ADHD and college: a parent’s point of view

Last week we shared Mark Katz’s inspiring talk about resiliency from CHADD’s regional conference in Anaheim.  This week we’d like to highlight comments presented by our founder, Neil Peterson, at the same event. College success was the focus of Neil’s presentation.  He covered four key points:

  1. 18 year old is really not 18
  2. There is an option of not going to college right away
  3. The process that we’ve set up in our colleges is still daunting and students need help navigating that process.
  4. Get a coach.

An 18 year old with ADHD is really much younger developmentally

Experts remind us that an 18 year old with ADHD is really more like a 15 or 16 year old developmentally.  What this means is even though our kids are entering college as adults at 18, they really aren’t ready to learn self-advocacy skills their peers are expected to.  Neil encouraged parents and educators to remember that ADHD youth are often not mature enough to handle the independence that comes when they lose the scaffolding of their parents and home.

A gap year can help students catch up with their peers developmentally.

Neil could see his daughter wasn’t ready for the “free flowing” college dorm situation so help keep her out of school for a year.  A structured gap year that provides experiences and opportunities for your

Getting accommodations is difficult

While we’ve made a lot of progress in serving disabled students in college it’s a daunting process to qualify for services and then inform each of your college professors that you need accommodations.  Neil recommends that parents need to teach their children how to self-advocate for these services if they haven’t done so already.

An ADHD coach can help you keep on track

Neil Peterson is a very successful entrepreneur and former CEO.  His favorite analogy about why a coach makes sense is “If a coach is good enough for a CEO, its good enough for a struggling 18 year old.”  He should know, he uses a coach himself to stay on track.  For Neil’s daughter, Kelsey, an ADHD coach is invaluable in helping her break down the steps of getting her assignments done, setting and following through with commitments to herself, and planning, prioritizing and staying on task.

Do you agree with Neil and other ADHD experts that an 18 year old with ADHD isn’t really 18 developmentally?  Let us know!

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2 Responses

  1. […] week, Neil Peterson talked about how college students with ADHD often lag behind their peers in social and emotional maturity and aren’t as ready as their peers to learn the self-advocacy […]

  2. d meredith
    | Reply

    Would be interested in knowing if you can refer me to any structured gap year programs for kids with ADHD. Your blog describes our daughter to a T.

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