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Anyone who made it with some ADHD and a late start in STEM?

  1. May 1, 2015 #1
    I'm a more creative, "jumpy mind", visual kind of guy.

    I think I want to be in the engineering/business sort of thing.

    I'm on my way into college.

    I've often felt intimidated by STEM people, and I've never really felt motivated to start hardening the basics until now.

    I have zero talent for math. I'm a predominantly kinesthetic/interactive/visual person.

    What worries me is wether or not I'll find a way to get good in a timely fashion.

    Does anyone here understand what I'm going through?

    Can anyone give me pointers?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2015 #2

    Drakkith

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    I'm 30, have ADHD, a language disorder, abysmal working memory, and am finishing up my 2nd or 3rd semester as an undergrad for Optical Engineering.

    Some things that have helped me:

    Going to the learning center at my college, where they have tutors available for most subjects, and doing my homework there. Especially math homework. If your college has something similar, use it. (Even if you don't think you need tutoring, use it. It's amazing how much smoother math goes when you have someone to talk to about it)
    Develop a routine for your days at school. If you have free time between classes, try to spend it doing homework and studying.
    If you have problems with distractions, leave your cell phone turned off until you are completely done with school for the day.
    Get plenty of sleep. I'll say it again: Get plenty of sleep. If you're behind on your homework, don't sacrifice your sleep for it. It only makes it worse because then you won't be able to do everything you need to do the next day.
    My college has a program for helping students that having learning disorders, such as ADHD. If yours does, go sign up with them and use it.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. If I think of any more I'll add them.

    Edit: Forgot to mention to not worry about how fast you're finishing college. I had to take a preparatory course for college algebra and then pre-calculus just to get to where I 'needed to be' for my degree plan. And that's okay. That's why those courses are offered.
     
  4. May 1, 2015 #3
    Kind of in a similar situation as OP and Darkmith. I have slight ADHD, when I was a child I was just interested in reading literary works. My best friends were Cervantes, London, Joyce, and St Thomas. I could not concentrate on anything else. Eventually I dropped out. Got my GED at 21 and am currently finishing up my GER for transfer to a university, as a math major.

    What helps is if you like what you are studying,. It is never to late to learn mathematics. You will just be behind some other students which is ok. Now you have to play catch up, so spend your time studying. Even if you don't get the material keep at it.eventually it will make sense.

    Office hours, asking questions in class, tutoring center, and hard work are a must.

    Please do not fall into the trap of not asking your teacher questions because you are shy or emberrassed. A few kids in my class are failing, I asked them why they were. There response was that they do not want people to think they are stupid. Rather silly. I have a slight stammer and still ask questions when need to.
     
  5. May 1, 2015 #4

    Drakkith

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    Exactly. Also remember that other people probably have the same questions, they just don't want to ask. So you're helping both yourself and others by asking questions.
     
  6. May 1, 2015 #5
    Have you considered doing a TED talk?
     
  7. May 1, 2015 #6

    Drakkith

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    What do you mean?
     
  8. May 2, 2015 #7

    symbolipoint

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    No; not really understand what you are going through.
    Start with Pre-Algebra and then Algebra 1; and as soon as possible, try any technical field or subject of your interest, and academically try to include some Physics. You might find some kinesthetic activity in vocational courses or physics lab sections which could support your numeric learning. You might find that you develop some skills and understanding of arithmetic, simple algebra, and basic geometry.

    Why do you have a "jumpy kind of mind"? At least having a visual type of thinking goes well with mathematical understanding.
     
  9. May 2, 2015 #8

    symbolipoint

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    .... OR, maybe you have some talent that you did not yet try to explore! Many mathematical descriptions can be fit to a drawing, and then expressions and equations derived from the labeled drawings. Most everybody can draw diagrams and figures. Very very FEW people have trouble to do do.
     
  10. May 2, 2015 #9

    Drakkith

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    I guess I'm one of those few. o0)
     
  11. May 2, 2015 #10

    symbolipoint

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    I just read your description about yourslelf near the beginning of this topic/thread. You are discounting what drawings you really do. You really avoid or try to do as little figure drawing as possible? Optics, as I recall, relies on diagrams, algebra, and trigonometry, as best I can recall from fundamental - modern physics, the course in the series for science & engineering students. How do you manage studying the topics of your field if you really are one of those who have great trouble creating diagrams and representative drawings?
     
  12. May 2, 2015 #11

    Drakkith

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    I've only completed 2-3 semesters of college. I haven't even gotten into an optical class yet.
    This past semester was calc 1, general chemistry 151, and writing 102.
     
  13. May 2, 2015 #12

    Intrastellar

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    It is a shorthand way of saying that your story is inspirational and should be shared, I guess :biggrin:
     
  14. May 2, 2015 #13
    I have severe ADHD and am in my 40s. My undergrad is in a STEM field, I have a Masters in education and a post grad certification in behavior analysis. I am, however, a math person. I can easily do math all day and forget to even eat. Many people with adhd can focus (even hyper focus) once they are engaged and motivated. I am not a social science person but managed to get a masters and post grad in such a field.

    As for school - lists and deadlines are your friend. Get a calendar, not electronic, and write down due dates, study times, etc. Don't procrastinate. We are very good at that. You should plan everything in stages and make your own deadlines, which need to be a few days before the actual due date. For example, rough draft due date, edit this day, etc. You will at times lose focus and by planning to get things done early, you are planning for it. Good luck.
     
  15. May 2, 2015 #14

    symbolipoint

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    Attention Deficit - Hyperactivity Disorder = ADHD.
    You picked a method to deal with yours. Calendar, record scheduling facts, make lists, check your lists and follow; no procrastinating - get things done.
    We should not confuse "not good at drawing" with ADHD, because they are just not the same thing. ( I might have done this confusion, and should not have done so).
     
  16. May 2, 2015 #15
    I should have quoted the op. It was him I was responding to, not the poster struggling with drawing. I should have been more specific. Sorry.

    You're right though that getting ADHD under control will not make you good at something you cannot do. Although since ADHD people often rush things, that poster may find he can do a manageable drawing if he slows down and focuses. It's not like it has to be a masterpiece.
     
  17. May 2, 2015 #16

    symbolipoint

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    Right! The type of drawings to be done for physics and algebra and many geometry problems do not rely on any extreme artistic talent. The skills needed are very common in most (nearly all?) people. Some problems can be done better if precise tools are used (protractor, straight-edge, compass).
     
  18. May 4, 2015 #17

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    You are going to have to realize that being part of a STEM major requires a lot of different things, and that none of the majors will be simple. They all require hard work, and if you fall behind early on, it will hurt you especially in the upper div courses. I struggle with math a lot, and am a very interactive/visual person. But the truth is, mathematics is something that you just have to keep practicing on your own if you want to get better. Do more problems then is assigned, (even though the homework, at least here in UCSC is very lengthy), the extra practice will only help you. Understand everything in the practice midterms, and make sure you can do problems that are either just as hard, or harder! Tutoring offered at your college will be an excellent way to learn if you are a visual person, but as far as getting better at math, you will need a "yes I can!" attitude, and patience. So much patience. This has been the first year I did calculus and I have struggled so much, and it has affected my physics courses, but I still try very hard to maintain my modest grades.

    You will fail some tests, but don't let it discourage you. Hopefully they will be curved and forgiving for your lower division, and good luck! I really hope you find what you are looking for in a STEM major!
     
  19. May 4, 2015 #18
    I have severe ADHD but had an early start, so we're not exactly identical. However I was able to slither into a good graduate school somehow so perhaps that's encouraging.

    I've developed a variety of tricks to improve my ability to focus since I intensely dislike the idea of taking ADHD drugs. I can elaborate if you're interested.

    Being able to concentrate for very long periods of time is the most basic gatekeeper between those who make it in science and those who do not, from what I can tell.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  20. May 4, 2015 #19

    symbolipoint

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    All the ADHD people who succeeded in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, please tell what and how you did it. The ADHD people with STEM degrees are the primary persons to give that kind of discussions.
     
  21. May 4, 2015 #20
    I have ADHD and started school a few years later than everyone else (as in if I went to school when I was 17, like everyone else, I'd have a bachelors degree now). I just finished my first year of computer engineering as one of the top students in the school. Although I don't have a degree yet... I'm working on it.

    I will take ritalin sometimes to help me study, but some days I don't need it. However, I'm primarily inattentive ADHD, not hyper or impulsive.

    Don't be discouraged. You can do it.

    I think the main problem with you is your lack of self-worth. If you don't think you can do it, or be one of those STEM people, then you won't.
     
  22. May 5, 2015 #21
    Every person on this thread should find the time to read or listen to "David and Goliath" by Malcolm Gladwell.
    He writes about how proportion of highly successful people who started out with disadvantages, cognitive or otherwise, is so high as to prompt the question - are we even viewing these things correctly? Your openness and desire to wade into a field you seem to be ill suited for... is a distinct advantage over your fellow citizens - still frozen by fear of failure.
     
  23. May 6, 2015 #22
    ADHD here, before it was popular, dyslexic too maybe part of it I don't know, but what I do know is that a challenge is not to be shied from. I have an engineering degree (mechanical) been working in industry for longer than most of you have been around (yeah you can say dinosaur). Still had to work my tail off to get to where I wanted to be. I like what I am doing now. Late start? yes. After high school, I didn't want anything to do with school. Took 5 years to wake up and realize that nothing comes without work, even for the "smart ones", and certainly not me. I went back to school to take remedial math, Thank to the folks at the math lab, i learned to learn. It has been continuous learning since. Nowhere in all of this learning is the word easy. The drill is simple in practice, not in actual use. Do the extra work, take the time to do it right, spend the time on the fundamentals and understanding them. DO NOT LOOK UP FROM WHAT YOU ARE DOING. If you really want it badly enough you will find a way to get it. Good luck.
     
  24. May 6, 2015 #23

    Mark Harder

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    I'm in my late 60's, and a retired biochemist with a Ph.D. in the subject. About 12 years ago I had myself extensively tested for ADD and discovered that I placed in the 99th percentile - a definite candidate for the space academy in other words ;->. I was precocious in my interest in science. I decided to become a biochemist when I was 13 yrs. old. All my life, I beat myself up over my inability to concentrate, which I attributed to 'laziness', and my moodiness which I now know was due to a slight bipolar disorder. So, I worked very hard to get where I am; and I'm proud of that accomplishment. Still, I honestly don't consider my career to have been a great success, and that, I now know is definitely a result of my mental/emotional issues. When I was younger, nobody recognized any such condition as ADD. I guess I'm a tad dyslexic as well, and there 'was no such thing' 50 years ago. My teachers advised my parents to encourage me to read, which was definitely a good thing.

    One way I put it is that I have no trouble 'thinking outside of the box', which everybody else needs to be encouraged to do. My problem is that I can't seem to think inside the box, and that's what you need to do to complete projects and all those daily boring things we ADD'ers keep putting off. I too tend to think visually, which has been a great help doing mathematics. Instead of completing my impossible reading load in college, I attended classes faithfully, and I could remember the contents of the lectures and discussions very well. My classmates were astounded by my recollection of the details of a class lecture, which I thought was what anybody did. I had other intellectual advantages that compensated for the disabilities, as well.

    One trait of people with ADD is that we have one or a very few activities on which we can hyperconcentrate, as they say. Mine was mathematics. Later in my career, I discover this and although math and physical sciences were never my area of vocational concentration, I found ways to weave these successfully into my research. If I was in college now, that is the subject I would concentrate on. Other good news for ADD'ers coming of age today is that there are all sorts of therapies and coping skills to help us compensate for the disability. I have had decades in which to develop bad rather than good habits with which to deal with my ADD, so I have found the good ones nearly impossible to pick up.

    My advice for you is twofold. First, confront and accept your disability, which definitely does not mean giving up. Quite the opposite, take advantage of all the resources and therapies available to you. When you search for colleges to attend, be sure to ask what resources they offer to people with ADD (BTW, I include ADHD along with ADD. I was never hyperactive, so I can't comment on that.) Second, find what thing(s) you can hyperconcentrate on and pursue these. It's not known, of course, but I consider Einstein to have been a severe ADD case. All the signs are there, including his incredible tenacity and ability to get lost in his work, obviously big career advantages. And I mean literally lost; that's probably why he could remember to put a sock on one foot and 'forget' about the other one. BTW, I've discovered that I don't 'forget' so much as lose concentration, eg. where I lay something down. As for Einstein, friends and colleagues commented that he had a strength the Germans call sitzfleisch, meaning the ability to park one's butt at a desk (He didn't always scribble on blackboards. That's one of those romantic visions that make for good movies.) and work until you are either a.) finished or b.) too exhausted to continue. So, I may not be the best example of 'making it' , but you can take Einstein as an example if you like. He was a hero of mine when I was young.

    Uhhhh.. Anything else? Sorry I don't think in sound bytes. You need a little sitzfleisch to listen to my advice, I'm afraid...
     
  25. May 16, 2015 #24
    Senior physics major with late onset ADHD here! Don't EVER let your diagnosis get in your way. Many CEOs have ADHD... why? Because people with ADHD tend to take more risks and land these types of positions. Math got the best of me these last two years with these upper division courses even though I breezed through Calculus and lower division physics. This killed my PhD pursuit, but my jumpy mind came to the rescue. I hate class because I can't last a lecture and I'd rather learn from books and online. In the time I should have been doing classwork or homework, I felt like learning computer science. My ADHD made me much more well rounded than a physics degree would have and now I do optical engineering. I see my disability as a gift to make me want to learn whatever is on my mind. Wait to declare your major and take engineering and business courses. If it works out, major in engineering and minor in business. Get an MBA and let the cash roll in.
     
  26. May 27, 2015 #25
    From the looks of the reply's here two conclusions a.) you are not alone, and b.) it is definitely possible. GO FOR IT. And when you do go big. Remember, the older you get the younger your classmates will be :). Been there too.
     
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