A Gap Year – The Right Choice for an ADHD Teen?

A gap year is an experiential year typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness. A gap year can be especially important and beneficial for students with ADHD. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about a gap year for your ADHD teen.

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Executive Function Coaching Saves Lives

Here’s is a recent report from Executive Function Coach and Trainer Erin Wilson:

“It was a Friday–I had just gotten home from school, the Seattle summer had started early, and I was exhausted. I was getting a popsicle out of the freezer and beginning to settle down when my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I had broken the rule of not giving my phone number out to students; so, student was my guess. I thought about ignoring it—Oh, come on! It’s Friday evening!—but I hit the green button anyway.

“It was one of my 17-year-old students who immediately started apologizing for bothering me, and talking of hanging up, but I kept him on the line. ‘No, I’m here. What’s going on?’ I asked.”

‘Well, I am on the Aurora Bridge and getting ready to jump, but I knew you would be mad at me if I didn’t talk to you before I jumped.’

‘Oh, gosh, Malcolm. Yes, indeed. Thank you for calling. I am here. Let’s figure this out together.’

A conversation ensued, at the end of which they agreed to go for milkshakes. She drove to the bridge and picked him up. Malcolm is still with us.

As unique as this conversation was, it is also typical. Malcolm meets with Erin once a week for executive function coaching. Erin mostly just asks questions: “What’s going on?” “How was your week?” How are you doing on your goal?” “What is your strategy?” “How is that working for you?” “What did you learn from that?” “What can you do differently?”

As unique as Malcolm’s problem is, it is also typical. So many kids in our schools are problems, or cause problems, feel they have a problem, told they have a problem. What was Malcolm’s problem? Was it dyslexia or ADHD? Was he a victim of high stress in the home or the neighborhood? Was he being bullied? Was it “Executive Function Disorder?” Suggest your favorite dysfunction.

Notice what bad habits we are in! It doesn’t really matter what “problem” he has or what his “learning difference” is, does it? Whatever the problem, he needs a partner who knows how to strengthen his executive function. Does he need better planning skills? Whatever. Whatever the matter is, he needs practice in owning his own brain, so he can own his own decisions, so he can own his own life.

What saved Malcolm’s life was not Erin’s personality, but a person who was trained to do what few people in schools are in the habit of doing: talking to students as if they are decision makers, as if they want to make a difference, as if they are leading their own lives. Each of us needs another person who acts as if the only thing that matters right now is the choices I make, and knows how to help me figure out the good ones.

Is any work in a school more important than this? How many “at risk” kids would be “at risk” if school were a place for learning to think? What would happen to our graduation rates if school focused everyone on maximizing internally motivated decision-making?


About the Author

Rick Ackerly is a nationally recognized educator, speaker and leadership coach with more than 40 years of experience in schools, 35 as head of school. He is the author of The Genius in Every Child: Encouraging Character, Curiosity and Creativity in Children. His blog is www.geniusinchildren.org.

Free Resources for ADHD

ADHD Friendly Colleges

Sink or Swim?

Congratulations on being  ready for college! You are one of the lucky few – only 22% of high school students with ADHD go on to attend college. For most students with ADHD it’s been a long journey getting here and you are probably a little worried about cutting it in college.

  • Are you looking for a college environment that’s supportive of students with ADHD?
  • Are you worried what will happen when you leave the structure and accountability of high school and home?
  • Perhaps you’ve been swept up by the freewheeling life of college – and you know that having access to a tutoring center isn’t what you need to get back on track.

Read on!  You aren’t alone.

College is an exciting time, there are so many new opportunities and responsibilities. But when you have ADHD, and are totally in charge of making all of your own decisions for the first time – it can be a recipe for disaster.

In fact, research has shown that as few as 5% of ADHD students who enter college end up graduating. The Edge Foundation knows how to help ADHD students be successful and we have facilitated a two-year scientific study to prove* that our model works.

Find out today how Edge Foundation can help you succeed in college.

ADHD Students are “At Risk” Students

Students with ADHD are vulnerable because ADHD impacts the higher portion of the brain that regulates Executive Functioning. ADHD students usually have Executive Function deficits in attention, planning and organization, prioritization, impulse control, memory, time management, and higher-order conceptual thinking.

Executive Functioning levels are well known by researchers to be a an important part of academic success. Experts agree that successful students usually have four qualities that help them achieve their goals:

  1. Sticking with things even when the going gets tough (perseverance),
  2. Ability to delay gratification and focus on the big picture,
  3. Time management and organizational skills, and
  4. Striking the right balance between fun and work.

If you have weaknesses in at least one of these areas, you may be at risk to struggling with ADHD in college.

ADHD students don’t have to be “at risk” students.  An Edge Coach can you learn the very skills you need to be successful in school.

Broaden Your Options

When you work with an Edge Coach, the options of where to go to school broaden. You no longer have to find a school that caters to ADHD because you can bring your support system with you!

An Edge Coach can help you:

  • Get better organized,
  • Achieve personal goals,
  • Effectively manage your time and,
  • Stick with things when the going gets rough.

Call us (1-888-718-8886) or sign up today to learn more about how Edge Foundation’s proven model can help you succeed in school.

Get Started Early

Students with ADHD shouldn’t have to fail before they get support.  Students and their families should think about getting started with a coach even before college begins. Many students find they have a rough first term. But for students with ADHD, it is surprisingly easy to fall behind, and poor, or even failing, first-term grades can be a devastating blow to self-esteem and confidence.

Or perhaps you’ve already experienced these challenges. It’s not too late to have an Edge coach help you get back on track. 

Our recently completed research* shows students who receive coaching have substantial gains in their overall approach to learning — in other words, they become more effective students!

Would you like to learn more about the techniques that research proves helps students succeed? There’s no obligation if you call us (1-888-718-8886) or sign up today to find out more about how ADHD coaching can make the difference between success and failure in school.

Choose Your School Carefully

If you still feel like you want to look into schools that are focused towards learning disabilities and ADHD, here are two references that can help you choose a school that will fit your needs. But remember, very few colleges and universities will offer personal coaching. The skills you need won’t be taught in the tutoring center or improved by using extended time when taking tests.

Coaching Helps Students Succeed

Edge Foundation’s research study offers hope for students with ADHD because it definitively links coaching to improved Executive Functioning. And improved Executive Functioning means more success in school.

ADHD students who participated in Edge coaching sessions demonstrated statistically significant, higher Executive Functioning than ADHD students who did not receive coaching. *

Coaching has long been used by the corporate world to improve performance of CEOs and executives, but little study had been done until now on the impact this particular kind of intervention has on those living with ADHD.

While medication can improve academic productivity (better note-taking, scores on quizzes and worksheets, and homework completion), medication alone is not associated with skills like being organized, time management, or the ability to apply knowledge, all of which are critical in a successful post secondary education.  Coaching will!

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you need an Edge coach, today is the day to take the first step.  If you need a little more convincing before you sign up, why not download our free guide to college success?

FREE ADHD and College Success Guide

Yes! Please send me the…

Included in the guide are 60 practical solutions for typical ADHD challengesincluding:

  • Using creative ways, like music, to keep yourself on schedule,
  • Working with your urge to procrastinate, not against it,
  • How to study smarter, not harder,
  • How to use fidgeting to stay focused, and
  • 4 student qualities for success.

Sign up today to receive your copy. It’s free, jam-packed with tips and ideas you can start using today, and you are under no obligation to buy anything . What have you got to lose?

*The Edge Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students reach their academic, professional, and social potential through the support of personal coaching.  For more on our research study visit https://edgefoundation.org/information/research/.