Excerpt from Andrew's Awesome Adventures with His ADHD Brain (Wilcox): Sometimes My ADHD Brain Needs a Reminder on a Neon-Colored Sticky Note


Excerpt from Andrew's Awesome Adventures with His ADHD Brain

Sometimes My ADHD Brain Needs a Reminder on a Neon-Colored Sticky Note.

Dismissal time! My ADHD brain doesn’t have to pay attention in school anymore today. Now, if I could only remember what I have for homework. I rummage through the miscellaneous papers shoved into my backpack, looking for my planner. “Found it!” It’s blank because I forgot to write down my homework assignments. Again. I stare at the books in my locker hoping to remember. Nope. “Darn!” I hear my bus number being called. Slamming the locker shut, I run down the hall with the nagging feeling I am forgetting something.

I weave in and out of the sea of kids making their way to the front door of the school. My feet are moving faster now as I make the final sprint to the bus. Made it with only a minute to spare!

I flop down onto the seat. “My trumpet! That’s what I forgot!” Mom reminded me before I left for school this morning to bring my trumpet home. Oh well, it’s not the first time the ADHD elephant has forgotten to bring something home from school. The bus is moving at a snail’s pace.

Finally, my stop. Running into the house, I toss my backpack on the kitchen floor and race up the stairs to my room. I head straight for my computer and begin working on the awesome Mars habitat I am building in a game.

The world around me fades away, and I am lost in the game, thinking about being an astronaut and going to Mars.



Mom, standing in the doorway of the bedroom, is calling my name, but I am so engrossed in my game I don’t hear her. “It’s time to start your homework. Did you write down your assignments in your planner?” she asks.

Mom hands me the planner from my backpack. I sense she already knows I didn’t write down my assignments. My planner is filled with a lot of awesome doodles but no homework assignments.

        How is my overstuffed garbage-can brain supposed to remember to write down my homework every day? I look from Mom to the blank page of the open planner I am holding and, remembering what my science teacher said about the frontal cortex, tell her, “My brain made me do it.” Mom just shakes her head and hands me my backpack.

I know I have a math quiz tomorrow, so I grab my math folder out of the backpack. While continuing to work on the Mars habitat, I aimlessly flip through math worksheets, not really paying attention. They are just a jumble of numbers and words.

I decide to head downstairs to the kitchen for a snack. I’m not particularly hungry. The ADHD elephant just never wants to do boring stuff, like studying.  

In the kitchen, I glance out from the pantry and see the blinding color of one of Mom’s neon sticky notes, stuck to my folder for school. The folder I needed for school today but left sitting on the kitchen table this morning. Not the first time. Oh great, another sticky note! What do I need to remember to do this time?

Those colorful reminders pop up everywhere—on my school folders, my desk, even the bathroom mirror—reminding me to put my laundry into the hamper, turn in my schoolwork, and practice the piano. I guess Mom thinks the ADHD elephant will pay attention to the bright neon colors. Nope.

“How is your studying going for the math quiz?” Mom asks me as she walks into the kitchen.


“You should get back to studying since you have an appointment with your counselor this afternoon.”

My counselor specializes in helping kids with ADHD. I meet with her once a week, and today we are going to continue working on my ADHD Brain-Busting Strategies, or ABBS, to help me stay focused when my ADHD brain is bored, like when I am studying for a math quiz.


Here I have written down the ABBS I use to help me with my schoolwork.

1.      I squeeze a ball in my hand when I need to focus for a long time, like when I take a test in school or have a long homework assignment. My ADHD counselor told me the act of moving my hand to squeeze the ball can increase chemicals in my brain that help me to focus and pay attention. Linking paper clips together, folding paper, or doodling also work. Maybe all the doodles in my planner aren’t such a bad thing after all.

2.     I have a special folder for homework assignments that need to be turned in to the teacher the following day. Most of the time I can remember to check the folder at the end of the school day to make sure its empty. If it’s not, I am sure to find a neon-colored sticky note on the folder with a reminder to turn in my homework.

3.     When I am doing homework, I set a timer for 20 minutes—any longer and my ADHD brain will be going to the kitchen to rummage aimlessly through the pantry for a snack. I try to put all my effort into getting as much work done as I can in 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, I take a short break, around 10-15 minutes, and do something fun, like work on the Mars habitat. Then I set the timer for another round.

After mindlessly staring into the kitchen pantry for who knows how long, I decide to go back to my room, and using my ABBS, I set my timer and start really studying for the math quiz this time. The next morning I roll over and turn off the obnoxious ringing of my alarm clock; I am not a morning person. Then I count down the days until the weekend. Fumbling around in the dark, I manage to find a t-shirt and pants in the pile of clothes on the floor and get dressed. Ouch! Stupid Legos are still scattered on the floor. I switch on the computer monitor and just as I start to sit down to work on the Mars habitat, I hear my mom, “Andrew come down for breakfast.”

Sigh! I never have time to do what I want to do.

“Are you ready for your math quiz?” Mom asks as I flop down in the chair at the kitchen table.

“Ugh.” I forgot about the math quiz today.

“Don’t forget to take your medicine.”

Every morning at breakfast I take medicine for my ADHD to help me focus better in school. My doctor said the medicine keeps the focus chemicals in my brain at the right level so my relaxing-on-vacation frontal cortex operates more like the streamlined military force.

After I am done eating breakfast, I rummage through the mound of crumpled papers in my backpack looking for the squeeze ball I use when I take tests at school. I hear the bus rumbling down our street. Oh, I am sure it’s in here somewhere. Time to go!

“Remember to bring your trumpet home today.” Mom calls after me as I race out the door to catch the bus. Maybe I will find a neon-colored sticky note on my school folder with a reminder for that.

* * *

Did you know?

ADHD has nothing to do with how smart you are. ADHD brains struggle with something called working memory. Working memory helps me keep information in my brain until I need to use it, like when I am solving a math problem. For example, for the math problem 4+5+10, I calculate 4+5=9, then, using working memory to keep the number 9 in my brain, add 10 to get 9 + 10 = 19. Working memory is also important for helping me to pay attention and follow instructions, all those things teachers like me to do.

For other posts about Kristin and Andrew and their books, click HERE.

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