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Executive Functioning Skills - Is it too late to help?


Replies to: Executive Functioning Skills - Is it too late to help?

  • WellspringWellspring 1533 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    It was a revelation to me when someone suggested that I give my son a monthly calendar and work with him on his schedule for the month and I realized the concept of a month makes no sense to him. Unless we discuss each day to come the day before he cannot plan. It's real and he's not going to grow out of it.
    edited May 2019
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  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 1218 replies3 threads Senior Member
    @jazzymomof7 How did my daughter turn up as your son? I could have written this post.
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  • zoosermomzoosermom 25663 replies594 threads Senior Member
    My son was the same way in high school and I seriously considered a year of community college, but ultimately decided against it. He is now a rising senior. For him, he was so insanely busy in high school that coming into college with only four classes a semester was like a vacation. He scaled back a lot to only activities he was really committed to, so they were not a burden. That really helped.

    We did a few things, which may or may not work for anyone else. First, we encouraged him to read his syllabi before the semester started as if it were a magazine article so he could understand the overview and get in his head the general feel of what each class would be like. Then we had him highlight through the syllabus anything that was important or that he might miss. On move in day of freshman year, I personally posted those highlighted syllabi right next to his desk where he couldn't miss them. He did it for himself every other semester. I then reminded him regularly that semester to read the syllabi at least once a week and put in the front of his brain what was coming up. He found this so helpful that I never had to bother him again because he is now absolutely convinced that if he is completely familiar with the syllabus in a particular class, he will be fine.

    Since I had misgivings, I made a visit to the academic services office a condition of going away. They have seminars, webinars, videos, and professional who meet with students to help them find the best way to organize. They were very helpful and it left me out of the process. His support person checked with him weekly that semester, and he chose to visit again in junior year on his own. I also followed his grades carefully that first semester because I just wasn't sure we were making the right decision. But it really turned out fine and I was able to step out after that semester, although I still expect to be informed of final semester grades as a condition of continuing to pay tuition. He understands that he is not entitled to our money, and if the GPA is not at a certain level he will come home. We mean it and he knows that.

    My son got a job on campus in his department and it's a responsible job with skills that will translate into permanent employment. He was excited and grateful to get this job, which gave him a further skin in the game of being more responsible. He came home from this past semester with a thank you note from the director saying how much she appreciates his follow through, willingness to step in, and his attention to detail. I swear to you that I framed that thing and hung it up in my dining room.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that you should help him commit to the syllabi, be willing to really oversee for the first semester (despite what other parents may say), and encourage him to be willing to accept the professional services offered by the college. Those things can really help. Good luck!
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  • mathmommathmom 33101 replies160 threads Senior Member
    I've never been good at planners for any length of time. I finally seem to have hit a system that works for me. It's called the Bullet Journal. I'm a grown up and self employed, so it's largely for my business, but I see students using it too. What I like about it is that your write everything down. While there is a basic structure, I think the key is spending five or ten minutes every day review task list and writing everything you want to do that day (or the next day if you do the review at night.) The basics are here: https://bulletjournal.com/pages/learn You don't have to buy Ryder's book or the notebook. You can turn any notebook into a bullet journal though I recommend one that is 5"x7" so it's easy to carry around with graph paper or gridded dots so it's easy to be neat. This is also fun to watch: https://bulletjournal.com/blogs/bulletjournalist/bullet-journal-for-adhd
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3265 replies74 threads Senior Member
    DD has had a lot of success using the SOAR organization system. The same system works from elementary school through college. You don't have to buy their system. It is easy to assemble what you need on your own. The book, however does a great job explaining it.
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  • jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 251 replies24 threads Junior Member
    @tutumom2001 It has been a huge relief for me to hear that other students have struggled with this, too, and have found ways to be successful.

    @zoosermom I hadn’t thought of having him go thru the syllabi before move in day. I’ll do that with him and have him post them up so they won’t get lost. I’ll also ask him for access to the portal, just so I can oversee things until I’m sure he has it under control.

    I found out his school has a peer coaching program where you meet with a coach once a week to help with organization, etc. If he can’t get into the program, we’ll definitely hire a private coach. I feel it will be worth the money if it can help him get thru school successfully.

    I’m going to order some of thr recommended books, as well.

    Thanks, all! I appreciate all of the supportive responses and btdt advice.
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  • MeddyMeddy 630 replies41 threads Member
    @taverngirl I'm interested in the idea of a coach via skype. How did you find the one you have and what kind of results are you seeing if you don't mind me asking.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19405 replies161 threads Senior Member
    I found a coach for my son by looking for tutors. The person I found advertises herself as a writing tutor for high school students, and indeed she is that, but she also works with my son on organization and planning. She meets with him once a week or so, and texts with him every day to check that he's on target.

    Really, being a coach is not a job that requires a lot of training. What you want, really, is someone who's kind of a nudge and busybody in real life.
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  • TexasCollegeMomTexasCollegeMom 208 replies49 threads Junior Member
    I don't think it's appropriate for a college student but here was my strategy when my kids were in middle and high school. When they asked me if they could do something that evening or that weekend, I would reply... sounds like fun, write down what you have to get done then let's talk about it. It took some discussions and planning at first but eventually they got organized.

    They always selected a yearly planner to keep track of assignments and wrote down deadlines in them. When it came to the huge tasks like college apps, I was their secretary and we met once a week to make a plan. (Both kids who have graduated college still use a written agenda or calendar.)

    Just a heads up that most college portals are not like high school portals. When your student gives you access, it doesn't share timelines, missing assignments and details to help someone stay on track.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78020 replies3499 threads Senior Member
    In my experience...writing down just the deadline does not help kids with organizational issues. They need to also write down each step they need to do before the deadline and set dates for the completion of those items. Otherwise..the night before a deadline...all panic breaks loose.

    Learning to break tasks down into manageable steps is an important skill.

    Also, these kids need to know it’s OK to make lists, check those lists, and then check off completed items.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6589 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Part of this is about creating routines so that you don't have to remember everything. If you always put your car keys in the same place, you don't have to devote memory, energy and stress to remembering where they are. And you lose the panic and time of looking for them as you are rushing to get to an appointment.

    If you put things to remember on a list, you need to remember to look at that list , reorganize and prioritize, then execute on the actionable items. So having a dedicated time each day to go through the list is important. This takes training and discipline.

    And part of it is about creating a space to do work that doesn't have its own distractions. For most people, this means neat and pretty bare. (The feeling you get when you sit down at a table in the library, not the one you get at a cluttered desk, with bills to pay, a magazine, stuff to file.)

    I live and work with some really smart folks with ADHD (not so H), and frankly, ordinary life has plenty of organizational challenges even for those without a diagnosis. It's an ongoing effort to get and stay organized, and it takes a lot of pretty unimaginative discipline.

    Your kid has to buy into whatever system he's using, and you all need to understand that he, like all of us, is "developing a practice". This doesn't "get fixed". You and he should also expect lots of little setbacks along the way.

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  • LynnskiLynnski 245 replies12 threads Junior Member
    "At college, there is no structure at all -- at all --- to provide guidance."

    This comment is not really accurate. Some colleges have a great deal of structure for students, and others have very little. When applying to schools this question wasn't even on our radar. By the time our child was deciding among her acceptances, we were much more attentive to the EF concerns and supports built into the schools' structure and ethos. The school she's attending in the fall offers a LOT of structure that can help her with her EF challenges. (Whether any given student takes advantage of the available structure remains to be seen, of course.)
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6922 replies30 threads Senior Member
    @greenbutton. Great description!
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  • Midwest67Midwest67 3897 replies14 threads Senior Member
    I don’t have the details, but a friend hired a therapist who specialized in helping teens & young adults in what you are describing.

    It helped a LOT, and had the bonus of taking the parents out of the equation — which in their case allowed them to all enjoy each other more and lessen the frustration all around.

    Not too late!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6589 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Plenty of adults, with and without as dx, benefit from coaching on this. Just look at how many copies of books like "Getting things done" have sold, and your son will realize he's in good company in his efforts. It can help take the stigma out of it if he's feeling that.

    And I whole-heartedly agree with @greenbutton about getting an evaluation. How a kid chooses to deal with the issue -with or without meds, which accommodations and strategies, etc. -,is very personal, often situational, and requires trial and error.

    But realizing there is an underlying cause - that it's not a matter of being stupid or lazy - can really help on the emotional side. It's really frustrating to a kid to feel chaos without a reason.

    Plus, when it comes to college options or jobs, he'll know how to play to his strengths.
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