ah, summer (part 2)

Summer goes on, and I’m still inside, working on grant reviews. I’m about halfway through my stack, and have discovered a couple of tricks to help speed up the review process. It’s still taking me about 5 hours per application, which is really slow. I haven’t yet figured out if I’m being compulsive or inefficient. I suspect it’s both together :-S. I’m getting about 1.5 applications done per day, and am well-situated to be done with the reviews well in advance of the deadline. At any rate, as I’m now too brain-dead to work on reviews any longer, I’ll follow through on last week’s promise that I’d recount an ADD-related experience I had in my summer class.

It seems that each semester I have at least one student who has moderate to severe ADHD. My summer course was no exception; I had a student with ADHD that was sufficiently severe to require fairly intensive accommodations, which I was happy to provide in order to help them be successful in my course.

Outside of those accommodations, this student clearly had trouble in all the usual ways. They couldn’t sit still in class, had trouble coming to class on time, had trouble turning in work by deadlines, wouldn’t raise their hand before speaking, dominated the class discussion, went off on tangents, etc….. but really cared about the class and was clearly trying their darndest to do well.

My heart always goes out to these students, because they inevitably share stories of disappointments in classes and having to work so hard with professors who are less willing to follow their lists of accommodations (something I don’t understand, since these should be guaranteed to them by law).

I worked hard with this student, and was very proud of her performance by the end of the summer course. I observed a noticible improvement and substantial grasp of the course material, and saw how proud they were about their performance and enjoyment of the course. At the end of the term, my ADHD student thanked me profusely, saying that they’d planned to buy me a gift card for the local coffee shop in thanks for all my effort (of course I declined; no bribe needed, but the thoughtful gesture was definitely appreciated).

Unfortunately, on the last day of lecture, when my student went off on a tangent that took up quite a bit of course time. I did my best to divert them to get the class back on topic, and did fairly well…. but out of the corner of my eye, caught one of my neurotypically-normal students rolling their eyes and elbowing their friend in a clearly nasty way.

I almost lost it, not because of the nastiness, but because of the *nerve* it took to be nasty when this student has been nothing but open with their classmates about their disability, and asked for their patience with their quirks (something they didn’t need to do by any means). This same neurotypically-normal student had sent me an entitled message the night before challenging my grade on their paper, as well as my comments about their sloppy writing. When I replied that I stood by my comments, they indicated that I’d hurt their feelings and stomped on their pride.

It just goes to show that it’s not one’s strengths or weaknesses that determine their worth as a person. This “typical” student had the gall to be mean to somebody who has been nothing but kind and hardworking, as well as the guts to demand that I don’t “stomp on their pride” by giving valid criticism on their writing. All my student wtih ADHD wanted was to have adequate support to accommodate her learning needs, and was grateful to get it in a respectful fashion.

Now if only the rest of the world could understand this basic lesson…

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