While plenty of students struggle to pay attention in school, there are some students who struggle more than others. There are tests given by doctors and sure signs and indicators of students with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). “I went and got tested and I remember it took forever, I sat in this little box and I had to read to them and do math,” senior Holly Krause said. “It was kind of ‘stick the label on you’ and they tell you that you have ADHD.”
Senior Ellen Bennett’s older brother has ADHD. “We never talked about it in my house, that’s just how it was,” she said. “One time my mom told me and I didn’t really notice anything different, I think it was more at school when it affected him.” Often times ADHD is most seen in a school setting because that is when concentration is most important and feedback is given.
Although many people still use the term ADD, it is no longer a recognized term medically. Instead ADHD is the official term with three sub categories. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation is typically what a person means when they say ADD; a person with this has difficulty paying attention but does not meet the criteria for hyperactivity. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation is the opposite, with symptoms of hyperactivity but ability to focus. Combined Presentation is the combination of both.
Krause has had ADHD Combined Presentation since she was a five-year-old, which affects her everyday life. “I have a lot of trouble with math, so I feel that’s kind of my weakness,” Krause said. “ That side of my brain is just like ‘nope you’re not really gonna learn it, nope, nope.'” Students with ADHD often struggle, because the impairment blocks many attempts to focus and learn.
At home there is less need to be focused and on task, and if there is, no one is really watching who focuses best. “When a (person) has ADHD it’s not really a choice whether they want to do something or not, their body physically won’t let them.” Krause said.
Some ADHD sufferers take medication to counteract the symptoms, but the medicine can sometimes do more harm than good. “I dropped [taking medication] just because of how it was affecting my body,” Krause said. “I was getting really sick and I just couldn’t find something that really helped me.” Side effects can include anxiety, nausea, headache and change of appetite, but the medication does not affect everyone the same way. “All the symptoms were making me get really bad headaches and I wasn’t feeling good,” Krause said. “I didn’t think it was worth it to take.”
Medicine can help, but doctors try to search for other solutions first. “My passion in life is not to put you on a medicine,” Nate Noble, the head of the Children’s Developmental Center at Blank Children’s Hospital, said. The medication, which is a stimulant, effects people in a variety of ways. It is helpful for some people to take medication, they can become more focused and down to earth. With others, medication may do nothing but give them anxiety attacks all day or any effects in between.
Sometimes patients are put into therapy to find coping methods, sometimes it is music when focusing or doing homework, or daily exercise. Other times doctors or therapists may recommend a yoga class, massages, or something to hold and mess with quietly during class. Students also might meet up with a tutor, or go to a class that helps them stay caught up in school. “They help you with coping through it, its actually a really cool class, and I will carry on having it through my college years,” Krause said, “I’ll have independent studies with some one that will go with everyday and we’ll sit down about two hours and go through my homework and just kind of make sure that I’m understanding it.”
ADHD symptoms can be broad and vague. “Everybody in the medical field and teachers know the criteria are pretty broad,” Noble said. “Only some people have it in such a manor that they’re literally impaired by it.”