Off to College! Another Success Story from a Reader

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smart pen for adhdAs always, we’re grateful to parents and students who share their stories and hints. And – as always – we’re protecting the privacy of this mom and daughter by changing names.

Our ADHD-I student is heading off to college in August. We attended orientation and each of us was overwhelmed by all the information coming at us. At the end of the first day, I immediately began organizing all the paperwork in a 5” 3-ring binder! I made exhaustive notes on what to accomplish the next day. Armed with my notebook and ready to go by 6:00 am the next day, my husband and I met up with Selina at lunch. (Students were housed on campus in the dorms!) Selina took one look at my binder and said, “You two need to go on your own now….you are getting in my way!”

It was a bitter-sweet moment…..had my daughter just been disrespectful to me?…..but didn’t she just show her new-found independence?! I chose to focus on the latter and did as she wished. I stopped carrying around the huge “manual” I was building and relaxed. I actually enjoyed the rest of the sessions. I found that I was listening to the fun stories the seasoned college students were sharing with all the parents more than I was trying to write down all the possible mishaps we needed to help Selina avoid when she was away from home. The words “you are getting in my way” are the words I have been wanting to hear for a long time!

Tips We’ve Learned For ADHD kids going away to college:

  • Bring home two identical maps of the college campus. If your child is attending a large university, navigating the campus can be daunting. Selina struggled with finding her way around, so she made sure to always be with someone who knew where they were going. When we got home from orientation, I glued the campus map to a heavy piece of cardboard. Then I cut it up into puzzle pieces. Our daughter is an avid puzzler, so this new campus puzzle is the perfect way for her to become familiar with the campus before she has to be on it!
  • If you would like your child to have accommodations in college similar to a 504 or IEP, the college may require a full psychological evaluation (testing) done within the three years prior to entering college. I didn’t know this until we attended orientation this summer. Now we are scrambling to find an appointment soon enough to get all the results in and sent to the college before the first week of school.
  • When we were talking with the college’s Student Services personnel, they suggested our student use a Smart Pen. I was not familiar with these, but there are many versions on the market. Basically, it is a pen that records while you are writing. If you missed something important because you were still writing down the last thought, you can relax because you have it recorded. Later, you don’t have to listen to the entire lecture again to catch what you missed but rather you point your pen to the section in your notebook where you missed the info and the pen will start the playback from that point. You do need special paper for the pen and there is a format to taking down the notes. My daughter wants to use this tool.
  • We just got home from shopping for dorm room items. The most difficult item to find was bedding. The patterns on the comforters/duvets were all too loud or busy (which would surely over-stimulate my daughter). We ended up buying a quilted blanket that will do the job just as well but not be so annoying!
  • We also made sure we got clear storage bins and other see-thru items to make her life easier.
About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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