Athletic, creative, dynamic, charming; yet discouraged, unfocused and crest-fallen – she came into my office 4 years earlier, fearful she wouldn’t be able to obtain the 2.0 GPA needed to try out for team sports. Even worse, if she couldn’t compete in sports, then why bother with school? Sports were the only success she knew.
When I asked Jasmine about her grades, she responded “well I got a ‘C’,” lowering her head when asked if the “C” was the good or bad news. Next, I asked, “So what are you good at?” Lighting up like a Christmas tree, she responded “Swimming! I want to be an Olympian. No one can catch me in the water, I swim like a dolphin.”
While she dreaded school, she was willing to do anything that would enable her to back get in the pool again.
Jasmine did not want to re-experience last year. Athletically, she was on top of the world… medaling at several highly competitive swimming meets. Academically, the world was on top of her…beleaguered with low grades, discipline problems, and missing homework assignments. Because of the latter, her mother and her school officials forbade her from going out for any sporting events this upcoming year. Instead, they told her to study harder.
For Jasmine, it was the worst of both worlds.
Just when she thought things could not get any worse, they did. Her parents enrolled her in a popular motivational tutoring program, which promised better study skills, better organizational skills and better grades. Although she didn’t like it, this was her only ticket to the pool.
After six long months, her grades still had not improved and she was again prevented from swimming. Discouraged and defeated, her confidence shrank even further. Jasmine went from someone who made academic mistakes, to feeling like she was a mistake.
“Something has to give,” her parents told me during the intake meeting. “We are losing her. We have tried everything and don’t have a clue about how to help our daughter.”
Upon completing an assessment, we realized Jasmine did not have a motivational or a study problem. Jasmine had ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Following her diagnosis, we put together a treatment plan that addressed both her short-term and long-term needs. To meet her short-term attention needs, a physician prescribed medications to help her focus. To meet her long-term attention needs, we placed her on “Play Attention,” a computer-based attention training system that has been educationally proven to help individuals with ADHD develop their ability to focus and reduce impulsivity. We also included an agreement that she could try out for the swimming team, as long as she met agreed upon Play Attention behavioral and academic milestones.
Twelve months later, Jasmine had achieved all of her milestones, was elected to the Dean’s List (which she remained on through graduation) and was taken off medications. She also did so well in the pool that she qualified for a highly selective swimming team.
As I spoke with her parents during her graduation, they were exceedingly appreciative of our work together. Especially as it relates to Play Attention. In addition, they were ecstatic about the prospect of cheering her on as she will be swimming at the collegiate level this coming year. While we all hope she realizes her goal of becoming an Olympian, we are completely satisfied that she achieved the grades and ACT scores to qualify her for a full swimming scholarship – and has learned to succeed both inside and outside of the pool.
Four years later, it was awesome to be able attend her graduation, and watch her prepare to start college on a full scholarship in swimming at an elite college.
Submitted by Shane K. Perrault, PhD
ADHD Performance Center