Inspiration, Intention, Action - The ADHD Project Newsletter 5/20

Inspiration, Intention, Action - The ADHD Project Newsletter 5/20

  • From ADHD Student to ADHD Teacher: This week we're thrilled to bring you a guest article from one of our readers! Like many of us, after Dana was diagnosed with ADHD she felt a calling to help others, becoming an educator who makes sure that any children who come through her classroom feel understood... Keep scrolling to read the full newsletter!

  • Pets with Benefits - OUT NOW! - If you haven't heard our latest podcast episode, it's never too late! Come on, who doesn't want to see a few cute pet photos? Check out episode 5 of The ADHD Project Podcast!

  • Have something to say? - We're always looking for guest blog articles, if you're interested in sharing your story or thoughts, please reach out to us at!

From Student to Teacher

"Dana, sit still."
"Dana, stop talking."
"Dana, what did I just say?"  

Realizing I was just asked a question, I responded, "Umm, sit still?"  Next thing I know, I am being asked to go to the office or take my permanent seat in the hall.

This was the dialogue of my childhood in school. Sitting and listening in class was difficult for me. When a teacher would call me out to sit still, that was all I could think about. My mind was saying, sit still, sit still, sit still. Then I would miss the teacher’s lesson. When the teacher asked, "What did I just say?" I would have no clue because my brain was focusing on sitting still.

It was never my intention to be disruptive or be the problem child. That was just what I was. When I was younger, I never noticed a difference between the other kids and me. I never paid attention to others, go figure. It wasn’t until middle school that I started to see I was different. That was also the first time I noticed how teachers were with me. They were either strict, abrasive, mean, or just done with me. Some teachers' tones and facial expressions said it all when I walked into the room. I played it off like, "Mrs. So-and-So was a mean teacher," but internally it hurt. I didn’t want to be that kid that was sent to the hall every day. I didn’t want to be that kid who was always the example of what not to do, but there I was, killing it. The entire time I felt I was just dumb and couldn’t learn. If I was lost in the lesson, I would stimulate my brain in other ways. Doodling in my notes, counting the bricks on the wall,  or tallying how many times the teacher said the word “The”. I had so many games I would play in class, and my grades showed it.

For a long time, that feeling of being dumb consumed me. I was the funny, loud kid so who needs good grades? I wished my teachers would have known I was struggling. I wish they could have seen that what they were doing and how they were teaching wasn’t working for me. I felt they gave up on me and so I gave up on myself. It wasn’t until later in community college, the third attempt at it, that I learned about ADHD and was diagnosed. Talk about an awakening moment. When I started on medicine, I remember reading a lesson for class, shutting the book, and remembering what I read. The tears filled my eyes, and my brain took a deep breath and said, "You are not dumb, Dana, you learn a different way."  From that moment, I wanted to help others that were like me. I wanted to let every single little Dana out there know they are not dumb. We just do things differently. That is when I decided to go for my teaching degree in special education.

My first teaching experience was filled with so many feelings and emotions. There were days I wanted to take on the world, and there were days that I felt like an impostor sitting at the teacher's desk. To this day, I have to remind myself that I am where I am supposed to be and can do this job. I have been teaching for 9 years in this field and have had so many little Danas. I have had students say things like, "I am the first teacher to understand them." One even asked me how I understand their brain. I am honest with my students and tell them I was you at one point sitting at that same desk. It is such a great feeling to be teaching in the same district that I went to. Teachers that had me as a student see me now as a colleague. I am sure that took them a minute. My students come to me with their struggles with school work, grades, home life, and even about their ADHD. We come up with plans and other ways to reach the finish line. My favorite line for them is, "We can do anything the other students can… We just take a different route." I want them to feel heard. I want them to understand that we have to think and work twice as hard as some, but can still do it.

I enjoy talking to other teachers and giving them ideas on what to do with a class full of Danas. Explaining to them that it is not the students' intention to be busy, talkative, and disruptive. They don’t mean to space out, wiggle, or distract. They are just trying to contain their thoughts and energy. I then modify the work environments, assignments, and tests that fit their learning style. Things like reading a test out loud can make a huge difference to a student with ADHD. The ultimate feeling is at the end of the day, not only do the teachers and students feel heard and understood, but the parents reach out and say thank you. From getting a call from the school saying your kid got kicked out of class, to your kid scoring a B on their final, is the best feeling for all that are involved.

Sure, there are still days when little Dana will still get sent to the office, and maybe she needed to be. I just want them to know that tomorrow is another day and to not give in to the self-doubt, that I am dumb, and that school is not for me. To this day, if I struggle with something, I try to figure out a way for me to do it my way. It is something I learned from living with ADHD as a child. My goal and hope for my students is they gain that insight too and remember they can do this. ADHD continues to be a part of us, but we won’t let it be the only part.

Dana Wyzard
Sycamore High School
Sycamore, IL

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