Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Studying for Finals with ADHD & SPD

The original theme of this blog was to document discoveries, thoughts, reflections, and memories of my life with SPD, ADHD, among other things. So, I'm hopping back to that for a bit.

How does an ADHD kids like me get through college?
I'm not entirely sure yet.

Getting myself to settle down and just study can be a battle, but when I win boy am I a winner. One of the cool things about ADHD is when we do focus (or at least me), we don't just focus - we hyperfocus!

I just have to be able to harness the hyperfocusing power for good.

It all starts with my meds. I don't care if you're for or against them - I know they are right for me and just another tool I use to succeed. I've got the intelligence to do fantastic (last quarter I was the only one to get 100% on all three math exams) but I just have to equip myself so I can reach my full potential.

So I've got my meds. Those do great.

Tea is another way I help myself calm down. Definitely no sugar. No no no. This morning I had a pear (natural sugar is ok), a banana, carrots, snap peas, celery, broccoli, and a slice of whole grain bread with almond butter. Set to go!

The Right Environment
This is so crucial that it is ridiculous. Regardless of how "ready" I am to study, if I'm in an overstimulating environment, there's no way I get myself to retain information.

I am really easily distracted which is why I like to study at the library. When I'm there, my brain knows that it's learning time.

My study-self sort of switches off when I get home so I have other ways of cuing myself to focus. When I'm at home, I need clean surroundings. Normally, the best way to achieve this is through my study blanket.

I love laying down a blanket on the ground and having that area have the soul purpose of being my designated study blanket. It works great. I just have my work and tea and it's super comfy to role around on. I can sit up. Lay down. Stretch.

I love my study blanket.

Silence or Music
My SPD makes me hypersensitive to noise. I hear sounds others don't and they can take up all the thinking space in my brain as I listen.

I use music as white noise when the world thinks that it's sole purpose is to distract me. Favourites include the soundtrack of Pride and Prejudice, Finding Neverland, and anything by Chris Rice.

I've listened to these songs enough that my brain now recognizes that when it hears them, it's supposed to start learning. It's an audio cue.

I learn best with natural light.

It's like a race to get as much studying done as possible before my meds wear off.

I study best in chunks of time - giving myself dance breaks when I sense myself getting restless.

Another tool I use is having someone else in the room while I study. This keeps me on task. Sometimes my mom will read on the sofa or today, Carole did her art in the same room and that worked great. I know it seems weird that a 19 year old would need someone there, but it helps me with accountability.

Get the School Involved
I have no shame in going to the Department of Disabilities at my college. They are there to help me succeed. I take my tests in a room different from my classmates where it is super quite (they even have ear plugs for me, if I need them). I get extra time plus I can use a computer. There are people in my class who also take notes for me which I study in addition to my own.

The teachers are usually really understanding too. I had trouble keeping up with assignments because the teacher wasn't consistent with where he posted them. There was no routine and I just couldn't keep track. Things got even more worse when I lost my agenda for a few days. A short chat with him and he let me catch up in my own time.

I don't have a severe disability like a lot of people, pretty mild, but I still appreciate the extra help. I'll do whatever it takes to keep myself on the educated path. Having the school work with me makes me feel like the situation isn't so hopeless and keeps me from getting discouraged and overwelmed. The worst thing that can happen is that I feel that overwelming sense of hopelesness. I'm just taking little steps.

I can do this! I can graduate from college!

Well, I've got five more packets of information to read and two chapters. I know I can do it as long as I don't get distracted by any more blog posts...

I know my pants look awkward. Scrubs are super-super high waisted.


  1. Hey there!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I love this post - LOVE IT> You articulate yourself so well, and what a great self-advocate you are! Something we moms are always trying to teach our kiddos.

    Want to do a guest post/interview on my blog soon? Email me if you are up for it!

    Thanks again!!

  2. hi
    i loved this post of yours:)
    its written so so well:)
    thanx for commenting on my blog........yes,that is my daughter

  3. Magi , once again, this is a wonderful post... it so clearly depicts life with learning challenges... I also really liked how you explained the services at the college. At our house we've discovered their usefulness as well. That extra help has translated to Dean's list for our student... your rock!


Your words make me grin.

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