I was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade. My teacher, Mrs. Allen, talked with my parents and recommended I get evaluated. She observed how restless I was and what a hard time I had sitting still in class. Since ADHD is something we are born with the signs were there earlier. In many ways, I feel like I was the epitome of ADHD for how it was seen in the 90s: a hyperactive boy who doesn't pay attention or play well with others.
If not for the outward hyperactivity I may have gone under the radar for ADHD because I had no trouble with school early on. I have always loved learning and was labelled 'gifted'. It did not feel like a gift, however. Mostly it meant I was the smart kid who did not apply himself and came with a burden of expectations. What I had trouble with was the kids around me. Now knowing that ADHD is a developmental disorder, it makes sense. I was already very young for my grade, and I was years ahead academically but years behind emotionally and socially. My parents sought to have me challenged intellectually and switched me to different schools trying the get me the best education they could. I went to five different schools before high school. With hindsight, it's easy to see how this wreaked havoc on my already difficult odds of getting along with kids and making friends.
My trouble with other kids mostly played out as me being a magnet for bullying across multiple schools. The kid who excitedly blurts out the right answers in class and then is very easy to get a rise out of with any kind of teasing. Bullying and social rejection for those with ADHD is a big area of interest for me and something I will write more in-depth about in the future.
Third Grade Teacher's Comments
Wow, sounds like ADHD
Highschool and Beyond
In my freshman year of high school, my grades started to tank. I had a 504 plan that gave me extended time on tests and gave me access to the learning center. I would study with kids who were confused about why I was in there when I was taking advanced classes. Being bright with no study skills caught up to me eventually. Although I took various medications after I was diagnosed, they do not solve things by themselves and have their ups and downs. In addition, depression and social anxiety were brewing and my family dynamics were increasingly strained. This is another area of focus for me with ADHD.
When I was little, I was told that I should go to Stanford University because of my potential. Instead, I graduated high school with middling grades and limped into community college. After going to three different community colleges across California I transferred to Cal State Fullerton. I majored in history and comparative religion because of a great interest in understanding people and culture. The misconceptions about me as a kid persisted through my last year at university. A professor told me point blank during office hours that I am very smart but lazy. I remember just sighing and not even trying to explain all the chaos that held me back from being able to keep up with assignments and turn things in on time. Professors would write things on my work like, "One of the best papers in the class, but C grade because of being late." Although I did not give myself credit until much later, I persevered to graduation. Even though I wanted to be a professor, and still had a passion for learning and teaching, I felt thoroughly demoralized about going right into a Master's program for more struggling with deadlines and scoring 'below my potential'.
I moved away from my interests and got an entry IT position at a company. Even though it was not a passion, my problem-solving skills, ability to empathize, and work well with co-workers let me advance in the company. The best thing during this period was meeting and eventually marrying my wife. Connecting with someone calm and stable is highly underrated.
The Turning Point
A few years ago, I started researching ADHD and came across videos by Dr. Russell Barkley one of the premier authorities on the subject. I thought it would be mostly a review because I had lived with the label of ADHD since I was a child. Instead, I was shocked to learn massively important aspects of my disorder that I had never heard about. Most notable- was the impact of emotional regulation difficulties. Emotions are a part of ADHD yet not a part of the diagnosis?!? I felt frustrated that even though I went to various doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists over the years none of them knew or thought to share details that would have been incredibly helpful growing up. I knew that I had trouble focusing, but I couldn't figure out what *else* was wrong with me for the longest time. Why I was bullied or why it felt impossible to be productive when enduring intense emotions. I saw that ADHD is far more complex than is commonly known and that people should be informed.
Learning that my wife was pregnant inspired me to start coaching training. One of the things I discovered during my deep dive into ADHD research was how genetic it was. I also quickly put the pieces together of how big of an impact having expertise in ADHD would be if one or more of my kids has a similar mind to mine. What's more, I thought about: how will I be able to encourage my daughter to strike out into the world and follow her passions if I did not. I decided that I want to use my hard-fought experiences and first-hand understanding of ADHD, anxiety, and depression to help people on their path. The inspiration that my daughter gave me before she was born played a part in her name: Athena - My source of wisdom.
My logo is an owl because it's a symbol of the Greek goddess Athena. A little tribute to my daughter.