16/05/2013 11:08 BST | Updated 15/07/2013 06:12 BST

Studying with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)


As a university student, I have had my fair share of deadlines and essays to do. What makes these tasks almost unbearable is having ADD to accompany me every step of the way.

I have to confess that I haven't completely mastered the art of hiding my Attention Deficit as I constantly fidget and am disruptive during long lectures but I do know how I cope with getting my work done to a similar standard as my classmates. I want to help others through my experiences and perhaps raise more awareness on the strains of studying with ADD.

I would first and foremost not recommend alcohol. I have found that self-medicating alcohol never ends well. Although it settles my mind, it destroys any focus completely and it effectively kills motivation. I should also note if you are on medication, this intensifies the effect of alcohol and essentially be a bad move.

Reading is challenging with that messy mind full of other thoughts like "would socks work as gloves?". Speaking the words out loud will let the information sink in more. I often have to read novels out loud which is awkward if I read 50 shades of Grey. If I didn't say the words, it would take me years to read or I would end up reading the same page again and again to understand.

Meandering between different essays ensures that I don't get bored too quickly. Even as I write this I am skipping between this and a monster essay on Abandoned Buildings. I try to do this an hour at the time depending on how much I start drifting off. This benefits that ever wondering mind from thinking about why there's a garden gnome inside the house?

Sitting at a desk for a long period of time is a nightmare for my poor little ADD brain so it comes as no surprise that I will move around a lot. As I found myself pacing around the house like a loon one day it occurred to me one day, 'why don't I just shift my work to a different room?' If you change your environment you don't get jaded of the same surroundings.

No way could I bosh out a whole essay out all in one go. I have mini streaks of focus which I try to let flow for as long as I can. When it starts to slow down, it's best to take a break because then you don't have to think about that one subject for a lengthy period of time until you're ready to start again.

The bane of my life is completely concentrating for a long duration. I even find it hard to commit to a cinema screening never mind a lecture. The last film I tried to watch in the cinema was Twilight and after I failed to remember most of the story but I could tell exactly what the cinema carpet looked like (red with purple zigzags). Last year a councillor gave me a squeezy ball to hold while I was in a sit-down-and-be-quite situation. It might sound a bit strange but squeezing and playing with this ball calmed me down a treat (not what it sounds like). I also found doodling took my mind off of thinking about flailing out of the room. And for the smokers out there, holding a pen in my hand like a cigarette seemed to give me a similar feeling of tranquillity.

After writing it seems that reading over and checking for mistakes clutters up your brain and it's hard to read the essay through. Again, I would suggest reading out loud or leaving it for an hour or two. It always helps to have a friend check over it, but then we can't always rely on others!

To conclude taking a deep breath and remember that you can do whatever you want to do. Coping with ADD means you might have to work a lot harder but it also means you can be ten times prouder when you're finished.