July 25, 2018 at 10:27 am #89308
My 17 year old son is about to start his junior year. I am dreading the arguing that comes over doing his work and keeping up with assignments. He has come very close to failing due to zeros and missing work. He has not ever followed through on writing down assignments. I would love suggestions on how to get a 17 year old to atleast write things down and do his work. Thanks for any help!!
July 25, 2018 at 3:25 pm #89356
To get the best advice, you may need to provide more information. What has been done to address this problem so far? Does he have a diagnoses of ADHD? If so, are there co-existing conditions along with that? Or something else altogether?
Step number one is always to find out any underlying medical conditions, like ADHD, that contribute to the problem then work to find a treatment plan that works. From there it becomes possible to apply various therapeutic techniques to improve interest, motivation, and focus on school work.
In short, give us a little history and context.
July 25, 2018 at 8:30 pm #89404
Instead of trying to figure out how to get him to fit the neurotyical expectation — which will always fail, because he’s not neurotypical — ask yourself (and him) how can you meet the goal through tools, strategies and accommodations. Executive functioning deficits common with ADHD mean he won’t think to write things down and get it done effectively and in the short time often allowed. So, instead, find what will help him get assignments done and turned in.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
July 25, 2018 at 9:11 pm #89412
Hi! Thanks for the replies. He is diagnosed with adha and some odd. He has a pretty good IEP wth accomodations and teachers have tried numerous strategies, along with ourselves, and nothing has worked as far as gettimg him to take the time to keep up with writing assignments, nor turning them in on time. When he was younger we could enforce him using his agenda by the teacher checking it off then us confirming it at home. Now that he is in 11th grade he cannot personally go to each teacher and have them check his assignment book. He does not choose to take the 2 seconds to pull out his notebook and write stuff down. Is it something should let go and let him suffer the consequences with zeros? He knows he can skimp by because per his iep, he gets ample time to turn in things late so he doesnt even care to keep up. He doesnt spend probably 15 minutes on hw and always says he already studied and has no work. This is clearly lies when we find 6 zeros. It is all becoming such a battleground and making us all miserable. When we “force” him to write assignments, btw, we found out he was just writing things – randomly- to look like assignments. So i guess i am asking… should we not push anymore on finding a way to make him write things down at the least?? How involved should we ne st this point…
July 27, 2018 at 3:36 pm #89596
He wants to succeed, but his brain just doesn’t work the same as for neurotypical people. He isn’t “choosing” not to write down assignments. It is so much more than a short and easy process when you have executive functioning deficits. Natural consequences and punishments won’t help — they don’t change the physiology of the brain.
Would life be easier if he could just write down assignments and get them turned in. ABSOLUTELY! (Believe me, I know all too well — my son’s executive functioning is almost non-existent!) But it’s just not realistic on his own or by punishing, because it’s his brain.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
July 26, 2018 at 9:17 am #89421
Sounds like his treatment plan is not working well. Has this always been the case? That is, have you had success in the past in treating his AHDD/ODD? Do you have a medical professional who really understands ADHD and keeps up-to-date with research?
In the end, 11th grade is a point where he’ll need to at least have a desire to do well in school for any treatment to be effective. If that desire is not there, trying to force it will only makes things worse.
If it makes you feel any better, I quit high school in 10th grade. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I realized my options would expand with an education. Then, my ADHD hyper-focus kicked in, I got my GED and went to college. I really think if I had been forced to stay in school, I never would have wanted to go to college.
August 6, 2018 at 1:17 pm #90377
I totally feel your frustration.
My 16 year old daughter would still not have executive function skills to write down assignments. She is turning 17 this month.
We fear that she will not have any skills to take care of herself as she moves into adulthood
Tested for 3rd time found ADHDi, 95% reading, significant below average processing. She has a few ocd behaviors picking scalp and excessive nail biting. Very anxious. Conor is condions piles ontop of ADHDi. Need to Rx other stuff
August 6, 2018 at 2:07 pm #90384
One of my first lessons dealing with my son’s late diagnosis (in high school) was just because it worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for him. Stop trying to get him to write it down. My son takes a photo of the assignment board for all his classes. It’s in his 504 but most teachers allow it for all kids because it’s just the way the world works now. I know meds aren’t for everyone, but once my son started his meds he went from D’s and F’s to eventually straight A’s. He’s engaged in school now, no longer missing the majority of what’s being said during class, better able to retain the information, and even maximizes his study hall and lunch time to get homework completed so there’s less to do a night, especially as meds wear off. The biggest difference is in his self-esteem. He no longer feels “stupid” and finally his grades reflect his intelligence. But it’s not just about the grades, he’s building better relationships with his teachers and classmates because he is able to function at school and feel good about himself. He’s even starting to self-advocate. ADHD and EF challenges are no fun. But with the tools, accommodations and meds your child can find success and feel good. There’s a lot of trial and error involved. Good luck!
August 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm #90403
Honestly, I would say Stop trying to get him to write assignments down. I was recently in school, And I can say, even if I had been able to write things down they wouldn’t have gotten done anyway. I have only just been diagnosed with ADHD and it makes my life make so much more sense. Especially the issues I had in school. I agree with the person above, I found taking a picture of the board to be the most helpful. remembering to use your phone may be easier for him than having to remember to write something down.
Maybe it I’d had medicine school would have been easier. But trying to force someone who is Neurodyvergent to act like someone who is Neurotypical isn’t the way to go. All that’s going to do is make him feel more stupid, and ingrain ideas in his head of who he is, because he can’t do X,Y, Z. i would try to find ways around it, See if he’ll be able to take a picture. Maybe a friend can email him the assignments. Or the teacher can hand him a written(typed)copy of the assignments for the week. It’s more about finding way’s around it that he can handle, than trying to force him to do things he just can’t.
August 6, 2018 at 5:51 pm #90423
My daughter has the same issue. She would say she didn’t have homework even when she did, or she’d say she turned it in when she didn’t.
Something that worked for a while with her was that once she had a missed assignment in a class, she had to start having that teacher sign a sheet (which I provided) on Fridays that indicated whether or not she still had missing work. If she had missing work on a Friday or she didn’t get a signature, she didn’t get to go anywhere that weekend and we gave her plenty of electronics-free time to get it done (even if she finished the assignment Friday night, she still couldn’t go anywhere the rest of the weekend). We only did this the last couple months of school last year, but it definitely made a difference and we plan on using that this year as well. We will probably start fresh each semester or quarter (not requiring signatures unless/until she misses an assignment)
Our daughter’s school is also very chromebook oriented, so teachers enter assignments & tests online. So for a while after she misses an assignment, we’ll sit with her each night to go through each class’s web page. After a couple weeks of checking nightly with her, we’ll pull back and let her check assignments on her own, but if she misses one, we start checking with her every night again (which she doesn’t like). She will continue to check on her own for at least several weeks after we are done checking with her, so I know it’s working – just need to aim for longer time frames. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other solutions people have come up with too.
August 6, 2018 at 7:34 pm #90432
Are the teachers unwilling to spam the assignments? Or keep a Google calendar that students can check for deadlines?
Is there enough TIME to copy things off the board before the next class rushes everyone out of their seats?
I ended up in community college. And the teachers there ended up giving out green pages with the assignment requirements on them. Even with that, it’s best to take a picture and send it to himself or you.
At seventeen, your son might want some autonomy. Everyone is different, but I always wanted the doing of homework to be my own decision. A few minutes before I was about to get up and start, one of my parents would come in and order me to do homework — as if I wouldn’t do it unless she commanded it. As a teen, I didn’t know how to squash down my emotional reaction to this — so I would delay yet another hour. But that was me. Your son’s case might be totally something else.
Faking work is a bad sign though. It seems like he’s just trying to avoid fights with you, instead of trying to get the work done.
Can he focus when reading? At that age, I couldn’t. Maybe because my brain hadn’t grown that ability yet, maybe because I was depressed, I don’t know. What I do know is I would force myself to read paragraphs over and over and still not remember anything. A lot of my tests were passed because I remembered the information from the lectures. Some courses were failed.
Can he try reading aloud to you or a tutor? And decipher the content as a team?
Does he have trouble starting the work? A checklist might help. For example: label the page with name, date, subject, teacher, due-date, etc. And then steps for doing the actual work. Whenever I make muffins, I always start with weighing the sugar. And then check the recipe repeatedly until I’m done.
Finally, could your son scan his finished work an either send it to the teacher immediately or let you print and pack it for him? Losing papers and finding keys in the fridge seems to be a thing for us. I think the founder of either Kinko’s or FedEx has ADHD too.
August 6, 2018 at 8:45 pm #90436
My daughter is in her final year also and was diagnosed with ADD when she was 6. I’m probably a very bad mother but I sat down and helped her with her major work for HCS. We’re in Australia. She was getting high anxiety and stressed to the max but wanted to do the HSC and so I have supported her, done large portions of the assignments and got her a job to start when she leaves school. I’ve told her many times that I’d rather her be emotionally intelligent than academic and she is. She will be able to go to work and be happy. She may not become the CEO of a multi national corporation but she will be happy. Sorry, that may not be what you want to hear but lots of love is the best for all. By the way, he’s also 17…
August 6, 2018 at 9:23 pm #90437
My daughter is entering her senior year. She is autistic and has ADHD. She is also an advanced placement student. She takes a picture on her phone of the assignments instead of writing them down. (Her ILC Team made sure that her teachers understood how important this was) It was actually kind of a turning point her her. Being able to use her phone photos as her agenda really took the guesswork out of homework time. Once she found how well that tool worked, and saw how much better it made her life, she was excited to find others.
August 7, 2018 at 3:39 pm #90537
I would contact his school counselor and have a meeting regarding a ‘real kufe’ consequence should he not get at least all c’s. I would ask them to hold him back in any class in which he does not get a c or above. If they agree then have him meet with any school official plus any parent involved with his academics ( Mom, dad, grandparent etc) and state to him that we al all very proud of him in his academic accomplishments and we know that having add is challenging but the fact that he ….. state something positive that he does such as pack his backpack the night before school or lays his clothes out the night before- anything no matter how small…. and this year keeping track of homework, studying for tests etc. will be up to him. Any class in which you receive a c- or below you will need to repeat it over summer at your expense (some schools charge for it) or repeat it the next year. And remind him that he has all learned all the skills in order to succeed dnd I know you will do your best to succeed. Remind him you love him and haveceach personattending compliment him on one skill that he has learned over the past years. Such as his counselor may have seen him approach his math teTracher when wanting to learn when the next test will be or you may remind him of the time Benadryl his lunch tvenifht before so he would have more time that was less hurried in the morning. Kids like ours need to be reminded of their success as life reminds them often enough of their failures. If the school does not agree then maybe this agreement can be done with a therapist that he is seeing or a pastor or a trusted grandparent. My son only changes his negative behavior when something pretty catastrophic for him occurs. Which is dangerous and frightening as a parent. I have learned that the small lessons of getting kicked out of band and robotics due to his grades enabled him to put in place what he has learned in order for him to do what he wants. This was two years ago. He tried out for the band and robotics again the following year and he does whatever it takes to get the grades he needs to remain in those classes he lives. Good luck!
August 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm #90538
Sorry for the typos. Typing on my phone. Screen doesn’t show all the words… have each counselor or parent remind him of his success.. you may remind him of the times he packs his lunch at night enabling him to have a less hectic and more successful nori g. His grandparent may have noticed that when he takes the time to put away his clothes, it takes him less time in the morning to get dressed because he can easily find things. All these tasks are difficult and boring for those with ADD.
August 7, 2018 at 6:36 pm #90553
You mention “writing assignments.” Does that mean “handwritten” or “reports, essays, etc.?” Is your son experiencing writers’ block? You might want to search that topic in the ADDitude articles.
For studying, there’s an article about “make a practice test” that might help. Or someone could try discussing the information with him — the main ideas of each paragraph in a chapter, for example. The ADHD mind likes interesting and engaging activities. Sitting and reciting lists can be quite boring.
August 7, 2018 at 6:42 pm #90554
🙁 I am dreading my son returning to school as well. This is his senior year and he’s returning to public school because his dad refuses to pay anymore money for private schools; he’s gone to 2 different private schools. I’m thinking about trying an academic coach because I just can’t handle the stress during the year. His dad is ADHD, and has no sympathy for my son; they have a terrible relationship. I’m thinking a coach may be better for him so he will have to be accountable to the coach and not me. It’s cheaper than keeping him in private schools only to have him bring home C’s & D’s. A lot of these teachers are just not trained to deal with kids with ADHD & LD’s; they still think they can use a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Has anyone considered an academic coach and if so, how did it work out?
August 8, 2018 at 11:49 am #90411
@cdias… Have you thought about sending him to a different school? One that specializes in teaching kids with learning differences? My son struggled with public high school his freshman and sophomore years. Even with accommodations, he was lost. My wife and I finally decided to send him to a boarding school in northern Michigan called The Leelanau School. It was life-changing for him…and us! I wrote about the school in my blog, in case you’re interested in reading more about it: The Greatest High School on Earth
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