By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo November 25,2016 - 08:55 PM

On my third year in college — and that’s some 11 years ago — I wondered why I want to be a lot of things when I “grow up.”

I was an officer and a member of 13 organizations when I reached my final year in the university, and I was always bored even when I had too many tasks to accomplish. There were jobs which were left unfinished especially when I was not held accountable for it or when it was convenient to wash my hands off the responsibilities that came with being the leader.

I observed that I often blurted out answers even before questions were asked. In third grade, my class adviser told me I was disrespectful because I could not control the impulse to speak out. My mother attributed this to what she perceived as my “over intelligence” because I read too much encyclopedia.

It may not be obvious, but I have very short attention span. After 15 minutes of listening to a lecture, my mind flies somewhere else. I can even appear attentive while a person is talking to me, but in reality, I’m in Egypt wondering how many times Cleopatra bathed in the Nile River.

When my cousin, who was about eight years old then (he’s about 16 now), was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), most people looked at him as “abnormal.”

I detested that.

It just wasn’t right.

Even though I did not have any psychological visit, I felt that I have what my cousin have. Any attack towards him was an attack to me.

I kept it to myself though, and for years, I practiced my own version self-diagnosis.

I was convinced that I have ADHD.

The suspicion strengthened when I started working. There are days when I would be so distracted that I could not finish my tasks. It would take so much effort to push myself to finally sit down and get things done.

But most of the time, I was productive. Oh the stories I wrote, the field works I knocked out and the projects I implemented because of my never-fading energy.

I was already married and a mother to two children when I felt the need to finally see a doctor and told her about my self-diagnosis.

She smiled because she hasn’t met a person who diagnosed herself with adult ADHD, much more a young professional and mother who seemed to be doing well in her personal journey and career endeavors.

But I needed to confirm the truth because I wanted to correct people who say that it is a disorder.

A “disorder” has a very negative connotation.

But I did not and never looked at it as a disorder.

To me, it is a gift.

My hyperactivity led me to organize events on literacy development, to finish papers, to write stories. My short attention span made me see my weakness and encouraged me to work on myself. My strong impulse to say whatever was in my mind became the first step to learning the power of the pause.

When I learned about my gift, I was relieved. It felt like I had a two-hour massage. I was relaxed, mellow and at peace. It confirmed my self-diagnosis and affirmed that I have strengths to keep, weaknesses to manage and opportunities for growth and development.

Last week, I was asked how I deal with my “disorder.”

I didn’t know what to say because I don’t really think about it that way. I also don’t live my life with a blurb on top of my head with the words “I’m a person with ADD/ADHD.” It doesn’t work that way.

I was asked what is the most rewarding part of being “special.”
I like the question.

There are several answers to this, but I will settle with one for now.

I believe that I work well with children because I know when they are bored. I know what mentally tickles them. I know what to expect when 45 minutes into the storytelling session they start to fidget.

The most rewarding part of having the gift of ADD/ADHD is that I learned to become a better mother.

I homeschool and send my twins to a traditional school at the same time, and I get to check what activities and practices work for them. I craft lesson plans based on my interest and their interest. I am always curious and that helps me in my professions as a writer/journalist/communicator and teacher.
ADD/ADHD is not bad.

It is a gift.

As a kid, I was misunderstood. My mother did not have any idea about ADD/ADHD, but I remember how she would spend time to talk to me and repeatedly reminded me that it is important to listen and to let other people finish before I respond.

At 30, I’m still impulsive and hyperactive.

But I’ve learned to manage myself.

I still get reactions like “Are you okay?” or “You’re still normal, right?” during those rare moments when I tell people of my gift.

I usually reply with a smile and a line…

Who’s normal these days anyway?

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TAGS: ADD, ADHD, adult, adviser, Attention Deficit, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, college, control, disrespect, encyclopedia, grow up, intelligence, jobs, officer, organizations, responsibilities, student, task, third grade, third year, university

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