A trip to the principal’s office in 4th grade helped Katie Martinez discover she was gifted and talented…and also had ADHD. Her energy and curiosity led her to travel the world and earn two masters degrees. She is now pursuing a career in special education to help others. Check out her story!
Name: Katie Martinez
City: Fontana, CA
Occupation: Instructional Aide, Special Education
Age of ADHD Diagnosis: 9 years old
ADHD Subtype: Combined
Growing up I was that kid who could not sit still, loved to talk, and acted on impulse. I had a difficult time staying engaged because I was very smart and caught on to concepts so fast so I was ready to move on before the rest of the class. In fourth grade I impulsively decided to stand up to some boys bullying me, right in the middle of class and it ended in a referral and a trip to the principal’s office. As I sat in the office with the principal we began discussing what happened, and by the end of the meeting she was discussing with my mother the possibility of me being tested for ADHD, as well as for the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. I laugh now, that I passed both. I was moved into a GATE classroom at that point, as well as into therapy to start treatment and trying to grasp what was going on.
At the time there wasn’t a lot of information on the condition and I struggled throughout my schooling experience. It wasn’t until my third year of college, after failing a semester, struggling with my weight, and having to take a hard look at my academic path, that I truly began to look at research for ADHD, and figure out how to better cope and thrive with the disorder.
I am now 28 years old, with two Master’s Degrees, and working towards a career in Special Education and non-profit work. I love the idea of being able to help students who struggled like I did.
What does ADHD feel like? How would you explain the experience to someone who doesn’t have it?
The best explanation I can figure is like walking through a Swap Meet, with everyone yelling out their product, but imagine every product was fascinating to you, and ready for you to try. It can be very overwhelming, and I am in almost a constant need of regrouping, refocusing, and centering. My mind is almost in constant chaos, my room is very disorganized, and I am working on my health everyday. My closest friends have simply accepted the ADHD tendencies as my “quirks”, but I have also learned to keep myself contained to new people, so as to not overwhelm others. This has been a major point of insecurity for me as well.
What is one of your ADHD superpowers?
I am an active hiker, make friends pretty easily, and have worked too many jobs to count. All that came from not being able sit still, and in being ever curious.I have travelled the world: backpacked Europe solo, worked on the East Coast, done volunteer work in Central America. My natural amazement and curiosity keeps life fascinating and colorful, but it has also made my life a daily struggle.
What would you say to someone recently diagnosed with ADHD?
You are beautiful, you are ok, and good things will come of this. Learn how to keep organized and motivated, take every opportunity, and really focus on the health part of it all. There are so many factors that play into my story, my motivations, my anxieties, etc. Nothing achieved came easy to me: it happened from a mixture of my own stubbornness, as well as with the help of those who took me under their wing, even for a moment. So do seek help and guidance, but don’t let anyone have the power to put you down for being different. We are the natural artists of the world. Embrace it. You are gold.
You struggled and you have crazy courage because of it. Don’t worry, just be patient and wait. You are going to live a life nothing like you imagined. It will be so much more awesome, difficult, amazing, and crazy.
What advice would you give to someone who was just diagnosed with ADHD? Share your comments below or join the conversation on our Instagram Page. Ready to share your ADHD story with our community? Contact us here.