Reply To: Teaching How to Remember?


As a young adult who has been living with ADD and taking medication since age 9, I can say that you can never really be “taught” how to remember. That being said, I also successfully graduated high school, graduated college Magna Cum Laude, and have successfully applied to graduate school. I suppose part of this is because I’m not unintelligent, nor does your son seem unintelligent, but a large part of it is because of the planning and organization system that I put in place and stuck to religiously. I have a color coordinated organization system that I began using in middle school and still use today. For example, the color for my English class was purple. That meant that the binder was purple, the folder was purple, the spiral notebook was purple, and the pen that I used to write my English assignments in my planner was purple. Every class had a color; English was always purple, math was always blue, history was always pink, elective 1 was always green, and elective 2 was always orange. I used this system from middle school through college, and will use it in grad school. I wasn’t always comfortable with telling my parents about my assignments because I wanted to be able to function with severe ADD on my own, but when I had a really important assignment I would send a picture of the assignment that I had written down in my planner to my mom; even if she didn’t look at the picture closely she knew to remind me that I had an important assignment. At the end of each school day I would look at my planner and rather than having to read the assignments I could just see which colors I had written down and I would know which binders, folders, notebooks, etc. I had to put in my backpack. I was lucky, and the schools that I went to provided two sets of text books so that I didn’t have to remember to take a book home, but if your son has to then I would suggest coordinating the book covers as well. Even the insides of my notebooks and folders have to be organized; work to be completed or written instructions for an assignment would go in the right pocket and once it was completed it would be put in the left pocket. I had very severe ADD when I was younger, and even though it’s not as severe now, it will follow me through life so my system has to be quite rigid. Your son may not need an organization system quite as expansive as mine, but in my experience organization is key. When I had low grades in school it wasn’t because I was getting the work wrong, but because I was forgetting to turn the work in. He needs to find an organization system that works for him and that he can be consistent with. Every child and every case is different, but once I found what worked for me school got so much less stressful and I could focus on succeeding rather than just surviving.