Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast. All the things ADHD.
Oh, the things? Yes.
We should introduce ourselves as CO hosts because we didn't do that last time. We just like barreled through it. i What are your co hosts Lee Skallerup Bessette.
And I am the other one of your co hosts, Amy hope Morrison. Yeah, first. All right, give
me the first the first the first of her name.
The first of my name Yatri starters
have your name. How are things going?
Oh, things are going okay. If any of our listeners who happen to see me at foresees Hello, listeners. It's nice to hear you but except I can't hear you. Oh shit. I blew that didn't I? Okay, I was at a conference. I was in Chicago. I have a neurodivergent hangover, which I recognized when I came home. So be pleased about that. We are learning about ourselves. How about you, Lee? How are you?
Pretty good. Weather's weird. allergy season at
the end of February in Northern Virginia, which is like so, you know, I'm sorry if I don't mute myself before I sneeze during this
these climate change. Ah, so we're doing
we're surviving. You have so I have unseasonably warm weather. It's all going.
I dislocated my thumb shoveling yesterday. Thanks. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Yeah,
that's fine. You know that you're more prone to migraines, because that?
I sure do. Yeah, I do. Yeah. Yeah. shoveling snow will also give me migraines. Just because it makes me so angry.
Yeah, well, that. I mean, isn't that doesn't at all make us angry?
So I was gonna say it's all the surviving. That's not right. Surviving. Today, we're talking about survival tips.
Yes, we got a an email from listeners See, I read them about, you know, being neurodivergent at universities and surviving that which clearly you and I both did, not worse for wear. So this could also be things Lee and Amy wish they knew when they were at university so that maybe it wouldn't have been as traumatic as it actually was.
I'm very excited about this, because this is a type of survival episode that this podcast was originally meant to address instead of us surviving all of our various physical and emotional calamities, which has been a different kind of survival or surviving a pandemic, which is also something this podcast did not anticipate having to do a lot of content about. And yet, there we were. So Hurray, we're back in the realm of tips and trips, tips, oh, no trips, for verb tips and tricks for academic life. Right. Yeah. Undergrad edition.
Yeah. And I think that one of the things that I have to say, because I was I was thinking about this, I actually was thinking about this before we recorded as opposed to, and because I was thinking of the advice and there is, again, there's an incredible amount of privilege behind this. And some of these recommendations may not be attainable, just because of the particular situation, because the first one I was gonna give was, get your while you are still at home with your primary care provider under your parent's insurance in your hometown, get your diagnoses. But that relies on you having a primary care provider, parents with insurance, and etc, etc. But if you do have these things, I think having that updated diagnosis in hand before you go, is really important.
Yeah, often universities require in Canada, at least I'm not sure about the the state in the US in Canada that if you had your evaluation done more than five years ago, right, it doesn't count. Or if you had your evaluation done, when you were younger than 18, and you are now older than 18. That doesn't count either. Right. So yeah, so I guess tips and tricks. Number one would be managing the paperwork of diagnosis and accommodation. And the first step is to make sure that the institution that you are at, will accept whatever documentation you already have, or whatever school you intend to go to, what their requirements are in terms of documentation, so that as Lee has suggested, you can glom on to your parent's insurance while you still have it. In some cases, if you have older paperwork like say, from when you were 11, or when you were 13. And it needs to be updated. It might be possible for your family doctor to update that without you going through a whole psych eval again, because those can be tremendously expensive. Yeah. Actually, I wound up paying $3,500 out of pocket for my child's assessment and about $2,000 out of pocket for my own probably because my assessment went quicker because I was not, in fact, taking off my shirt and refusing to do the tests as much as my child was when they were eight years old. But yeah, this is expensive. And in fact, before going to that expense, if you have been diagnosed with ADHD or suspect you have ADHD, before you go through that whole process, again, check what accommodations your institution will actually be able to provide for you. And if those are useful accommodations, you may require Dirilis you make right Oh, my God, I can't talk to you. You may remember, if dear listeners that I have written a very long and heavily cited by me paper on academic accommodations, right? Precisely around this way. And different institutions accommodate ADHD differently. So even in some elementary and high schools in the US, ADHD does not count as a disorder for which you require accommodation, right? Which legal accommodation, like you are legally required to provide accommodation to those students. And that is, in the case in some jurisdiction. So it may be the fact that getting expensive paperwork or updating expensive paperwork, and going through all the bureaucratic processes, at whatever institution you're attending will not, in fact, produce any measurable result except your own exhaustion, and rage. So check on that first. And that
might, you know, again, taking even step back, if we're if you're in your junior or senior year of high school, and you're trying to make these decisions, that might be something to investigate that will inform your decision. Right? What are the accommodations? What is the office like everybody has an office of accommodations? Ours is called Arc the Academic Resource Center, every university in both Canada in the United States is required to have one now, how good they are? That's an open question. So again, absolutely investigating these things, asking these kinds of questions ahead of time, what's the documentation? What are the accommodations and support that they get are able to offer you and those might be could be, you know, again, if it's a university that has the program that you absolutely want to do. Maybe this isn't a factor, but it could be in probably should be a factor in deciding,
you know, what I'm thinking of Lee, I'm thinking of you telling this story about your undergrad at Sherbrooke, where all the classes were three hours long, right? So yeah, so some institutions have some bonkers setups that may or may not help people with ADHD may or may not hinder people with ADHD and achieving success, you might want to think about the academic programs you're interested in at different schools. I know, for example, at Waterloo, the engineering and computer science programs are cohort based, which means everybody takes roughly the same classes at the same time, and you move through as a group from admission to graduation. So if you suspect you might require, like a reduced course load, in order to be able to succeed, you might want to look for institutions that have a little bit more leeway in terms of how you arrange your own schedule, right. So so I know a lot of students really struggle with being locked into sort of programmatic requirements that don't allow them actually to access the accommodations that they are entitled to.
Yeah. And again, all of these things, and you know, this is, this is a lot of privilege, where if you are a junior or a senior or a parent of a junior senior or somebody who will be looking on the college, that you know, all things that should be again taken into consideration this is this is that that fit question? Right? That the you know, how will you fit, and you should take your neuro divergence, your ADHD, any of that kind of stuff into consideration. I can imagine that a smaller liberal arts campus might be a better fit list for somebody who is autistic, rather than, say University of air or Arizona State University with 60,000 students.
Look, I I went to New York that has like 40,000 graduate students, or didn't when I attended and all of my classes were obviously enormous. My first year was very, very easy to disappear. Right? It was both overstimulating and very, very, very easy to disappear there and have no one kind of follow up with you. That was biology when I was in biology, when I switched to English actually had in my first year English seminar, a professor called me at home and say, Where were you? We haven't seen you for two weeks. Please come to class. And I was like, Holy shit, he knows why I'm right. And that made a big difference. Yeah.
And again, like there's, there's lots of various reasons I and because it's it's college admission season over here, I'm sure down in Canada or up in Canada. I'm down in the States, Europe and Canada. It's Probably one of us can talk today. That's a good yes, that's really great. Well, maybe I'm in Alaska right now. And it is down in Canada. I don't know. But I'm not in Alaska. I'm down in Northern Virginia. But, you know, like, the reasons why people will pick schools is baffling to me, like, I, you know, I coach swimming in there as a lot of lifeguards, and lifeguards, or, you know, late teens. And one of them was like, I only want to go to an SEC school, which is Southeastern Conference schools. So based on sports, that has a major football team.
Right, okay. That's very academically minded. Yeah. And but,
you know, to each their own, if they're just getting, you know, a for a lot of people, it's just getting a degree, right, because they, they're told they need to get a degree. So
like acquiring a degree, like it's like, some level in a video game where you just do a bunch of grind. And then you get the thing that you want, so that you can do the thing that you want, and you could stop doing the grind. I guess that's another question too. If people are considering when and where to go to college, I would say probably an ADHD tip. And trick here is do something you're interested in, because Oh, yeah, really hard to do things that you are not interested in, as all of us already know, right. And so if you fill your whole degree with shoulds, and have to, and important, that do not actually attach to intrinsic motivation, within yourself, you're going to find it very hard to succeed. So now, actually, is the time when you're choosing programs or choosing schools to think less about what other people want for you, and more what you want for yourself to think a little bit less. But what you should be able to do, and what you actually are able to do, because we talk a lot of this podcast about the call coming from inside the house, right, the internalized ableism is very real. And often when we struggle to do things, we've doubled down on that one thing that we we can't do like Lee trying to do flips off the dock and bruising her backside, you know, very hard at like, just think like I can't do it. So I should actually lean harder into that thing that I find excruciating ly difficult out of some sort of sense of I'll show you all right, they should be different. I'm not different, right. But somehow magically, things will transform themselves. So this is a good time for people to exercise a little bit of, of insight, because particularly in the US Going to college is an incredibly expensive undertaking. So you don't want to be trying to prove something to the ableist that lives inside your own brain while you're there.
Yeah, yeah. And I think that that leads into another big piece of advice is, you know, not just doing, you know, doing the program that you're interested in, that you're gonna get excited about. But also, you are going to do University differently. Yeah, and that's okay. Right. Yeah. It's, it is okay to hear in the States, we have community college. It's okay, that if you need extra scaffolding to live at home, and go to community college, yep. For the first two years,
oh, two year, years, right. Do your first two years in Yeah, a slowly on scaffolding environment, right, where you begin to maybe navigate what it means to take college level courses in college level structures where the day is not the same as a high school day would be. But you're not also dealing with the additional challenge of taking on a massive loan, moving somewhere else, and having to make all new friends, right, sometimes taking a little bit of the challenge at a time is a prudent financial, as well as neurological strategy.
Yep. And even if you are ready to go away, and you and you do go away, you know, you're going to have to think you are not going to, you know, be like your classmates and your roommate and all of that kind of stuff. So, and that's okay. Right? That is perfectly okay. Even though you may feel that it's not that this is so easy for my roommate to do this is so easy for my lab partner to do this is so easy for my group to do this is you know, or, you know, and they do it this way. And so I feel like I shouldn't have to do it this way. No. Right. You are different from them. And that's okay.
Let's stick with this for a bit because I've been thinking about this precise part of the issue. Particularly when I was just in Chicago out for CS. I got to help a colleague Melissa Forbes, create a documentary about last minute writing strategies among people with ADHD. So she went around interviewing people who were at the conference with ADHD currently writing their papers at the conference right to be that. And that session was it was just the two of us and the movie and a q&a. And naturally neurodivergent squad showed up there, as well as some administrators and professors who work with neurodivergent students trying to figure out, you know, what's the deal with the ADHD and I had one woman come up and mentioned to me how she tries to support her students with ADHD, you know, by offering them different tips and tricks around approaching writing projects that don't involve like having extensions and an endless kind of deferrals and stuff. And what she said was like, and they keep making excuses, right? And I was like, well, like, push back a tiny bit on that she's like, can I offer them this and they don't want it, they make an excuse, and they make an excuse. I'm like, I think that's internalized ableism. Right, is when you offer to help a student who has an undergraduate student, particularly who was has ADHD, get through a barrier that is preventing them from succeeding, right? If that is not the standard process that other people are also accessing? Often, they will refuse, right? Sometimes I have said to students, like, you know, you're in my office asking me about, like, how you can get started on this paper? And you don't know. And you've told me you have ADHD? And I do too. So here's what we're gonna do you have 10 minutes with me open up your laptop, just start brainstorming. Right now we're doing body doubling, and they don't want to do it. Because like, they're like, do you do this with other people? I'm like, well, sometimes, right? But they don't want often to accept help that marks them as different. And when I say them, I mean, us, right? So we can have difficulty accepting our own differences from the standard way of doing things. Because, you know, as we've discussed extensively on this podcast, we've been told our whole life that the way that we do things are wrong, that we're getting away with stuff, we shouldn't be doing it at the last minute, we shouldn't be doing it like this, and who do we think we're fooling and we're not living up to our potential and like, we already know, everything that we want to do is wrong. And usually, like we were discussing on our last episode, if it if it works for us, and it's pretty easy, we're suspicious, that we're not doing it right, because we're not suffering and struggling. So the first part of this is that if you know you have ADHD and you you are trying to think about how you can succeed in your undergrad in your writing as an email, maybe, I don't know if this is the the student's particular situation, it's because you don't quite know how to do this and you suspect it's not working out the way you're doing it right now. You cannot then write refuse everyone's suggestions. Maybe you should try. Some of them do not think, Oh, well, that's different than what I would have chosen to do. That's why you're asking for advice. Right? So you have to sort of if you're asking for help, be open to what people are suggesting. And it's not a forever thing, right? You could like, Well, I'll try to sit here and brainstorm with you. But I think I might be too nervous to do that. And at the end of it, you might be like, Oh, actually, that really worked. I'm going to try doubling with other people or like, yeah, I'm really nervous doing this with my professor. But I see like, maybe I should do it with a friend. Right? If you don't know what works for you currently, it also means you don't know what's not going to work if you've never tried before. So accept your differences. And be willing to ask for a specific kind of help.
Yeah. And, and another one, particularly if you're moving away, right? This is executive functioning, overload, right? All of these things that used to be taken care of, by hopefully again, from a privileged position, a parent or guardian who cared for you and you know, picked up your bowl. When you know that that gets left on the table every single morning, the cereal ready to talk about that. We
just got that this morning. I've just cleared up the dishes. So
so my, my thing was laundry. I hate laundry. I still hate laundry. I hate laundry back then. And it was the funniest thing that like I you know, I knew I hated laundry. And it's a it's a neurodivergent thing, but I hated laundry. I knew also that I was gonna go away to university, I had to go away to university, I had to move out of my house all that I started stockpiling underwear. Oh, yeah, at like 1514 Because every, you know, they don't really do this anymore. But every year Christmas when the stocking stuffers would be a six pack of underpants. Oh,
I just did that for my kid this year. And actually for my husband. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I
mean, socks and underwear and batteries, although batteries doesn't really matter anymore, because everything is rechargeable, but it was like that's what you got in your stock. batteries
don't need batteries. You'd be charging cables,
and blocks and charging books. But yeah, but But I started stockpiling underwear. And so I knew my mom did laundry like every other day. And so I would just keep I would never open those packs of underwear. And so like every year I would just collect all these elements. So by the time I went away to university, I had like 40 pairs of brand new underpants. That like meant I could go home once a month have my mom do my laundry and I never ran out of clean underwear.
Can I just lay egg here? I love this paradox is that you don't have the executive function required to do your own laundry every week. But you have the executive function required to run this long con. Right? Yeah. Where you're going to actually collect packages of underwear for years in a consistent way, because you've made a plan when you are 15. About for when you go to university, right. And I love this because this is peak ADHD for me like, well, somebody who can make that kind of plan and carry it out over several years is somebody who ought to be able to do their laundry once a week, but nope. That's not how it works. And I love that story. That's an amazing story. Yeah, because that's a joke we used to make about like you ran out of dishes, just buy more dishes. Yeah, right. Well, we
would go to the cafeteria.
Yeah, that sounds right.
And we had, it was actually really good. And again, this is the kind of thing that campus visits and all that kind of stuff do too. Because, you know, different campuses will offer different amenities. And I hate to use amenities because we have the amenities raised you, you're about like lazy river and all of that kind of stuff. But, you know, there was something to be said that at Sherbrooke, and I didn't realize that this wasn't universal, because I was like, I'm just going here, I don't even care. We had mini fridges in our room. And if you were an old res, what we called it you also had a sink in your room?
Oh, yeah. Content?
Yeah. Yeah, it was kind of like that. Whereas, you know, I've met then, you know, you just go away, or at least I just went away to university naively. And then, you know, running other people, like they gave you a mini fridge, we had to buy our own and put it in our room. Or, you know, we didn't have sinks in our room. So you had to go to like the shared bathroom, if ever you wanted to brush your teeth or whatever. But that also, we and we also weren't required at the time. And probably still day, we weren't required to buy a meal plan. And so there was a cafeteria, but we also in residence had a kitchen on every single floor. And so we had shared kitchen facilities, which meant that we could save money by cooking for ourselves. Now again, so. Yeah, my microwave. Oh, I would microwave, you know, but yeah, the sink in your room. So you could in the mornings, if you just wanted cereal, you'd pull your box of cereal, you get your bowl and your spoon. Get your milk out of your fridge, eat your cereal, then leave your bowl in your sake.
Sure, forever, forever. Yeah. But like I had a residence where to go. I had a residence where it was like an apartment style residence. So it had a mini kitchen. And by mini I mean it had like an undersized microwave and a hot plate with one burner on it. But like no stove. Right? And, and so we were not in the meal plan and we had to like trek out quite far to buy groceries and it was crazy. And yeah, I'm probably the only person who like my freshman 15 Was I lost 15 pounds because I didn't eat because it was very inconvenient to try to kill food and I forgot that I was hungry. I mostly survived on these like, they were like chocolate mousse cups you could get at the like, convenience store. So it's like yeah, I can then Kansa Rado from like pans, Rado and pizza place and that was like what I ate coffee pans raw, frozen chocolate mousse cups. Honestly, it's amazing. I'm still alive. Yeah,
I mean, I ran out of money one semester reasons. And my friend had decided she was gonna go on a diet, because this was the 90s and that's what you did in the 90s. So she got rid of she had all of these cans of creamed soup, right? Like you go to Costco, you get the cans of soup and there was is at a huge box of minute rice. Oh, and she gave all of that to me. And that's basically what
I lived off of for like one chicken breast shy of like old timey chicken casserole there. Yeah,
no, exactly. No, I was. That's basically what I ate it was was meatless chicken and mushroom casseroles.
Oh my god for an entire semester with rice. I love that. Yeah. What did we get through it? Yeah, so amenities are important. If you're not, if you haven't got the spoons to remember, or to eat or know how to cook, make sure you are gonna go someplace where you can be taken care of in those ways, and that you have 40 pairs of underwear. So that Thanksgiving, you can get your mom to do your laundry for you.
But I think that these are but but it's also you know, if you know you that you tend to forget to eat. Right and this comes into the whole outsourcing. set up reminders. Yeah. Right. Think about those things that you struggle with and try to automate a lot of it. Yeah, right. were, you know, set up the reminder on your phones, like you should go eat now. Or, you know, even, it's really easy to go like go from class and then forget to stop off at the cafeteria, right? Put a notification saying stop at a cafeteria and pick up at least a piece of fruit. You know, so, or it like we none of this was automated, everything's automated now. But if you have bills to pay, make sure those are automated. Yeah, you know, and outsource as much as you
can. That kind of makes me think of like another challenge that I really struggled with in my undergrad and in fact to this day, and that would be a bureaucratic deadlines, right? Oh, yeah. Like I'm the type of person who's going to forget one core selection day is going to not get any of the courses that I need. Because I accidentally made a different plan. And I was like, watching X Files of the movie when I was supposed to be registering for my courses, and I missed my window or tuition payment deadline or library book return deadlines, I think I've like been banned from every academic library, every institution ever been at for like my accumulation of fines from things I forgot to return or like the executive function, and it can quickly become disabling actually have a disabling level of locks on your everything. So here at Waterloo since I mean, thanks, surveillance culture. But since everything is run through the course management system now, which is linked to the registrar's office, if your fees are not arranged, they say, arranged on time, you'll just be blocked from all the courses you are in fact registered and you can't access them. And that can now put you behind in term hasn't even started yet. Because not that you haven't paid your tuition. But you haven't signed the form that says you're going to pay your tuition. And I think the sheer profusion of things that come to us through apps that we have to download, or you know, special dates that come up that gets sent through institutional emails of which you probably receive 600, or like notifications about things that are happening, or deadlines that you have to meet that are kind of institutional in nature, right? Like your housing form, like, you know, you're going to wind up not having residents this year, because you didn't get the housing format on time, even though you were guaranteed a spot, all you had to do was send this letter back and you didn't write like so. I would say one of the things that distinguishes university or college from high school, is this like massive number of kind of executive function paperwork tasks that can like prevent you from graduating on time. Yeah, honestly. Yeah. In fact, when I was graduate chair, Associate Chair for graduate studies in my department, I regularly would confront like, you know, your six PhD students who like had submitted their dissertation, and we're going to defend it, but had to spend an extra semester paying tuition because they never met their language requirement. And now they have to take a French course, right, like, so make sure also that you know, what your program requirements are, most programs, like I say, stay away from the coal port based ones maybe because like, if you miss a class that you're fucked, you have to start over. But sometimes courses where it's pretty courses of study programs of study where it's pretty clear which courses you need to take when are better than those where it's like, in an English degree, you'll get this like giant chart, it's like, you need to take three of these four courses, right. But then you need to take two of the five courses in this group, and then one from the six courses in this group. And then a free course that you can take from any group. And that counts is this is like, what it's like some kind of logic puzzle. Yeah, the prizes, you get to graduate on time, right? With the degree that you want, you don't want to miss getting an honors degree, because you didn't take enough third year courses, right, you don't want to miss taking the fourth year seminar, or because you don't have the prerequisite that you were meant to take in your second year. So I would say, appointments with your academic advisor are your best friend, because some of I have written in some of these and I have rewritten some of these documents. And if you these documents about like what courses you need to take to graduate and what your academic requirements are, are written by people with PhDs who have not left universities since 1975. And they don't realize actually how arcane Yeah, these forms look to people, right? I need a group a course I need like a renaissance and then I need a Shakespeare but like if Shakespeare and a renaissance don't count as the same thing, and you're gonna like, what's the cross list? Does that mean to get to count it twice? No, it does not right? Like these kinds of things. Get a grownup to explain it to you. neurotypical students do this all the time. neurotypical students generally have the spoons, to go see their academic advisor to get help with like, am I meeting my program requirements? Will I graduate on time, right? Because there are a lot of reasons that your ADHD may delay you from graduating on time, like including that you may need to take a reduced course load or some such thing as that. But it shouldn't be because you forgot to take a French course. Yeah, right. And now you hear one French course. Right? You need 30 credits to graduate, you have 40 credits, but you can't graduate because one of them is not a French course. And you need to do that. So it's very bedeviling these kinds of things. So ask your academic advisor if there are charts, like we have a tip sheet I created for our graduate students, which is like Oh, that's good this degree, because we have six degrees is like you do a Master's of Arts Co Op, you can do a master of art non Co Op, you can do it in literature, you can do it in rhetoric and communication design, you can do a mixed one you can do by thesis, you can do it by coursework, you can do it by major project, and like my head's exploding just thinking about it, but you might see it, I can see a chart right. And so what I did was I made the chart for people, like if this is your degree, this is what you need to do these your milestones, right? So if that does not exist, at your institution, try to create one for yourself, and then check it with an academic advisor. And you may wind up getting hired by the academic advisor to make checklist for your whole program. That's very important. Like you go through high school and your guidance counselor be like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you need to take another history course you're not gonna graduate. Right. But university, they just sometimes do and sometimes don't follow up with you.
But again, that depends on institution type. Right? larger institutions, bigger ones, will typically you can take whatever you want, though, they will take your tuition money, and you take as many classes whether or not you graduate. Scholar liberal arts. Again, this is a very American thing where we have this differentiation between institution types. Small we have small liberal arts
that we have Mount Allison, right, like, Yeah, a couple
are side effects. We have a couple there mostly Yeah, out there in the Maritimes. But yeah, but again, like I actually again, lucked out that I took this super small super niche program at Sherbrooke, where I literally had zero choice. It's right, that works for you. Yeah. And that worked for me. Because it was just like, here are the courses that you have to take. And they only get offered every three years. So you have to take it this year, even if it's a fourth level course, because it won't be available. Right when you come back from your co op work term in this amount of time. So it was like, oh, okay, so I'll just take and so you know, it, it inadvertently became kind of a cohort model, because they were so limited in the classes we could take, but it was also just there. What I didn't have an overwhelming choice. It was just like your your courses. Oh, by the way, you're coming in for summer semesters. Just do your electives over the summer. Okay.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Surprising. No one leading my experience was completely different. Yeah. Because York is absolutely not like that. Right. And I had a massive Yeah, right. It's massive. And I took courses I wanted to take, right. Yeah. And then like, in my third year, maybe was like, like is are there requirements, which was something I didn't know. Yeah. So the thing that saved me at York was not that it was a small program, and everybody around me pushed me through, but rather, the environmental reminders. So you'll recall, dear listeners, and possibly Lee that in an earlier episode, I was saying like, I miss fewer meetings when we're not in pandemic time. Because if I go to campus, and I know there's a meeting today, even if I'm in my office, and I forget people will walk past my door, and then I'll know it's time to go to the meeting, right? Or, you know, what I hear all the students bust out of the classrooms that are around my office and like, oh, shit, yeah, I have to go teach now. Right? The environment reminds me of what I need to do. Or I'll see my colleagues and my colleagues are like, oh, did you see the lottery numbers came out for like, ah, lot, perking? It's like, what I should check my email, right. And so it was similar at York. So I lived in residence for several years, because York is out in the boonies. And that was just easier for me, which meant that I was on campus almost all the time. There were passive reminders in my environment. Like I had to walk all the way across the campus to get to most of my classes into big posters up all the time of when the elections were and like, when course election time was going to be and what to look for in your mail. And I would be in classes with students who would tell me about these other cool courses or be like, Well, I have to take my, you know, my pre 1500 requirement. I'll be like, your what now? Right? So I was lucky to embed myself in a social and physical environment that offered plenty of reminders and some shaping force to be like, because I in my final year at York, I lived in Midtown Toronto, where it took me about Blue if I got lucky, an hour to get to campus on public transit, and if I was unlucky two hours, right. So I would be like, I should probably go to campus and figure this out today. Fuck like, it's going to take too long. I'm not going to do it. So when I lived on campus, it was a lot easier for me to keep on top of those reminders because they were ever present like pay your tuition tuition refund deadline is like now or like, you will not be allowed to enroll if you don't, I was okay. Because the posters were everywhere. And I could see them and they would harass my subconscious until I dealt with them in a way that it was a lot easier to ignore that stuff accidentally, when I lived off campus, so be aware of like maybe like, Li You want to be in a program where everybody takes the same courses and it's very small. Or maybe you're like me, and you want to go to a giant, anonymous urban university, but you need to embed yourself fully in that environments so that the environment will tell you what you need to do in a more diffuse kind of way, like so what I guess we're both expressing here is like be attentive to the kinds of help that you need because you're like, I just want to be good at school. But being good at school doesn't count if you missed your enrollment window. And the only thing left is like first year Spanish, right? And you're like, but I am a third year Media Studies student and all the courses I need to graduate I can't get into because I had to wait till the open enrollment to enroll. And then I forgot to pay my tuition. So I missed the first two weeks of class because I didn't know the room got changed, because that was on the website that I don't have access to right. Do It's hard enough. It's hard enough to learn the intellectual material that will be presented in university do not make it harder on yourself by like forgetting shit, right? And make it easy to not forget shit by knowing what kinds of reminders or supports you need so that you don't just tripped over the start line. Whoo, boy, that's my best doing that. Yeah, getting over this line.
Yeah. And that's again, like, is it the environment? Is it setting up reminders on your phone? Is it push notifications? Is it friends, right? Because I was gonna say that I was actually gonna say exactly the same thing where a lot of cases I would remember to do things because my social group, my friends would be like, oh, yeah, I just came back from doing this. Even if we weren't in the same program. It's like, oh, I just came back from doing this. And it's like, oh, shit, I gotta go do that. And they wouldn't
do. Yeah, once you go watch. Yeah,
well, in that too. But, I mean,
I think I also
lucked out where, and I guess this is, this is a more difficult piece of advice, but find your people and find the people who you will care for each other. I think that's important no matter what in university, but, you know, I ended up with really good friends who, you know, would walk me to places, right? Like they, you know, they would walk you to the place where you needed to go, or they would make sure that you got there, right. They're like, Oh, well, I'm leaving, you've got to pay rent, well, we'll walk past the desk together, I will go to my destination, and you can drop off your check, drop off yourself, you know, a lot of the times I would remember to eat, because people would come and knock on my door and say we're going to eat Are you coming? And me going? Like, I guess so. You know, so all of these all of these kinds of like, there's the kind of I love the posters thing to where it's just now when I walk around Georgia and campus, same thing. I'm like, oh, that's what time of year it is, right now. You know, where we have these drops, where we have clubs, where we, you know, this is, there's all those reminders, but then having people who will remind you, who will take you places who will, you know, work with you. And then, you know, the the repayment is what are the things that you're good at? And so I was a native language English speaker, in an English program where there weren't many of us, everybody was a French, French was their first language. Yeah. And, um, so, you know, I was able to, you know, it wasn't even a barter system. It wasn't a trade, but it was like, I would help them with some of the stuff I could help them with projects I could to help them with, you know, translating certain things, making sure grammar was correct. All the you know, that that was fairly easy for me as a first language speaker. Yeah. Right. And so it just became, you know, what, what do we bring in, in terms of friendships? And what can we provide to support one another, in ways that are beneficial to all of us? Right? Yeah. And so just being able to find your people and that's not easy in university either. You know, you don't know if your roommate is going to be your people. You don't know if your classmates are going to be your people.
So yeah, sometimes you can have like a broad network of people right? Oh, yeah, that too. And and I love that idea. People like knocking on your door that's just like people do to me now. Are you coming to this meeting? Amy? Oh, yeah, I forgot. I am having like very strong flashbacks when you say about walking somebody someplace because like that would be me as like, Oh God, I have to go bring these books back to the library. And I have like an item so scared like look, I'll just I'll walk you Okay. And then we'll go to companies coming because hopefully we can get a table in the non smoking section. issue but yes, yeah, yeah. And but like I did that a lot. I did that a lot. The things that were scary for me. You know, the first like, I want to go check out where my classes were before term started. And I was I was nervous that I would like bring somebody with me and we will just make like an activity out of it right. So you can have like fun stalking there. You can be like, this is a social activity. I'm getting a bit of exercise and I'm going to walk with I'm going to walk so and so to work because their work is on the way to the place I need to drop off the thing and then I get friend time which is a reward in itself like get a little bit fresh air and Exercise. And also I've attached a task to that that I don't want to do. So I will get it done. When I get all the way there, and I think that's really a good strategy is figure out how to, again, make things less hard for yourself. I know that. Yeah, so one of the things that I used to do for people was helped them study because like, I couldn't read things incredibly fast read more stuff than other people. And I would like, correct the grammar and their essays, I would give them tips on structure, and they would make sure that they ate and paid my tuition. And let me know when the like academic advisor for English was offering appointments, or remind me to do stuff I wasn't going to do. And I was very happy with that it felt it didn't feel like I was anybody's pet, right, it felt like it was no exactly value stuff for me, and that they were helping me not flunk out of school, which was like, really, really important to me. And like another strategy that people could do, like either you make friends with people who are in your class, like I always make my students do this now. Because like they come in, they stare into their own screens, and like, I will show people, okay, like, well look, close the lid, turn to the person beside you and say, Hello. So I structure that into all of my classes. And I get students to exchange like various kinds of contact information with one another so that they have accountability partners, and also a reason to come to class like I have found that that students who feel that the classroom is socially cohesive, right, that there's a vibe in the room, that there are things that happen in that room that the people are in the room that they know, even if they know them only in that room that they are more likely to come because they are more invested, because it feels real to them in some ways. So get to know some people in your classes just passively that will help you what you don't want to email the prof about, you're pretty sure they gave up the handout four times and you left it in class every single time. And you don't want to ask again, is there somebody else who can help you with that? Or, alternatively, another good strategy is if you do you have close friends, at the institution where you are, and they're studying similar things to you, it can be actually tremendously motivating and helpful to register for some of the same classes. Like I see this on my own students, they register in classes with their friends, and then they sit together and they're not like fucking around, they're actually learning together. But, you know, it's like, those things are like, well, if you're going to exercise first thing in the morning, get a workout buddy, right? Yeah. So that like you don't want to just like hit the snooze button and not show up. Because your workout buddies gonna be standing there, right? It's the same thing. If you register for classes with your friends, you're more likely to go. And since your friends opinion of you matters to you, you're less likely to just flunk out from inattention. Right? Because you'll be more invested interest in in maintaining face with your friend than you will be in like just taking the executive function non wind of like advocate, I'm just not going to enable this course for a week, right? So that can be tremendously helpful, just depending on your personality types and be like, I want to do it by myself. I do it myself, because I'm going to sit at the front because I have to I'm going to fall asleep and I need to stare at the professor and it's embarrassing. I'll lose coolness points with my friends if they see me doing that. So I want to be in completely different classes, throw them fine, but think about what would make it more likely for you to go to class every time. Like if you're not a morning person, don't sign up for the morning classes because you think you'll become a morning person.
Yes. Usually had unless you don't have a choice, which unless you
don't have a choice. Yeah. So I took this fourth year seminar when I was at York, and it was contemporary American women writers and filmmakers, right. And because it was like a movies class in the Department of English, the popular professor, she had it scheduled for Friday morning at 830 to keep the numbers down, right. And I was like, oh my god, what a fucking struggle it was to get up. And we were in a classroom that had like those molded fiberglass chairs. Right, yeah. And linoleum floor at 830. In the morning, we would sit in these chairs as you turn all the lights off, and we'd watch like, I don't know, a movie, a feminist movie 830 In the morning, these awful chairs the night after pub night, and people were like struggling so hard. So like people know, when you scheduled classes at that time of day, people don't want to come right. So if you're that person, you're not alone, right? Don't force yourself to become a morning person, if that's not who you are. And if you don't have to now is not the time to make dramatic changes in your own personality. This is a time to be like the most important challenge here should be the intellectual challenge. I'm not going to try to level up in every other area of my life, I'm going to try to get the maximum learning out of this experience with the minimum of like, accidentally got withdrawn from a course because of this or failed to submit a petition on time or didn't pay my tuition or miss my enrollment window or I never went to class and I wish I would have like don't don't layer those extra challenges on yourself. Make everything as easy for you to succeed as you can so you can save your spoons for the learning part.
Yeah. And I think that that is ultimately the thing, right is saving the spoons for the learning part. You know and so much of our so much of yours and my struggles and I think a lot of neurodivergent listeners who made it through In university, it wasn't the academics. Right? You know, and and sometimes it can be right again, like I almost Well, I almost failed French grammar, not because I couldn't do French grammar, but because I was hungover all the time, which wasn't helpful. And again, like there's an I think that that's another lesson that you may need to learn, learn yourself. But especially like for me with ADHD, there was just so much I could do. And access to so many things. I wanted to do all the things. Oh, god, me too. And so I did all the things. And I also drank all the things. And, you know, so in a lot of cases, it was, you know, I want I'm, you know, extreme extrovert, and all of a sudden, I have these opportunities, and you say, multiple friends groups, wide, my residents friends group, and then I had my programmatic friends group. And then there were the friends group who I also played hockey with, or like, floor hockey with. And then you had the friends group, like, you know, and it was like, going out with his friends group, and then tomorrow night and going out with his friends group and hanging out with his friends. And then it just, it got to be too much. Right. I was sick almost the entire second half of my first semester, and then came home for the holidays and just absolutely fell apart. I never been up to that point. That sick in my life. Yeah.
And a sinus infection every six months when I was in my undergrad. That's very painful. Do not recommend.
Yeah. And, and part of it was is I was just I was doing all the things. Oh, but
Oh, yeah. All the things and then some, you know, I got involved. And part of it again, was good, because I made good friends. And it kept me from sitting alone in my little tiny residence room that a friend who saw it called it a real fattening pen.
Oh, boy. Yeah. No, it
was alarming. Again. Sherbrooke was built in the 50s. Right? Sure, but yeah. Oh, yeah. So you know, they're they look like little cells. And the color of the counters in the sink. Is that hospital green? Oh, yeah. You know, yeah, I've tried to pay patients for the Lisitsa.
Home for insane nuns. Yeah. Yeah. You have even even
even better was the basement of the it was flashback did let's say, c&c, man. So the arts faculty was also where psychology was, and they had the psychology. observation. So boy, trapped in the basement.
That's super. Yeah. So alarming? No,
no, not at all alarming. But again, so there was the good, the good side of it is that I had all of these social connections, it got me out, you know, I would have had a tendency to maybe, you know, just isolate myself. And I didn't want to do that. So of course, there's no, it's zero or 11. And so, with 11,
that's gonna say something between isolation and party animal. Yeah. All right.
And, but again, like think about your, your tendencies, right? What are your tendencies? to extremes? Because again, we're either zero or 11. So what's your Zero? What's your 11? And how are you going to create patterns? Because we love our patterns? Once we get into a routine, we're awesome. Yeah. What? How are you going to work to create a rhythm or a pattern that allows you to find
seven? Yeah, yeah. So a suggestion I would have there to is like, in addition to like, you're going to be there for four years, you don't have to have every experience in the first three months, right? Like, wait, you don't have to like go like that. It's true. It's true. That's me. I know. Yeah, same right. And then often people will get involved in fairly intense you know, romantic relationships when they start university often right, either like hookups or dating or you're like gonna fall in like with somebody and this can be tremendously absorbing to the exclusion of all else that ought to be going on in your life. So these are exciting experiences to get to have but like be aware that that's a very to pay tuition and residence fees like that is a very expensive way to date. Right? If that's all you're getting out of it, right? So that's a good time to practice maintaining some boundaries around this is the time I need to work on my schoolwork or No, I cannot go to this thing to this time of night because I have an 830 class or, or what have you, but it's very easy because we are dopamine dependent creatures is that anything that is exciting and engrossing we will double down on and the things that are important and less exciting we will completely obliterate from our our thinking so that's just a cautionary tale. Yeah. Did I tell you I don't know if I've told this podcast once I went to the night before an exam that was going to be like in the big school gym, I was like a fourth year English exam. And some such I don't remember I went downtown Toronto to Phoenix to see unstress nd noi button play, which is a German noise band, the word, the words punched, resenting toy button translate to collapsing new buildings. And that's about what it sounds like at their concert. So even though I wore earplugs at the time, I remember thinking the next day as I wrote that exam, like having got home after taking like the late night shuttle streetcar, night bus and then marching that extra two kilometers to get from the late night bus back to my residence. I remember thinking the next day quite early in this exam, like, Oh, that was not a stupid decision, because the ringing in my ears is so loud. It's like a white noise machine. I cannot hear anybody else in this gym. So that worked out. Great for me, but not, that does not always work out.
Yeah. And that's, and that actually comes back to the accommodation question too. Right? Like you bring it up that I, you know, again, I was in a really small program. So we did all of our testing in our classes. And it was paper based, mostly. So there weren't really final exams. But I do remember in Stasia, having the experience even in high school having the experience of the gymnasium exam. Yeah. And you know that this is another thing to think about. Can you get accommodations for that, if needed? Or maybe this isn't the school for you. Right like that, again, all of these all of these different kinds of considerations, in terms of right fit, and it's okay, it's okay, if your definition of fit is not somebody else's. Because like I said, there are ridiculous reasons why people go places.
Yeah, the best school for you to go to is the school at which you can succeed, right? Not at school at which you would be able to succeed if you are a completely different person, the person that everyone else wants you to be the person that you think you should be able to be if you are living up to your potential, right, like, the best degree, like my dissertation advisor uses saying, like the best dissertation is a completed dissertation, right? Like, yeah, get it done. So the best undergraduate degrees that completed undergraduate degree one, were, hopefully you'll learn something, and that has to be kind of the primary consideration there. I would say another category of tips. And this is is harder. So it's good. We've warmed up to this is who you want to disclose to? Yeah, right? Because there is you have ADHD, whether or not you tell anybody about it, right? Some kinds of support that you need to access, you can only access if you tell some people, you have ADHD, right, that will be formal accommodations through your university or colleges, accommodations, bureaucracy, but some other informal supports, or life hacks are available only when people understand what's happening with you. Right. So because I am a faculty member who has on my syllabus, under my accommodations policy, that I am autistic and have ADHD, right? So like, Look, I get you fam, right? And I have that there, which means I'm the informal advisor for everybody on campus who has either one of those disorders, like my name is spreading some Reddit forum somewhere it's like all these kids in my office all the time. And, and they are so the way their eyes get so big. Lee, when I'm like, oh, yeah, that strategy that people are telling me like to write a little bit every day is like probably not going to work for you. You probably just think about writing every day and then you spend 10 times longer not writing but thinking about it then they're asking you to spend writing and so the cool Michael has you don't like because like look, me also right so we did this whole episode on a crazy advice that people give neuro neurodivergent people that does not work for them, right so so sometimes if you if you have people around you and there's more of us than you think who also have ADHD, you can learn a lot from them about how to navigate the particular classrooms or institutions or academic programs or pounds that you find yourself living in you'd need to find other people who share your neuro divergence who can help mentor you or or support you or at least not gaslight you but what your experiences are and that's a bit risky, because you will have to disclose to some people in order to find that like a lightweight way to do that might be to see if your university or college has any sort of disability clubs, right? Yep. Or any sort of study groups for people with ADHD or like things You're on campus that are kind of drop in or group base that you can sort of show up for where you're not just like, Hi, my name is Amy. And I'm ADHD you're saying to like the person sitting next to you in your first seminar on your first day? Like, if that feels too much go to spaces where it's accepted to be neurodivergent.
See, that's what I would do, right? Like, oh, I
know. That's what I do. But not everybody is like that, right? Yeah. So it was funny. Sidebar. My kid was just like, we were both brushing her teeth. The other night. We're having like teeth brushing thoughts. And they turned to me and said, like, Mom, oh, my friend was telling me this. And then it was like, Yeah, people are always telling me stuff like this. It's not even my friends. It's like people I don't know very well, but like, they're telling me all of this, like, important stuff about themselves. They don't seem to tell other people. Why is that? And I was like, Oh, I know why. And they're like, what was a rhetorical question? Like, no, it wasn't, though. I know why? It's because you lead like, hello, you know, my name is so and so. And then you tell them something incredibly personal about you, because you're an oversharer? Because we're all over shares. And once you overshare now they're going oh, and they my kids sat down on the floor was like, I hate you. Yeah, I was like, Yeah, I know. But that's why because, you know, I know, I'm gonna meet you. But some of us are a bit more nervous, more highly invested in masking and like, I respect that. But it's going to be very hard for you to succeed as a person with ADHD in an academic context, if you don't get some advice, probably and navigation tips and survival strategies from other people who are neurodivergent in that same institutional context as you because Lee and I, like we could give all kinds of advice from our own particular situations. And also like, we're old as fuck by this point, right? So
like, that's exactly right, like smoking areas, having to physically show up to write
paper exams. Exams, were no computers,
physically showing up to like, put a check on in terms of like crazy. Yeah, so.
So that kind of thing. Like, the risk, I will say, for me has always been worth it in terms of how I have been rewarded with more success and more friends and more ability to cope with the things that I have had to face where it was very difficult for me as a neurodivergent person to access that. So. So think about ways, our dear ADHD listeners and parents of ADHD listeners, where you can start to build a support network of people who share your disorders and quirks in the easiest way, least barriers way for you to start doing if you are a kind of committed masker. And if you're not committed Bhasker, like neatly, you just walk up to people and say, hi, you know, I have ADHD, I'm amazing at doing things very fast. But do you know, like, do we have class next week? Because I lost the syllabus, right? Yeah. Go for it. There's a lot of ways I
know what the room number is. I only know the path there.
Right. That's right. Oh, my God. Your path dependent as it were. Yeah,
I know. Certainly pathfinding. I'm still path dependent people. They're like, where's your office? I said, I don't know. You take a left and then the left and then it's that door. Right. Well, what room number is it? I'm like, I don't know. 310? Maybe?
Yeah. I don't know. You're trying to visualize the door and you're like, yeah.
What's up? I know, we used to have a Superman. Yeah, but I have no idea what the
relation? Yeah, yeah. Like, oh, my God. Don't ask me that. I don't know. Yeah. What was the date? We were gonna do that. Oh, shit. I don't know. My students asked me in class sometimes are like, how many words is it happened to be? I'm like, Look, I don't know. Let's both look at the handout. Because I taught some version of this so many times to so many cohorts. And I've made so many changes. I honestly have no idea what I assigned you. Yeah, let's look it up together. Let's look I know there. Don't ask me. Yeah. Oh, man.
Well, I have to put together a meeting at 1230. So
you remember, you're just flexing on me? Remember?
No, I had like seven different notification pop up while we were talking. Okay. So like that. So yeah, so by watch told me, and then my computer told me and then my browser window told me. So like, this is again, how I do things if my calendars don't scream at me. Yeah, I won't do it. But man, do they ever scream at me and make sure that I do it?
Yep. I have Lee, who DMS me who tells me that places that works better for me, of course,
except that I do have to say, I do want to tell the story about you agreeing to go to the triple, quadruple C CCC or whatever. Yeah. And also forgetting that you had a midterm that?
Absolutely yes, yes. Hold the conference. And I very cleverly, in December when I was planning this course, I was like, I will be up for CES. I'm going to put the midterm there. So someone can give the midterm for me except my like, alright, also went to four C's. And it was like the week before I was like, oh shit. I am not going to be here. I don't have anybody actually give this exam to my students. So my husband did it. And did we he brought bugging Tibbets. They're gonna like him better than me, because, like, yeah,
totally. He's fun to read. It's a flex by Guy.
It's like you run a race man you need to fuel up after I'm like, oh my god, I can't believe you gave them completion. Timbits like, honest to God, I don't have that level of function. I'm there every week, and I'm just pretty sure the evaluations are gonna be like, bring back that guy who gave us the exam. Yes. Honestly, like, my husband who, actually and and he had to print the exam because I sent it to him. I forgot to give it to him before I left, so email the Word doc to him. On Thursday morning, which was like was Thursday like, 10am my time, but 11am here and the exam was at four. So I was like, hopefully, but I did remember to bring exam booklets for him. I just did not remember to give him the exam or 90% or 90% of directions and like, look, look, it went it went well. You think? I hope but yeah. classic, classic class right there. Oh, boy.
All right. So as always, you can find us still for a little while longer on Twitter. I'm ready writing. Amy,
did you want that? Did you want Did you want,
you can always email us as you see. We take ideas from the, from the email so that we don't have to come up with them ourselves. And so that is all the things firstname.lastname@example.org. But then things, other things. We might be back next week. I hope we're back next week, but maybe it will snow and maybe
my husband, Lee is having his shoulder surgery next week. So I will not be able to record on Friday. Let the internet know. Okay, great
advance. So you're not doing this from the hospital being like, Oh, I
have not been texting you from the hospital. Thanks. So the thing is, maybe my husband is dying, but I could probably record later if he lives. No. So everybody like thoughts and prayers not written by chatbot for my husband who's getting the plate and screws taken out of his shoulder next week.
Oh, good. Hope the like fingers crossed noon. Fingers crossed. All right. All right. Take care. Everyone. Have a great two weeks. Bye. Hey, so I'm back with one last piece of advice to surviving your undergrad that came to me as I'm doing this late, meant to do it for last Friday, barely gonna get it in for this Friday is to you know, leave yourself some slack. Right, like, things are gonna happen, things are gonna go wrong. Things are gonna calendar notifications are gonna interrupt your recording. And so if you don't have if you haven't left yourself any slack, then if something falls by the wayside, or you fall behind, it's going to feel like a catastrophe. So don't over schedule yourself and leave yourself lots of slack like I did, by lowering expectations that these are not going to be weekly. This semester, given everyone's lives. So thanks. We are not, you know, publishing this and then hopefully next week, Amy and I will find time to record and if not, we'll get you something when we get you something. Have a great day. Bye