The Right School

One ADD high-schooler takes matters into her own hands to manage homework, fight distractions and find the right school.

The Right School, Part 2

Rory: Coaching helped me learn to ask for help when I need it. I used to be too embarrassed to ask a question because I didn’t want to look stupid. Now I don’t care so much about that. I ask whenever I need to.

Jodi: One of my goals was to change the way Rory was seen by her family members. A child like Rory — bright, articulate, caring, and yet unable to follow through on things — can be frustrating to her parents. Parents tend to turn negative: “She’s not finishing this, she’s not finishing that.” I wanted Rory’s family to stop criticizing her and start viewing her as someone who simply needed help developing basic skills.

Geri Jo: I had always been the one to nag Rory, to tell her to turn off the TV, do her homework, and clean her room. Once Jodi set up a system for Rory, I no longer had to nag her. She knew she had to check in with Jodi, and Rory accepted things from Jodi that she didn’t want to hear from me. That was a blessing for the entire family.

Jodi: One of the things that made Rory’s journey difficult was the fact that her mom has ADD. Parents with ADD who have learned to compensate often think, “I have the same thing, and I’m dealing with it, so why can’t you?”

Geri Jo and I set up a separate coaching call so we wouldn’t violate Rory’s confidentiality. We’d talk about what Geri Jo needed to do for Rory — and what she did not need to do. I helped Geri Jo curb her impulse to jump in. I think seeing her mother deal with some of her behaviors helped Rory to see her mother as human, someone with her own frailties.

Geri Jo: The most important change Rory made was to find a new school after tenth grade. She put much thought into this. It was a very grown-up decision — to leave a place that felt warm and fuzzy, but which, academically, wasn’t the best place for her.

Rory: I have nothing negative to say about my old school. The teachers helped me a lot, and I miss my friends. But the workload was unbearable. Each night, I had five hours of homework. I know I’m smart, but my old school made me feel stupid. I’d been there since fifth grade, and wanted to start over.

Jodi: When I heard that Rory wanted to change schools, I was shocked. She was talking about leaving the safety of a small school to attend a school with bigger classes and more distractions. It was a testament to her self-esteem and confidence that she could say, “I’ll take the risk.”

Together, we tried to envision what the new school would be like—how she would handle more kids, new distractions. Would she let less-demanding classes become an excuse for blowing off her schoolwork? Would changing schools make it easier for her to get into college—or harder? She talked to guidance counselors at both schools to make sure she had all the evidence, which is pretty impressive for someone her age.

Geri Jo: Jodi made it possible for Rory to feel that things would be OK, even if everything didn’t go the way she wanted. So far, Rory’s decision seems like a good one. She is less stressed, and we’ve been able to slow down and take back our life together.

This article comes from the October/November 2006 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: ADHD in High School, ADHD Coaching,

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