Transitioning to college has so many moving parts. We know intellectually that the ADHD doesn’t go away. We know that the symptoms of ADHD as well as executive functioning deficits remain despite the departure of high school and the moving on to another environment. But does this intellectual information really carry over? Does our child with ADHD really believe it to be true? Are they able to accept the fact that the new journey must include some parts of the old?
All the scientists talk about the prefrontal cortex and its underdevelopment. We hear that the developmental level of our child with ADHD can be 3-5 years behind their peers. We hear that the cortex of the brain will fully develop by maybe age 25. So, how do we expect our child to move on to college and know that they continue to need strategies, structure, and focus breaks? Not just knowing this…but accepting this difference about themselves as they strive to fit in the academics and the social life that is so important. As they see so many who seem to effortlessly complete assignments, they battle the ADHD impairments that get in the way without effective strategies.
A client freshman in college with a 4 course load has had to drop a class due to the realization that he needs more time to take in the information from multiple multisensory modes as he battles his working memory and comprehension, The overwhelm clicks in when the needed technology strategies are not understood, like a flash drive of books that can utilize audio format. By the time he decides to attempt this strategy that he really knows deep in side works for him, he has forgotten the steps needed to get it working as well as the software to download. Even when he learned this from the disability office, he should have been using strategies to remember as well as self-advocating for parts he did not understand. Did that happen? No, it did not.
Despite the fact that he was learning to feel good about advocating for himself in a learning difference based school, he lost it during the transition.
How do we help as parents as our kids go off to another journey, attempting to throw away all the strategies? The feeling of starting over and feeling powerful enough to throw away successful strategies is what we need to tweak.
An ADHD coach can be helpful in the areas of support and accountability. Many times, schools do have coaches available. This coach can continue to support the needed structure and be our, the parents’ ally throughout this journey.