The impairments and executive functioning deficits of ADHD are variable among all with this diagnosis. But what I see more often than not as a coach, are those teens who profess to hate school. They must sit in classes and focus for longer periods than really optimal for them, decipher expectations from various teachers as they transition to each class, and advocate effectively for their needs.
The executive functions that are deficits for them hinder assignment completion. For instance, they must find a way to document assignments in a planner, but choose not to use it because they forget to check it. If they happened to remember to do an assignment, they many times forget to hand it in. Overwhelmed is this teen when assigned a project and the organization of the details cannot be figured out. Frustrated is the teen who reads two chapters from an assigned book but forgets the details on the quiz. Shocked is the teen who has a roommate at school who seems to breeze through courses and read ahead. And don’t forget about the IEP that he left behind in high school. He no longer has modifications to assignments and special education support. He must deal with the very important accommodations of the 504 and use everyone of them to replace the structure and support he once had in high school.
So why, at this job, would he be expected to like any part of it? Of course, ADHD coaches can help with support, strategies, and accountability that translate into a better self-esteem. But what other help can we offer to our teens who battle these symptoms daily in an environment that is not really forgiving?
I think that our teens need to see beyond the day to day frustrations. It is hard to be able to plan for the future. Living in each frustrating moment may not be very helpful. How about telling them the strategy of seeing their ultimate goals? As the saying goes, this is not a sprint but a marathon. Coaches and parents of these teens need to always be aware of the need for positivity, even when they are just learning to be college students. Lend an ear when they need to vent, provide support and strategies from coaches, and reinforce their strengths and plans for the future.