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‘My head is always running at high speed’
Research shows that approximately 30% of students suffer from a condition that can hinder their education. Our student editor Vigo investigated this and interviewed Cloud, a student from Hogeschool Rotterdam.
About 10% suffer from a condition while studying. These disorders include ADHD, dyslexia, ADD, and autism. Students with autism often experience difficulties with social interaction, communication, flexibility in thinking and acting, and filtering and integrating information. But it also has positive sides, including an eye for detail, analytical thinking, honesty, loyalty, and technical insight. Students with ADHD often have trouble paying attention. More than half of this group, therefore, experiences difficulties while studying.
The above mentioned is different for every student because no brain is the same. To draw more attention to these conditions and to hear experiences, the student editors interviewed Cloud (he/him, them/their). Cloud has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
Hi Cloud! Would you like to introduce yourself?
“I am Cloud and I am currently in my third year of the Spatial Planning course. In this course, I learn everything about public space such as: how do I design city districts, how the environmental law works, what is a planned economy, value creation and so on. I am also doing an internship, mainly working on my essay on heat stress in cities. In addition to my essay, I also receive creative assignments. I have great imagination capabilities and that's why I was already allowed to design an airport.
If I am not working on school or an internship, I certainly will not sit still. I do windsurf, karate, running and home workouts. I am also very creative. I take sewing lessons and like to make clothes and stuffed animals. I also like to draw, paint, crochet, 3D prints, read, and cosplay. As you can see, I do not prefer to do nothing.”
How did you find out you have autism and ADHD? How did this affect your life?
“I am being treated for trauma complaints from my past. To give the best treatments, my psychologist needs to know what my foundation is. As a neurodivergent person, you can be more sensitive to certain situations and therefore more likely to be traumatized. My psychologist must also be able to consider which possible 'triggers' I may have. So, I had to take a lot of tests and those tests revealed that I have AD(H)D and autism.”
How did you experience your diagnosis? How did your environment react to this?
“AD(H)D wasn't a surprise. During the survey, I said yes to almost every question. So, not much changed for me and my loved ones. Autism was a different story. We all had different views of autistic people. I didn't like it very much and it also made me very insecure. But with the help of family, friends, and social media I now have been able to accept who I am.
What do you think are the main limitations? And does autism/ADHD also have positive sides from your point of view?
“One of the limitations I experience with AD(H)D is that my head is always running at high speed. This trait makes it very difficult for me to sleep. I also seem very careless. For example: forgetting appointments, deadlines and where I have put things. People quickly decide that you are a lax person, but I truly cannot help it at all. The advantage of AD(H)D is that I can use it very well during sport. Mentally I have twice as much energy, and I can keep running where others quickly become exhausted.
Besides AD(H)D, I also have autism. I have not had this diagnosis long, so I have not been able to figure out much about what goes with autism. One of the drawbacks I have experienced so far, is that I have trouble behaving within the norm. I quickly get overstimulated and then have to stim (1) to calm down again: in the city, at work, concerts or fun gatherings, I often cannot fully participate because I quickly get overstimulated. The advantage of autism is that I can quickly notice a flaw within a design. I make a lot of 3D impressions, and everything has to be right down to the pixel. For example, I quickly see when a length is incorrect."
What advice do you give to people with a diagnosis just like yourself and do not know how to deal with it?
“Fidget toys are the best inventions for AD(H)D and autism. I always have a cuddly toy with me that I can fiddle with when I get overstimulated or to concentrate. Having a cuddly toy in my hands makes me feel safer and calmer.”
(1): Stimming is to relax by fidgeting with toys or making crazy noises. For example, think of fidget toys.