Executive Dysfunction and School

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PANEL 1 – “I have executive dysfunction”

PANEL 2 – AUTHOR is a young elementary age student, looking confused while surrounded by symbols and numbers.

CAPTION – It means that I have cognitive, behavioural, and emotional difficulties.

PANEL 3 – AUTHOR is at a desk in class, looking down at her work, writing something with a pencil.

CAPTION – I have a hard time planning, and organization is something I really struggle with.

PANEL 4 – AUTHOR is concentrating

CAPTION – I tried as hard as I could

PANEL 5 – A close up of the AUTHOR’s notebook, which looks some what organized.

PANEL 6 – AUTHOR looks relieved to finish the school work

PANEL 7 – A close up of the AUTHOR’s notebook, and it is a mess, despite her efforts

CAPTION – But everything came up a mess.

CAPTION – I kept blaming myself, that I just needed to try harder, and be like everyone else.

PANEL 7 – “I remember one particular incident”

PANEL 8 – AUTHOR is writing a test.

CAPTION – I was nine, taking a test.

PANEL 9 – AUTHOR walks towards the teacher at the head of the class.

CAPTION – It was hard, but I finished.

PANEL 10 & 11 – AUTHOR hands in her test. The teacher looks at her with a sense of care and pity.

AUTHOR – I’m done!

TEACHER – Hmm, check it over again, to make sure.

AUTHOR – Oh, ok. Thank you!

PANEL 12 to 15 – A repeat of the above, but AUTHOR looks increasingly stressed.

AUTHOR – I’m done!

TEACHER – Make sure your words are legible.

AUTHOR – Ok. Thank you.

PANEL 16 to 18 – A repeat of the above, and AUTHOR looks even more stressed.

AUTHOR – I’m done!

TEACHER – I see some mistakes, check your words carefully.

AUTHOR – Thank you…

PANEL 19

CAPTION – I was crushed because this was a teacher I liked. I thought she was the greatest teacher ever but here she was saying that I was doing it wrong…and I didn’t understand what was different from everyone else.

PANEL 20 – AUTHOR is crying.

CAPTION – “I’m sorry sweetheart, but I can’t read this.”

PANEL 21 – A close up of the test that the AUTHOR wrote. It is messy and all the words are blending into each other.

CAPTION – Later on, I saw my test again – it was just absolutely awful. Completely illegible, even by grade two standards. Letters had no clear endings, and the words were all just connected into one long word.

PANEL 22 – A collage of the AUTHOR trying, failing, and crying.

CAPTION – No matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I double checked everything, the results of my life came up messy.

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I have executive dysfunction – It means that I have cognitive, behavioural, and emotional difficulties. I have a hard time planning, and organization is something I really struggle with. But as a child I was never diagnosed.

Because of this, when I was younger, my teachers didn’t understand. I was constantly told that I needed to try harder, that I needed to take another look, that I needed to double check everything. My desk was a mess and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep it organized. I blamed myself. If only I could try harder, if only I used an agenda, if only I could be like every other perfect little girl. Even my binders and duotangs had war wounds. My mom helped me though, trying to keep me on track.

I remember one particular incident when I was about nine years old.

There was a teacher that I absolutely loved, and she was really great with me. One day she gave the class a test.

It was the longest written test that I had ever done in my life at the time, but I finished it.

When I handed it in, she sent me back to my seat, telling me to “check it over again”, “make sure you’ve got everything the way you want it to” and “are you sure this is finished?”. She sent me back to my seat three times.

I was crushed because this was a teacher I liked. I thought she was the greatest teacher ever but here she was saying that I was doing it wrong…and I didn’t understand what was different from everyone else. Every other kid was standing up and handing it in no problem. Finally, I stood up and said to her all in a rush “I checked it twice, there are NO mistakes.”

That was the point when she looked at me with pity in her eyes and said to me “I’m sorry sweetheart, but I can’t read this.”

I don’t remember what happened next or if I finished the test. I just remember going back to my dash and trying not to cry. I was supposed to be smart but my own teacher couldn’t read my test. I was sort of aware that my printing was messy, but I could read it and assumed everyone else could too.

Later on, I saw my test again – it was just absolutely awful. Completely illegible, even by grade two standards. Letters had no clear endings, and the words were all just connected into one long word.

It’s like the effort and care I put into the test didn’t show. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I double checked everything, the results of my life came up messy.

Why couldn’t I be like all the other girls?

Comic illustrated by Jasmine Schuett

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