Do you ever feel like this with ADHD?

Living with ADHD

Robert Tudisco Former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation Speaks about Living with ADHD.



Helping ADHD students get back on course


ADHD coaching steers a student back on course

Jesse (not his real name) was an average college student majoring in engineering major at a big university.  He lived in a dorm room, went to class during the week and partied on the weekends. But one thing about Jesse’s college experience set it apart from many others’:  he has ADHD.

Jesse told us he figured out he had ADHD when a friend was diagnosed.  “So I went to get screened. After what ended up being a three-month-long process of tests and doctor visits, I was diagnosed.”

College is a particularly difficult time for students with ADHD.  Academic demands, increased independence, more free time, and a distracting environment, creates an environment where many untreated ADHD students are likely to fail.

“If I hadn’t got treatment,” Jesse said, “I can basically guarantee that I would have flunked out.” Fortunately Jesse found a medication that helped with focus, accommodations that allowed him to take exams in less distracting environments, and, perhaps most importantly, he found an ADHD coach.

ADHD coaches are commonly used in ADHD treatment, and students who received ADHD coaching have been shown to show substantial gains in their overall approach to learning. Neil Peterson, founder of Edge Foundation explains, “Medications do not work for everybody. They are not ‘the’ answer because medications do not teach skills — but coaches do.”

Edge ADHD Coaches work by helping a person with ADHD to organize their life on their own, rather than telling them what to do. The coach meets with a student once or twice per week, and helps him or her with goal setting, prioritizing, focusing, confidence, etc. The students set weekly goals and action plans to meet those goals and have e-mail and phone support from their coaches to help keep them on track.

How to prevent students from dropping out.

Bright young people drop out of school

About 7,000 students in the U.S. become high school dropouts every school day. That’s 1.2 million students who will not graduate from high school – each year.

It’s easy for important information to get lost in today’s never-ending flow.  But Edge Foundation founder, Neil Peterson, worries about the bright young people who are being lost because not enough of them are getting the help they need.

That’s why we continue to make innovations to find ways to empower more students with ADHD. The Puget Sound School-Based Coaching Program is  reaching previously underserved students within a school-based setting.

This one-of-a-kind intervention brings coaching into schools with a high proportion of at-risk students. Giaudrone Middle School in Tacoma (Tacoma Public Schools) and the Big Picture School in Burien (Highline Public Schools) are the two schools participating in the pilot program which is offered at no cost to these at risk students.

Students who are at-risk of dropping out can fall into a downward spiral; coaching can change that. Just read the words of one of the students who received coaching this year:

“My attendance was bad, so we made up this thing where I would text my coach when I came to school.  And, so, I’ve been texting her, letting her know. It gave me this push to start improving.  While I was improving on one priority; it makes all the other priorities better too.  You see, all of these goals kinda come down to my self-image… they reflect how I feel about myself. My coach didn’t give me answers.  She made me ask questions.  She made me get my own answers.” – Alicia B.

Edge is also measuring progress against its goals for participating students to refine the program and make it duplicable in other schools. Our goal is to see:

  • significant improvements in learning and study skills, will to learn, and self-regulation and
  • significant improvement in the areas of self regulation, including discipline, classroom behavior, attendance, homework completion, credits earned, progress toward high school graduation, and preparation being accepted to college.

We  have developed a promising and replicable school-based model for ensuring the success of middle and high school students with ADHD or severe executive functioning challenges.

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Dropping out of College and ADHD

Have you ever been so far behind you considered dropping out? If you have ADHD, you aren’t alone.  Students who have ADHD are much less likely to finish college than their peers. A big reason is college is a time where many students are on their own for the first time. You set your schedule. You pick your classes. You decide when to study. No one is keeping track of whether or not you come to class. It’s a time where you need solid skills in time management, organization and self discipline.

Unfortunately, if you have fallen too far behind in your school work, you may not be able to avoid dropping out, but there are some important steps you can take, right now to making getting through this difficult time.

Start by Getting Help

It’s natural to be embarrassed or ashamed that you are having trouble with classwork. But not reaching out for support is foolish.

It may seem that the adults you know can handle everything on their own. The truth is that everyone gets help in some area of life. Consider cancer. You wouldn’t try to fix it yourself, would you? That sounds completely ridiculous. Trying to bail yourself out of an academic hole without getting support is just as foolish.  Sure your parents are going to be disappointed, but they will be far more upset if you don’t tell them.

If you aren’t ready to talk to your parents, start by finding a safe adult ally to help you. This can be your dorm adviser, a guidance counselor, an athletic coach, a neighbor, aunt or other adult friend.  Share your story honestly. You’ll  probably find you already know someone else who has experienced the same situation.

Take time to think

Are you one of those people who went off to college  because that’s just what was expected? Surprise. College isn’t for everyone. Are you having trouble sticking to your studies because you aren’t into your major? Speaking to a guidance counselor and taking some aptitude tests can help you identify a focus you can get behind. If you hate chemistry, but you know you have to take it to become a vet, keeping your goal in mind can help you stay focused on a difficult task. But without a purpose or plan, it can be difficult to keep engaged with school and fall behind.

Take care of yourself

Don’t bury your head in the sand. Stressful periods like this one are the times you most need to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise regularly.

Take time to properly exit from your classes. Talk to your professors (in person is best) and ask them for a incomplete or a no credit. If you take an incomplete, you’ll be able to finish the class – if and only if you make a plan to finish the work.

Change your point of view

Instead of looking at your situation as “all or nothing,” consider taking a semester off instead of dropping out.

Sign up for an Edge Coach

An ADHD coach can’t change the situation you’re in right now. But she can help you avoid ending up in an emergency situation like this one in the first place.

A coach works with you over time to develop better planning and self-management skills; skills that will help you manage your life so you’re on top of your work and not overwhelmed and behind all the time. Wouldn’t that be nice?

What’s your biggest lie you tell yourself?