Preparing for college is stressful for all teens. It offers special challenges for students diagnosed with attention issues. At least that’s the premise for the April 25 “College Readiness 4 Success” conference at Greater Chicago West, 705 Jackson Blvd., from 8:30 a.m. till noon, according to Oak Park organizers Karin Grimes, a former school social worker/therapist and Chris Everett, a college planner and financial expert. 

The guest speaker will be Theresa Maitland, Ph.D., who works for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as senior ADHD/LD specialist and coach in their Learning Center’s ADHD/LD Services. Dr. Maitland is the author of Ready for Take-Off: Preparing Your Child with ADHD or LD for College and the companion book for teens On Your Own: A College Readiness Guide for Teens with ADHD/LD

Conference co-sponsors are CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and Dominican University, which is providing 3 CEUs for mental health professionals and 3 PD credit hours for educators.

I ran into Grimes and Everett at a Jan. 21 networking event, sponsored by Wednesday Journal for Austin and Oak Park professionals at Forest Park’s Riveredge Hospital. The two Oak Park parents announced their conference there and, knowing that I am a volunteer college coach and my wife is an adolescent psychiatrist, they thought their event would be of interest to community members. When I asked Grimes why locals should care, she said:

“This conference will be of great value to the families of students who struggle with learning, attention, social and emotional differences — diagnosed or undiagnosed — and to the educators and mental health professionals who work with them. All students need to develop independence in order to function well in college or in other postsecondary settings, but the reality of a student’s differences, disability and/or emotional issues can entice their parents and other adults to become overly involved and to inadvertently enable the student to remain dependent, which can lead to problems when he or she leaves home. Empowering happens when adults set clear limits, consistently enforce or allow consequences, expect teens to live up to high standards so they can become the best they can be and learn from their mistakes before they leave home.”

Everett added, “We work with all types of families as they seek to successfully launch their college-bound students. The reason Karin and I created “College Readiness 4 Success” is because this under-served teen population must receive power tools to help them transition to college and, for that matter, life. Many local high schools in the area will be the first to admit they don’t have the funding, skills and/or time to sufficiently address the needs of kids with learning, attention, social and emotional differences. College Readiness 4 Success is here to change that. Frankly, the best time to start working with us is before your student gets to high school. Our tools make a difference for students, organizationally and emotionally.”

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