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Executive Functioning Skills - Is it too late to help?


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

  • TexasCollegeMomTexasCollegeMom Registered User Posts: 232 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.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 75,607 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.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 5,193 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.

  • LynnskiLynnski Registered User Posts: 166 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.)
  • greenbuttongreenbutton Registered User Posts: 2,704 Senior Member
    Yes, many schools do offer support services. I was thinking more of choices -- And at the end of the day, nobody gets you out of bed and to class on time. Nobody comes and turns off the light and says go to bed.Nobody can make you attend class. I work with college students every day who can't see the connection between their choices and their outcomes.

    I think we have different definitions of structure, that's all. And if there are support services, those are usually reserved for identified students with diagnosed need, which OP's son is not.
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff Registered User Posts: 2,926 Senior Member
    @greenbutton. Great description!
  • Midwest67Midwest67 Registered User Posts: 2,703 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!
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 5,193 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.
  • taverngirltaverngirl Registered User Posts: 706 Member
    @Meddy I originally wanted in-person coaching, but I couldn't find anyone in my area (CT). I didn't find a lot of resources online, and I was in a hurry to get something started (nothing like waiting until end of Junior year!) so I went with one of the only ones I could find (feel free to PM for name; not sure I'm allowed to post). They are expensive, I think, but they do seem to be working, and my son is very engaged with his coach. I figure if it works, it's money well spent. Better than spending $50,000 on college and flunking out after a year. There is a very thorough intake process and then an interview with the student to ensure they are matched up with a compatible coach. The coach introduces one or two things to work on at a time and then they evaluate to see how it's working for the student. New things are slowly introduced as needed. They are always getting feedback from the student as to what is working and what isn't, which is nice. My son does one 1-hour session a week and then his coach checks in via phone midway between sessions to see how it's going. That's just a 5-10 minute conversation. They keep the students accountable, which is important to me. They also share a detailed summary of each session with the parents so they are in the loop. As far as results, he is putting the tools to use and systems in place to help strengthen his weaknesses. His coach is also teaching him how to advocate for himself. He has to have conversations with each of his teachers to get their thoughts on how he could do better, and he has to report that back to his coach so they can incorporate those into his program. He sets short and long term goals with his coach as well. All in all, I'm pretty happy with it so far. We are about six weeks in, and I was told it takes about 3 months before you really see good progress. LMK if you have any other questions; happy to answer them if I can.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 26,240 Senior Member
    I think we have different definitions of structure, that's all. And if there are support services, those are usually reserved for identified students with diagnosed need, which OP's son is not.
    Respectfully, that's not true. Many schools have support services available to students who ask. They often can be found in the tutoring department, which almost all schools have available. I've researched this for three kids over a decade at more than three dozen schools, and support services are available across a wide range of schools.

    Just a note, which may not apply to anyone else, but if there are problems like this, it can be good to assess the student's schedule. My husband and I came to sincerely believe that a significant part of my son's issues in high school can be attributed to being massively sleep deprive for years. His schedule involved being up by 5:30 and out the door by 6:00 and not returning until 7:00 pm every day. When in college, he lucked out to never have a class before 9 am and the difference was amazing. At that time in his life, he was doing too much too early in the day.

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,500 Senior Member
    I just want to say, what others have said, that it would really help to have him evaluated asap. A neuropsychologist can do an appropriate evaluation, and a psychiatrist (or PCP even) can diagnose ADHD. There is no reliable test for ADHD but a questionnaire is used: sounds already as if the questionnaire would result in a diagnosis. This is a brain-based disorder, and needs to be understood and accommodated.

    If he were to have a diagnosis- and not assuming he will- then he would be able to register with an Office for Disabilities and, with professional documentation, receive accommodations and support. Other personnel at the college would also be involved, such as extra advising and interventions by someone like a dean when professors need more info :)

    Landmark College has a lot of resources you might want to look into. A summer program that helps with transition to college, and I also got the name of an excellent coach who works by phone. Look them up.

    Generally, I think the transition from parental help to doing things on one's own should be more of a gentle slope than a cliff, but you can substitute others for parent. (Also I don't think his grades "dived"!)

    Getting an evaluation really helps. It usually includes suggestions and advice, and referrals, and will help with the college.

    Many people with executive functioning issues and/or ADHD are so very bright and can thrive.
  • mom2andmom2and Registered User Posts: 2,699 Senior Member
    @greenbutton Perfect description and spot on for kids (and adults) with ADHD inattentive. Yes, there are services at college but the student has to seek them out. Unless it is a special program, colleges are not going to wake kids up in the morning, check in on why they aren't in class, or give them a pass on homework or studying for tests. Colleges expect kids to have enough EF to function indepently and ask for help if needed. For the kids that don't make it, it is often that they know they SHOULD ask for help from either the professor or the college, but don't, They know they should do the homework, write the paper, or study for the test, but they don't.

    Unfortunately, medication is not as effective for inattentive ADHD, but it can help. While you don't outgrow it, you can learn to function and to make routines that get you through.
  • jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 Registered User Posts: 256 Junior Member
    @taverngirl Will you please PM me the name of the service you used? For some reason, I am not able to send you a PM.
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