Reply To: High School Freshman Refusing to do Schoolwork

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We went through the same agonizing tug of war with our daughter starting in about 8th grade — how can you be so bright and have such lousy grades??? Why don’t you do your homework? Why are you so angry?
Then, at age 53, I was diagnosed with ADD. My daughter’s psychiatrist/therapist later referred her for some really top notch testing by a private company. Turns out that my brilliant little girl is about as ADD as it gets. Now the frustration and hurt have a name. In the process, I was flooded with understanding about my own life experiences and self image. I’m still sorting that out.
My experience so far is that how well we live with ADD depends largely on how we view it. If I view it as a “learning disability” then all sorts of negative feelings wash over me (rightly or wrongly). When I view it as the weeds I have to mow through to get to the good stuff (accomplishment and understanding), it’s a lot easier. And everyone, absolutely everyone, has weeds of one kind or another that they have to mow through.
I also have to break things down into tiny bites. I am learning to listen to my inner voice and when I feel overwhelmed, that’s my signal to break it into pieces. (I used to just cut and run!) And I’m learning to get creative with how I break it down.
Maybe your daughter could focus on one class that she is really interested in and start experimenting with different techniques to see what works with her unique kind of brilliance. Maybe you could look for a reputable private company that tests for learning differences and take that to your 504 coordinator. Are any of the counselors or teachers in her school ADD? My daughter’s counselor (we later found out) was diagnosed as an adult. He gets it.
I am so grateful that my daughter knows now at age 16 that she has this challenge. I went for years being told I was lazy, selfish, self-centered, inept and just a general screw-up. Those labels came from my own voice, in addition to that of others. Now I know that’s not true. I also understand that some things are never going to be strong points for me and that’s okay. At the end of the day, I’m a very good trial lawyer with people around me who support me and some killer hyperfocus when my case is called to trial. 🙂