Gadgets for College-Bound ADHD Teens

Q:

"Should we buy our son a computer for college? He tends to use the computer for chatting, Web surfing, and so on, so we’re worried that having a computer in his dorm room will mean he gets less, not more, schoolwork done."

A:

While I understand your concern, today’s college students must remain “connected.” Professors post syllabi, assignments, notes, slide- shows, and grades online, and frequently e-mail critical information just before class. A computer may also be essential for class registration and other tasks that ADHD students tend to remember only at the last moment. While most schools have computer labs, few provide round-the-clock access.

A laptop, in particular, might help. Your son could take it to class to type notes, bring it to study group sessions, or find another study venue when the dorm room becomes too loud.

How can you keep the computer from becoming a distraction? Work with your son to devise systems that will keep him accountable. Have him place a large clock near or on top of his monitor. The TimeTimer (timetimer.com) is a great choice—a red pie piece wanes as time goes by, letting him see how much time has passed. In addition to desk clocks, the company offers software that displays a timer in a computer window, on his screen. Or try ADD Planner scheduling software (addplanner.com), which will periodically flash reminders like, “Are you staying on track?” on his screen. Finally, suggest that he turn off his chat program, or even unplug his Internet cable, when writing a paper.

Michael Sandler is an ADHD coach in Boulder, Colorado, and the author of College Confidence with ADD (Sourcebooks, 2008). He is founder of The Creative Learning Institute, a national center for coaching students with ADHD and learning disabilities. Michael has been interviewed by both national and international media outlets, including NPR, BBC, and CNN, and has spoken before the U.S House and Senate about psychological health and ADHD awareness.

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