NACD KIDS: NACD Changed My Life

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By Melissa G.

melissaI remember a lot of things from before program, but I don’t remember how much having an inefficient brain affected all the things that happened to me. Some kids who have problems learning get to the point where they just say, “I have ADHD (or whatever their problem is called)” the same way they would say, “I have brown hair,” because the adults around them have taught them to think of the problem as being part of them. I never came to think of myself that way because, even though my mom knew I had all the symptoms of ADHD, she didn’t ever talk to me about it when I was younger, and she didn’t bother to get me diagnosed. Half of her family members had symptoms of ADHD, and they all grew up to be fine, so she didn’t think of it as being a big deal.

I don’t remember being easily distracted, because I was so young, and because I wasn’t aware of all of the things I was missing out on by being distracted. I didn’t feel any different before I did program than I did afterward, I just acted different because afterward I usually understood what I was supposed to do. Before, I would often miss important information from my teachers or my parents and just assume that I wasn’t supposed to do anything, and then I would get into trouble.

One thing I clearly remember is that I didn’t have any friends in first grade because of the odd habits I had. One day in school a boy told me he would be my friend, but on the same day on the way back to the school library, he saw me chewing on the book I had borrowed, and after that he didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Another thing I remember is that my teacher set up a sticker chart just for me to help me do better in class, and at the time I wondered why she was doing all that for me and not for anyone else.

When Mom learned about NACD for the first time, she didn’t take me there because she didn’t see me as having that much of a problem. I’m very lucky to have a sister who was autistic because if she had been normal, Mom would never have gone to NACD and I would probably have been stuck with an inefficient brain for the rest of my life.

When my sister Celeste started having major problems, it was so gradual that it didn’t bother me very much. I learned to accept the fact that she wasn’t a normal sister, so when mom made us matching shirts it wasn’t fun for her, and playing with Barbie’s wasn’t fun for her either. It didn’t bother me much when she screamed a lot because I got so used to it, and because it was always Celeste and Mom’s problem and not mine.

When my sister had started program, and Mom was teaching her to read, I didn’t think she’d be able to learn. How could she learn to read when she couldn’t even talk the way normal kids did? But she did learn to read and after that she began to get better, although it took a long time.

I only had to do a couple of program activities. The first one I did was the Listening Program. I also had to wear both an earplug and an eye patch to help with my mixed dominance. I was often asked why I wore them by children, and sometimes by adults. Even when I explained, some people didn’t understand completely, or take me seriously.

Even though I don’t have the symptoms of ADHD anymore, I am still very creative. Right now, I’m writing a novel. I am also learning to play the piano, and I work with Simply Smarter to improve my sequential processing. According to the basic test, my auditory processing is at level 12. I will be turning seventeen soon. I’m finishing up my last class in my correspondence high school program this semester, and I’m taking a class on computer-aided design at a local junior college. I want to study engineering, and ultimately become an architectural engineer.

Program activities have changed my life and the lives of my family members. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to overcome my challenges by going to NACD.

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 21 No. 4, 2008 ©NACD