Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students with ADHD find new challenges in college life

With attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cases on the rise nationally, University of Alabama students with ADHD work to find ways to stay focused and succeed in their academic careers.

Madison Leavelle, a senior at the University, said she was diagnosed with ADHD when she was in first grade, and although she remembers little of the diagnostic process, she barely recalls a time when she was not on medication for the disorder.

Leavelle is one of the more than 5.4 million individuals in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Matthew A. Jarrett, an assistant psychology professor at the University, said that while generally symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsion tend to decline over time, issues related to inattention tend to span well into adulthood. He said college students also face additional problems related to “executive functioning.”

“Executive functioning is a term that describes some of the higher level functions of the brain such as planning, organization, working memory, etc.,” Jarrett said. “One of the challenges of coming to college is that students are asked to be much more independent, so these executive functioning abilities become even more important.”

UA senior Allison Raviotta also has ADHD and said she has struggled with it since well before her actual diagnosis in seventh grade.

“I had major issues focusing on any and everything,” Raviotta said. “I couldn’t sit in my room to do homework for more than five minutes without walking out to go to the kitchen for no reason.”

Raviotta said she also struggled with focusing on standardized tests and finding the motivation to complete simple tasks like doing laundry.

Leavelle said there are many aspects of college that are complicated by ADHD. From the inability to pay attention to side effects of her medication, each day has its own challenges, she said.

“I rely heavily on medication to make it through the day, I’m completely worthless without it,” Leavelle said.

Leavelle said she struggles most with procrastination and time-management, neither of which are new problems for her.

“Adderall can make me feel like a robot and sometimes it’s hard for me to talk to people,” Leavelle said. “Once I start working on something, it’s hard to stop.”

Raviotta said that she too struggles with the effects of her medications. She said she takes Vyvanse and Adderall regularly.

“I become very irritable on it, and anti-social,” Raviotta said. “I’m usually not in the mood to speak to anyone or joke around.”

Outside of these effects, however, both Leavelle and Raviotta said that the positives outweigh the negatives in the long run. Leavelle said she also credits much of her success as an art student to her ADD/ADHD, because when she does focus, she can really hone in on the details of her work.

“I look at what I plan on doing with my life, which is art, and I realize that I wouldn’t be nearly as talented as I am if I was not ADD,” Leavelle said. “My years of doodling and drawing in the margins of my school notes as a kid have not been a waste.”

Raviotta said that while some people consider being ADHD a disability, she doesn’t ever feel that she is at a disadvantage.

“Everyone has something they struggle with, you just have to find a way to cope with it,” Raviotta said. “My way of coping is medicine.”

Leavelle and Raviotta added they do not feel that different from students without ADHD, because so many people have some type of attention disorder.

“I’ve embraced being ADD/ADHD,” Leavelle said. “I’m proud of who I am.”

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