Which high school for ADHD-inattentive & slow processing time?

Our 7th grader carries a diagnosis of ADHD inattentive type, but really the struggle is w/ processing--VERY slow.  This impacts everything, and she is especially struggling in mathematics.  We were hoping for BHS, (coming from a private middle school), but it's possible this is not the best road to success.  Tilden Prep looks great, but the size of the community is intimidating, and I think my daughter really needs the practice of socializing/navigating a larger student body.  Maybeck is intriguing, but most of the reviews are a few yr old.  Looking for any feedback that folks may have for recent/current experiences, especially for kids w/ ADHDi, slow processing and executive function challenges.


Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Following this as well. My son has adhd inattentive... not slow in processing in math and science but slow in writing and english. Its a struggle, hes in 8th now and I work with him constantly. His school has great support with an 8:1 class size but he just needs the support at home and I dont think that will change anytime soon. Were in the midst of applying to highschools right now and holding our breathe yo see wherr he'll go.


My son has ADHD, slower processing and exec function challenges. He also went to private middle school and is now a freshman in high school. Every student is different but I can share our experience. We toured Orinda Academy and Maybeck. Every single part of the process for Maybeck signaled that would be where he would go. They gave us very positive feedback every step of the way, his middle school teachers and staff advised it would be a great school for him, and his interview ended with "you seem like a great fit for Maybeck". I was honest and transparent about his ADHD and learning supports needed (pretty minimal). He didn't get in and although I asked very considerately for feedback a couple times, they never got back to me with any response, which to be honest was a big let down.  We wanted him to go there because we liked the academic and social climate. 

For us Orinda Academy felt too small and expensive. 

My son is going to Berkeley High. He is getting all A's and one B. He likes it enough. It's not perfect but it's free and a solid education. He has a good friend there with him which makes a big difference. We set up a 504 in the first month. The 504 coordinator was responsive, listened well and ultimately gave him all the accommodations we asked for. However, my son, isn't needing to implement most of the accommodations yet, so I can't speak to that. Most of his teacher's have been very responsive over email. My son says the classroom can be a distracting environment but he does get most of his work done during class. 

Also, Classroom Matters, offers workshops and private tutoring for academics and executive functioning skills. My son didn't want to use their services but for a kid that is open to it, I bet they would be super helpful for outside support. One to one tutoring in math on a regular basis might be super helpful for your daughter. 

Socially, I think a smaller school might have been nicer for my son, but maybe not. It's still early days. There are lots and lots of clubs and opportunities at BHS. There are also smaller learning communities they can be in grades 10-12. Plus in year 9, they are in hives of about 125 kids per hive. This means that hive will have 4 teachers for the core subjects with one lead teacher. They will likely have some of the same kids in each class. I've been very impressed with my son navigating a school as large as BHS. (Also, I have a daughter, who doesn't have learning differences, that graduated BHS last year, and it doing well her first year of college). 

Not sure if I answered your questions but our situations sounded similar so I thought I'd share our experience so far. Good luck, I know it can be a stressful process. 

BTW, we also applied to St. Mary's. I heard from students and teachers there that it is a calm supportive environment. A smaller school without being super small, more affordable. and I thought they seemed supportive of learning differences. But BHS is where my son landed and for now, I actually think it was the best place for him and our family. Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions. 

My daughter went to both Tilden Prep and OA. She had anxiety and ADHD. The biggest difference is 1-1 vs classroom style learning. She did MUCH better with 1-1 as long as she felt comfortable with the teachers, and she loved her Tilden teachers. She did well at Orinda Academy when she liked her teacher and when her anxiety wasn’t overwhelming and making it hard to go to school. She made friends at both schools. I never ever had to struggle to get her to go to school at Tilden. The days of struggle at OA were because of the size and the classroom style learning. People worry that kids who go to Tilden won’t be ready for college, but she did great in college because she was solid academically and she could choose her classes due to her accommodations. It’s hard for kids with ADHD to learn in a classroom setting, so I think Tilden might be ideal for your son. It’s always good to visit all the options and see what you think is the best fit. 

My kid went four years to Maybeck and graduated a few years ago. It was the perfect place for him. We also looked at St. Mary's (where we both thought it seemed too rigid) and our local public high school (good school, but seemed too overwhelming for her.) My kid is 2E, gifted and dyslexic, with slow processing speed. Maybeck was quite accommodating, giving her extra time on tests. She had a neuropsych evaluation done (after being admitted), and they readily agreed to any necessary accommodations. And the teachers are amazing!

Maybeck has a flat organizational structure; it's run more as a democracy where no one single person is in charge. This has pros and cons, but overall I think it is a benefit. All the faculty meet weekly to discuss things (including students!) and make policy and curriculum decisions with group consensus. The faculty get to know all the students quite well. A bigger school would struggle under this structure, but it seems to work for the most part at a school the size of Maybeck. I also love the outdoor education programs. I don't know if they have resumed this since the pandemic, but every spring students go on a "Special Program" for two weeks, choosing to travel or do a local activity. Scholarships are available for travel at least once. The kids seem to love this program.

Maybeck was truly a gift. The teachers understood my kid, which was not always the case at other schools. I love the school. I don't think my kid would have thrived as well as she did, had we not had Maybeck as an option. It is quite unique. I hope they don't try to expand or try to "move toward the middle," becoming more like the other college prep schools. Maybeck is not for everyone, but if you have a bright, curious kid looking for a smaller school to call home, who may not fit in at other places, I would highly recommend Maybeck.