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Executive Function Disorder at college

dg5052dg5052 Registered User Posts: 778 Member
My adhd daughter is a junior and is being treated for executive function disorder which, in addition to her adhd, is very worrisome to us as to how she will function on her own.

She's very bright but VERY disorganized.
Her grades don't fully reflect her intelligence, but more troubling than that, we're not sure how she will manage all the details of her life in college.

Does anyone have experience with this issue?
Post edited by dg5052 on

Replies to: Executive Function Disorder at college

  • momnipotentmomnipotent Registered User Posts: 662 Member
    dg5052-Though my son has never been diagnosed with EFD, I am 100% certain that he has this condition. DS also has ADD. He is extremely intelligent. I too worry about how he will manage for himself in the real world. Unfortunately, he has been too immature (which usually goes with the ADD) to tackle any of his problems head on. Instead, he has been oppositional. He is in his junior year of hs and is just beginning to show some good signs. The Add and EFD are still there but he is beginning to take a bit more responsibility for himself. Some of this may be due to the fact that I have let go a bit. And the pavlovian response theory is alive and well. Good luck with your daughter. What grade is she in? There have been a few other threads about EFD with some really good ideas/interventions. Do a search on this one.
  • merlinjonesmerlinjones - Posts: 807 Member
    Please note when I post this, that I am not a doctor...

    I have been doing a lot of reading on ADD/ADHD and I have learned that sometimes the Executive Function Disorder and ADD/ADHD go hand in hand and are sometimes considered the same thing. Also, and this is just from my lay person's reading, sometimes the only way Executive Function Disorder is to not going along with ADD/ADHD is when one has a brain lesion.

    Once again, I am not a doctor...

    I wonder if maybe, dg5052, you should find out if your child can go for further testing? Or maybe, you could speak with the Doctor and ask for a total breakdown of your child's testing and see what is more severe. You know, if the ADD/ADHD is more severe than the Executive Function Disorder or the other way around or if Executive Function Disorder was just thrown into the mix, since it is common for Doctor's (from my lay person's reading) to group both things together?

    I have dyscalculia and read of my LD all the time. Sometimes, I wind up reading over other things which are referenced and whatnot.
  • rgwardrnrgwardrn Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    my son has Tourette's Syndrome with some executive dysfunction. Is now in his first semester freshman year. I just returned from Parent's Weekend and was shocked at how clean his room was, how organized he was, how he was able to get himself up, showered, have breakfast and get to all of his classes on time. I think that my not being there trying to organize him has forced him to do this for himself. Either that or all those years of my teaching him how to do things for himself have finally paid off
  • dg5052dg5052 Registered User Posts: 778 Member
    I know you must be so relieved about your son! It did make me feel better to read your post. We are planning college visits for our D this spring, but we are concerned about her being able to manage her life and meet commitments. She still needs reminding about so many things, and she has trouble in classes where she has to take concrete facts, analyze them and come up with an overview type opinion--English and history.

    When she was younger, these were her favorite subjects, but now she says she hates to write. She is working with a psychologist specializing in efd, but she is getting frustrated and we are worried that she will soon refuse to continue. She is so stubborn--she says she doesn't understand why she has to do the organizational and scheduling type things the psychologist requires--which of course is the whole reason she needs to do them. She is very bright and her ADHD wasn't even diagnosed until the end of 9th grade--so she's still dealing with the fact that she feels defective.

    I would be curious to know if you had similar issues with your son. If you would rather pm me, that would be great.
  • mom60mom60 Registered User Posts: 7,250 Senior Member
    dg5052 my senior son has similar problems along with ADD and learning disabilities. Over the years he has worked with people specializing in organization and learning disabilities. He knows what he needs to do but doing it on his own doesn't usually happen. He also didn't see the point. Plus the reality is it is hard work and he would rather take the easy way out.
    Last spring while trying to find a ADD medication that worked and that he was willing to take we were sent to a MD who is a psyciatrist as well as a psychologist. It was a great match and this person has made my son realize the importance of organization and scheduling and notebooks and outlines. The same message he has been sent for years. But from a different messenger it has taken.
    The point of this rambling is that have you look into the possiblity of a psychologist change?
  • mkm56mkm56 Registered User Posts: 3,062 Senior Member
    dg, I had one son diagnosed as a senior in HS and another as a freshman in college. Both ADD, 2nd son with some additional "labels".

    Oldest was never, and I mean never, able to get himself up for school at home, collect his uniform parts for games, remember assignments, etc. Amazingly he did great at college--never missed class, did assignments (or took steps to make them up), started keeping a calendar, did his laundry before he had nothing to wear and paid his bills when he was in an apt. We were thrilled--had expected a crash and burn. Part of success I think was choosing a smaller school (Elon) where class attendance is expected and some profs would even call or email students if they missed without first notifying prof.

    2nd son has less organizational issues, but much more ADD/HD as far as listening, writing, distraction problems. Dorm life was hard. Again, luckily he chose (without knowing he was ADD at the time) a smaller school (Wake) where he got great counseling and psychiatrist appts on campus. Also testing accomodations have been easy to get arranged and professors very willing to work with tape recorders or other tools to help with learning. Biggest problem with him was adjusting to new meds while adjusting to college life.
  • openspaces55openspaces55 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I am hoping someone can tell me this is a familiar story and offer me so advice and hope.
    My daughter is almost 21 and we have known something was not quite right since middle school. The older she got, the worse it got. Not just not doing school work but not brushing her teeth, not bathing, her room is a mess.
    Also things are much worse in winter and spring usually improving around June and going bad after the winter holidays. We have been with the same counselor and medicine person for 18 months. They have thought ADD or bipolar or both and now Executive Function is coming up. None of the medicines seem to help in the winter. Is there a seasonal component to ADD?
    I too, like some of you, worry that she will never make it on her own.
  • cpq1xtbucpq1xtbu Registered User Posts: 765 Member
    Have you looked into depression? I have read that sometimes ADD/ADHD kids can develop depression-- not bipolar, just ordinary depression. Perhaps a different medication is in order.
  • bessiebessie Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    Is a psychiatrist prescribing the meds? Sometime general physicians are not as profient/experienced with meds. Maybe get a second opinion. Sounds like she may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, which is basically seasonal depression to to lack of sunlight. It is easily treated. It could be that the meds she is on are not effective during the winter when her depression kicks in. And it may be that her current MD is unable to look at her symptoms with fresh eyes. Definitely get a consult with a psych, they are far more comfortable mixing meds and trying things that GP's (being very conservative) shy away from. And, yes, these kids make it through college ALL OF THE TIME. They sometimes take longer and have lower gpa's, but they get those degrees. Good Luck.
  • openspaces55openspaces55 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    She is seeing a psychiatric nurse practioner. She has been on welbutrin with a lithium "kicker" when the welbutrin maxed out but was still not effective. She has also been on lamictal for mood stabilizing and zyprexa for anxiety. I feel like we have tried about 15 different drugs. She also sees her talk therapist once a week.
    She has tried a number of different ADD medicines, none of which she would take with any regularity.
    At the moment, she is home between semesters and she is just taking Zyprexa. We are in the middle of getting another pschy evaluation (the third one) trying to figure out why self care is so hard for her.
    I am frustrated because even when I am here to say eat, get up, bathe, it just doesn't happen. Everything I have read about ADD says make lists, keep a planner and that is something she refuses to do. She has three first cousins who have been diagnosed with ADD but all of them function better than she does. One older cousin has finished law school and is a practicing lawyer. None of them have the self care issues she has.
    I think she fits depression more that bipolar-I have never quite believed that diagnosis.
    My husband and I have wondered if we should move her to Arizona for the winter (we live in the Pacific Northwest) or maybe we should try a full spectrum light.
    Her grades go from A's and B's in summer and fall to D's, F's and incompletes in the winter and spring. I think she will be successful in school it is work that I worry about and her personal life.
  • cpq1xtbucpq1xtbu Registered User Posts: 765 Member
    Bipolar diagnosis was in vogue for awhile. IMHO it was over diagnosed. Listen to your gut instinct. You know her better than anyone else. See if you can just try a new antidepressant. Sometimes it takes a couple of different types together to do the trick; and/or awhile to find the right one.
    Try the light. It can't hurt. Hang in there. I'm sure you'll find something that will help her cope better.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,367 Senior Member
    SAD = Seasonally Affected Disorder (or something like that). I read about this several years ago in a newspaper. If l recall correctly, there are medications and specific light therapies for this. Day length and wavelength of light were important.

    Wishing you all the best.
  • missypiemissypie Registered User Posts: 18,303 Senior Member
    Son has Asperger's .... no one has ever diagnosed Executive Function Disorder, but I'm sure he has it. He's a Senior in HS and receives no special services. Last Friday we had a meeting at school for suggestions on how he can get organized, remember homework, etc. I am terrified of sending him away to college. So far, he's doing pretty well EXCEPT it's hard to recover from the zero he got on the third day of school for not turning in his summer book report.
  • bessiebessie Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    Good luck with the new psychiatrist. Sometimes it can make all of the difference. If you still feel stuck, perhaps your daughter can take a leave from her school and just live and work in a sunny area like Arizona or California (southern) before actually trying to transfer colleges. Sounds liek she has been stressed out for awhile so MAYBE "just" working in the sunshine will reinvigorate her while providing an answer to the whole possible SAD thing. Sometimes, the whole LD thing seems seasonal to me; with both of my kids doing better or worse depending on their workload and dealing with their sense of failure if they hadn't completed things or gotten the grades they would have if they had stayed on track. So, doing poorly first semester might lead to giving up and doing poorly the second semester, but then rebounding for the fresh start (AH- that beautiful fresh start!) by summer, when the classes are completed in half the time with twice the intensity. Hmmm, now that I type that, it occurs to me that you should see if the speed and intensity of classes affect her performance. If so, I think there is a school in Colorado that offers classes that meet for one month straight so a student takes that one class and then in four weeks moves on to the next one. I cannot remember which school it is, but I remember people suggesting it for LD kids. It is hard to watch a kid struggle. Take care of yourself as well!
  • UCLA77UCLA77 Registered User Posts: 656 Member
    I haven't heard of this disorder, but if it has to do with time management and organization (or lack thereof), it is a really common problem with ADD/ADHD and LD people.

    At least in LA, and I know at Santa Monica College, they have some really great summer programs for these students that focus exclusively on these issues and how to deal with them.

    My son receives some help and guidance in college from his LD counselor. I recently sent him the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, which he better be installing this weekend! I have the same thing at home. The cool thing about this program is its calendar comes with programable reminders. It has helped me enormously at work. I am learning to work it so that I can send him calendar updates, replete with reminders. That way, when he opens it, he gets pop up reminders of what he's supposed to do and where he's supposed to be.

    Since he hasn't installed it yet, and I haven't figured out how to shoot him the appointment, I don't know exactly if it will work as I expect. But I'll keep you all posted.

    Alternatively, calling him and reminding him seems to help too . . . when he decides to answer my calls . . . !
This discussion has been closed.