Your best take: How I bluffed my way through college

A reader offers the tale of her daughter's undiagnosed ADHD

By Salon Staff

Published April 19, 2011 5:20PM (EDT)

Kate Harding's story about the challenges she faced in college--including "undiagnosed ADHD"--and the required reading she failed to complete inspired many comments, including our favorite from Bridget Moore.

what might have been

Perhaps the writer wouldn't be getting so much stick if she had made more of her ADHD, and how truly debilitating this condition is. Perhaps not. Lots of ignorant people don't "believe" in ADHD, and like to "call" people on it as if to point out a lie, or laziness, or a medication-scam, etc.

As an English major, I could relate to picking and choosing what to read carefully and what to skim or avoid (in my case, not much, but I did somehow get through a Faulkner class without reading As I Lay Dying and have absolutely no regrets). But I mostly appreciated this piece by Kate H. because it told me what could have happened to our daughter if her ADD had not been diagnosed a few years ago. She would have been lucky to get into any college, based on the grades and scores she was getting, would have been unable to keep up, easily "bored," disorganized, and having about a million other problems, many physical, as a result of being unable to focus, prioritize, care for her own basic needs in a timely way, and then settle down to business, i.e., studying, when it was time. You cannot do this when you have real ADD. Since my daughter was a big reader, we didn't think she had any learning problems, only laziness, despite the failing and erratic school scores. Everything she did took twice (or thrice) as long as it should have. She couldn't handle subjects she didn't "like," such as math, at all and could not retain the most basic rules.

After a diagnosis, which showed serious ADD, she got a prescription (the mildest possible) and that was all it took for a complete turnaround. She's healthy physically, now, and getting on the Honor Roll, which at one time we never would have thought possible.

I know this condition may be over-diagnosed in order for kids to get attention-enhancing drugs, but in our case, without them the bottom would fall out again. The physical problems that can dog this condition are not to be mocked. We drove a couple hours to a specialist once a month for 2 years to get my daughter's health back in shape (no, not an eating disorder).

Cue the people who don't "believe" in ADD. We hear from them all the time. I don't care, I feel it's important to stand up for the seriousness of this condition so people can get themselves checked out and save the course of their very lives.

To read the rest of the letters, click here.

Salon Staff

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