College, Part 3
If your ADD/ADHD child has trouble getting up on time, Nadeau suggests giving her two alarm clocks - a vibrating clock to place under the pillow, plus a clock set up across the room, so she will have to get out of bed to turn it off. If your child sleeps through both alarms and is late for school, so be it. Let her deal with the consequences. (You might want to alert your child's first-period teacher about your "experiment.")
Knowing how to ask for help
John Muscarello works hard to be self-reliant, but he's not afraid to reach out. "We always encouraged John to try as hard as he could," says his mother, "but also to learn to ask for what he needed. He wrote a letter to his sixth-grade teacher, saying, 'I'm working really hard here, what can you do to help me?' You can't go through high school without asking for anything and then be an advocate for yourself in college."
Holly Susi says that many of the college freshmen she encounters have never had to explain to an adult how ADD/ADHD affects them. "Students who come to see me are often unable to tell me how I can help," she says. "Students should be prepared to explain how ADD/ADHD affects their academic performance and be ready to ask for specific accommodations."
Susi urges parents to begin role-playing such discussions while their children are still in high school. The parent can act as a learning disabilities officer, a college professor, or a classmate, while the son or daughter practices advocating for his or her needs.
The ultimate decision-maker
Parents can do a lot to empower their child to succeed in college. In the end, however, it's the student's own behavior that determines whether he succeeds.
This fall, John Muscarello returns to York College, confident that he is on track toward his degree. And David Burkhart, having earned his bachelor's degree, is heading back to Auburn to study public policy - the next step toward his goal of becoming a college professor. "I've learned that I have to create my own structure," he says. "My natural state is complete and total chaos. My life is about trying to overcome that."