Overview of upcoming Ready for Take-Off Conference
by Theresa Maitland

At the end of every summer, a ritual is reenacted across the country. Excited and anxious parents, and their equally excited and apprehensive sons and daughters, take the first step in a journey toward the future. They pack up cars and vans loaded with their teen’s possessions and bursting with hopes and dreams and deliver their teenagers to college. After unloading the car and saying goodbye, the teens and their parents face one of the most difficult stages in life for which both groups are typically unprepared: the teenager’s first solo flight into the new world of college.

What most of these families and teens do not know is that at some time in the future they may be making a very different trip back home from college. There is a strong possibility that their beloved teen will encounter some turbulence and even unexpected storms that could cause this first solo flight to get off course, to take longer or to eventually be aborted. National statistics on college graduation rates suggest that 4-5 (or 40-50%) out of every 10 freshman who start college may not graduate or still be enrolled 5 years later. For some teens, the odds are even higher that they will experience transition challenges and not finish college. Freshmen with emotional, attention and/or learning disabilities may graduate at an even lower rate (11% to 20% lower than those without these disabilities). Why do some many bright teens without unique learning differences struggle to adjust or graduate from college? What leads to the many challenges faced by bright, young and well prepared teens with ADHD/LD?

This conference will shed light on the reasons for the epidemic of college transition difficulties experienced by our youth. The differences between high school and college will be detailed with a special emphasis on how these differences impact teens diagnosed with ADHD/LD.  This workshop will share what is known in the literature about the common challenges teens with ADHD/LD tend to encounter during their college adjustment.   Factors related to teens with these differences will be discussed as well as some of the common non-productive patterns that adults can adopt that may add to the lack of college readiness.   The workshop will provide an overview of the legal mandates colleges follow for providing services and accommodations to students with disabilities and how these differ from those governing the world of K-12.  

The presentation will draw from the growing literature on college transition with the goal of helping participants make a specific plan to better prepare the teens with ADHD/LD in their lives for college.  In depth information will be shared about coaching as an intervention that is designed to empower individuals. A coaching approach may have a unique ability to promote the executive functioning and self-determination skills that are thought to be at the root of the problems of teens with ADHD/LD.  In addition the workshop will review key college readiness skills; strategies for assessing these as well how professionals and parents can develop strategic and personalized college readiness programs for college bound teens with ADHD/LD.

Throughout the conference participants will be given opportunities to discuss and apply the information presented in the workshop to teens in their own lives.

Additionally, the presentation will discuss strategies for selecting a post-secondary experience that is matched to the readiness of a teen with ADHD/LD as well as things to do during the summer and fall of a teen's first year in a college setting.