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Personal Stories

My ADD Journey

By: Anne Brow

When I was in the first grade, 42 years ago, I remember being taken to the doctor for a complete physical. My teacher thought something wasn't quite right. The following year I was taken to the "Children's Center" in Detroit to visit with a social worker twice a week.

I was diagnosed as hyperactive. That is what they called ADHD back then. By this time I was in the third grade and had given up trying to learn or please the teacher. I wasn't sure if anyone knew I couldn't read. To cover my inabilities I became a class clown. Medication helped my academics but socially I was an outcast.

I had a fresh start in high school but was unhappy with the medication. I stopped taking it. I barely got through but my ACT scores netted me scholarships. I went to Wayne State University determined to become a doctor. I was lost! I still have nightmares about not being able to find the right building or classroom. I decided being a doctor was shooting too high and settled on nursing.

Unfortunately, I suffered greatly from test anxiety. I received a D in microbiology three times before passing the class with a C. I went for counseling on campus. It was a waste. The nursing program refused to consider my application because my grade point was too low. I was told to go to a community college. My dreams, once again, had crumbled. I dropped out of college and went to work in an office.

Fortunately, I couldn't type and was laid-off/fired. I say fortunately because it forced me to reevaluate my future.

I went to U of M Dearborn determined to become a child psychiatrist. At admissions I was told that such a program did not exist on this campus but that I would need an undergrad degree and "What about teaching?". They had a program for that.

When I applied to the teaching college I was told my grade point from Wayne State was too low. I would have to take classes to establish a grade point at U of M and then I could apply.

I still suffered form test anxiety and had to beg my math instructor to give me partial credit for answers. I argued that I had the processes down I simply made dumb mistakes. 4+1=6. I told him if he wouldn't do this I would be forced to drop out of college again because the teaching program wouldn't accept me. He sent me for counseling. I did everything they asked and it didn't help! I again begged for his understanding. He showed compassion and gave me part credit for answers.

Once I was in the teaching program I knew I was in the right place. The small campus of U of M Dearborn where everybody knows your name was a perfect fit for me. I have been teaching for 22 years now and I know that I am where I should be. My experiences have made me a much better teacher and parent to my son. He was diagnosed in first grade with ADD. We are both currently on strattera.