Finding the good in ADHD, Part 3: Resourcefulness

[Re-source-ful-ness, adj. looking at other student’s papers; asks lots of questions; blurts out answers before their called upon; impatiently takes matters into their own hands.]

When I was in special education growing up, my greatest desire was to be normal. Being looked upon as different by teachers and students hurt me a great deal. I knew my mom loved me no matter what, but her opinion of me wasn’t enough to counteract everyone else’s. Teachers seemed to talk to me differently from how they talked to “normal” students. At least, that was my perception. I stood out and became a target for kids to tease and harass. After years of putting up with this, my single goal in life was to get out of special education and get into the mainstream classes.

Unfortunately, my solution was not a good one. I became a cheater. I couldn’t understand and retain the information that I was being taught (learning disabilities + ADHD = double whammy). Let me explain. Being a good people person (most ADHD people are) I became a resourceful little kid. I bugged all of my classmates for answers and help to problems I didn’t understand. Before each test I would collect as much information as possible and put it on cheat sheets. This was a great plan until I finally got caught. I think my teacher was superman or at least he had x-ray vision. How he saw my cheat sheet, I’ll never know. It was such a tiny piece of paper. Would you believe only 2″x2″? Plus, I hid it up my shirt sleeve. This was a technique I had used countless times. When I got caught I prepared myself for the worst, but instead, my teacher saw it as a teachable moment and took full advantage of it.

He was extremely impressed that I got so much information on the tiny piece of paper. So, instead of reprimanding me or talking to my parents, he started asking me questions that were on the test. I actually knew the answers without the aid of my cheat sheet. My teacher recognized that in the process of composing it, I ended up learning everything that was on it. From that point on, he required me to write up a “study sheet”, instead of a cheat sheet, and turn it in before every test. My resourcefulness enabled me to discover a study tool that was invaluable in learning the information I needed to pass my tests.

The point is that being different, and having to survive, means that people with ADHD learn how to be resourceful early on. I believe this gives us a distinct advantage over our peers to whom many thing come easily. While, as you saw from my story, sometimes this resourcefulness does not express itself in the best way, it is important that you recognize it for what it is and find ways to encourage it while steering your child to make wise choices.

Published on: October 31, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Ben Glenn

While in grade school, Ben Glenn was diagnosed with dyslexia, but wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until he was an adult. He is the author of the upcoming release, “Simple Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About ADHD,” in addition to “Simply Special, Learning to Love Your ADHD” and a three-part guidebook series developed for parents and teachers.

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