ADHD at School

Katie Boehringer reflects on her experience at Blue Valley

Gabriela Ruiz, Staff Writer

In the United States, approximately 6.4 million children go through the daily rigors of school life with ADHD, and every student’s experience is different from the next.

Sophomore Katie Boehringer, having been diagnosed with ADHD at the end of first grade, has undergone nearly a decade of schooling in the Blue Valley district with accommodations that set her apart from her peers.

Katie Boehringer works on Honors Algebra 2 homework during Tiger Pause. She spent over two hours on the assignment but, according to her, was able to complete it by working hard and staying organized. “I write down whatever homework I have each night in my planner and then I just take it one step at a time,” Boehringer said. Photo by Gabriela Ruiz.

Boehringer explains that she faces an array of ADHD-related difficulties at school as well as in her home life.

“ADHD often affects how much time it takes me to do homework,” Boehringer said. “It takes me a couple hours more than most people to do homework, and it affects how focused I can be during school and outside of school.”

In order to alleviate some of these difficulties, many ADHD students are given legal accommodations in the form of a 504 or IEP that their teachers are expected to adhere to. In Boehringer’s case, these accommodations include having more time for tests and assignments as well as sitting in the front of the classroom to limit potential distractions. However, according to Boehringer, these accommodations often go unused due to her struggles with self-advocacy.

“The teachers want me to come in and ask for accommodations, but I’m not good at that,” Boehringer said. “They want to support me, but they don’t understand that I have a fear of asking for that. They are very understanding about it and nice about it when I am willing to take the accommodations, but that’s not very often.”

When she doesn’t take the time to make these requests, Boehringer finds that her teachers tend to disregard her accommodations.

“All my teachers, well most of them, have put me in the back of the room and in my 504 it says not to,” Boehringer said. “If I want to sit in the front, I have to go and ask them even though it says it right there.”

Boehringer explains that, even though she struggles to work at a fast pace, she does not allow her ADHD to establish limitations on her quality of work.

“I over-analyze different problems, and if I can’t find an answer for something I won’t stop looking at it and figuring it out until I know the answer,” Boehringer said. “I like to make sure that I have it all thoroughly done, and I have a fear of disappointing people. That’s one of my main difficulties because I don’t want to disappoint my teachers or my parents or anyone by not answering a question thoroughly or not getting the correct answer.”

According to Boehringer’s classmate and close friend, sophomore Grace Lewis, there are many common misconceptions about ADHD.

“Most people think that [ADHD] is just not being able to focus or not being able to sit still, but it’s a lot more complex,” Lewis said.

Boehringer has also expressed that there are many people who don’t fully comprehend their peers with ADHD.

“People say that people with ADHD aren’t as smart, and that’s not true because a lot of scientists you have heard about had ADHD,” Boehringer said. “People with ADHD are very bright and very imaginative so they can come up with a lot of theories.”

According to Lewis and Boehringer, students can help their classmates who have ADHD simply by being more understanding and educated about what ADHD truly is.

“People could be more considerate,” Lewis said. “Most people just say that ADHD doesn’t matter, but it does matter. People need to be more aware.”

Despite the many difficulties associated with ADHD, Boehringer continues to work hard every day in and out of school. She also encourages other students with ADHD to have confidence in themselves and in their abilities.

“Your grade doesn’t reflect how smart you are,” Boehringer said. “It’s just a number. You are a bright student and no one can tell you differently.”