ADDA and NEIU launch ADHD peer support program
April 17, 2020
Last year, students participated in a health survey which discovered that 9% of NEIU students are clinically diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, almost double the national adult average of 5%. To provide more resources for those students, NEIU recently partnered with Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).
ADDA’s website provides medical resources such as psychologist consultation, support groups and information for adults suffering from ADHD. The new partnership allows six volunteering students to both participate in the pilot program and take advantage of online and on-campus resources available to students.
Counselor Kylie Townsend established the relationship between ADDA and NEIU. Speaking with the Independent about the new partnership, Townsend explained, “[NEIU] wants to provide more resources for our students, since there is such a high amount of students with ADHD at our university. ADDA helps not only college students, but all adults with ADHD.
“Ultimately, it is a pilot program and we are trying to spread awareness throughout the entire university.”
In an effort to connect students suffering from ADHD with mental health experts, NEIU conducted a two-day ADHD education workshop on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31. The first day of the workshop was open to everyone at the university.
“There is a misconception about ADHD with all of the stereotypes that go with it,” said Townsend. “The first day of the program was meant to prevent stereotypes and educate everyone at the university about ADHD.”
Townsend added, “With the CPS transition team there to help, we hope to expand this even more and have transition teams from different high schools and other colleges come as well.”
The second day involved training for those hoping to take part of the pilot program. Other topics discussed included tips on surviving through college with ADHD, ADHD in young adults and resources provided by NEIU for those with ADHD.
Townsend explained the program model and the benefits available to participating students.
“After looking at a lot of studies, we saw that the number one thing that helped adults is life coaching,” explained Townsend. She said life coaching with ADHD “gets students to become introspective and how to self advocate.” Ultimately, students learn how to self-advocate and focus on their personal growth.
All six of the students also partake in a peer support group that hosts bi-weekly meetings. “Since [students] meet via zoom, what we are going through right now doesn’t affect their meetings.” By meeting with other adults with ADHD throughout the entire nation, “students can see that there are other people who are going through the same problems that they are.”
A self-paced online program taught by ADHD coach Linda Walker helps students gain confidence at school. According to Townsend, “this program teaches adults with ADHD how to plan, be more organized and utilize their time more efficiently.”
The students also learn about fitness and nutrition. According to Townsend, students are provided a fitness tracker in order to both encourage and measure activity, the latter serving as a visual reminder.
“Students receive a fitness tracker that works as a motivational tool,” said Townsend. “While they are also keeping track of how many steps they take, they can look at their wrist and remember to keep a healthy mindset throughout the day.”
During the second day of the workshop, students met their peer mentors. Peers mentors are students pursuing master’s degrees in the special education department. The mentors help students with any conflicts they may be experiencing. Peer mentors also guide students by providing accessible support.
Townsend said she would like participants to attend workshops to learn more about how to advocate for people with disabilities.
“I hope people across the country, and even internationally can see that NEIU welcomes all students, regardless of any disability,” said Townsend.