example next week; he says that the color code could help if it helps me see the differences in the classes, like how much work there is in one class and how much in another, but that it won't work if I just like to see lots of color (Zentall & Kruczek, 1988, p. 357). I think I know what he means because in English, my teacher does these power points with every line a different color...oh, and then when each line comes onto the screen, it shoots in with a bell or beep or flash...sometimes I just sit there predicting how the next line is going to come in and forget to listen to what she's telling us to write down. I hate taking notes in class. I can be sitting there, all set to take really good notes like the teacher wants, and then maybe the kid next to me asks me for paper so I open my binder to get a piece of paper out and then three other pieces of paper fall out and I have to pick them up and stuff them into that pocket-thing so they don't get lost and then the teacher gets mad and asks why I'm not paying attention and I was but that kid needed a piece of paper. If I didn't give the kid the paper, I wouldn't have gotten in trouble; but if I didn't give the kid the paper, he would call me a jerk. I'm tired of being called jerk.
Every day some kid calls me a jerk. Sometimes a kid calls me a jerk like today because I accidentally hit him with my backpack, but I didn't see him...I heard the bell ring for lunch and jumped out of my seat so I could get to the library right away to get one of the computers before they were all taken and when I swung around, the kid was there. Of course, he yelled at me so everyone heard, and the teacher made me sit down for being rude...and so of course I got to the library late...that was okay, though, because the librarian sometimes talks with me and today she let me put books back on the shelves for her...until I forgot that they had to be in order by the number, not just the author's name...and then she got frustrated with me because she says I don't pay attention to details (Friend & Bursuck, 2009, p. 282).
At least today wasn't as bad as yesterday. Gosh, when the counselor, Mrs. Bright, showed mom that graph with all the bars and said that the bars showed all the classes and how much I am failing, I felt like a real jerk then (Collins, 2003, p. xii). Mom didn't get mad, though...she told Mrs. Bright about this diary thing I'm doing and some other things that Dr. Baker is doing. Mrs. Bright didn't seem too interested...she doesn't think I can change, I can tell. I hope I can change. I don't like feeling like a jerk. And I don't think I'm really that dumb like some kids think; some stuff in school is really fun like when we got to do reports on marine life. I can tell you everything there is to know about elephant seals, and that's cool, because most kids can only tell you that elephant seals are big and ugly. Dr. Baker says that my elephant seal report shows that I just don't learn the way that some teachers teach and that I might be able to teach the teachers some things (Collins, 2003, p. 27). He told my mom that some teachers do what he called "ability profiling," and I heard him tell her that it means that some teachers won't give me a chance. He was just talking to my mom then, and I was in the hall waiting, but I heard and remembered what he said...I liked what he said because it made me feel like it isn't always my fault when I get in trouble...some teachers just think I choose to forget and to be messy and not write like they want me to (Collins, 2003, p. 26).
Man, mom just yelled that I have to turn off the light and I didn't even finish this diary thing...I didn't write about all my classes or even get to after school...man, I hope Dr. Baker isn't mad at me for this. I'll try to do it better tomorrow.
Collins, K. M. (2003). Ability profiling and school failure: One child's struggle to be seen as competent.
: Mahwah, NJ Erlbaum Associates. Lawrence
Friend, M., & Bursuck, W. D. (2009). Including students with special needs: A practical guide for classroom teachers (5th ed.).
: Merrill. Upper Saddle River, NJ
Lovecky, D. V. (2004). Different minds: Gifted children with ad/hd, asperger syndrome, and other learning deficits.
: Jessica Kingsley. London
Weinfeld, R., Barnes-Robinson, L., Jeweler, S., & Shevitz, B. (2002). Academic programs for gifted and talented/learning disabled students. Roeper Review, 24(4), 226+.
WGBH Educational Foundation. (2002). Misunderstood minds. Retrieved
March 13, 2009from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/index.html
Zentall, S. S., & Kruczek, T. (1988). The Attraction of color for active attention-problem children. Exceptional Children, 54(4), 357+.
The above written by Laurie Hagberg
March 15, 2009
is hearing a student say,
"Thank you for understanding me."
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