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to ADHD students:
• I’m proud of you. The education system works against us at every turn but you’re still hanging in there, and that’s amazing.
• Long term goals are lovely but they won’t motivate you. ADHD brains know two times: now and not now. Long term goals fall under “not now”, so if you try to use them to motivate yourself your brain won’t buy it. Some things that help me get motivated: using coloured pens, bringing a tasty drink like juice or pop to my desk, playing music I can sing along to.
• Get. Diagnosed. With an official diagnosis, you can access accommodations through your school. You don’t have to struggle through school being held to neurotypical standards. You can get things like extra time on tests, extensions on assignments, access to digital copies of textbooks so you can use text-to-speech software, the ability to write tests and exams in a smaller room with fewer distractions, noise cancelling headphones during tests. I live in Ontario so I can’t guarantee all of these things in other places, but you’ll never know what accommodations are available to you until you apply for them.
• Work for the amount of time that you can. You can only handle five minutes? Do work for those five minutes. You can stretch it out to fifteen minutes today? Awesome! It’s excruciating for us to get work done without it being a crisis, I know. But doing work in small increments every day goes a long way. Doing nothing because you can’t work as long as a neurotypical is just going to leave you with more work to do the night before.
• Keep fidgets and/or stim toys at your desk. If you get overwhelmed or can’t focus, grab a fidget and allow yourself to just sit and fidget for a little bit. Tactile stim toys are my favourite since they’re very grounding for me.
• Try not to beat yourself up for what you didn’t get done earlier. This is a hard one but it’s so so hard to get anything done while you’re upset with yourself, especially for us ADHDers who get easily caught up in emotions. You have a disability. It’s not your fault that you couldn’t get it done earlier. You’re working on it now and that’s what’s important.