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Dr. Silver,

I really hope you can help steer us in the right direction in seeking help for our daughter. She is in the 5th grade and has been tested as gifted (IQ of 135). She goes to a private school and is in a gifted pull-out program (one day per week), which she loves.

She is struggling mightily this year with organization. Her grades are just OK, but her effort is definitely lacking. She is not working up to her potential.

She says she is trying her hardest, but her teacher thinks that she does not use her time wisely and does not listen attentively. Her desk is the messiest in the class and no system of organization has seemed to help her. She generally does her work but often “forgets” to turn it in. Her handwriting is awful. I constantly have to remind her to head her paper and mind the margins.

I am at my wit’s end with trying to get her to be more organized and responsible, and always give school her best effort. I should mention that she also suffers from anxiety. She has been in therapy for two years and is currently being medicated for it. The anxiety seems to be under control.

I don’t know what else to do to help her or what kind of professional to turn to for help. I would love any advice you could give me. Thank you so much for your time and attention.

Respectfully yours,


Most of the difficulties you describe suggest what is called executive function disorder — difficulty with organization of materials, tasks, and time. She also appears to have a fine-motor problem that is affecting her handwriting. It is important that the reasons for these problems be clarified.

She will need a psycho-educational evaluation. The results will explain why she is underachieving and what to do to help her. You are in a private school; however, you are entitled to services from the public school system. Meet with the principal of the public school she would have gone to and request that she be evaluated. The principal must schedule a meeting to discuss your daughter’s difficulties. If the principal denies your request for such studies, you may have to have it done privately.

Do not wait until she is in middle school. Her problems will only become worse. Have her evaluated now so that the right help can be introduced now.

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