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College and ADHD


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
Posts: 69138
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Posted Mar 14, 2001 at 12:00:01 AM
Subject: College and ADHD

My college age son has finally admitted that he was having serious academic problems. He did not have trouble getting admitted as his declared major of computer science probably helped. SAT scores were slightly above 1000 which is probably low for his major. He has taken his precalculus and calculus courses twice (currently) in order to get passing grades. He registers for intro English and drops it each semester after he hears the course requirements. He made C's in courses like Economics and Geology. He was inattentive in elem. and middle school (I referred him for assessment but was not IDed as disabled) but with tutoring did okay in high school, "C" student with better grades in computer classes. Was very quiet, had friends but did not socialize much outside of school. He admits that he has done more socializing in college but that is probably very good for him. He lives on campus. School does not involve parents (no grade report-confidentiality!) I am considering use of medication but worry about abuse at the college level since he would be responsible and would have to worry about theft. Any ideas? I've suggested a change in majors but that has yet to be considered by him.

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 01, 2014
Posts: 69138

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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

: It's unclear from your post why his possible ADHD is posing more of a problem in English than in economics and geology. What's the problem in English? ADHD when present should hit across the board unless there are other issues.If he can meet the challenges of his possible ADHD in economics, a complex class, he might be able to meet it in English. Colleges often have learning support centers and it sounds as if English is his only real issue.I was told years ago by a pediatric neurologist that the amount of amphetimine in Ritalin is miniscule and that Ritalin has little street value. Whether that's true or not, I can only say at the middle school where I teach so many kids are on Ritalin that I can't imagine why anyone would ever need to steal it. They probably have their own prescription.As to your son's possible abuse of the Ritalin or any other ADHD medication, there are probably better drugs just as available on his colege campus if someone sadly wants to go that route.My college age son has finally admitted that he was having serious
: academic problems. He did not have trouble getting admitted as his
: declared major of computer science probably helped. SAT scores
: were slightly above 1000 which is probably low for his major. He
: has taken his precalculus and calculus courses twice (currently)
: in order to get passing grades. He registers for intro English and
: drops it each semester after he hears the course requirements. He
: made C's in courses like Economics and Geology. He was inattentive
: in elem. and middle school (I referred him for assessment but was
: not IDed as disabled) but with tutoring did okay in high school,
: "C" student with better grades in computer classes. Was
: very quiet, had friends but did not socialize much outside of
: school. He admits that he has done more socializing in college but
: that is probably very good for him. He lives on campus. School
: does not involve parents (no grade report-confidentiality!) I am
: considering use of medication but worry about abuse at the college
: level since he would be responsible and would have to worry about
: theft. Any ideas? I've suggested a change in majors but that has
: yet to be considered by him.

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 01, 2014
Posts: 69138

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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Hello, Diane.I am a college student with ADHD, and here is my two bits' worth...Has your son been diagnosed (if not by the school, then independently)? That would be a first step. It would also not be a bad idea to make sure that other issues (learning-related, health-related, or otherwise) are not having a negative impact on his ability to succeed, but if any are, it is important to address those in addition to any ADHD-related problems, since often coexisting problems can mask or exacerbate each other.If your son enjoys computer science and is successful in that area, as it seems he is, I don't know that a change in majors would be necessary. As long as he is able to handle the prerequisites, it is nice to be able to do something that one likes and can do competently! (I'm assuming there is some math involved, although it seems he managed to get through calculus, even if with difficulty.) You may have other reasons for suggesting that he change majors, but with no extra information, that's my thinking...It is good that your son's social life has improved. It is hard to strike a balance between school, work, friends, and basic bodily needs, but friends are an important part of that, and it seems that you've provided encouragement in that regard.You mentioned that in high school, wiht tutoring, he did OK. Are tutoring services available on his campus? At a great many schools, even those without programs for students with LD/ADHD, peer tutoring and other forms of study help (study groups, review sessions, etc.) are offered to all students. If such services exist, encourage your son to take advantage of them, preferably on a regular basis (i.e. establish a routine that incorporates this). Besides reinforcing the subject matter itself, knowing that one has to meet with a tutor or exchange answers with a study group can serve as motivation and a reminder to do homework and keep up with material. If no official study groups or tutors exist, your son might still be able to form his own study group - if that is a good setting for him to learn. I don't think it would be particularly useful in computer science courses, but in other classes that lend themselves more to collaboration and less to writing code, it could be helpful.As for medication, your concerns are valid. While I have not personally seen any cases of Ritalin theft or abuse (in my dorm, caffeine pills seemed to suffice), there have been many reports of this that have gained popular attention. For people to whom it is prescribed and who use it according to the prescription and under a doctor's general supervision, abuse does not seem to be a problem. If medication is something that your son would benefit from, the best ways to prevent such problems are a) to keep it in a secure place (either a locked drawer, or perhaps in his backpack so he won't forget it and it will be with him during the day, or to keep some in different places so he won't run out, and b) not to tell anyone (other than perhaps a trusted advisor or friend or roommate, if it is appropriate) that he is taking it, and to take it discreetly...this will also allow him to avoid the stigmas sometimes associated with neurological medications.Also, if you do think it may help him, make sure that he thinks so, too! If he does have ADHD, the doctor who diagnoses him should explain the options available to him. But if he is not sold on the idea, it is less likely that he will follow through on taking it and it may be better to avoid the hassle and the concerns about theft. If the issue of medication is approached in a no-pressure way, and is one part of an overall plan, it may be more likely that he will agree to it and follow through on taking it. It is disconcerting for many people either to have the medication forced on them, or to think that they are only competent due to a pill. So, if he views it as a tool to help him focus, and learns (possibly with help from a tutor, a school support program, a counselor, or whatever) other compensatory strategies to help with things like time management, organization, prioritizing, memory, note-taking and other study skills, etc., that will make it easier for him to take it and also ensure that he is not expecting it to work miracles without learning and employing other types of strategies.Hope this helps! Good luck!Lisa in CA

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 01, 2014
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Posted:Mar 17, 2001 11:46:51 AM

Thank you for your well stated responses. I have begun to inquire about private evaluations and found out that my health insurance does not cover testing. I suspected that that would be true. Also I do have some academic testing from Sylvan Learning Center that reported approximately grade level and age level skills at age 15 with some spotty areas of need. Not completing homework was his most frequently stated teacher concern going all the way back to 3rd grade. He is usually neat in personal appearance and takes care of his clothing and grooming well but his bedroom is a dark hole (he doesn't put items away and keeps shoving things aside). We will have a family discussion soon to decide if the evaluation will be useful and what types of questions we would like the evaluation to cover. Lazy and too laid back always come to mind when thinking of my son but I have never confronted him with these concerns outloud. We tend to provide encouragement but know that something else has to happen on his end to make an effort to improve his grades and his progress towards getting credits. His college offers a wide range and support services and I have pointed this out numerous times. But this is a student who never bought a parking permit this year (thought last years would be okay) and has gotten two tickets so far!

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