ADHD Medication is Key to College Success

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

When students arrive on campus, the demands for efficient attention and self management skills (that is executive functioning) immediately soar . . . challenging academics, consistent study habits, maintenance of healthy daily routines for sleep, eating and exercise, money management, and more complex social decision making.

Meeting college demands is particularly challenging for students with ADD/ADHD and for the overwhelming majority of them, this means having the aid of a medication regimen that provides benefits throughout the whole day.

An all-day medication regimen is a key to college success

We’ve learned from our experience in our Confidence@College program that college is a bad time to try to “fly on my own” and go without medication treatment.

In fact, in our C@C patient population, we have found that acceptance of the need for medication and compliance with an appropriate all-day medication regimen is near the top of the list of factors that contribute our 81% success rate.

For some ADD/ADHD individuals who have been able to get by without medication in the past, entrance into college with its increased demands means having to seriously consider the use of medication for the first time.

For others who have been able to get by with a medication regimen geared to get them through the school day, it means revising their regimen to provide coverage into the evening hours.  And for others, it means committing to taking the medication 7 days a week!

Don’t let an improper use or lack of medication keep you or your student from success at college!

A specific, individualized success plan leads to college success

At The Being Well Center, patients who enroll in our Confidence@College program always start with a Discovery Session where we identify the key problem areas and survey the whole person so we can pinpoint the barriers to success and uncover strengths we can mobilize to meet these new challenges.

We then develop an individualized Success Plan.  When medication is a part of the success plan we conduct systematic medication trial testing using objective testing procedures to find the right medication and a treatment regimen that provides efficient attention throughout the waking day.

Before students arrive on campus we brainstorm with them and their parents how they are going to get their medication and how to securely store it.  We go over the logistics of when they will take the medication based upon their weekly schedule.  In addition, we review the dangers of diversion of the medication and make sure we have a mechanism in place to closely track the quantity of medication we provide them.

Follow-up support at school leads to college success

Once students are on campus, we use innovative technologies and support from our staff through our GuideU video counseling sessions to ensure the student complies with the medication regimen and maintains healthy daily routines, the foundation for a successful medication experience.  We identify signs of sub-therapeutic treatment and possible side effects quickly and our medical staff fine tunes the treatment regimen as needed.

We’re there to ensure success during the whole college experience not just in the classroom, library or study carrel.  We make sure our patients are aware of the importance of taking the medication during evening hours and weekends where social activities provide high risk challenges for un-medicated ADD/ADHD students.

Avoid “unmedicated” fun consequences

Impulsivity, poor self awareness, weak self monitoring and ineffective problem solving can lead to social decisions that can be disastrous . . . alcohol intoxication, substance abuse, unprotected sex leading to unplanned pregnancy or STD, or illegal activities.  One night of un-medicated “fun” can lead to expulsion from school and life-long consequences.

Compliance with the right medication regime leads to college success

If you’re at the top of your game, college can be an exciting and enriching experience intellectually, developmentally, and socially, and can provide you with what it takes to independently fulfill your dreams and aspirations through life.  Compliance with the right medication regimen helps this become a reality for students with ADD/ADHD!


Be confident with your child’s success at college . . . call us at the BWC and set up an appointment to participate in our Confidence@College program.  We’ll make sure your child has all the tools, including an optimal medication regimen if needed, to succeed at college.

Confidence@College | The Being Well Center

Is ADHD Behind “Freshman 15” Weight Gain?

ADHD and college weight gain | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, COD Newsroom

We’ve all heard about them… the dreaded “freshman 15!”   Good old dorm food where the only choices that taste good to you seem to be those with high fat and carbohydrate content.  A huge stash of of high calorie snacks only an arm’s reach away in your dorm room.  Late night delivery pizza or runs to the sub shop with your new found friends.  Beer!

It all adds up pretty quickly and many a parent has been shocked at semester break to see that their kid’s cheeks are a little bit fuller and their jeans a bit tighter.

Healthy eating is harder with ADHD

While most students face the challenge of avoiding the “freshman 15″, the task can be particularly daunting for the college student with ADHD. 

They struggle to get up and out of bed in the morning, often at the last minute, skipping breakfast and making it to class just in the nick of time.  Lunch can also be a catch as catch can experience…something always gets in the way… too little time between classes, last minute cramming for a test, frisbee with friends, flirting with that cute guy from English class.

The brain interprets these  day long fasts as starvation and in response it slows down the metabolic rate so that even if they eat the normal number of calories for dinner (which rarely happens) all the extra calories are sent to the fat cells to prepare for starvation again tomorrow.  This is how eating less can actually contribute to weight gain!

Students with ADHD notoriously make poor food choices

ADHD individuals notoriously make poor food choices, eat impulsively and fail to exert portion control, and choose high calorie drinks when they are thirsty. 

These unhealthy eating habits are even more likely to occur when Mom is no longer around to set limits and nag!

These concerns are magnified when the student moves out of the dorm and into an apartment.  Many don’t have much of an idea of how to prepare healthy meals so they don’t go grocery shopping with a meal plan in mind and instead rely on prepared food or frozen dinners that are often calorically dense!

Despite the best intentions, it’s hard to get to the fitness center for a workout and structured sports are gone for most.  Some colleges still mandate a physical education course or two for graduation but many don’t.  Free time is usually spent hanging out with friends playing video games and eating chips.

Food as a self-medicating coping strategy

As the stresses mount during the semester,  many ADHD students turn to food as a self medicating coping strategy to either enhance their focus or to reduce their anxiety or depression.  One candy bar may do the trick for 20 minutes but then there is the crash and a need to “dose up” again!

This is all laid on a backdrop of an increasing awareness we have that ADHD is a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic.

While it may seem counterintuitive, we now know that “hyperactive” kids are at high risk for being overweight as adults. 

Studies have shown that more than 40% of adults participating in weight management clinics have unrecognized or untreated ADHD!  In our experience, leaving home and heading off to college is the first step down the road to a lifetime struggle weight management.

A lifetime battle against obesity can begin at college

For many, the slow steady progression toward obesity and all its challenges and risks begins with the “freshmen 15″…we all know that once it’s on it’s really hard to get off!

It doesn’t have to be this way…with a comprehensive success plan including a structured schedule for study time, a healthy daily routine for eating, exercise, sleep, and relaxation, targeted accommodations, and compliance with a proper medication regimen along with ongoing support from an experienced professional, ADHD students can experience success in the classroom AND in the other spheres of life!

ADHD and Weight Gain at College | The Being Well Center


Worried that your child is struggling with weight issues and Attention Deficit Disorder?  We can help you find answers.  Call our office today (724.443.4120) to talk to someone who cares, or download our College Success Screener to take the first step in identifying college problems.

If you’re an adult with ADHD who can relate to these issues and struggles with weight management, there is help for you, too.  Contact the Being Well Center and ask about getting involved with our TRANSforming U Program.  Let us help you become a healthier U!

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.

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!

Understanding Temperament: Approach-Withdrawal

image via Flickr by Porsche Brousseau

image via Flickr by Porsche Brousseau

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 APPROACH-WITHDRAWAL

Approach-Withdrawal refers to our initial response to new persons, places, events, and ideas ranging from highly approach to highly withdrawal.

Those of us who are highly approach readily jump into attempting new tasks, meeting new people, and trying new foods.

Others of us who are highly withdrawal resist trying a new activity, avoid attending a party with strangers, and step back from a different kind of food.

The child who is highly approach will not hesitate to start a conversation with a new student or teacher, jump into new activities and embrace new concepts and academic challenges.

The child who is highly withdrawal may struggle with new students, avoid new playground activities, and step back from an unfamiliar concept in the classroom.


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 LevelRhythmicity, Tolerance, Intensity, 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!