The Right School

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


Filed Under: ADHD in High School, ADHD Coaching,
Succeeding  at School With ADD/ADHD ADDitude Magazine

I used to be too embarrassed to ask a question because I didn’t want to look stupid.

Rory Manson, ADD teen

Rory Manson is a bright, creative, self-confident 16-year-old. Despite her attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), she’s doing well in school, and has hopes of getting into a first-rate college when she graduates, in 2008.

That’s who Rory is now, anyway. Three years ago, it was a different story: She was struggling to pass her classes in the private school she had attended since fifth grade, painfully aware that she could be doing a lot better. Her family—mom, dad, and three brothers—were supportive but losing patience. Rory’s mother, who also has ADD, had to issue so many reminders to her daughter that she felt more like Rory’s babysitter than her parent.

How did Rory get from there to here? With the help of Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, a Herndon, Virginia-based ADD coach. Jodi helped Rory learn the skills she needed to succeed, enabling her to blossom into the young woman she always wanted to be. The whole family is happier now.

Rory: I was diagnosed with ADD in the fourth grade. I had always been a good student, but my mind would wander in class and I could never remember to bring home my textbooks. I was getting by, but it wasn’t easy.

Geri Jo Manson (Rory's mom): Homework wasn’t hard for Rory, but getting her to sit down to do it was. The ADD medication she’s been taking since age nine helped her concentrate, but she still had to struggle. By the seventh grade, Rory was losing ground. She’d do OK in three classes but drop the ball in the other two.

Rory: In middle school, the workload got harder. I knew I wasn’t living up to my potential. My grades weren’t horrible, but they weren’t great. That’s when I started working with Jodi. We e-mail back and forth and also talk on the phone for 30 minutes, once a week. I tell her what’s going well, and what I could be doing better. Talking out loud to someone about what’s going right encourages me to work harder. When I get a good grade on a test, I e-mail Jodi about it.

Jodi: Like her mom, Rory is a go-getter. She’s full of ideas and really wants to succeed. The problem was that Rory lacked the basic skills needed for success.

At first, our discussions focused on organization, although we also spent a lot of time exploring why it was such a struggle for her to reach her goals. Why did it take her so long to get ready for school each morning? Why did she have so much trouble finishing her homework? The answer was always the same: procrastination.

Rory was getting caught up doing all the things teens want to do — talk on the phone, surf the Internet, and go shopping with friends. I told her that she could continue to do those things, but that we had to set some ground rules. We had to structure her time.

Rory: I agreed to spend 15 minutes a day cleaning my room, and 15 minutes cleaning out my backpack and organizing things for the next day. Jodi and I also agreed that I would do my homework in the kitchen, and put my cell phone in another room until I was finished. That way, I wouldn’t be able to call a friend if I got bored.

Jodi: Distractibility was a problem for Rory at school as well as at home. The moment she felt bored by the material being covered in class, she’d turn to a friend and strike up a conversation. She realized that she needed to separate herself physically from her friends so she wouldn’t do this. When she talks to her friends in between classes, she’s careful to include schoolwork in the conversation. That helps her remember her assignments.

Another way we dealt with her memory problems was to agree that she would devote at least 20 minutes each night to each school subject. If she didn’t have homework in a particular subject, she was to use the time for review. This strategy went a long way toward helping her stay on track academically.


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

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