It was right around the time that my sister Jen was born that my first signs that I may have ADHD really started to show. Although, none of us knew it at the time. Shortly after I started Kindergarten at Cashmere Elementary, I began showing signs of impulse control. I remember being curious about how heaters worked and I would experiment by sticking little pieces of paper into the heater in my room. One time it caught on fire and I didn't know how to put it out so I threw it on the carpet and stomped it out. Unfortunately, this also left a big burn mark on the carpet which I pretended to know nothing about (although I'm pretty sure Mom figured out it was me and just didn't let on about it.) I also distinctly remember a kid bullying a friend of mine during the wintertime and I tried stopping it by taking a sheet of ice from a puddle nearby and breaking it over the kid's head. The kid wasn't injured and I don't even remember if I got in trouble or not for this, but I definitely felt bad afterward about it and it definitely shows that I didn't have a lot of impulse control when it came to my actions and their consequences. What is really crazy to me is that, for some reason, girls were fighting over my attention at that age, and I can't help but wonder how my life would be different if I would have continued going to school in cashmere.
We lived in Monitor Washington, which is a small town just outside of Wenatchee with a population of (maybe) 300 until I was about 6 years old. The main reason that we moved was that I nearly got kidnapped. We lived 2 doors down from the town grocery store with a bar in between. Mom had thought that since it was a small town and I was smart enough, it was safe for me to go pick up small grocery items for her at the store by myself. One of these times, when I walked past the bar, a man tried to get me to come to get candy from his truck. Luckily, I knew about stranger danger and ran home and told Mom. I guess this was one scenario in which I did show some impulse and temptation control, thankfully. This freaked her out enough that she told Dad that we needed to move away. So shortly after that is when my dad bought our house in East Wenatchee on Cherry Circle, where I grew up. We moved to the house in March shortly after Mom's birthday and midway through my Kindergarten year.
When I was going into first grade, I was only there for a few weeks when my teacher at the time, Mrs. Spry came to visit my mom and dad at our house. She recommended I go into a class that would teach me to get along with other kids better. The class was called "TLC" which my parents told me stood for Tender Loving Care. I'm pretty sure that it actually stood for Therapeutic Learning Classroom as http://hdnselpa.org/wp-content/uploads/APPROVED-Policy-TLC-Placement-9-21-17.pdf basically describes the class exactly.
After I got through that year, I was able to go back to 1st grade and continue with my education as normal. Although the term normal is to be taken with a grain of salt here. I was an odd kid growing up (also likely because of my undiagnosed ADHD). I would do things like wearing my pajamas underneath my clothes. Which, in my mind, was so that I could be more efficient and also give myself distraction wiggle room in the mornings.
I of course had my meltdowns (probably caused by emotional dysregulation due to ADHD), but I was just an overly sensitive kid in general. I had a very active imagination to the point I actually thought I could be part elf when I was in 5th grade. I loved art and drawing since I was very little. And would doodle, and/or draw pictures in class pretty much all the way through high school. Mom had tried having doctors diagnose if something was wrong with me many times by the 5th grade. But, because of the lack of research at the time, they basically just told her that I was "highly intelligent" because I had a reading comprehension level post-high school. And because I was "highly intelligent", my brain just worked and behaved differently than most people. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty much the same thing that they say today about ADHD brains.
When I was in middle school, I began to show even more signs of my undiagnosed ADHD, but because all the doctors had already deemed my weird idiosyncrasies as being caused by being "highly intelligent", my parents just chalked everything up to that. It was around this time that we began to have the dreaded homework assigned to us. This was basically the bane of my existence because it took away from all the fun and interesting things I could be doing at home, such as playing video games, drawing, building things, or you know, taking naps.
It was also during middle school that I began getting into computers and how they worked thanks in part to my neighbor Mel, whom I may write about another time. I got interested in computers so much so, that by the time I graduated high school I was already the go-to person in all my personal networks of family and friends to fix computers or do computer-related tasks for people. And let's not forget that thing that all teenagers go through, and believe me, it hit me hard. I have a tendency to hyperfocus on things and ruminate on them. So, because it was already hard for me to get attention from girls for me due to the aforementioned oddness if a girl said basically anything nice to me my brain would tell me that I needed to be in love with her and thusly think about her 24/7. As you can imagine this didn't work out well for me and as such, I developed a serious case of rejection sensitivity. More on that in another blog post.
It was because of all these different things that I began ignoring my homework, and consequently, my grades began to slip. So, where I could pretty much ace all my tests, I was scraping by with C's and D's because I could never finish my homework, much less get it turned in on time. I began hearing "he has so much potential if he would only apply himself," and "he just needs to focus on his homework and be more self-disciplined." What the teachers, nor my parents didn't realize, however, was that the harder I tried to focus, the worse it got. It was like trying to tell a person who needs glasses to just "focus harder." It doesn't quite work that way.
Unfortunately, it was because of these struggles that I wasn't able to get any scholarships or anything to help get me into college after high school.