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What to expect from your student with AD/HD this semester (and how to support them)

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

As your child with AD/HD embarks on a new semester, you might find yourself wondering how things will play out.

Will this semester be different?

Can you expect a smooth ride, or will there be missing assignments, low grades, and arguments at home about "taking responsibility" and "showing some initiative"?

How can you best support your child through the inevitable ups and downs of the long semester?

How prepared do you feel for the upcoming semester?

  • I'm Stephen Curry before the first game of the NBA season.

  • I just woke up -- what is going on?

To help prepare you, I've developed the CHASE model as a tool to increase your awareness of the unique challenges and stages that ADHD students may face throughout the semester, enabling you to better support and guide your child's academic journey.

CHASE stands for the following:

The CHASE model for how students with AD/HD experience the school semester
The CHASE model for how students with AD/HD experience the school semester

Does this sound familiar?

If so, read on to learn how to interrupt the cycle and help your student with AD/HD have the best semester yet.

Beginning the semester with enthusiasm? Discover the first phase of our CHASE model to nurture your ADHD student's commitment and set the stage for a successful journey. Learn more on our website!
C: Committed

C: Committed

The "C" in the CHASE model stands for "Committed," capturing the initial enthusiasm and engagement at the semester's start.

In this phase, your student might eagerly talk about new subjects or set ambitious goals. However, this positive energy may be short-lived if not supported.

You can nurture this stage by prioritizing a secure connection with your student and establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals. Continue reading to learn how.

Facing unexpected obstacles? Our CHASE model identifies the hurdles that might emerge and offers strategies to overcome them. Find out how to keep your child on track by visiting our website!
Hurdles emerge

H: Hurdles Emerge

The "H" in the CHASE model represents "Hurdles Emerge," reflecting the phase where challenges and obstacles begin to surface.

In this stage, your student may start losing focus, missing assignments, or falling behind in class. It's not uncommon for many parents to respond with nagging at this point, often out of concern and frustration.

Unfortunately, nagging can be counterproductive and might not address the underlying issues.

Instead of resorting to this approach, setting up a clear plan or reaching out to an executive function coach can be more effective.

Recognizing these hurdles early and responding with a clear and consistent approach is key.

Concerned about a disconnect with schoolwork? The Alert phase of our CHASE model helps you recognize alarming signs and respond effectively. Gain insights and guidance on our website!
A: Alert

A: Alert

The "A" in the CHASE model stands for "Alert," the phase characterized by a significant disconnection, where the earlier challenges have escalated into a more severe disconnect from schoolwork.

At this alarming stage, many parents recognize the need for intervention and may reach out to an executive function coach. However, with so much to catch up on, expectations can often become unrealistic.

Parents might hope for immediate results or significant academic improvement in a short time, putting undue pressure on both the coach and the student.

Recovery and reconnection at this stage will take time, effort, and a well-structured plan tailored to your student's specific needs.

Collaborating with the EF coach, setting realistic goals, and maintaining open communication can create a supportive environment for your student to get back on track.

Feeling the pressure to catch up? The Scramble stage of our CHASE model is all about recovery and support. Explore strategies to help your child regain lost ground on our website!
S: Scramble

S: Scramble

The "S" in the CHASE model stands for "Scramble," signifying the phase where there's an intense effort to recover, reconnect, and catch up on missed work.

After recognizing the alarming disconnection in the previous phase, the scramble stage often involves working closely with an executive function coach, teachers, and other support systems.

It's a demanding period, requiring your student to work hard to regain lost ground. Some parents, already anxious from the prior phases, might expect too rapid a turnaround, failing to realize that a genuine recovery takes time and consistent effort.

Because of how challenging the scramble typically is, many students fall into exhaustion during or soon after this phase, which can put their mental health at risk.

Patience, clear communication, and an achievable plan are key in this phase. Understanding that progress may be gradual, and celebrating small victories along the way, can help your student navigate this challenging time without slipping further into overwhelm.

End of the semester left you both drained? Our CHASE model's Exhaustion phase helps you reflect, learn, and set up for future success. Turn exhaustion into empowerment on our website!
E: Exhaustion

E: Exhaustion

The "E" in the CHASE model stands for "Exhaustion," marking the end of the semester when both you and your student may feel drained and possibly discouraged.

It's a critical juncture, one that can either be a learning experience or the starting point for slipping back into the same cycle for the next semester.

Reflecting on the journey, acknowledging the hard work, and identifying both successes and areas for improvement are vital.

This stage presents an opportunity to break the repetitive pattern by understanding what went wrong and implementing new strategies to avoid the same pitfalls.

Do you want to use this experience to foster growth, resilience, and a more balanced academic path for your student?

Or will you allow the challenges of the past semester to repeat themselves? The decision you make now can set the tone for the next semester and beyond, turning the exhaustion phase into a powerful launching pad for future success.

Navigating the academic journey with an ADHD child? The CHASE model is your roadmap to success! From commitment to exhaustion, discover a step-by-step guide tailored for the unique challenges and triumphs of the semester. Empower your child and break the cycle of struggle. Explore the CHASE model on our website and transform this semester into a rewarding adventure!
The CHASE model -- how students with AD/HD experience the semester.

How to stop the CHASE

Breaking the CHASE cycle doesn't have to be an insurmountable challenge. By adopting a thoughtful and structured approach, parents can turn the tide and set their students on a path to success.

I've distilled our coaching approach at Executive Function Specialists into an easy-to-follow "order of operations" for parents, teachers and coaches to implement.

At EFS, we use the acronym PEMDAS to remember the steps to engaging students and breaking the CHASE cycle:

P - Prioritize a Secure Connection

Building a trusting and secure connection with your student is the foundation of this process. By understanding their needs, emotions, and struggles, you can approach their challenges with empathy and support, fostering a positive relationship that transcends the ups and downs of the semester.

E - Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goal

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals provide clear direction. Setting these with your student helps to ensure that expectations are realistic, aligning with their abilities and the timeframe of the semester.

M - Make Everyone Aware of the Goals

Communication is key. Ensure that not only you and your student but also teachers, tutors, or coaches are aligned with these goals. This united front helps in maintaining consistency and provides the support your student needs.

D - Divide and Guide

Breaking down large goals into smaller, manageable tasks makes the path more navigable. Guiding your student through these tasks prevents feeling overwhelmed and fosters a sense of accomplishment along the way.

A - Accountability All the Way

Regular check-ins, support, and maintaining responsibility create a framework for success. This continual accountability helps keep your student on track, allowing for adjustments as needed and ensuring that they are not left to struggle alone.

S - Show Them You Are Proud

Recognizing and celebrating achievements, no matter how small, boosts confidence and motivation. Your pride in their progress encourages continued effort and reinforces a positive self-image.

Infograph of strategies to support students with AD/HD
The P.E.M.D.A.S. method for engaging students with AD/HD


The CHASE cycle doesn't have to be a relentless loop. By implementing these strategies, parents can not only navigate the challenges of the current semester but build skills and understanding that carry into the future.

As your child with AD/HD embarks on a new semester, the CHASE model offers a clear vision of what to avoid so you can navigate the challenges ahead.

So don't say you haven't been warned! With these tools in hand, you're empowered to transform potential struggles into successes, helping your student with AD/HD have their best semester yet.

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About the author

Sean G. McCormick is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He also founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains special education teachers, school psychologists and other professionals to support students with AD/HD and executive function challenges.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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