So a young man, 30 years old, came to my CHADD support group tonight. He came to give back to the youth he knows are struggling and spend too much time with negative self-talk. My group found him engaging. I found him to be an articulate, intelligent, guy who refused at several points, to allow the impairments of ADHD to negatively impact his life.
He describes a childhood full of frustration. Much of this frustration came from poor grades and not living up to parental expectations. He never had additional support in school. This relates to much of what I see in many clients: a gifted kid with ADHD will hear so much about the fact that he could “do it” if he set his mind to do it. If he wasn’t lazy, he would be successful. In addition, he was not initially encouraged to go to college because his grades were poor. Although he decided on his own to try college, he went without the value of a transition at high school, the need for strategies, and accommodations in college.
Unfortunately, we have so much farther to go to improve the lives of our kids with ADHD. For the kids in school who must transition from an IEP in high school to a college environment, we must be more cognizant of their educational needs as well. The IEP is in place in order to modify academics as research based programs and strategies are put in place. Sometimes I think we hope as parents that all of the struggles will be erased by the IEP. We have to remember that our kids with ADHD and learning differences will continue to have these impairments. The hope is that learning differences are impacted by best practices. For instance, many kids who have difficulty reading may be eligible for a program that teaches decoding words. Comprehension issues that come from both learning issues and ADHD can improve with the use of strategies.
So the hope is that as the child transitions to college, he has had impairments remediated and has developed a tool kit of strategies for the other areas that continue to be difficult. Of course, it is so important that the child realizes all of this during those years with an IEP and the IEP meetings that bring up transitions when they are 14 are stressed as very important.
This young man who we met at our CHADD support group was very helpful in depicting the struggles a teen and adult go through after their middle school and high school environments. It especially was quite enlightening to see the affects of the lack of school support, understanding, and the needed transitioning as he moved from high school to college. His personal experiences will be valuable as he speaks to our youth about all of the above important areas of success.