This is a poem, really, but it's also a memoir. It didn't end as well as I'd hoped; sorry. Reviews are greatly appreciated! God bless you.


"Attention Deficit Disorder"

Age 4. At preschool, I don't play with other kids unless I have to. I go off by myself and play with Legos. During recess I sit on a bench, or walk around the yard, or play hopscotch by myself. My teacher tells my mother she thinks I might have autism. My doctor doesn't think so.

Age 5. My mom asks me why I make weird noises in my throat, like humming without a rhythm or tune. I tell her, I'm playing a movie in my head. I watch my favorite scene in the new Arthur episode. Mom asks me to stop making the noises, because it bothers other people.

Age 6. Ahem. Cough. I keep clearing my throat. I'm not sick. I just have to. Ahem. The boy who sits next to me starts imitating me, coughing whenever I cough. My teacher moves my desk apart from the rest of my group, so my coughing won't bother them.

Age 7. I have a tic. I keep twitching the side of my mouth. My mom tells my doctor, and asks me if I'm aware that I'm doing it. I'm not. I stay after school so my teacher can help me with my spelling packet. I'm the best speller in the class, but I have a hard time doing all the exercises we're supposed to do. I melt down sometimes. When Mom comes to pick me up, the teacher tells her, "This crying thing has to stop."

Age 8. The teacher says my name several times before I hear her. I was staring out the window again. This happens sometimes at home, too; my parents notice me staring off into space. My doctor thinks I have ADD. Mom gives me a pill to help me pay attention in school. It lasts ten hours. Mom gives me the pill in the morning before school. When I get home from school I try to finish my homework fast before it wears off. Mom helps me with my homework and gives me an M&M after I complete each math problem.

Age 9. I audition to join a singing group directed by my school's music teacher. I sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and then I repeat part of a song that the teacher plays for me. My violin teacher tells me I have a good ear. When I play the violin, I don't count each note and measure; I hear the song in my head, and play it the way I hear it.

Age 10. I hate Paragraph A Week. I can't do it the way we're supposed to. We have a specific process we have to follow: brainstorm, make a graphic organizer, write a rough draft, edit, write a final draft. But I don't need to brainstorm; I just jump into the writing. Then I work backwards from there. I write my paragraphs on the computer instead of by hand; sometimes I dictate to Mom and she types it for me. My dad asks me if I can still watch videos in my head. I tell him, yes, I can. I memorize TV shows and movies; I can hear words and music perfectly in my head. Dad is amazed, and says most people can't do that. When I tell my sister this, she is puzzled, like me. She can do it too. It's not that hard to play a scene in your head.

Age 11. I always need to do something with my hands. I pick at my scabs. I knit and do needlepoint. I twiddle my thumbs. I cut out paper dolls. I even try making my own paper dolls from magazines and construction paper. I'm getting better at typing, because I've started using the computer to write stories. Mom says I have good fine motor skills.

Age 12. I'm starting to define my personality. I am shy. I don't crave company the way my sisters do, but I still want friends. I need friends. In middle school, I have friends. I ask to do my assignments by myself, without a teacher helping me. But I still get extra time for tests.

Age 13. I'm becoming more aware of how active my mind is at any given moment. I can have a song stuck in my head, while remembering a scene from a movie, and meanwhile I'm trying to do homework. My writer's mind is always active. I start carrying a notebook around with me so I can write down ideas before I forget them. I'm always getting ideas, from everything I see and do. Writers daydream all the time.

Age 14. I sometimes hear ADD referred to as a "disorder." Is that what it is? I'm so used to the fact that I have ADD, I've never really thought about it that way. I consider myself a normal kid. My mom has a friend whose son is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. He's like me, the way he gets so absorbed in a project. He's having behavior problems at school, just like I did. My mom tells her friend not to worry; he'll turn out fine. After all, look at how far I've come. I wonder if I should become a guidance counselor and help kids like me.

Age 15. I'm not sure whether I think of myself as "shy" anymore. Maybe I'm shy in a group of strangers. But I'm becoming more outgoing. I haven't cried at school for a year. I actually have a social life. My little brother is becoming a toddler. He doesn't talk as much as he should, but he has advanced fine motor skills. He picks up a pencil and scribbles on paper. I wonder if he will be a writer like my dad and me. My brother reminds me of myself. When my mom takes him to a playgroup, he might play with other kids for a while, but then he goes off and plays with toys by himself. Where I would play scenes in my head, he acts out scenes, making sounds and gestures. I can still replay videos in my head. I can easily beat my family at SceneIt and my classmates at Encore.

Age 16. I take a driver's education course during the summer. One of the instructors talks about the road tests he has administered, and recalls one time when a kid he was testing had ADD. I don't say anything, but in my head the gears are turning. Is my ADD going to be a problem while driving? I start to think so, as my mom begins to point out certain things she does on the road. I usually don't notice, because I'm looking out the window watching the scenery as we drive by. I need to focus. Mom takes me to the elementary school parking lot for my first time driving. Is this really where I went to school? It feels like a lifetime ago. This easygoing high school student is barely recognizable as that shy little misfit.