Overcoming The Stigma of ADHD as a Young Reader

Valerie Donati

According to the CDC, ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or be overly active.

I totally understand this because I was diagnosed with ADD (now ADHD) when I was a child, it’s since evolved to include hyperactivity, which is something I had by the truckload. My poor mother!

There’s a huge stigma that comes with ADHD. I remember in 3rd grade my teacher and guidance counselor invited me to a special reading “experience.” I thought I was being singled out for this after school class because I was special, a great reader, a creative thinker. They were actually trying to help increase my reading comprehension. I was falling behind the other students. Their little ruse worked, because I fell in love with reading, even though I found it difficult to focus. 

The idea that one day I would want to be a writer is a miracle. And a testament to the tenacity of the caregivers in my life, my mother and teachers.

My mother made the library an exciting outing, where we were allowed to check out as many books as was the limit. She installed a little reading light over my pillow so I could read my favorite stories late into the night – which I certainly did! I loved both fiction and non-fiction, alternating between fantasy fiction and the ancient Etruscans. 

At 12 years old, although I had a hard time concentrating - some of the symptoms of ADHD are daydreaming and forgetfulness, I started to write. I began with novel-length manuscripts about subjects I was enamored with at the time, the winter Olympics, old Hollywood. 

So, for someone who had a very serious case of ADHD how did I grow to love reading and books? How did I overcome these hurdles? I had a loving mother and supportive teachers. They saw the little reader in me, the writer itching to come out. They recognized that what got me in trouble was also a wild and excited imagination. 

All these years later I’m still at it. Reading and writing and dreaming. And that’s why I’m starting Reel Story (more on this soon!) and why it was so important to me that my story, The Color of Music,  would be an exciting audio visual experience. I also loved movies as a kid, who doesn’t? And the concept of merging reading with an audio/visual experience has got me wondering if this might not be good for children who struggle with ADHD.

I'm on a quest to find out. I hope you’ll join me!

If you’re wondering if someone in your life has ADHD here are some simple signs and symptoms:

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.

A child with ADHD might: