People Said I Was ‘Special.’ Really, I Just Had ADHD.
The diagnosis that came decades later than it should have
I read a lot as a kid. I didn’t speak out of turn. People liked me.
Sure, I never knew where my school worksheets were. I was rarely able to turn in my homework on time. And, yes, my elementary school desk was always a disaster. I used to flatten myself across it, so people couldn’t see inside. Paper, crayons, pencils, and books spilled out onto the floor. It was embarrassing.
I lost things I couldn’t remember picking up in the first place. I couldn’t keep track of time; yesterday’s moments fusing to tomorrow’s expectations. I was bright. I drew advanced connections in papers and class discussions. Teachers used my strengths to excuse my lateness, my inability to process verbal math instructions, my lack of everyday sense. It was all right that I couldn’t always move from one step to the next. They helped me. They could tell I was special.
In the sixth grade, there was an end-of-the-year pool party for all the kids who’d gotten good grades. I was behind in school again, but all my friends were going to the party. I couldn’t bear being left out, for them to know I wasn’t like them. The week before the party, I frantically searched for assignments I’d missed. I pulled worksheets out of the back of my desk, from the bottom of my backpack, found a few under my bed. I handed them to my teacher, crumpled and smeared. I was crumpled and smeared too. Maybe that’s why she said it was enough, that I could go to the party. I ran home from school, crying and laughing.
Everything was going to be okay. I was somebody special.
People stopped telling me I was special around high school. Moving from class to class, teachers didn’t get to know me during the 45 minutes they had with me each day. There were no allowances for a dreamy kid who didn’t know how to show up. After a few months, I stopped sitting in the front of the class. Letting the teachers see me there was dangerous. It just reminded them of my missed homework assignments. Sitting at the back of the class was dangerous too. The boys in the back of the class didn’t listen. They laughed about fingering and blow jobs, their…