Episode 2 of the Teenage Kicks ADHD mini-series sees Helen Wills talk to Lacey Small about how it feels to be a University student with ADHD.
Lacey says she finds it difficult to talk to people about how she's feeling, because nobody really understands what she's dealing with.
Growing up, Lacey - like lots of children with ADHD - thought she was "stupid." She spelled words phonetically, and couldn't grasp times tables at junior school.
Lacey says “Discovering I had ADHD was like an epiphany, it’s like my own little super power that helps me see the world in a unique perspective.”
ADHD at University
Lacey struggled to move away from the comfort zone of home, as she finds it emotionally exhausting to engage with her peers.
Lacey also finds external stimuli distressing, so going to the pub, or being on a busy street has caused her to cry and melt down in social situations.
Regarding her studies, Lacey says that her ADHD tendency to think outside the box makes academic study difficult, even though it's great for creativity and problem solving.
ADHD during the pandemic
Lacey says that having to work remotely during Covid-19 has made her ADHD even more difficult to manage. Without the regular input of lectures and engagement with tutors, she has struggled to maintain focus, and her mental health has suffered.
She says we need to give more thought to supporting students who've felt isolated by remote learning.
Types of ADHD
Lacey described the 3 typical presentations of ADHD as she understands them:
Attentive - these are the people who are good at masking and people-pleasing, and who try to fit in with others. This is more common in girls.Inattentive - people with inattentive ADHD are less aware of social boundaries and might be labelled 'naughty' at school.Combined - where sufferers know they don't react like others, but are confused as to why.
Why it's important to get an ADHD Diagnosis
Getting her diagnosis recently has helped Lacey's tutors and coursemates to understand where she's coming from, so it's been a huge relief.
She says that an earlier diagnosis of ADHD might have saved her a lot of stress, especially around friendships and exams.
Recommended support for students with ADHD
Help Guide on ADHDCounselling Directory for ADHDADD Symptoms in Women
More teenage parenting tips from Helen Wills:
Helen wills is a teen mental health podcaster and blogger at Actually Mummy a resource for midlife parents of teens.
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There are already stories from fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers - including losing a parent, becoming a young carer, and being hospitalised with mental health problems - and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.
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Please note that Helen Wills is not a medical expert, and nothing in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you're worried about a teenager, please seek support from a medical professional.