When Star Students Struggle With ADHD

January 22, 2023

When Star Students Struggle With ADHD

Bella, mother of 15-year-old Cassie, recently came to the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center when her daughter’s grades started to slip and was dealing with anxiety. Cassie is a hard worker and has always done well in school while also balancing sports and other activities.

"Our daughter’s transition to high school has been challenging as the workload and demands grew larger. She worked hard in middle school but excelled academically, socially, and in her extracurricular activities. For the first time ever, her grades started to slip as she would forget to turn in assignments on time or was unprepared for exams. She retreated on the weekends because her 'battery was drained.' She didn't want to engage with peers because she was so tired from the school week and after-school commitments,” said Bella.

Forgetting to turn in assignments was a red flag. Bella also noticed that she could be disorganized and lacked some executive functioning skills.

"We had our suspicions in middle school that she might have ADHD, but that was quickly rejected by her teachers because she had very high grades in the hardest classes. We therefore thought that the long nights and many hours to get her work done was attributed to some anxiety she was dealing with in her life,” she explained.

While still in private practice, Dr. Howard Schub, Child Neurologist, diagnosed Bella's younger son with ADHD five years ago. Now as a member of the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center of JF&CS, Dr. Schub met with Bella and Cassie, listened to her challenges, and recommended an ADHD assessment with the QbTest.

“When I joined JF&CS, I knew that the QbTest would be an important tool that I wanted to bring into this organization," explained Dr. Schub. "I find it particularly useful for pre- and post-testing after medication is prescribed. The objectivity is also very useful in helping parents understand what we’re doing and how treatment has a positive effect on their child’s outcomes."

Bella was familiar with the test and knew it would be a cost-effective and quick way to get a snapshot as to whether they could rule out ADHD as the cause of Cassie’s challenges.

The test clearly showed Cassie had ADHD.

“We were blown away with the results, which yielded off the charts inattentiveness compared to other girls her age. It was an 'A-ha' moment for me and my daughter as the findings really resonated and made so much sense,” said Bella.

They plan to complete a full psych-evaluation in the coming months. In the meantime, they will also implement ADHD medications to help her stay more focused throughout the day. Bella also shared the results with Cassie's school, and they were able to implement temporary accommodations such as extended time on tests.

Dr. Lori Wilson, who conducts psychoeducational evaluations, said that when students are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time in high school, they are usually “high performing girls.”

“They're the ones that slip between the cracks and aren’t on the school’s radar because they are so focused on the grades which, in her case, were all A’s. What they didn’t see was the long, arduous hours at a very young age to achieve those which also led to a good deal of anxiety,” said Dr. Wilson.

With her ADHD diagnosis and more information on her results, Bella can now help Cassie with accommodations, medication, and most of all understanding of her daughter’s challenges.

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