Student sheds light on ADHD

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Paul Kadzielawa’s disability won’t stop him from pursuing his dream of attending medical school. A junior and current pre-med biology major with a minor in psychology, he hopes to one day become a neurologist, or even a neurosurgeon.

In the third grade he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neurological disorder that makes focusing more difficult, causes an overabundance of energy, and tends to make a person act impulsively. It wasn’t until middle school that his condition became a problem: it caused his grades to drop, interfered with his social life, and eventually led him to be bullied.

In seventh grade, he was walking home from school when he bumped into a classmate, who knocked him to the ground in front of a moving car. 

He barely avoided getting hit, but the experience was a wakeup call. He lost weight, became more social, and started raising his grades. In eighth grade, he found himself at the top of his class, with real friends, and was too strong for the bullies to dare approach.

Despite his improvement, Paul’s ADHD continued to interfere with his life, and especially his school work. He was a lot slower than other students because he tended to get distracted. While he could still get the answers, he simply needed more time.

However, since arriving at UIS, the Office of Disability Services has allowed him to take that extra time, giving Paul the chance to excel at his own pace. Now, nothing can stop him from pushing himself even further.

“I just have to do better. I just have to work harder than everyone else, because the real world doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what you are or what you have. You have to reach the standard one way or another,” he said.

ADHD has been an obstacle, but he also said it has also helped him in certain aspects of his life. He always has enough energy, always has a smile on his face. It’s what drives him to the gym, to burn away the excess energy and de-stress.

“I always want to be doing something. I hate sleep. I’m the person who goes to bed as late as possible and wakes up as early as possible,” he said. “One of the benefit of my extra energy has been that I don’t need as much sleep as normal people, which is one of the reasons my friends think I’m crazy sometimes.”

His positive attitude and incredible work ethic has allowed him to accomplish an incredible amount in only two years. He has been involved in cheerleading, the biology club, leadership for life, and has been named a CAP honor student.

“Sometimes it is difficult having this additional obstacle, but nothing is impossible to overcome with enough effort.”

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