Adult ADHD Support
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ADHD in Graduate School

Hi, I'm 59 and started graduate school last year. Thanks for reading/listening! I have 2 areas where I could use some feedback.

1. I was having incredible (painfully frustrating) difficulty writing papers. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to my ADHD until I learned that adults symptoms can become more pronounced. I underwent testing for ADHD to submit documentation to the school and basically they don't offer any accomodations. I could get extra time for exams but I don't have any exams. The final assignment for every class is a 10 page research paper.

The recommendations on my report for accommodations included 150% time given for exams or other assignments. I'm deciding if I should push the school for the extra time to complete my final research papers. It's a private school.

I would appreciate any feedback.

2. I've always been an A-B student. I have my bachelors in nursing and I'm a sophomore as a fine arts major. I've been in college on and off over the years. The papers I've written in the past were medical. Much more 'black and white' type of writing. I can talk about these subjects but putting in writing is extremely difficult. I can use the writing tutors at the college and they have been helpful. But at age 59 with ADHD I have a completely different perspective. Thank you for any suggestions you may have!! And again, thanks for listening. It's nice to know there are others out there who "get it!"

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I went back to school in my early 40s and I think one of the major adjustments I had to overcome was that it’s just a lot different way of learning than it was in my late teens and 20s.

What helped me the most was working with the writing lab and my instructor into breaking my paper down into small tasks. In the beginning “write a paper” was too daunting. So we went back to the basics. Select a topic. Develop a thesis statement. Create an outline. Start writing the sections based on the outline. The very first paper I had to write when I went back to school after being out for over 20 years was for a 300 level course and it was 35 pages with at least 20 peer reviewed sources. Talk about starting in the deep end of the pool! Lol. And it was for a cross cultural communication class so not so much hard fact and info driven as opinion backed by studies and focus groups. So I know your pain.

Breaking it into manageable tasks helped me in multiple ways. I had a weekly goal target that kept me from getting behind. It organized my thoughts and process - when I had extra time or “got in the zone” I knew where I could work ahead. I had ample time for review and critique. And it provided me a framework I could replicate moving forward. This set me up on such a good path that I was able to sit with my guidance counselor and the catalog and select topics for upcoming papers that were “variations on a theme” and basically rewrote and refined the same basic paper for 5 other classes.

Seek that help from the writing lab. I was amazed at how much good info mine provided.

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I'm happy to hear that you got the help you needed from the writing lab at college. There is a writing lab where I attend but they don't offer that type of help.

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Does this school have wheelchair accessible classrooms and buildings? Do they make or have any other modifications to the school for any employees, contractors, etc? Why would they not "reasonably" accommodate a student and yet they would others? If you feel you need accommodations for a qualifying disability, then I would always ask. Does this school get any federal or state finding?

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Good for you to continue with an advanced degree! At 57 I decided to reinvent myself and started a 4 year law degree program while still working as a real estate broker. I did it, I’ve got a JD. I know what your talking about, I can well relate.

Still, I was able to get through my timed essay exams. While I certainly could have written more getting a better grade, I learned how to get the big rocks in the jar first - the main points; and, add the details as time allowed. In the real world, my clients won’t have me with such a handicap. But perhaps it builds ones ability to quickly outline a situation?!

My recommendation is to not stress about your disability and take advantage of your adhd strengths.

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I was an English and History major in school, so I had to write a LOT of papers. The only way I could get them done was to compile my research a few days before the due date and then pull an all nighter to write them the night before they were due. The pressure was the only way for me to produce good work. If I tried to do it early, I got bored and blocked. That probably isn’t ideal for you, but if worse comes to worse, you do what you have to do.

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RachealCR, my learning style is exactly the same as your's. I went back to school at age 42. It took me 4 years part-time to receive a Masters in Social Work while working full-time. I had some exams but mostly papers. I couldn't get myself to start papers until the night before they were due. My partner kept bugging me to work on my papers but I had a mental block everytime i tried to start. I, too needed the pressure to begin writing. I'd work all night and sometimes miss work to finish them. (My boss wasn't very happy). I did the same when studying for tests and exams. I intended on reading the required textbooks. Despite being really interested in the subject matter, I would lose concentration, eventually giving up on reading. I've always done well in school and did extremely well in grad school despite my struggles. While in grad school, i discovered how I have been able to do it. I asked a lot of questions about how the information being presented applied to specific situations or environments, took notes on everything discussed in class, read the notes later and hi-lited what was 'important' and the day before exams, I'd underline what was 'really important ', then cram all night. The stress was aweful but I didn't know how else to do it. That's how i studied in Undergrad and before. By the way, i'm 60 now and wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until 10 years ago.

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Yes! I ask a ton of questions. It annoys people, but I absolutely have to map everything out in my head when learning new concepts. Unrelated, but it’s like when I do yoga; I have to listen to the description of the move while also being shown exactly how to do it, or I’ll never get it right. I also used to sometimes have to miss work or work on my unfinished papers at work. I used to think it was just my personality to procrastinate like that. I truly had no idea that it was ADHD. Turns out my dad and younger sister also were diagnosed with it. Now, I worry that my two year old will have it.

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