The struggle is invisible, but real

The contrast between expectations and actual ability is stark but invisible when it comes to ADHD. Individuals with ADHD don’t have any outwardly visible signs of having a disability. So, what happens is that ADHD behaviors are often interpreted as willful, defiant, oppositional, disobedient, and disrespectful. I think this is toughest for kids with ADHD in the classroom environment. Teachers are not required to learn much about ADHD and learning disabilities, so kids with behavioral and developmental disorders often look like “bad” kids. I want so badly to change that.

10 things kids with ADHD wish teachers knew

  1. The struggle is real. I’m trying hard to not be different from my classmates and friends. It takes a lot of work to look like I don’t have any problems at school.
  2. Things are a lot more complex to me than you imagine. What is intuitive to you is a long and difficult thought process that I often don’t have time for.
  3. I worry a lot! I am constantly worried that I’ll look different, that I’ll forget my homework or to turn it in, that I might say something wrong, or that I’ll get in trouble. I probably worry almost every minute I’m at school. Sometimes that makes me tell wild stories to try to get out of school. 
  4. I feel stupid when I can’t accomplish what my peers can. I’m probably not stupid, but I sure feel like it when things are hard for me but simple for others.
  5. I’m emotionally sensitive. I might look like a cry-baby, but I feel things very deeply.
  6. I am a very literal kid. I cannot tell when my friends are teasing . I take everything they say and do at face-value. I often feel like my friends are being mean to me.
  7. I am smart! When given the time to fully process or a way to show what I know that doesn’t involve completing a worksheet, I can really shine. Give me the opportunity to surprise you.
  8. I am not lazy! There’s a lot more going on in my mind than most people. Plus, I struggle with planning, sequencing and organization. That can slow me down or make me not want to do the work. And my ADHD brain is interest-based — I can focus better on the assignment when it interests me.
  9. My weaknesses often make me feel like a failure. You can help me a lot just by believing in me and encouraging me.
  10. I do not intend to make you angry. I want to do well. I deserve love and respect, just like my neurotypical peers.

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10 things kids with ADHD wish teachers knew

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Penny Williams
Author. Parenting Guide. Journalist. Speaker.
Penny Williams guides and mentors parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the author of three award-winning books on parenting kids with ADHD. Penny is the current editor of ParentingADHDandAutism.com, Founder and Instructor for The Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.