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ADHD in Women

College and ADHD advice?

Hi, I am a freshman in college. I major in Women’s studies. I love my major (I am a very passionate feminist) but I still can’t stay focused/motivated. I hate reading. I don’t read recreationally, let alone text books. I can never stay focused long enough or retain any of the information. Writing is even worse for me. Even though I like writing, I get so anxious when I cannot stay focused I have panic attacks. My doctor just upped my Adderall dosage because 20MG is only lasting me about 3-4 hours. I am thinking about talking to her about maybe switching to a different medication. I wouldn’t say I am an active person (in the sense that I hate exercise) but I am definitely not the type of person to be able to sit for over an hour and just read/listen/take notes. I am thinking about picking up minors in wood furniture/design and jewelry/metalsmithing to give me a break in the day from traditional classes. It gets so bad sometimes I consider dropping out because I don’t feel like I can be successful in a traditional college environment like everyone else can. Please help!! Any advice is more than welcome! Thanks!



I think the first thing, is to say DON’T TRY TO BE A TRADITIONAL COLLEGE STUDENT!

There are loads of things you can do.  First check out if there is a disabilities advisory section in your college, and go talk to them.

I think your idea of going for minors in practical activities is a fantastic idea.

Regarding reading, I really struggled with this.  i am dyslexic too, and I needed to access reading software (It highlights the sentences and reads it out at the same time) and also mind mapping software, which helped me learn to take better notes and also write more cohesive papers too! I also got some coloured glasses which helped me to read better.  And I started reading things aloud to myself, as this helped.  If I was bored, I would adopt silly voices to entertain myself.  Also, making notes with coloured pens helped make it more interesting, and sometimes taking a minute to sketch an idea as an image with some words just gave me enough break…

You can be successful, you clearly have a creative side, so let it help you come up with solutions!

I also found that listening to the radio helps me focus, the background noise really helps me, but it doesn’t work for everyone!  Don’t know if this helps, but stick in there, and you will get through it.  You will get there, it is a sharp learning process!

Posted by Wuftytufty on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:19pm

See if you can get your reading assignments on audio books and listen to them while doing some activity. is a great resource for this for students with disabilities.

My son was struggling with losing his place numerous times on each page as well as comprehension, but doesn’t have a reading disability. We got him a kindle because they offer the read aloud and highlight as you go function in many of their books (certainly not all, the publisher has to approve the format).

I’ve also read that listening and comprehension is greatly improved when listening through headphones, so try that too if you try audio books.

Good luck!
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:26pm

Another thing you could try is to set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes at a time while reading and tell yourself, “I only have to zero in on this 5 minutes at a time.” Give yourself lots of little breaks—not by going on Facebook or being online but by walking around the room, doing a few jumping jacks, folding laundry, etc. The physical activity will help “embed” what you just read into your brain.

Posted by leelee2 on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:02am

Have you contacted your college’s Office of Disability/Accessibility Services?  Those students w/ ADHD are often eligible for accommodations that may help supplement the medications.  If there is an ADD Coach w/ a practice near your college, that may be a good resource to explore.  I have ADHD, as do 2 of my 3 kids; my oldest is a college sophomore who has experienced a # of the typical ADD struggles you described.  He was able to get a # of accommodations that have helped, & is now seeing an ADD Coach for behavioral tools to address some of the time management, focusing, organization, etc. issues.
There are a # of software programs that can help, as well as time management apps that you might want to explore further. 
Also, have you ever heard of the SQ4R method?  It helps to improve textbook comprehension. 
Lastly, using multiple senses while you study is SO critical to getting the info to “stick” & be “retrievable” in our ADD brains. 
The simple stuff, like getting adequate sleep, good nutrition, taking appropriate supplements like Fish Oil, & exercise can make a HUGE difference in cognitive functioning as well.  Medications are only one piece in managing our ADHD.

Posted by LCK on Jan 30, 2014 at 7:22am

Sounds a lot like me! I am also a college freshman and even though I like my classes, I have a hard time getting motivated to go to class and do the work. It just often feels like it’s pointless. Even though I know it’s a means to an end, I kind of wish the “end” would come sooner. Does this sound like you too? I’m not sure about what kind of advice I can give, since I’m figuring this out too, but I do have a couple of thoughts:

First, find something you can do recreationally that will allow you to feel like you’re doing something worthwhile. I’m talking with my counselor to work out something for me, like going on hikes or playing music or writing short stories. I also want to do things to help other people, so I feel like I’m not just serving myself. Maybe you can think of something similar, something that is enjoyable and relaxing, that allows you to use your creative energy or gives you time to think and doesn’t put additional stress on you. The woodwork and jewelry-making ideas sound like something that can go towards this.

Second, let yourself work in short bursts. Give yourself a clear goal, like answering the first two questions on an assignment, and then when it’s done, take a break and draw some sketches, or watch ten minutes of a tv show, or anything else. Then pick another goal, and repeat. It’ll make the work take longer, sure, but it might make it bearable.

Posted by ecpreston on Jan 30, 2014 at 2:59pm

Don’t give up!  I had no idea I had adhd when I went to college.  This was before anyone really diagnosed it but I graduated.  As everyone has said you can get help at the college.  They sometimes will assign a person who goes to class to assist with taking notes and being organized for a period of time.  Taking breaks during study and have some fun on the weekends!

Posted by Cottoncarol on Feb 02, 2014 at 2:40am

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