Sleepy Students at Risk for College Failure

Attention in College Students | The Being Well CenterWhen we think about ADD/ADHD in a college student, we can easily imagine how impulsivity, distractibility, short attention span, problems with following through with directions, poor organizational skills, weak task/time management and procrastination, can wreak havoc on her success.

What may not come to mind, however, is one of the most common attentional weaknesses that contribute to college failure – low arousal level.

So what is Low Arousal level anyway?

Well, at a very basic level, we must maintain a certain level of alertness in order to pay attention and regulate our behavior.  Arousal level refers to how awake and alert we are at any point in time.  

Based upon our clinical experience with thousands of patients, we have found that many individuals with ADD/ADHD have a low arousal level; they are not alert and sufficiently awake to pay optimal attention.

This statement can be confusing to some people who presume that because some individuals with ADD/ADHD are “hyperactive” that they are hyperaroused when, in reality, the opposite is probably true!

The Low Arousal Student Profile

A student with low arousal level can demonstrate a wide range of behaviors.  She may become fatigued during mundane activities (like listening to lecture or completing a 60-page reading assignment), yawn excessively, have a glazed look in her eyes, or actually fall asleep at her desk.

Commonly, ADD/ADHD students blame these behaviors on the task, the subject matter or the professor . . . “too boring.”

Can Low Arousal Look Like Hyperactivity?

On the other hand, some ADD/ADHD students who are under-aroused demonstrate “hyperactivity” ranging from leg bouncing, wiggling in the chair, fidgeting, aimlessly playing with materials, and stretching or actually getting out of their seat and wandering around.

Our clinical experience suggests that these “hyperactive behaviors” are actually unconscious attempts by the ADD/ADHD student to self-stimulate herself in order to increase or sustain her arousal in a learning (or should we say “boring”) situation.

Underlying Conditions Can Magnify Low Arousal

Other conditions or co-morbidities can magnify an ADD/ADHD student’s struggle with alertness or arousal including sleep deprivation, obstructive sleep apnea, iron deficiency anemia, poor nutritional habits (like skipping meals, pigging out, or self medicating with carbohydrates), depression and certain temperamental extremes (such as low frustration tolerance or short persistence) to name a few.  All of these conditions are very common in students with ADD/ADHD.  Sometimes these conditions even mimic ADD/ADHD in students who don’t have the diagnosis.

Medication Can Fix Low Arousal

Commonly, low arousal can signal the possible need for medication treatment in a student with ADD/ADHD.

In those students already taking medication, it can indicate the need to refine the dosage level (generally it means there is a need for more) or dosage regimen (adding medication dosage(s) to provide all-day coverage into the evening when most students study and read those “boring” text books!)

Healthy Daily Routines Can Fix Low Arousal

At the very least, the tendency toward low arousal suggests the need to establish and maintain healthy daily routines for sleeping, eating, exercise and relaxation.

It should be obvious that unmanaged low arousal can be a major risk factor for college failure.  Dealing with it means getting a comprehensive evaluation to determine all the possible contributors and then developing a targeted, individual treatment plan to address each contributing factor.  That’s what we do at the BWC!  Contact us today so we can help your child “wake up” and start experiencing the success he or she is capable of!

If any of this resonated with you, take the next step to pinpoint if Low Arousal is throwing roadblocks in your path to college success.  Click here to download our Confidence@College success screeners for a quick, easy, and free quiz.

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Why Problems with Writing Spell Problems at College

Why Problems with Writing Spell Problems at College | The Being Well Center

The second part in our series looking at The Whole You to identify risk factors for college success.

Depending upon the student’s major, the average college student writes about 15 papers a year.  This doesn’t count journal entries, logs, and other short written assignments professors use to ensure completion of readings or to track progress on major group projects.  And, don’t forget those mid-term or final exam Bluebooks with their “Compare and Contrast . . . “, “Apply the theory of . . .”, or “Give a contemporary example of . . . and elaborate” essays!

It is unclear how it has happened but we do know that it is multifactorial…our kids are not learning how to write!

Problem: Kids Don’t Know the Writing Process

Few of the students who enter our Confidence@College Program have been taught (or retained) a systematic process to apply when completing written assignments like: “brainstorm, outline, write a rough draft, edit, and complete a final copy.”  More commonly, they sit down at the computer at the 11th hour and just begin typing away and insist that it works for them until they flunk their third college essay.

(After the first one, they blame the professor; after the second one, they say they did not have enough time; by the third, the reality of their weakness sets in.)

Problem: Kids Don’t Feel Independent or Empowered to Write

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Too often, we find that many students have become overly dependent upon teachers, tutors, parents, or fellow students to help them generate ideas, and then plan, organize, research, structure and complete a paper.

In fact, many parents admit to us that they have actually written some of their child’s papers in high school, obsessively edited them, or “put the finishing touches on them” at the keyboard while their child slept on the couch.  Hardly ways to prepare for the rigors of college!

This is a huge problem as being able to write a coherent, well-organized paper is a prerequisite to success at college.

Problem: Strong Temperaments Get in the Way

Weakness in this area becomes magnified when students also have temperamental extremes and attentional weaknesses which can contribute to poor time/task management, procrastination, low frustration tolerance, poor stress management, poor self-monitoring (not learning from mistakes) and weak self-advocacy skills that interfere with asking for and taking advantage of help.

Problem: Poor Writing is a Slippery Slope toward Life Struggles

Often, problems at writing papers is a stepping off point for kids getting behind the 8-ball at college.  It has a cascading effect impacting their ability to cope with and manage the whole college experience.

Some difficulty in learning how to be a good writer is to be expected; but in the end, mastery of this skill can be a key to success in life after college:  filling out job applications, composing emails and letters, developing proposals, submitting bids, completing sales reports, developing marketing materials, and answering a customer’s complaints are all places where strong writing skills are necessary in the workplace.

Employers tell us that poor writing skills are common in new hires and are a major barrier to effectively collaborating with co-workers and being considered for advancement opportunities.

Solution: Find a College Success Program

Confidence@College | The Being Well Center

Confidence@College | A College Success Support Program from The Being Well Center

If your child has rough edges in his/her writing skills, reach out to our Confidence@College Program to identify the contributors and come up with a plan to remediate, refine, and produce high quality written products.

Solution: Identify (and Address) Risk Areas Early in College Career

To accomplish this, take a few minutes to answer a quick Confidence@College “Is My Kid Ready for College?” checklist to see if there are aspects of your child’s TRANSACT Profile that place him/her at risk for college failure.   The checklist is free to use and share and has helped so many parents pinpoint areas of concern to address before and during college.  Knowing the potential problems can turn your child onto the path of success!  Check out the “Is My Kid Ready for College?” checklist now!

We also urge you to contact us and set up a Discovery Session at The Being Well Center so we can start moving things along a path to success.

How Confidence@College Can Help You!

Success for the Excessively Shy College Student

Risks for the Shy College Student | The Being Well CenterTemperament: The excessively shy, “slow-to-warm-up” college student

Most of us as parents worry about our kids taking too many risks when they head off to college.  With greater opportunity and with parental supervision gone, will they drink too much, say “yes” when a joint is passed around the room, try cocaine, engage in unprotected sex with someone they barely know?

On college campuses today, the opportunity to make such risky choices is certainly there particularly for the highly approachable, the overly outgoing, the seemingly self-assured or the highly impulsive student with ADHD.

Daunting Challenges for the Shy College Student

However, for those students who are temperamentally at the opposite end of the approach-withdrawal continuum, college can present challenges that are just as daunting.

Just think about the number of new things and people they have to face and find some way to “warm up to”: a roommate with different routines and customs, a different bed, sharing a shower and toilet with others, using a laundromat, different foods prepared in different ways, an arrogant professor, a large lecture hall, too much information to learn no matter how hard you study, classes scattered across a large campus, dealing with others who are drunk or high, a schedule that changes every day the lack of solitude, different kids in every class, and meeting new people who are different geographically, ethnically, racially, religiously and in their sexual orientation are but a few of the more common “new things” that all students encounter on campuses all across the country.

For some “slow-to-warm-up” individuals, it’s just a matter of time before they finally settle in and adjust . . . maybe after a few days or a couple of weeks. During this time their stomachs might flip a few more times, their mouths might be a bit drier, or their palms a bit sweatier.

Parents of these individuals can rest assured that they’ll also be taking a giant step backward from some of the other more scary new things that they will encounter on campus . . . at least initially.

When Shyness turns to Anxiety

However, for more extreme “slow-to-warm-up” individuals, the sudden newness on multiple fronts at college can be overwhelming and downright devastating.

Shyness can progress to social anxiety and extreme isolation.  Novel courses, new concepts, new ways of doing the familiar, unusual and confusing directions, one new thing after another, all can precipitate panic.  The thought of going to a professor, teaching assistant or someone down the hall who has the same class to ask for help is simply out of the question!  Unfortunately, since one day’s work builds on the previous day, it’s easy for them to quickly get behind the 8-ball with nowhere to turn.

Many respond by withdrawing even further . . . shutting it down and going to bed well before their roommate.  Out of sight out of mind.  Sleeping in and missing class.  Hanging out in their room eating junk food while obsessively playing video games or watching TV.  Lying to themselves (and you) about how it’s really going.

Helping Shy Students Toward Success

There’s actually lots that can be done to help the “slow-to-warm-up” student adjust to and succeed at college.

However, they first must recognize and accept this part of their nature.

We can’t change a student’s basic temperament, but we can help them identify where it places them at risk and then brainstorm ways to mange, cope and work around this potential barrier.

The first step is to take the appropriate Confidence@College screener to see if there are aspects of your child’s temperament that place him/her at risk for college failure.  If so, contact us so we can help start moving things along a path to success.

How to Ensure College Success

ADD ADHD structure teacher parentCollege Savings Going Down the Drain?

Tired of nagging your college student throughout the semester and then having your worst fears realized when grades come out?

Have that pit-in-your-stomach feel when you read the academic probation letter?

Staying awake at night worried about what happens to all those years of careful college savings if your student drops out, or worse, flunks out?

You’re not alone.

25% of college students won’t return to school after their freshman year.  Even scarier, 46% of college students today will not graduate in six years, according to The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.  Not exactly the picture most of us are planning as we set aside funds each month for the college savings account.

As parents, we worry about the money invested in a student’s education, sure.  But even more worrisome is the picture we’re forced to consider if our student is struggling (and failing) to meet the academic and social challenges at college.

While colleges and universities are making strides in increasing retention rates and offering support for special needs students, the honest truth is that, for most at-risk students, the efforts just aren’t enough to make a difference in their success toward graduation.

What happens to the college drop outs?

If your student fails after four or six years of struggling at college, what will his/her future look like?

At The Being Well Center, we’ve helped guide students from an uncertain future to a self-assured, confident success.  We’ve seen a pronounced increase in college students seeking personalized success plans for navigating the challenges of higher education.  These are students who want to picture a cap and gown in their future.  These are parents who want to protect their financial and familial investments.  These are families who are admitting they can’t face one more battle over getting to class on time or turning in term papers or failing tests or making poor decisions to party away the week.

81% of students enrolled in the Being Well Center’s Confidence@College program are on track to graduate; many in four years rather than six, which has now become the norm.  The confidence boost in these student’s lives has been marked.  The relaxed smiles on parents during consultation sessions say it all: college success can be achievable for ADD and ADHD students, as well as, those with learning, language or emotional differences.

But many times, success needs a partner.  A partner that can teach self-advocacy skills and be there to catch your student when a stumble happens.  A partner to be by your side as you cheer from the stands on graduation day.  The Being Well Center has designed Confidence@College to be that good roommate in your student’s college life.

The Whole You for College Success | The Being Well CenterWhat Works for College Success: We get to know the Whole Person first.

In our Confidence@College program, we always start by looking at The Whole Person first.  We accomplish this by surveying the individual’s TRANSACT Profile either through a screening tool or more extensive questionnaire.  TRANSACT is an acronym we use to summarize the key factors within the individual and his/her environment that interact with each to lead to success or failure.

This is the first in a series of 8 blogs that are presented to illustrate how unique aspects of a student’s TRANSACT Profile can serve as barriers to success at college.  We have selected one example for each of the TRANSACT factors.  We have tried to pick examples that might not be obvious at first blush but help illustrate the importance of systematically looking at The Whole Person when trying to identify at-risk students or figuring out why things went wrong.  Our screeners and questionnaires take a comprehensive look at all the possible contributors for each TRANSACT factor.

Get started with our first screener today.  We’re sharing our clinical questionnaire, “Am I Ready for College.”  It’s free to download, so don’t waste another minute!  Share it with all your friends–our questionnaire can help anyone.  Call us today to find out more about how Confidence@College can help you: 724.443.4120

 

Temperament: Success is in Understanding the Mix

image via Flickr by Davidlore Bueso

image via Flickr by Davidlore Bueso

Each of our temperamental traits is important and plays a significant role in shaping who we are, how we behave, and how we experience and respond to the world around us.

While we have defined and discussed these traits individually, it is important to remember that in the real world these traits do not exist in isolation; they interact with each other to influence our behavior in a complex way.

Subtle differences in temperamental profiles can result in dramatic differences in how they present themselves in our homes and classrooms.

Temperament Profile 1: Jackson

For example, let’s consider Jackson, a child with a negative mood, long persistence, slow adaptability, low frustration tolerance, and high intensity of reaction.  He may be very difficult to work with when this set of characteristics interact with each other to result in frequent, very big negative reactions that last a long time in response to the inevitable changes and challenges that occur every day in the classroom.

Temperament Profile 2: Sam

On the other hand, take Sam, a different child with a very similar profile including a negative mood, long persistence, slow adaptability, low frustration tolerance, but a low intensity of reaction may be much less difficult to work with. This is because his low intensity of reaction means his frequent, negative reactions to the changes and challenges in the classroom will be milder and, even if they do persist, their small magnitude may not register on anyone’s radar.

Therefore, as we examine a child’s temperamental profile, it is important to look closely at each trait separately and then consider how each of these individual traits may interact with the others to shape the behavior and personality we are observing.

Let’s reflect and review.  Where are you, or where is your child, on the spectrum of these temperament traits?

Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUse our Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet to map it all out clearly.


Call The Being Well Center today for help understanding the mix of every part of your child! 724-433-4120

Understanding Temperament: Persistence

image via Flickr by Petr Dosek

image via Flickr by Petr Dosek

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding PERSISTENCE

Persistence refers to how long we stick with tasks regardless of their difficulty, ranging from very long to very short.

Some of us are highly persistent even in the face of tremendous difficulty; we keep going and going and going.

Others of us spend only a short time on a challenging task before giving up and moving on to something else.

The child with long persistence resists giving up and will practice a task repeatedly until he has mastered it. This same child may struggle to stop an activity when it is time to move on if he has not yet mastered or completed it.

The child with short persistence may stop practice before mastery, struggle to stick with longer, more complex tasks, and be ready to put down a challenging book long before the last page.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableDownload our Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicityToleranceIntensityMood, Approach-Withdrawal, and Adaptability.


Follow us on Facebook to join a community of people interested in getting the facts straight with compassionate support for ADD/ADHD!

Understanding Temperament: Adaptability

image via Flickr by David D

image via Flickr by David D

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding ADAPTABILITY

Adaptability refers to the amount of time and effort it takes to adapt or accommodate to a new person, situation, or concept after our initial approach or withdrawal response.

This can range from easy (highly adaptable) to very slow (non-adaptable). Those of us who are highly adaptable easily integrate new routines, expectations, and concepts into our life.

Those of us who are slow to adapt struggle tremendously with these same changes. In the classroom, the child who is highly adaptable readily goes with the flow regardless of the changes in his day, such as routines, class structures, and rules.

The child who is slow to adapt may require an extended time to get into the flow at the beginning of each school year, struggle with changing expectations, buck new rules, and resist changes in routines. This same child may seem slow to understand and integrate new concepts that are presented even when they are in sync with his ability level.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUpcoming blog posts will discuss the other 9 Temperamental Traits that make you and your child unique.  Follow along with this Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicityToleranceIntensity, and Mood.


Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and join a community of people interested in getting the facts straight with compassionate support for ADD/ADHD!