I began this post at the ADHD forums. I like to imagine that I’m just going to jump on and type a short answer to some random question or post, but…I don’t, obviously. So I decided I’d keep the post here, and update it as I get the time and as I remember what the hell I’m doing. 😛
ADD & ACADEMIC SUCCESS – Is it just God’s joke? If so, then I like God’s sense of humor!
I’ll chip in here too. 🙂 I come from a family of AD/HD (as well as other lovely lettered conditions, which are not so lovely to live with – haha), and am the only one of my siblings (as well as one of the few in my huge, extended family) to go to college…and now grad school. I’m currently in my second year of my PhD. I wasn’t actually diagnosed until just before beginning graduate school! Like a lot of AD/HDers, my educational path was pretty roundabout. I dropped out of high school (and later convinced them to give me a diploma despite it all, a skill which I attribute, at least in part, of having an ADD “put me on the spot please!” brain), I (barely) graduated community college having studied a total of two hours, and wound up doing quite a few other things until I stumbled into a town which had a university that took me (another story in itself, but a cute one). In university, I didn’t do things the healthy way, generally. I pulled all-nighters at least once or twice a week in order to read all of those f#*%ing missing paragraphs, pages, etc, and in order to write.
Honestly, I love to write, and while the majority of the time, I have to revise and revise and revise, I actually just let myself get in there and tell a story. I pretend like I’m explaining whatever it is to my sister (she’s my head muse because she gets bored easily and doesn’t like a lot of B.S. clouding up the point). Also, something that has helped me is to make outlines (yeah, plural – I don’t finish most of them, haha, but making them over and over again really helps me, since I end up writing the same few things over and over again, and it gets a little clearer each time, usually).
Regarding reading, I love it. I let my imagination go wild when I read. I DO have major problems reading, though. I tend to read the same few paragraphs over and over again, my eyes wander, my brain wanders, etc. Sometimes, I’ll even remember (usually in the middle of a test) what the page looks like, what not what was on the page. Taking notes in the margins sorta helps, though I find myself summarizing the whole dang book when I do. But still I read (nonfiction, now). It’s something I’ve forced myself to love, and letting myself get imaginative about nonfiction has actually been a very rewarding experience.
Now, the Thank You, Rich Kids part:
In general, and this might sound weird, but something that has worked for me is to find people who are NOT AD/HD. In my case, an ivy-league school, these were rich kids with the solid, cradle-to-academy education that I lack. I study them. I look at what they do and try to see how we do things differently. I really listen to them in class. However, I work on the assumption that they’re not superhuman, and that they do NOT read everything, but that they actually read the RIGHT things (unlike me, who read EVERYthing, which is why I stayed up all night every night in college). More on this later, because I do think that it’s something that is counter-intuitive but very helpful.
Also, Thank You, Wikipedia!
Another thing I finally found out in college is that (and your professors will hate me for saying this, but I’m going to BE a professor, so they can shove it!) Wikipedia is actually an EXCELLENT resource for getting the bare-bones of MANY topics. Yes, watch out for the mistakes, don’t take it as the fiinal word, etc, but do use it as a good starting point! Professors can’t test ALL of the information they assign you to learn, and so, generally, they’ll just test the main points. When reading Wikipedia articles, I look for keywords, key themes, and names of important players. It really helps me read more effectively (though it still takes a lot of willpower to actually skip over the parts of the assigned reading I’m pretty sure are B.S. – for some reason I’m always worried I’ll miss some little important nugget). I’m not sure why it took me until my junior year of college to realize that the Korean War did not only exist in the assigned reading, but that it actually happened, and has been documented in many more (ahem, wikipedia) reader-friendly formats. In fact, I still read Wikipedia articles about topics I’m supposedly an expert on!