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December 14, 2021

I Need Someone

Why am I so stupid? 

Everyone in class is working, but I have no idea what they’re working on. I don’t know if my math teacher said anything about work. If he did, I didn’t hear it. 

“Sam, did you understand the assignment?” he asks me now. I rub my hands together. Tap my fingers against my desk. Start a little beat. 

“Sam.” He slips me a pencil, knows I don’t have one. Wait, do I? “Let’s go over it again.” Yeah, page 40 in the text book. Got it. Questions 1, 2, 3… Jamie’s got the new Nikes I asked my parents for. They said I have to wait for my birthday, which is six months away. It’s not even Jamie’s birthday. Wait, is it? I tap my foot against the floor. Start a little beat. 

“Sam.” The teacher taps his fingers on my desk to his own beat now. “Start with question 1, okay?”

“Yeah, got it. Thanks.” I look at question 1. What the hell is f(x)? 

What is it

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common mental health issues in children and teens. The condition can affect a person’s ability to concentrate and sit still and can lead to impulsive behaviour. Symptoms can start to appear from early childhood on, and ADHD can continue into adulthood. If you have ADHD, you are not stupid. You simply attend to information differently, which can sometimes make school really tough.

How do I know? 

  • Emotional signs: unstable emotions, outbursts, frustration, low self-esteem
  • Behavioral signs: inattention, hyperactive, impulsive, disorganized, hard time focussing, hard time following instructions, appears to not be listening, hard time finishing tasks, forgetful, interrupts, fidgets, restless, school issues, social issues, possible aggression, careless mistakes, loses things, gets distracted easily, can’t sit still, talks a lot, hates to do homework. 

ADHD by the numbers: 

Why would I have ADHD? 

  • No one is entirely sure, but it can run in the family

What’s the big deal? 

What should I do? 

  • Speak to your doctor discuss if assessment, therapy or medications could help you
  • Seek out counselling and/or medication if recommended by a medical professional
  • Set up a structured routine and use a planner
  • Set up different playlists that help you focus for school and relax at bedtime
  • Reduce the number of visual distractions in your spaces
  • Eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and develop good sleep hygiene
  • Talk to your teachers about an Individualized Education Plan. This could include things like: 
    • breaking down assignments into workable chunks
    • extra time for tests
    • writing tests in a quiet space
    • extra academic help if and when needed
  • If you’re thinking of self-harm or not feeling safe, call a crisis line

Musical notes: Music with a strong beat and rhythm has the power to stimulate our brains and change our brain activities. Studies on elementary, middle grade and college students have shown that the combination of rhythmic sound may speed up brainwaves and possibly increase concentration, performance and academic grades, in some cases just as well as ADHD medications.  

ADHD medications work to boost levels of dopamine our brain’s chemical messenger. But studies have shown that music we get pleasure from can also raise levels of dopamine. Further, some people with ADHD who learned a musical instrument when they were younger may have better executive functioning than those who didn’t. (Executive functioning is responsible for organizing, making decisions and completing tasks.)

Watch a video for teens on ADHD

Cultural strategy: Indigenous cultures tell us we are born to learn. While Western society tends to teach through books and lectures, Indigenous teachings often take place through storytelling, giving us the working tools to explore expressing our problems.

Need help right now? 

Kids Help Phone

Youth Space

Mind Your Mind


For more information: 

CADDRA: Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

The Mayo Clinic

CADDAC: Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada 

ADDitude Magazine

Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy