When I was growing up I was a quiet, well behaved kid. I stayed out of trouble and I stayed out of the way. If you visited one of my classes in grade school you might not have even noticed I was there. I sat in the back of the class, quiet, unassuming and out of trouble. In school, aside from actual academic performance, the most trouble I got into was when my name was called and I wasn’t paying attention to hear it. That was about it—I wasn’t a ball of fire and energy who needed constant supervision. I didn’t break things and I didn’t talk back. Aside from bad grades and not doing my chores, I was the perfect child, the preferred child—a child who was complemented by other parents for being so quiet and well behaved.
At some point in my youth, maybe I was ten or eleven or so, the police came to my house to inquire about me because I matched the description of some kid who had gotten in trouble. Everyone was shocked. Not just my parents, but all the parents in the neighborhood. Bryan would never be in such trouble was the belief and that belief was for the most part right. I was not the kid they were looking for, but I clearly remember the shock everyone exhibited when the inquiry came.
On the other hand I was a very perplexing child to raise, I was well behaved, stayed out of trouble, but I did not do well in school. My grades were tragic. My parents were so proud of me for being such a good kid, but were confounded with my apparent laziness of mind for school and chores. There was something else about me that seemingly proved I was lazy—I showed remarkable talents in creative ways and on certain subjects I showed insight and knowledge well beyond my years. When I was physically punished I did extremely well, my father was a good hearted man and did not want to punish me, but it was the only thing that worked with me and yet, that sadly was only a very temporary solution and had to be repeated because I simply seemed to refuse to change. In the 70’s and 80’s this was the commonly accepted solution.
I didn’t hang out with other kids too much, but when I did I was the one looked to for creating things for us to do and I did—wild goose chases was my favorite and my friends always fell for ‘em. I could outwit anyone at my age with stories of grandeur and treasure! Later, I would try to write my stories and I wrote a lot, but I rarely ever finished a story on paper.
On the outside it seemed I was a content and happy child, but on the inside I was wrapped in turmoil. Not too many children liked me for very long. I played with them one day and then would not pay attention to them for weeks and I often missed the non-verbal communication cues and with my distracted and apparently uninterested nature – I seemed very naïve. That part really was devastating in my later teen years when I fell for a special girl, but I just couldn’t escape my seemingly naïve ways and she took that as me being not interested or worse. I had sparks of genius and showed amazing abilities in certain things, but as I explained, this just made my failures even more traumatic. My nature often made me want to be alone, to escape to my dreams—I remember very clearly as a very young youth desiring to grow up and live a life as a hermit, somewhere in the mountains, like Jeremiah Johnson—he was my hero. I didn’t want to be a cop or fireman or something like that. I wanted and desired solitude, but needed solace. I had very vivid daydreams and believed I could entertain myself and didn’t need anyone to understand me.
I write about my life and growing up with undiagnosed ADD in my forthcoming book, but I wanted to write a bit here to show that not all kids with Attention Deficit Disorder are hyperactive and get into trouble. ADD is actually quite different than ADHD in that we with ADD are usually quiet and unassuming as children, but we share the disinterested, daydreaming, impulsive and distracted traits of our ADHD counterparts. The Hyperactive ones are much more likely to be identified while the quiet unassuming ones are often left behind to suffer and fail without a proper diagnosis. When I was a child ADD and ADHD was not that well known and neither my parents nor teachers knew about it, but had they known about it, I still might have been overlooked because I was the desired type of child when it came to being respectful and obedient—of course, except when it came to my school work and chores.
I hope the telling of my story will help others who suffer as I did and get the attention and assistance necessary for living with ADD or ADHD. For the complete story of my life with undiagnosed ADD, please subscribe to my feed or check back for updates. The publication is scheduled for December—you can read the synopsis here.