Gadgets for College-Bound ADHD Teens


"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."


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 ( 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 (, 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 ADD coach in Boulder, Colorado, and the author of College Confidence with ADD (Sourcebooks, 2008).

In 2004, Michael embarked upon a journey to raise shades and bring light in to those with ADD. He'd felt he'd been sitting on the sidelines too long, watching others with ADD suffer unnecessarily, and those who could help trapped in myths, misunderstanding, and ignorance.

Having held numerous seminars and workshops while coaching others with ADD, Michael put everything aside to spread a positive message. He rode his bicycle 5000 miles across the country solo, in 40 days, talking to everyone, everywhere about the tremendous difficulties of a life with ADD, the gifts of ADD, and how to overcome adversity.

On the way he was featured in over 50 newspaper articles and over 20 television interviews. Upon arrival in Washington, DC via Portland, Oregon, he met with many prominent politicians. His message, "If I can complete such a journey, and succeed with ADD, then you can too... and here's how."

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