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Personal Stories

Michael's Essay

By: Michael F.

I have a disease. As defined by physicians, this disease is a neurologically-based processing issue in my brain. Teachers often view it as a puzzling barrier between themselves and the afflicted student, while others do not see it at all! For me it is complex. Yes, it is an explanation, but above all it is my life, my struggle, my Attention Deficit Disorder.

Looking back on my childhood, it is now apparent that I have always been affected by this learning problem. While many of my elementary school teachers commented on my inconsistent focus, when confronted they simply blamed it on built-up energy!

Then in Middle School, my focus seemed to deteriorate further with the increasing homework load. Sadly, I had convinced myself that my poor grades were simply due to my lack of intelligence. I knew little of learning disabilities and did not care to know more-adolescent wisdom…

The transition into High School did not seem as emotionally scarring as I had anticipated. I was popular, predominantly through sports. It had somehow slipped my mind that the reason I was in high school was to learn. I always attended class, but seldom heard the entire lesson as I doodled in the margins of my textbook. If this wasn't a clear sign of ADD, I had to look no further than my quixotic methods of completing homework, sitting at the computer until midnight, blaring music and chatting with friends, while continuously chanting, "ok", "I'm working", or "One Sec!" to my mother. This methodology obviously proved quite ineffective, as my grades stayed embarrassingly low.

By the end of my sophomore year, I had reached a tipping point, and I decided to talk to my dad. With tears of confusion, I told him I was having trouble focusing on many levels. Without hesitation, my parents had me tested, and the results revealed ADD. After being placed on Adderall, I noticed an immediate difference, but it wasn't until the beginning of my junior year that I began to own my strengths.

Up to that point, I had never so much as dreamed of earning an A on a math assignment. Though I had failed to listen in algebra and geometry, I was still able to solve the most complicated problems in Pre-Cal. I enjoyed working through the theorems, and when I received an A on the second test of the year, I never looked back. I continued my perfect streak to the end of the year, receiving a score of 244 out of 245 points on the final exam. And on the first test of AP Calculus this year, I received one of only two perfect scores in our class.

My newfound ability was also evident in my English III class. The teacher, who had taught me the year before, was utterly perplexed when I started the year with some of the best writing in the class, culminating in 730 on my SAT writing.

Although I had not been accepted into any AP courses my junior year, by the end of the term I had obtained a 3.9 GPA. This year, I am enrolled in three AP level courses along with Physics and Latin II. At the end of the first quarter (in November) I received an A in 4 of my classes with an A- in AP English, a 4.54 weighted GPA.

The only major regret I have is that I did not come to my parents sooner with my concerns. As a result, I spent a long time thinking I was stupid and lazy; it is a real joy to know-I'm not.