Video by Kelly Fulford.
Broadcast Editor Kelly Fulford reflects on how a behavior disorder diagnosis helped her find academic confidence.
Teachers would come in during elementary classes and call my name along with all the other “struggling” students. Getting called out of class for “extra help” was a constant in my young academic life. I had problems with preparedness and social skills as well, I was quiet and lacked serious confidence. When they called my name, it sounded like the loudest thing in the world. Everyone heard and everyone knew. Everyone knew I needed help because I couldn’t do it by myself.
More importantly, I knew I couldn’t do it by myself.
Over time, I grew out of certain habits and my focus improved, but I still wasn’t at the level I wanted to be and I wasn’t sure if I ever would be. I was still struggling to focus and succeed in my classes.
It was the summer before my junior year of high school and I didn’t want to go another year being less than my best and not knowing why or how to fix it.
I decided it was time to address it as a real problem because it was. So, I mentioned getting tested for a behavioral disorder to my mom. At first, she was against the idea. She said she didn’t know if she believed in that sort of testing, but after some time, she decided it wouldn’t hurt to make an appointment.
We went to a behavioral medicine clinic. After a series of surveys, discussions and tests, I went back to the lobby and waited for my results. After time, the doctor took me into his office and we talked for a while before he explained the results of my tests.
He then said I definitely had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a mild processing disorder.
While, yes, we were in a behavioral medicine clinic that I convinced my mom to take me to and yes, I identified with the behavioral habits of someone with this type of disorder, it was shocking to hear that I had probably been living with this my whole life.
I had been labeled.
We discussed treatment options and found one that fit me best. And while the treatment helps me focus and stay motivated, I honestly believe that finding out why
I was never like the “smart” kids helped me more than anything.
The truth is that even though some doctor with multiple degrees hanging on the wall diagnosed me with a real disorder, and I began receiving treatment, I couldn’t instantly let go of all my self-doubt. It took years of thinking I wasn’t good enough to instill mountains of self-doubt so, it would only make sense that it would take time for me to become confident. But I knew I could get there because I was finally able to stop blaming myself.
In some strange way and as cliché as it sounds, being labeled helped me realize that I am just as capable as anyone else if I just believe in myself.