Jo-Ann’s Story

My Name is Jo-Ann, I’m 28 years old. Here a long “Story”:
Since I entered the public school system, problems were evident. The Kindergarten teacher noticed that I was seemingly in “my own world” and tended to wander about aimlessly around the classroom. Comments on report cards were: “Doesn’t make productive use of her time” and “Must remember to put away equipment”. It was recommended that I be sent to an Emotional Adjustment class, and so I went.

Grade one was not much different. Comment made were “Printing and Co-ordination needs improvement” and “She is easily distracted”. However, it didn’t seem that I really fit in this class, because in spite of inattentiveness, I didn’t seem to have a profound behaviour problem, although I was somewhat moody and excentric. I was sent to a “regular class after the first term of grade 2.

In the regular class, the teacher had noted incomplete assignments, but it seemed that I adapted to the routine. Not much was noted by this teacher.

Grade three: I had a rather old fashioned teacher, I found much delight in making fun of her. Lame little pieces of construction paper posted by the door: “The magic word is: WALK” She always criticized my printing/handwritting. She also thought I was a total space cadet.

Grade four: Comments included “Has not yet learned independent study habits”. “Must be prodded to get work done”. I also had a withdrawl class three times a week for my messy handwritting, which in the long run, didn’t improve much, I also learned typing. Integration of ideas in writting was noted to be problematic, as well as supposed reading comprehension difficulties.

Grade five: This teacher really thought I was weird. Comments included “repetitive behaviours noted” and “Has not performed at the level of an average grade five student” I was also in another withdrawl program, this time for reading comprehension. Parents were spoken to (again), and my mother took me to a private child development centre to be assessed. Inconsistencies in achievement were noted. Those conducting the assessment noted poor attention and motivation, also that I “needed encouragement, because I didn’t do the work otherwise” These people believed that my problems were due to anxiety or depression. They recommended I be sent to a Learning Disablities class, because I was far behind. I also repeated the fifth grade.

Grade five II: The homeroom teacher “regular class” was very, very boring. The SLD teacher was nice, but again some problems were still noted: “Must accept criticisim more graciously” was one comment. Academically, I was pretty much cought up, so I didn’t stay in SLD for much longer than one school year.

Grade six: I really liked this teacher. I think I was very extrinsically motivated by him. Most of the other kids still thought I was a bit “weird” but I really liked being in plays. I was absolutely certain that I would be a movie star. But I still had problems with focusing, and was really clumsy, handwritting was also still a problem.

Grade seven: Yikes! A phys. ED. type teacher! I hated phys ed. big time. I was so afraid to go to gym class, so I skipped it. Of course the most kids thought I was “Weird” but one didn’t seem to mind. She had a conduct disorder, and escaped out of her bedroom window frequently, she also successfuly conned me into stealing something during a field trip. The school sent a letter to my family doctor asking for a referal to a psychiatrist. On the plus side, my story writting was seen as creative, but the teacher seemed to dwell on how messy the writting was rather than how great the content was.

Grade eight: Lucky me. The same boring teacher twice in a row. Still skipping Phys. ED. Still daydreaming constantly, and so inattentive. Went on a field trip to OTTAWA. One day we had the option of swimming or shopping. Of course I didn’t want to swim, so I choose shopping. However, I didn’t really feel like shopping either, so I asked a classmate (who also had her share of problems) if it would be a good idea to stay and play video games. “Oh, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind”. So I did. Students freaked out. They discover that my room door was locked. Some actually thought I commited suicide! Not a very intelligent crowd.

AH…High School:
I pretty much accepted the fact that I was indeed weird, and didn’t really socialize with anybody what so ever. My first “failure” was grade nine English. My English teacher (coincidently also a phys. ed teacher) “Recommended a level change”. I decided not to do this, and re-took the course in summer school. I also dropped grade 11 math, but took it a full year later in summer school and got 78%. It’s so much better when I only have to focus on just one thing. I really felt better when a subject has structure, and what better way to graduate than to take mainly foreign language classes. Amazing! I couldn’t speak any of these languages fluently, but syntax and grammar were absolutely no trouble at all, I also discovered the “healing power” of cafeinne, and drank pots and pots, to help memorize the verbs.

Have you ever “chortelled” before? The word “Chortel” comes from Alice in Wonderland, it means a combination of chuckle and snort. Often (especially in a Science class) I would drift away into my imaginary world thinking about things. I would remember something funny and want to laugh, however at the precise moment I would realise the “real world” and try not to laugh. The result: A “Chortle”! It’s one of the most embarasing things on the planet to experience!

There were also a couple of other times where I should not have laughed: 1. When my grey haired chemistry teacher decided to dye his hair a seemingly unnatural “jet black”! Talk about chemistry gone all wrong! 2. The first class of French litterature. I had a male teaher who snapped his finger in his three ringed binder and shrieked: “OW! I broke my nail!” in what I percieved as a rather feminine tone.

Weird Things:
1. After Christmas and Spring break, often forgetting my locker combination, and needing to go to the main office to find out what it was.
2. Accidently wandering into the Guy’s washroom on a few occasions. THANK GOD NO ONE WAS EVER IN THERE!
3. Being sent to the Guidance department because I would forget to wear my deodorant.
4. Accidently grabing dad’s “Old Spice” deodorant one morning instead of my own. OH THE HORROR
! 5. Due dates for assignments. (Need I say more regarding this) TEMPER, TEMPER….
Sometimes I get really frustrated, and get angry at inappropriate times I only remember two such incidents in high school:
1. Walking out of my German class, because I totally bombed a quiz I took. Luckily the teacher seemed understanding and didn’t “Release the hounds”.
2. A huge fight with my Italian teacher because I flunked the verbal. I thought it was a stupid and unfair test. A five mark dialogue for 30%. I was totally infuriated!

UNIVERSITY:
My first year at university, I was a full-time student. I really had major difficulties completing work. Five credits compared to only four a semester was quite a jump, especially when you must take context credits. I made a major mistake by taking English litterature. TOO MANY ESSAYS! Naturally, I flunked it Royaly (35%). I also decided to see another psychiatrist, and told him about my problems focusing and that I was pretty much at my wits end. He saw me for about 15 minutes, and diagnosed me with “depression” and given a prescription for Prozac. After using it for a few months, I didn’t feel it helped me very much, so I chucked them. I decided to continue as a part-time student and do things my way.

For the first two years, I studied French and German, but after taking the second year courses, I found it much too difficult. So, I switched to the next logical field: Applied linguistics, which is more of a social science. I still had major focusing problems, but I did well in some of the courses. My Grammar Analysis Professor was great! He would have detailed notes of every lecture on reserve, so it wasn’t too bad. I also took five linguistics credits which counted for an TESL certificate from the university. My degree took seven years to complete. Incidently, I first found out about ADD during my third year at school. I noticed a rather colourful poster advertising a new book in the bookstore called “Answers to distraction”, I thought I could use some answers, so I bought it. I arrived a few minutes earlyto one of my linguistics lectures, when my prof. noticed me reading it. He pretty much thought that ADD was bull, and said that if I think I have it, I should try meditation, and homeopathy. So I took his word for it for a while. These alternatives didn’t really help me much though.

JOB TRACK RECORD:
I got my first job when I was in grade eight. I worked as a “Cook” at a fast food restaurant. Shananagins include mustard fights with the boys. Most of the time, I was good though. However, I would often forget to do things, and my prep work was quite sloppy, so, after being scolded one too many times, a quit and got another job. Cafeteria work. This job lasted two weeks.

Countless different chambermaid jobs. Massive complaints: TOO SLOW at cleaning the rooms, or too carless, missing too many details.

A Tourist attraction: Worked cash for a haunted house, however, payroll didn’t like my paperwork at the end of every night, eventually I was laid off never to be called back. Donut Shop: I was a donut “finisher” I worked the gave-yard shift and decorated donuts. Wasn’t so great at the cash register work though. I was “Laid-off” when the boss stoped making donuts.

English Teacher: After Graduating University, I went to South Korea. It was a one year contract. I worked 8am to 9pm five days a week, and had Saturday classes.

THE KOREA EXPERIENCE:
I can’t really say that I was a great teacher. I did my best though. In the mornings, I taught Kindergarten, and in the evenings, I taught a wide range of ages and levels. Report Cards were hard to complete, and I felt totally swamped. These had to be done every three months. They didn’t really like what I was doing and complained that I taught concepts either too quickly or too slowly. The “Principal” switched my classes on me quite frequently. The classes that I did best in were “bilingual” classes which consisted of Korean Children who have spent a lot of time in America. These children needed more help with grammar, but were excellent speakers. Subjects varied. It was a Christian curriculum, but the books were not that great. They were affiliated with the “School of Tomorrow” and books contained Bible quotes. I didn’t really know that the school was religious until I got there. I usually have trouble sleeping because I always think too much about things. In Korea, I went to a psychiatrist there who spoke English. He prescribed me Valium which I took for a while. It’s easy to get medicine there. I got my Valium right at the psychiatrist’s place. Also, If you feel sick, all you have to do is go to a Korean drug store, tell them your symptoms, and they just give you the medicine.

Weird Things:
1.The first time I was to go to my apartment on my own, I was really scared the apartments looked the same, and I felt disoriented. I arrived at where I thought my apartment was and the key didn’t open it. Immediately, I panicked and thought I was in the wrong place. A teenage Korean boy noticed this and helped. It turned out that I was in the right place, but I had turned my appartment key in the wrong direction!

2.Forgeting my key at work. I went through the apartment window. It was a ground floor apartment. I borrowed a chair from the apartment security guy and noticed him laugh hysterically, as I climbed through the window in my long flowing cotton dress.

3. Having to call a Korean friend to take me to the hospital. My contacts were burning my eyes all through the school day. I forgot my glasses, and they wouldn’t let me go home to get them. When I took out my contacts my eyes we in so much pain, I went to the hospital for “cornea abrasions” and my eyes were in bandages. I don’t know what caused this. Maybe it was the pollution, but I probably grabed the wrong solution. I probably grabed the protein cleaner instead of the saline. Didn’t finish the contract. I lasted nine months.

THE RETURN:
Now that I was back home, I thought that maybe, I should try a more “Simple” job, so I decided to take a convience store job. Of course I was always forgeting things. Eventually I was “Let Go”. (the only thing that differs between being let go and fired in Canada, is that if you are “let go” you can still qualify for unemployment insurance).

FREAK OCCURANCE:
At the convienience store: I accidently dropped a little box on the floor. Not knowing what it was, I just picked it up and put it aside. Then in a few minutes, a bunch of police arrived. It totally freaked me out! It almost looked like a swat team! Then I found out that that little box sends a message to the police when the store is being robbed! Thanks for telling me, boss.

I also returned to University part-time to prevent going completely bored out of my mind. I decided to study a Biology for Non Science Majors (All about the development and Genetics of Cancer, which is a good idea, since I started smoking when I was in Korea), and Human Geography (I have the final exam tomorrow).

After being “Let Go” from my job, I was totally devastated, and went to the school doctor, and asked for a referal to be screened for ADD. I was sent to another city to a reputable and experienced person. I have started Ritalin, but it is a very small dose, and I don’t really feel much different (5mg, morning and 5mg at noon, I think I’ll tell him this when I see him in a couple of weeks). However, in a way I feel relieved that my suspicions were confirmed. Will this treatment work? Only time will tell I suppose. Anyway, it’s time for me to sleep. Sweet Dreams to all of you ADDers out there.

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