Monthly Archives: November 2019

ADHD: Ready or Not! Launching into Young Adulthood – CHADD Conference 2019

Recently we had the privilege of attending the 30th Annual CHADD Conference on November 8, 2019, in Philadelphia, PA. We heard so many terrific talks, some of which we will be discussing on this blog in the next couple of weeks.

One excellent session – ADHD: Ready or Not! Launching into Young Adulthood – featured Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, MS and Ruth H. Hughes, PhD who shared important insights into why students with ADHD have such difficulty as they enter into their college and adult years.  Parent surveys indicated that:

  • College was challenging – high rate of dropping out
  • Many students had co-occurring disorders
  • Difficulties with relationships, financial management
  • Shorter job tenures than normal
  • Both anxiety and depression appeared to be major factors in adult life.

On the positive side:

  • Job terminations were not more frequent than non-ADHD peers.
  • Given enough time and continued support – many ADHD young adults found successful careers.

Many students had a tough transition to adulthood but found their way to success.

Data presented on college and career paths indicated that:

  • 33% of all students drop out of college but 70-80% of those with ADHD drop out
  • College often a “revolving door” for ADHD
  • Only 3 in 10 parents guide child toward specialized or vocational training.
  • Only 10% of teens seek vocational training, yet there’s a great need for specialized professionals

Why do students have such difficulty?

  • Delayed brain maturity
  • Deficits in executive functions
  • Un-diagnosed/untreated learning challenges
  • Coexisting conditions: Anxiety, depression n Lack confidence b/c previous failures
  • Lack skills for management of independent living and completion of school work.

What can we do to help students have a better transition to adulthood?

  1. Teach them EF skills needed for school and for real life
  2. Provide them with education about alternative pathways
  3. Reframe students and parents thinking about careers – and start early!!!

The 6 Job Skills in High Demand right now:

  • Technology computer skills: CAD (computer aided design)
  • Digital Skills: skills utilizing data and working with AI (Artificial Intelligence).
  • Programming skills for robots/ automation:
  • Working with tools and technology:
  • Analytical problem-solving skills:
  • Ability to adapt to new technology:

Check out more of Chris Dendy’s work at or follow them on Facebook at @chrisdendyadhd for news updates.

There are many ways for students to launch into successful adults!  Let us help them find their pathway to success. Check out our main ILD site and our sister sites ResearchILD and SMARTS Online

Making Time to Teach Executive Function

No time to teach executive function? It takes less time than you may think. In fact, weaving small bits of executive function strategy instruction into content can have a big impact.

Executive function is becoming recognized as an essential component of successful learning for all students, from reading and setting goals to leading a Fortune 500 company. Despite the mounting research on the importance of strong executive function strategies, instruction has not become widespread.

Why? Part of the problem is teachers’ age-old enemy, time. Teachers are already juggling multiple responsibilities. Executive function, as with other non-academic topics like mindfulness and social and emotional learning (SEL), can feel like just one more thing.

The truth is that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time to teach executive function strategies. While there are executive function strategy curriculums, such as SMARTS, that can fill an entire semester, integrating small bits of executive function instruction into existing content can save time and be extremely effective.

This idea of teaching small bits of executive function, or other non-academic and ‘brain-based’ skills such as empathy or self-control, is a powerful one. A study funded by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and led by Dr. Stephanie Jones of the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that teachers were not often addressing SEL explicitly in their teaching due to time constraints. In response, Dr. Jones “… began to think about the problem of implementation by brainstorming ways to do SEL in little bites, in small, routine, structure-based ways that you could imbed in a school in a way that is harder to do with a curriculum.”

Dr. Jones and her team developed what they call “kernels,” 10- to 20-minute activities aligned with the day-to-day routine of a classroom but addressing SEL outcomes explicitly.

For example, a teacher might play an icebreaker game or ask a thought-provoking discussion question, then take time to explicitly address the importance of making your thinking visible and being able to shift perspectives.

In SMARTS, we work with teachers to develop “extensions” to executive function, finding natural moments within instruction to introduce an executive function strategy. When introducing a new project, for example, a teacher might model a strategy for breaking down the directions and creating a checklist.

By finding time to share this strategy, the teacher is helping students navigate a challenging aspect of the assignment. What’s more, teaching the strategy in the context of a content assignment helps students to understand how and why to apply it.

Making time to address non-content outcomes can make a difference. Dr. Jones’ study showed that schools that adopted “kernels” for addressing SEL noted a significant reduction in suspension and discipline rates. In SMARTS, our extensions have been an effective way to help all teachers, whether general education or special education, take responsibility for addressing the executive function needs of their students.

So, no matter what subject or age you teach, take some time to reflect. Can you find 20 minutes to teach an executive function strategy your students could use? You won’t regret it if you do.

  • Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director