From the moment Julia entered first grade, she appeared to spend most of her time daydreaming. She needed more time to complete assignments than the other children did. As she moved through elementary school, her test scores deteriorated. She felt increasingly unable to do her homework or follow the teacher's instructions in class. She made few real friends and said her teachers got on her nerves. She complained that her parents pressured her all day long and that nothing she did was right.
Julia was actually very friendly and talkative, but a lack of self-control made others feel uneasy around her. By age 14, she found that concentrating on assignments seemed impossible. She constantly lost her belongings. Neuropsychological exams showed Julia was of average intelligence but repeatedly interrupted the tests. She was easily distracted and seemed to expect failure in everything she did. So she just gave up. Ultimately Julia was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was treated with methylphenidate, one of the standard drugs for her condition. The medication helped Julia organize her life and tackle her schoolwork more readily. She says she now feels better and is much more self-confident.
This article was originally published with the title Informing the ADHD Debate.