Executive function goals should evolve with your child

Once your child is in high school, there should be some measured independence in the ability for them to hand in homework, organize their day (including after school activities) and advocate for themselves. Unfortunately, in a misguided attempt to support a child, many educators and some parents continue to "wait on" their child through these 4 short years. Helping your child is this manner, may result in a lower level of resilience and poor preparation to challenges separating from parents and becoming an adult. If a teenager is terrified of failure and has low self-esteem, they are less likely to be successful in any chosen path after high school.

GPA Pressure?

As a parent who has lived through this 3 times, High School is a large leap from middle school. Ninth through 12th grade is where you hear, "he should do this for himself because he will be a graduate soon!" Somehow, if not previously taught, your high schooler needs to immediately acquire skills. While you have concerns about executive function and life skills, academic performance pressure ramps up in 9th grade. This is the age you should be aware of depression or anxiety symptoms developing in addition to ADHD. Tip: your teenager needs to celebrate small successes so they build #resilience are not susceptible to the ADHD dropout trend. It's a delicate balance between you reminding them of the great project they completed a month ago, relating it to the new project, and staying not too far away without being told to stay away.

Teachers and other professionals

Coaches provide accountability and a safe place to try, fail, practice and learn. Share information about what your child is learning in school with their ADHD coach, if your teen agrees. Tip: ask for continuity. Case managers are often open to using terminology that can make your child feel in control of the learning process. In a recent IEP meeting, a case manager asked her student to hold herself accountable for chunking assignments with a journal rather than a tracking document. Mentioning a journal was all that the case manager had to say and the child was on board with the task. If a child has not started to buy-in to a process by High School, you may want to look at therapy as an additional service in and out of school.

After Graduation

College-bound teens with #ADHD are only 9% of self-identified college graduates. This is a very low number and it shows a glaring failure to prepare youth for the challenges that college life presents. #ADAA Accommodations are great, if you remember to hand the letter to your professor. They don't, however, help when you forget to submit assignments. Don't hope that your future CEO will be one of the Unicorns, help to make graduation a real possibility.

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Virginia Spencer,  M.Ed.,


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