ADHD and College and Higher Education
Staying in School - HELP
Hey there! I’m nineteen, female and about to be a sophomore at an elite liberal arts college and I am on the most severe form of academic probation possible. I was diagnosed with ADD and language processing disorder in December so I just recently started getting accommodations, but unfortunately my school has not been very supportive of me and they really suck at making sure I actually get them. I think I need to explain my whole situation which is kind of long, so I apologize. If this is too long, just skip to the questions below. Here goes:
I knew I had a learning disability since around 7th grade but it was unknown what specifically I had until I just got retested last year. I got retested because I noticed that my grades were erratic despite putting forth a strong and even effort so I figured that my learning disability might be causing problems. My diagnostician then informed me that I had moderate to severe inattentive ADHD and language processing disorder, so I told my school and was issued a new ADA letter. I had gotten extra time ever since my initial testing but now I also get a note taker, priority class pick, a smart pen and extensions on projects or essays assigned with short notice. Because I was only recently diagnosed I did not know how my rights were different in college (I think I’ve mostly got a handle on it now) and I ended up fighting my school quite a lot to get them to give me my accommodations. In the end I only ended up getting a note taker in one class because my other professors were stubborn and as a result of that I ended up getting a C- in two classes, a D in one and a B- in the last one. I was already on academic probation come spring semester so at the end of the year my school threatened to kick me out - luckily I narrowly avoided that outcome.
The problem I have now is three pronged. The first problem is that I do not at all know how to manage my ADD. My family is not the most supportive and I can not take any medication because of a heart condition I have. The research I have done tells me that coaching is a good option but I do not have the means for something like that. The second problem is that I do not have a support system. As I have said, my family is not the most supportive - my mother is a little but she is the type to tell me that I blame all my shortcomings on ADD, school in particular. My school is not helpful for a few reasons: when I try to work with them to get the accommodations I’m entitled to they tell me to stop wasting so much time on trying to get them and to just focus on doing my work (which is incredibly difficult, if not almost impossible without the accommodations) and they don’t really offer disability specific help. They have an office of academic resources but I have found that I need more help than they can give me. The third problem is that I am not in the proper frame of mind to handle anything independently - I’m 95% I’m depressed and I have been seen February and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out I have an anxiety disorder as well. During spring semester just the thought of reading one chapter could make my hands shake, cause my heart to race and sometimes even make it hard for me to breathe.
Now that the year is almost here it’s starting to hit home just how much trouble I’m in and I am in dire need of advice. So here are a few questions:
1. How can I do a better job at policing myself? When I was told I could stay it was under the condition that I be more self-aware and notice when I’m slipping before it’s too late. I thought I was doing this, but apparently I wasn’t doing it well enough.
2. Any cheap alternatives to ADHD coaching or medicine, like something I could do myself to help me plan, prioritize and time manage better? My mother is strongly opposed to medicine, not that I can take any of the stimulants anyway.
3. Any suggestions for not beating myself over every little mistake? I’m pretty sure behaviors like this are 80% responsible for my depression and anxiety. There was about a month when I had to talk myself into eating because I was never hungry and I slept less than 30 hours a week because I didn’t think I deserved sleep.
4. How do I make sure I am on time? To class, on homework assignments - for everything. Part of academic probation is that I can’t be late or miss class or get extensions on assignments - ever. This was a huge problem for me last year. Mostly because I was not receiving proper accommodations but that seems to be a losing battle so I will take any suggestions for what I can do myself to succeed.
PLEASE HELP. I’M FREAKING OUT.
Thanks if you managed to read all of this!
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