Which High School for ADHD?

Parent Q&A

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  • BayHill, Orion, etc. LD kids

    (2 replies)

    Hello. My twins are in 7th grade and we are looking into NPS options for high school.  They both have ADHD (combined type) and ASD (high functioning). My daughter struggles socially a LOT and deals w anxiety. My son is just pretty rigid in his thinking and doesn’t LOVE school. Both need A LOT of help w executive functioning skills

    i am looking for recs on NPS.  Both kids should be able to go straight to college after high school, definitely my daughter academically.  I’ve read through all the old posts but as we know, the pandemic changed things. 

    Any thoughts on BayHill or Orion Academy?  Orion seems super….formal and maybe not the best for my son. BayHill was ok but I’ve heard there are more behavior problems than in past.  We visited and every kid was on a cell phone texting and scrolling during class. I know every school has cell phone issues and behavior issues but for the amount we may pay, I expect a lot of oversight. Thoughts?

    Hello there -

    It's such a hard decision to make, especially when your kid needs a different learning environment than their classmates!

    My son struggles with similar challenges as your kids, and he has found his safe haven at Mentoring Academy. It's a tiny hidden gem of a school near Rockridge BART.

    He was bullied in a private middle school not just by his peers, but also by the teachers, who just didn't get him. At Mentoring the "we meet your kids where they are"  - turned out to be true - for the first time ever. He's just finishing 9th grade, and has been more engaged and excited about learning than he was all throughout middle school. 
    These folks truly "get" our kids - and they do so with humor and kindness. They understand that our kids' brains need to be stimulated differently. So how about they all go  to Mount Wilson Observatory for a week and workion the amazing telescopes that Hubble and Einstein worked with? ;-) But it also means cooking together, doing homework AT SCHOOL, and building your own desks. And all of that always with the eye on the prize - getting them into a good college.
    I hope you will be able to experience the genuine community they have created - and your kids can come to visit, of course. To no fault of their own, they are currently looking for a new space. So if you decide to visit, please don't judge them by the building they are in currently.
    All the best to you and your family - I hope Mentoring will be a revelation to all of you as it was to us. (To this day, most middle schools don't even know about them!)

    Hi--no current experience--just commending you on thinking this through NOW.  We had to make a similar decision for my son 12 years ago.  He insisted he did not need the structure at Orinda Academy, and was in a Small Learning Community at Berkeley High School.  Teachers there were excellent--BUT he got by with "least effort necessary" , had good grades and reasonable SAT's, chose University of Puget sound for college--and was NOT prepared for the academic requirements, nor the social complexity, despite a coach etc--ended up with severe depression and a medical withdrawal late first semester.  We're still on the journey... (BTW, he eventually was ready for classes at our local Community Colleges--there are some excellent options--I think those of us with neurdivergent kids need to be careful about balancing appropriate expectations/accountability with love, encouragement, realism, and flexibility....)

  • High school for upcoming senior with ADHD

    (9 replies)

    Hello everyone. I’m really excited to join this group. I am searching for a high school for my incoming senior. I’m looking for smallish high school with small class sizes and support for someone with learning difference, ADHD

    we live in San Francisco but we are willing to commute and cross the bridge. 

    I have only heard great things about Sterne School in SF. I believe it’s 7-12th? We live in the East Bay and the commute is not an option for my kiddo. 
    Look at Bayhill High School in Berkeley, and Orinda Academy. Orinda may seem far but it’s near BART and a direct ride from SF without transferring. 
    Good Luck and Welcone to the Bay Area

    I recommend you check out Orinda Academy. It's easily accessible by BART, and they run a van to and from the Orinda BART station and the school (or it's a 10-15 minute walk). They are also expanding transportation options for the area, including the North bay.

    The school is small, college-prep and supports kids with learning differences. Many of the kids have ADHD and the teachers and staff "get them." My kid (who has autism and anxiety) started in 9th grade and is now a graduating senior going onto college in the fall. I credit Orinda Academy for seeing my student's potential, providing individualized support, and helping my kid gain the skills and experience to be successful. Honestly, staff and teachers told me in 9th grade that they believed my student would be college-ready at senior year but I really didn't feel confident. I found a supportive parent community who shared similar stories and experiences and finally didn't feel alone. The school is growing and I know the school is taking applications for all grades for next year, and they still have financial aid available. They're also adding an 8th grade in the fall.Open houses May 16 at 7:00pm and May 18 at 12:00pm. Check out https://www.orindaacademy.org/ or (925) 254-7553, Happy to talk if you want to DM me.


    We were in a similar boat - our kid has several learning differences, ADHD, and is on the spectrum. Middle school was a disaster, despite him being in a private school with an supposedly experienced learning specialist. He was bullied not only by the students, but also by the teachers. 
    Enter Mentoring Academy: if you are looking for a small school that truly focuses on your kid, this is it.  www.mentoringacademy.org - near Rockridge BART in Oakland. 
    The school is tiny, and the teachers are very experienced both in academics as well as in working with neurodiverse kids. It's not a flashy school, and due to some unforeseen circumstances beyond their control (like water damage in their building that did not get fixed by the landlord), it might appear a bit scrappy. But my kid comes home bubbling over with facts he learned. And one true highlight this spring was a weeklong stay at Mount Wilson to work on the big telescopes there - just like Hubble and Einstein did. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for scientists .. made possible by John Muster's connections to the institution. 
    And people are kind - and work with you and your kid to provide a learning environment that works for the student.
    And - a huge plus in my opinion - NO HOMEWORK!! Kids stay until 5 pm and do their homework with their teachers still around. So parents don't have to fight at home to get this done and teachers know exactly where your kid is academically and what they need to do to support them better. 

    As far as I know, two kids are commuting from SF to the school - so it might be good to hear from them how they structure their days. 

    Hello, I think I know the best school for your child because my child is exactly what you describe, and he is thriving! And commuting from SF.....My son is going to Mentoring Academy in Oakland (https://www.mentoringacademy.org). The school is currently located a short walk from Rockridge BART. It is a very small school focusing on kids that have struggled in the conventional school setting and need more attention to achieve their potential. Classes are taught to mastery, not to deadlines. Small classes foster strong connections between the kids and their teachers. The school also does a lot of inter-cultural experiences with field trips, retreats and museum or theater visits. My son has been there for 3 years now and is a junior and is doing great. My other son graduated from Mentoring a couple of years ago and is successfully attending a 4-year college.

    Unfortunately Mentoring has lost their lease and is looking for a new home. Due to some circumstances beyond the schools’ control the building they are in currently is not great but if you can see beyond this you will find an extraordinary school with a special community and learning environment that is unique

    You didn't mention public or private. I just toured the Sterne School in Chinatown, which has a great reputation. Also looking at Bayhill. Orinda Academy is beloved but apparently they're having some financial difficulties so parents aren't putting all their eggs in one basket. Fusion and Tilden are great if your kid needs individual attention. 

    We've found that while public schools are legally bound by IEPs when it comes to the EF struggles of students with ADHD the support just isn't there. At least not at Berkeley High. 

    The last post suggests that Orinda Academy is "having financial troubles".  This assertion is based on an old, false rumor.  This wonderful school continues its amazing operations.  Our son went there for five years, and the benefits - social, academic, emotional - were innumerable.  I am glad to answer any individual questions via private message.  

    Re: Orinda Academy - if you are considering it, please be sure to ask specific questions about enrollment numbers of each class and about recent staffing changes. The post about financial difficulties is actually not an old, false rumor. In April, current families received a letter signed by the Board of Trustees and Head of School that alluded to enrollment challenges and financial insecurity, and the possibility that the school could close.

    It's been a few years, but my son had an amazing experience at Holden High school. I swear it was designed with ADHD students in mind. All assignments are posted on a board in the central hallway, copies of handouts are available in filing cabinets in the computer room, and there is lots of direct support for kids to manage their own homework and projects. My stepson absolutely thrived at Holden, moving from constantly anxious and stressed (poor guy had to do summer school every year for5 years) to confident and capable. 

    I would be happy to share more about our experience with you if you message me. 

    Just to add a couple things to my post:

    -Our kid started second semester of his junior year. He ended up staying for one extra semester to finish up credits. (I also think the counselors and environment just really helped him get to where he needed to be before leaving high school.)

    -Students at Holden come from all over the Bay. Most take BART independently (our kid got himself to school from Fremont). 

    -Class sizes are small and taught "college seminar" style

  • Bayhill vs BHS for autistic + ADHD kid?

    (5 replies)

    Hi out there,

    Our kid has autism and ADHD and some rough challenges.  She has never really recovered since the COVID year and a half, and public middle school has not prepared her well for high school, either academically or socially.  She is a huge book and theatre person, and so the lack of a library and drama program at Bayhill are definite minuses in our equation.  We've also been through both private and public schools, and are under no illusion that small/private is necessarily "better" than large/public. 

    If you have a kid with an IEP at BHS, what has your experience been?  Is there ever enough supervision for someone who needs a LOT of it?  Like constant reminders to stay on task?

    What do you wish you had known before sending your kid to Bayhill over BHS, or vice versa?  HELP!!!  Thank you so much.

    My kid has an IEP at Berkeley high for adhd and dyslexia. The program there will definitely not provide a lot of structure or reminders to stay on task. And the drama program is ok, but there is only drama classes. They don’t have annual drama productions. We get outside help and constantly think about moving to a different school. But so far we have stuck with it because of money and because we know that if he goes to college, he will need to figure things out on his own. 

    Hello! I had a kid at Bayhill, and he only lasted there for two weeks.  However, he was primarily there for his severe dyslexia. The school was too small to give him what he needed for his ADHD. He transferred to BHS, eventually graduated, and even took some classes at BCC (although I had to read his textbooks out loud to him).  

    Our girl with severe ADHD (but no LD) ended up thriving at one of the SMALL SCHOOLS at Berkeley High. However, since Berkeley High has stopped offering the small school option to 9th graders -- a bad decision on their part, IMHO -- I would consider placing your child in a private school (whether Bayhill or another, like St. Mary's High School, which is not far away) for 9th grade, and then consider transferring to BHS in 10th grade, but REQUESTING A SMALL SCHOOL (not AC or IB, which are large).

    What I liked about BHS was that our teen had the same cohort, and *many of the same teachers*, throughout her four years there. King had instituted a 504 Plan for her towards the end of 8th grade, and it was a lifesaver for us.  We had 504 meetings once a year, that included her private therapist as well!  Her counselor, Dwayne Byndloss, was always available to help.  (For example, we were able to switch math programs in 10th grade when her small school program was just not working out.) 

    I was also in frequent contact with her teachers, to make sure that I knew what her assignments were, so that I could help her stay on task during homework time.  One of her teachers said to me, "I don't mind you contacting me, because your support ME!"  

    As you might imagine, I was spending a lot of time supervising her homework every night, but she got pretty good grades throughout high school; she ended up in the top 12% statewide, which for her was an accomplishment.  She enjoyed taking chorus and Afro-Cuban dance classes as electives, and she ended up excelling in chemistry, which we never would have predicted. 

    Good luck!  (And check out St. Mary's -- I know a number of teens who've gone there, and they just absolutely loved it.)

    No. BHS is overwhelming. Severely cognitively challenged kids might stay in a classroom all day but otherwise I don’t think a higher functioning kid would be supervised. She’ll get marked absent if she misses class- no one would look for her. She’s free to leave campus anytime.

    Hi, our teen went to Bayhill for two years then left to go back to public school. First year at Bayhill was pretty good, second year was pretty awful. It’s such a small school, I think the population (kids, teachers and admin ) that’s there at any given time can really influence your child’s experience. There seemed to be in an inordinate number of kids being expelled. This was a few years ago, but a teacher there was having some pretty significant mental health/perhaps substance abuse issues and lashed out very inappropriately. The teacher was subsequently let go but it had a pretty traumatic affect on our teen. Kids are allowed off campus (with provisions) and some teachers take kids off campus (for example PE). This seemed like a neat feature but my teen later told me that when the class stopped at a convenience store, kids in the class routinely shoplifted. The qualifications of the teachers who provided extra educational/study support varied (eg at one time it was an educational therapist, then it was the band teacher). Also, if your child needs therapy/counseling, that is an additional charge. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the quality experience we hoped it would be, especially if you’re privately paying. 

    You may want to check out Holden High School also. It’s a very small school but it provides a lot of individually focused support. It was a good alternative for our son with ADHD and social anxiety. We were able to get BUSD to pay the tuition for Holden using a great lawyer. 

  • Albany High School OK for kid with ADHD?

    (2 replies)

    Hello AHS Parents,

    I have a daughter with ADHD and social anxiety. We live in El Cerrito and we are considering moving to Albany this coming summer 2023 just for the high school. We are also looking into some private schools but we don't know if she will be accepted.

    From reading old posts it seems AHS is a mostly an academic focused school. I am thinking my daughter will probably just take the "normal" classes in AHS, not many AP or honor classes due to her ADHD. Currently, at her public middle school, my daughter is an all A student. However, other than math, I feel she is not really learning that much.

    Can any parent in AHS let me know their experience there with kids that are "different". Are all classes engaging? Or do you need to be in an AP class to be engaged? Are teachers engaging/caring with all students or do they only engage with top of the class students? Is the student body receptive to new students out of the district?

    Also, my daughter, despite her ADHD condition, has never qualified for IEP or 504 plans due to her good grades. She is taking her classes the same way as everyone else since elementary school.

    Thank you very much in advance for any advice.

    I have a current 9th grader at AHS with a 504 for ADHD/anxiety. It's fine. The curriculum is not challenging (aqlthough a motivated student could figure out how to go above and beyond, but that's not my child). That might change in upper grades and when AP classes are available. I don't think it is a super welcoming environment for students new to the district, since Albany is a small town and many of the kids have been together since kindergarten or 6th grade, or know each other from club sports. Based on what you describe of your daughter, I wouldn't say it's an obvious perfect fit, but every child is different and everyone's ADHD might be a little different. Definitely no need to move to Albany to attend AHS, they are handing out transfer permits pretty easily if you can get released from your home district.

    The parent advocates at DREDF are very helpful. In my experience as a parent and teacher even high achieving students with a specific LD are eligible for 504 plans. In a competitive high school like Albany or BHS, the accommodations are often necessary even for a student who was successful prior to high school. 

  • hi all

    we currently attend a private school in oakland. our kid has adhd and is currently being tested for mild ASD. mainly social struggles. thrives in project based learning and we are concerned he will fall through the cracks of pubic schools. am i incorrect? are there charter schools for this? are there private school that specialize in this? he excels in math/tech, struggles with language comprehension and social skills. we are open to sending him anywhere in the east bay or even marin county.


    You didn't say the age of your child, but my daughter has a very similar profile and we've found a High School that meets her needs fairly well- Latitude High (a public charter school). It is a project based learning school with a block schedule, small groups of kids that stay in the same pod over the 4 years, and a wonderful special education department that supports her IEP. If your child is younger, I would encourage you to look at the reel2e.org site in general, they have a list of schools that may serve 2e learners (reel2e.org/post/2e-private-school-panel-2022). Feel free to reach out as well and good luck in your search!

    Hi, my daughter is autistic and we're getting her evaluated for ADHD as well.  She also has social challenges and communication challenges as well.  We live in the east bay in Pleasant Hill/ Walnut Creek area and she definitely did not have a place in our school district.  

    I looked everywhere for a school in the east bay and found Big MInds; they have a Pleasanton and Pinole Campus (we attend Pleasanton.)  I cannot recommend this school enough.  It's a private school just for 2E learners that goes from 1st-8th grade. My daughter loves it, my husband and I love it.  

    Here's the website - good luck with your search!


    My kid has ADHD and excels in math/reading but struggles with social skills/impulse control. Public school was not a good fit and we opted for a private school. Check out Core Academy in Concord. This is our 2nd year there and the teachers have been great with dealing with my child's needs. We know several families who commute from Oakland. The school offers a shuttle service that picks up and drops off in downtown Walnut Creek. 

    Check out Tilden Prep.  They have campuses in Albany and Walnut Creek, and an affiliate in Marin.  It's not exactly project-based learning, but classes are taught 1:1 so it's very flexible and the pacing is individualized, and the whole social aspect of school is kind of optional.  The school has a mastery-based system in which kids basically can't fail; if they don't earn at least a B grade in a class, they keep working on that material until they do. What a concept, no more "you got a D/F, on to the next unit" but "here's what you need to learn, we'll keep teaching it and testing it in different ways until you succeed"!  It's expensive, especially if your kid takes a long time to get through a "semester" class (you more or less pay by the class hour, rather than a set amount of tuition per semester or per year); it was worth it for my 2E son whose freshman year in public high school was a disaster.  They offer a solid range of classes, including honors and AP, and have both full time students and part timers who are taking just a class or two to supplement their schedule at another school. (My other kid took French III at Tilden after taking I and II at, and while still primarily enrolled in, public HS, long story, but we were very glad to have the option.)

    Hi - I’m a mom of a 2e boy who is on the spectrum. Your situation sounds similar to ours. We enrolled our son at Big Minds Unschool when he was in 2nd grade and he will be graduating this year! We are forever thankful for this wonderful school which allowed him to develop his strengths and tackle his challenges in an environment free from bullying and negativity. The school has locations in Pinole and Pleasanton. There are numerous students from Berkeley and Oakland who are enrolled at the Pinole site. You can learn more at bigmindsunschool.org. 

    I would look at Big Minds Unschool.  They have a small campus in Pinole and another one in Pleasonton.  The founder, Melanie Hayes, is great!  She looked over my kid's assessment and gave me some great insights that I didn't get over at Summit Center, the clinic that specializes in gifted kids.  The school is based on the Sudbury model where the curriculum is student driven with support and guidance from the teacher.  It's small and designed specifically for the needs of 2E kids.  If you're not familiar with that term, 2e are kids who have advanced-level strengths and some kind of learning difference, like ASD, ADHD, or dyslexia.  When I toured it, I liked it a lot, and loved Dr. Hayes, but we ultimately decided my son was going to need more remediation than what the school could do.  So that's important to know--although a lot of private schools won't be able serve some LD kids.  But I know other kids who did great there.

  • 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.


    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. 

  • Private High Schools for medicated adhd kid

    (4 replies)

    Hi Parents,

    I'd love to know which private high schools in the East Bay you would recommend (or not) for a child with inattentive adhd and on medication. My child will still need some support as a neuro divergent student and I don't know which schools we should look into or avoid. Also, if you have experience with Berkeley High in this context, that would be good to hear too. Thank you so much!

    Our child went to 9th and 10th grades at Berkeley High with a similar situation, with a 504 Plan. The teachers varied greatly, a few who were extremely responsive and helped with accommodations and support, some who would not respect them (one who said tutoring was not allowed outside of school!), and most somewhere in between. He floundered, couldn't keep up with homework, and then the pandemic hit, so we took him out. He's now at Berkeley Fusion, which is AWESOME for him.  He's doing great, but it's an extremely small school with all 1-on-1 classes, so it's really not a typical high school experience.  He's very sad about that, although he's made friends. 

    Our other child has started at Maybeck, and it seems really great for kids with learning challenges of some types.  Also small (~30 per grade) but has typical classes that are very interactive and teachers are very focused on the whole child. 

    Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to speak further about either school. 

    Our adhd-medicated daughter had a great experience at Bishop O'Dowd High School. She was able to excel academically (honors and AP classes, hight SAT scores) and thrive socially. Outside of academics, O'Dowd offered a wide array of opportunities to participate in sports, volunteer, explore social and environmental justice issues, gain leadership skills and just generally provide access to a lot of different life experiences. Our daughter had great support from all faculty and the institution as a whole. We are especially grateful for her guidance counselor, who specialized in working with students with learning differences and worked with our daughter  for all 4 years, including excellent support with college selection and application process. Unrelated but in case it's of interest: we are not catholic nor religiously affiliated but did not find that to be an issue at all.Rather we found that we all learned from and appreciated O'Dowd's approach to religion classes. Best of luck to your student!

    Our 10th grader (ADHD diagnosis, medicated) is having a very positive experience at Head-Royce so far. HRS has a learning specialist who has distributed my student's learning plan to each of his teachers at the beginning of each year, detailing what my kid might need in terms of support and accommodations. The learning specialist has also made sure my student gets the right accommodations for standardized tests. There's a LD affinity group on campus so students can connect with each other. The upper school also has an advising system and a school counselor, so my student has always felt like he has someone to ask in case he has a question or concern. 

    Holden High School in Orinda might be a good fit. Very small (about 40 students total, grades 9 - 12) but not 1-on-1. Classes are around 5 - 12 students each. They are very responsive to learning and mental health needs of all kinds. My child went there for all 4 years and did very well. 

  • School for ADHD Teen?

    (5 replies)

    I'm learning my teen child has some pretty severe ADHD, impulse control and executive functioning issues and school is so far just not working. Things got much worse in high school and we are wondering what to do. We have a therapist. We are seeking better medication advice. But really we need school advise -- how on earth does this work? This is not a kid who is yelling at teachers -- but very happy to passively follow kids cutting class, etc. This is a very smart kid who just can't seem to function in a normal school. Confidence is way down. Grades are terrible. At this point nothing is working.  Any miracle stories out there -- a particular school, process, boarding school, summer program, -- anything?

    I know what you’re going through. I have the same kid. A HUGE improvement came only when we left the public school system. No matter how well-meaning Berkeley Unified teachers and specialists may be, the schools are just too big for kids like ours. Following the trouble-makers is inevitable with a lot of ADHD kids and of course there will be trouble-makers at any school but it’s MUCH easier to monitor, set limits, involve teachers, etc at very small schools. 

    This is a terrible situation to be in if there is no extra money for private but if you can afford it I would suggest you look into high schools more the size of Maybeck, St. Mary’s, etc. 

    I highly recommend considering homeschooling your child. Homeschooling can be just as or more academically rigorous than a brick and mortar school while giving the child flexibility in terms of timing, schedule, what classes are taken, and how (in person vs online), etc. I am a veteran homeschooler of two teens who is happy to speak to anyone interested in learning more about options for homeschooling in the Bay Area. I have some free homeschooling 101 talks coming up in a few months as well. 

    Fusion, Tilden Prep, or any of the one-on-one schools (pretty expendsive).  Bayhill in Berkeley. Good luck.   

    Does your kid have an IEP? If so, you might try Spectrum Center either in Oakland or Hayward for their behavioral programs. If your child qualifies for special ed based on their disability--and it sounds like their disability is affecting their ability to access their education--so if they haven't qualified you might ask for an evaluation to get them to qualify him for special ed services which would allow your district to place him at Spectrum. My child with ADHD went to the Hayward campus and it made a world of difference, they really do fit the program to the child and take the time to get to know them. The population spans a wide range of disabilities, but I think that really widened my child's scope and taught them to be comfortable with all kinds of people and that disabilities are just a small part of a person. The staff there works really hard and puts their heart into their job.

    I also have a very bright son who also has severe ADHD. He has never been a disruption in the classroom, but was doing very poorly gradewise, lost motivation, and eventually stopped attending classes at our local public high school. For his junior year, he attended Wasatch Academy in Utah. They have an excellent support program for students with ADHD. My son did very well there academically, and felt the classes were similar in rigor to that at his previous school. Due to complicating factors, he did not return for his senior year. I’m happy to speak with you about our experience with the school if you’d like to know more. I believe you can reach out to me through my username.

  • My son is ADD and struggles to complete homework, remember things at school like writing things in his binder, he will start something and only do half because he forgets to finish it, and things like that. He HATES school. He feels stupid. He HATES sports, feels he's not good at anything. He does love computer games as so many ADD kids do. He loves to listen to music although he doesn't play it. He does have many friends so socially he's ok. For any families who may have similar children, what have you done? Homeschooling is not an option. Where do middle schoolers who graduate from East Bay School for Boys send their kids for high school? Does anyone have recent experience with Maybeck or Holden? Any schools out there that sound like what my kid needs?

    EBSB is starting a High School with a design focus.  Orinda Academy is supposed to be good.  REALM High School in Berkeley.  I'm assuming you have him fully treated and have set up systems to help him keep organized.

    Please check out Orinda Academy. Your son sounds like mine. Mine also has learning differences. He struggled mightily through public middle school and started at OA as a freshman. He was a different kid almost immediately. Not that his LD and ADD problems went away, but his self esteem and view of school became dramatically better. He loves the small classes and actually enjoys going to school. On the LD and executive functioning, he still needed and needs tutoring. He is now a senior. He never would have made it through the public school. 

    Look at Bayhill High School in Berkeley.  My son with ADHD is a sophomore there and is thriving. He had the same issues as your son.  At Bayhill, there is a maximum support for ADHD kids.  Every kid brings a chromebook to school every day.  All assignments are online and are turned in online, so no missing papers.  There is an "Academic Support" period each day where a teacher checks in with each kid to look at their current homework status in the online system (Jupiter) and see which assignments need to be completed or turned in, and then finish them in that class. Kids can also finish taking tests during Academic Support if they need to.  My son has been able to keep up with all his homework at school, even though he has more homework at Bayhill than he had at Berkeley High. He is taking all the classes he would have taken at BHS but now he's making A's and B's and he loves Chemistry and Math!  Bayhill also offers a teacher-led afterschool homework program that you can sign them up for, but my son hasn't needed that, so he can come home after school and chill now, without the burden of unfinished homework. Bayhill is really focused on supporting ADHD kids in exactly the ways they need, giving them tools they will need to succeed in college and beyond.  I wish public schools would adopt some of their methods, because these supports allow kids with ADHD to learn and flourish and be as smart as we know they are!

    Bayhill Mom

    I  forgot two wonderful services that Orinda academy provides. If homework is not turned in, then the student immediately goes on missing homework list.  An email goes out that same afternoon  to the student, the parents, the counselor and the dean of students notifying them that homework is missing and s/he must report to study hall during all the free periods the next day. ( there's typically at least one free period  each day.) The students stays on missing work and must go to study hall every day until the homework is turned in. It keeps the student completely  current and takes the onus off the parents. The school also sends out a progress report with comments from each teacher every two weeks. 

    Holden has been a god-send for us (says this avowed athiest). My stepson was struggling in high school, academically, emotionally, you name it. We knew we had to get him out, no matter what.

    Holden is small, which might not be foe everyone, but has worked well for him. Classes are very small, seminar-style, and students have a real sense of agency and involvement. All assignments get posted on the hallway bulletin board, and copies of handouts are available in the computer room. Feedback on assignments turned in comes primarily in gaining or losing lunchtime off-campus privilege. This might be challenging, but there is no centralizes tracking of grades and assignments for parents to track -- responsibility lies with the student, who has so much support from both teachers and their assigned counselor. (Parents can always call in and ask, but students are empowered. Such a change for our ADHD, never-turn-in-work kiddo.)

    My stepson spent a day at the school, and surprised himself by how strongly he wanted to go there, even though he would have to leave a pretty strong friend group at his local high school.

    I would be happy to talk off-line if you have questions.

    My son went to BayHill High School which is now in Bkly. It was in Oakland when we went there which was a major schlep.

    BayHill saved our lives. My son has learning differences and ADD. He was falling falling falling in his (wonderful but unable to  help him) private middle school.

    In 8th grade he went to Raskob Learning Institute and from there to Bay Hill.  He found connection at both schools with kids who were just like him.
    He's now 21, working full time and going to school at night;. He's still good friends with a few of his Bay Hill buddies. Wishing you the best.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


High schools with extra support for Inattentive ADD son

Oct 2013

We are looking at high schools for our 8th grader who has ADD (inattentive type). He is bright but emotionally immature, has performance anxiety, and has very poor organization and planning skills. We don't think he'll be able to handle a large school, an academically intense/competitive school, or a place that is too unstructured. We are looking at Orinda Academy but are trying to figure out other options as well. We're wondering if people with knowledge of Realm Charter, Envision Charter, or Millenium think that these schools could be a good fit. I've heard that ACLC is very unstructured. Any other ideas/suggestions also very welcomed. mom worried about high school

If by ''Envision Charter'' you mean Envision Academy on Webster Street in downtown Oakland, I would urge you to drop it from your list. I am a parent of a student. While the school and its very dedicated, passionate staff do certain things well, it is a very chaotic environment, to put it mildly. And if your son needs an IEP, I feel even more strongly that it's the wrong school. The on-the-ground resource staff is great, but the school's director of special education is not, and they report to her. I won't say anything else this publicly...

Dear mom worried about high school,

Worry no more! There is a high school in Orinda, Holden High School, (www.holdenhigh.org) that provides lots of individual attention and a very nurturing and supportive environment. Holden is a small school that serves students from all over the Bay Area, accessible by BART. The staff at Holden recognizes each student's unique learning style and supports the student in developing emotionally as well as academically.

This is our student's second full year at Holden and he is doing well, his organizational skills are much better, grades have improved considerably, and he has matured emotionally.

Hope you will consider Holden to see if it might be a good fit for your son.

Wishing your family the best, A grateful Holden parent

I would encourage you to investigate ACLC more closely for your son. ACLC is not an unstructured environment, it is a more flexible environment which can really work to the advantage of kids with alternative learning needs. Many kids with learning challenges like ADD thrive in their project-based curriculum because it is more creative and addresses their different learning styles, while avoiding the boredom many ADD kids experience with traditional teaching methods. As a result, these kids feel empowered and engage more directly with their education and thus develop increased self-direction and independence in learning. ACLC is offering Information Sessions and School Tours of their program for interested families, see dates/times here: http://www.clcschools.org/page.cfm?p=436 You can also contact the Lead Facilitator (Principal), David Hoopes, for information or request a meeting at: (510) 995-4300 or david.hoopes [at] alamedaclc.org Best of luck in finding the right program for your son! Parent of multiple ACLC kids

Highly gifted ADHD student - which high school?

Nov 2012

We are looking into Tilden Preparatory, Mentoring Academy and the BISP for our highly gifted 9th-grader with ADHD. He is currently in BIHS, but it is an ill fit in all possible ways. He finds the class size and behaviors distracting, and does irrelevant homework. He feels at home in the advanced classes he is taking (Honors Music and French 7-8) and only one of his core classes, and we cannot find a solution for his needs within the school. He is asking for a more intense yet freer learning environment where he can be with other kids who really want to be there and learn. He is enthusiastic about all subjects, but has a special love for science and writing, and a gift for languages (fluent in Eng, Sp, Fr) and music. We have appointments with all three mentioned programs, but need some disinterested opinions about their relative strengths, weaknesses, and fit for such kids. Your input about each program and even better, about how they compare and how you'd rank their fit for a kid like ours, would be most appreciated, especially if you speak from experience.

My daughter attends Tilden Prep. Like your child, she's very bright but also has ADHD. Academically Tilden has been a great fit. The pace is flexible, redundant assignments are avoided. She loves literature and has a lot of choice about the books she reads. The best thing about Tilden is the teachers, they are very smart and knowledgeable. She feels like she is treated like an intellectual equal when having discussions with them. She gets detailed editing and feedback on essays to improve her writing, that wouldn't be possible if a teacher had to edit 30 students' assignments. There is minimal social interaction among students. There are some clubs that meet at lunch time (book club, anime, gaming) and organized community service events. My daughter feels like there are basically two groups of kids, those who are really smart and don't fit in at 'normal' schools and kids who had to leave their schools for drug or other types of violations, but that doesn't have to change the flavor of the positive aspects unless you want it too (those are mostly her words). The flexible schedule is great, she has a whole day a week with no classes to pursue other interests, music ensemble and other hobbies. Overall it's a good fit for an introvert who is comfortable with adults, because the primary interactions are with the instructors in one-on-one class sessions. We are overall quite happy with the support she is getting around her learning differences too. Satisfied Tilden Parent

To the mother who asked about the three choices for her ADHD son, I have had a lot of experience with Tilden Preparatory School; I am the College Counselor for many of their students. I think it's an environment well suited to a student who would do well with ''mastery learning''. The teachers there work one-on-one with their students, learning a unit until the student feels ready to take a test on the material. A student can, therefore, go at his own pace and when he feels he knows the material, he can be tested. The students get to know each other from meeting in the hallways, going for breaks together, or having the same tutor. However, there aren't traditional ''classrooms''. I love working with Tilden students because they range from A - Z in terms of ''types'' and ''backgrounds''. They all experience ''success'' academically, and that turns them into confident and happy individuals. I would highly recommend Tilden if the environment I described suits your son. You are doing the right thing by comparing the three schools; your son will instinctively know which one is best-suited to him. Best of luck with your process. Jan

My son and I love Tilden Prep. We've been there through 11th grade and now part of 12th, struggling with ADHD and other issues. Sorry I cannot compare Tilden with the other schools; I don't know them. My son has not been able to learn in a classroom with other students, getting too distracted and then falling behind and getting into trouble. The Tilden 1:1 ratio of student:teacher has allowed my son to do well for the first time after a long series of other approaches, none of which worked well. He has truly blossomed in the last year, after succeeding with his academic work at long last. I've been hugely impressed by the quality and caring of the teachers I have met, as well as the two school heads. Please feel free to contact me via Tilden if you want further details. Parent of a Tilden Prep Student

My 8th grade daughter was diagnosed with anxiety and info processing disorders and her public school was not making needed accommodations. Long story short, we tried Tilden's Walnut Creek campus and it was godsend. Without the visual/auditory/social distractions found in a typical 33-student class, she was able to learn more, faster due to the one-on-one teaching. The directors have a backgrounds in psychology so they GET kids - whether behind or advanced - just looking for a safe, accredited place to learn. Very positive atmosphere, teachers are stellar. maritess

I'm responding to the parent interested in Tilden Prep compared to BISP and Mentoring Academy. My daughter attended Tilden Prep for three years because even though she is very bright, her test scores weren't reflecting what she knew, no matter how hard she studied, and her grades were starting to slip in 10th grade. She thrived academically and socially at Tilden. She loved her teachers, and felt like they made the courses interesting and also helped her do her best. She even attempted classes she would never have considered at her previous (highly ranked public) school, like high levels of math and science, and she did well in those classes! She is extremely extroverted and social, and had a large group of friends there. She said there are all kinds of kids at Tilden, the students respect each other, and everyone finds one or more student that they get along with. All in all, we were thrilled to have Tilden as an option for our daughter, so was our daughter, and she felt very well prepared for college. Proud Dad of Tilden Grad

Since you didn't receive any input on Independent Study, and since I didn't read the issue in which you originally posted until yesterday, I thought I'd give my thoughts on the matter. My daughter was in BISP for most of high school. It worked out well for her, although we worried that she was isolating herself socially, which was probably more a personality issue than a result of working independently. She learned how to study and write papers, she was able to take classes at Berkeley High that she wanted to take, and she is now a college freshman at an institution that values individuality and intellectual rigor. This is not to say that it was an easy road for her or us - she wouldn't consider private school, and BISP was her choice - but she was successful in school, however you measure that, and we're all pleased with where it has taken her so far. former IS parent

We have experience with both Tilden Prep and Mentoring Academy. Both schools are good at what they do but they work on very different models.

Our oldest child attended Tilden for one year, getting individual instruction from teachers. The directors are both knowledgeable in the education field, and we found the teachers to mostly be good. They are well-prepared in the topics they teach but they are not necessarily trained as teachers. The school seems to work well for students who are motivated and are able to get work done independently. It also allows students who are struggling with a subject to go at a slower pace. Because the classes are one-on-one it can get expensive.

Our younger child attends the new Mentoring Academy. The students take a mix of Mentoring classes and on-line classes. The classes are accredited and meet UC requirements. A wide range of classes is available and students who are ready for more challenging classes take college-level classes. They are at school from 9-5:30, working on their classes, getting individual tutoring, or working with other students on projects. They also participate in various social events. They complete all their work at school and don't have homework. Our child attended a private high school for two years and was a good student, but somewhat bored. At Mentoring he is taking classes that really interest him. The director, John Muster, is a gifted educator. He was well-respected by parents and students as the head of Maybeck High School. He has an amazing rapport with the students. At Mentoring he works closely with the students to make sure that they get the right classes and are actively engaged in their own educations. Mentoring Academy is new and still very small, but I imagine it will grow quickly as the word gets out, and there are plans to add art and other classes. It has been exciting to see our son so engaged in his classes. Even though he does not have homework he sometimes works at home because he is so interested in what he is doing. A Berkeley Parent

Each of the three schools mentioned has strong and effective solutions to meeting the needs of students. All three provide self-paced instruction. This posting is a brief explanation of the features of Mentoring Academy because there are some important differences. Students are expected to be at Mentoring Academy from 9 to 5:30 each day to meet with teacher-mentors, engage in projects with other students, participate in discussions and to complete their individual work. We do not send students home with homework, rather expect them to complete all work with the support and guidance of the mentors on staff and engaged with them during the school day. Evenings are for families, following personal interests, and resting in preparation for the next day. Social, travel, all school and joint events provide for a rich interpersonal life as well as a strong academic environment. Every student is placed at their appropriate level whether it be Advanced Calculus, AP courses, or modules that assist in mastering skills missed in earlier schooling. All courses are mastery, project, self-paced, mentored and engaging. A-G approved courses. The approach is to support individual student mastery, accepting the fact that no two students are alike. John Muster, Director of Mentoring Acadcemy

Thanks to all respondents. Our conclusions:

1. Tilden: respondents indicated their child's happiness and achievement at Tilden, and parental satisfaction with the quality of education there and the attention to individuality. We decided against Tilden due to cost.

2. Mentoring Academy, John Muster: the program is small and new. We visited and met twice with John. Significantly, my son wanted to transfer there after meeting and feeling extremely comfortable with John and the students. I found John's engagement with my son and the other kids to be excellent -- respectful, insightful, and encouraging a reflective and investigative attitude. Different than Tilden in that although each studies on his own, students are on site all day, interacting during breaks, with John and the tutors. We decided not to enroll there, and not for reasons of cost -- it is actually sliding scale. We decided for BISP instead to facilitate our kid's sustained participation in BHS classes and groups he is already involved in.

3. Berkeley Independent Studies Program: Nobody replied about this program, but we researched it and visited many times before eventually deciding in its favor. We met several teachers, the new director Edith Smiley, and observed daily functioning. We were extremely impressed. Run by the school district, so it is free. Designed for students with professional lives (dancers, etc.), parenting obligations, and/or who are very bright but bored in Berkeley High and prefer studying on their own as fast as they wish. Concurrent enrollment with BHS and/or BCC is common and permitted. Students meet once a week with their teachers and work on assignments the rest of the week. There is a full-time tutor and although kids can study wherever they want, they can also spend their entire day at ISP, as they have computers, books, and peace and quiet. Kids who are unmotivated, need constant supervision, or thrive only in large group settings would not do well here, I don't think, as it does require a greater degree of autonomy and curiosity regarding learning. BHS and BISP counselors coordinated the transition, which was bureaucratic but pretty smooth. Our son now takes non-core classes at BHS and core ones at BISP, and is thrilled to be free of the distractions and constraints of large classrooms. I would highly recommend that parents of bright, motivated and quirky kids consider BISP. Vera

Help finding an appropriate school for my ADHD son

Oct 2012

Hi!! I'm a mother of a 15 year old son who has a mild case of ADHD, no learning disabilities, just focusing issues. So far I've had no luck with schools accepting him because of his grades, and because of his focusing issue his grades suffer. Funding is also another issue. When you are a new student to a specialized school they designate money to current students and can only give so much to new students.

I've been trying to help my son for a very, very, very long time and I am running out of ideas, places to go, people to talk to about the whole situation. I don't know how to help my son anymore. It's beyond after school programs, even if they are great. The problem lies within and during his schooling and I need a specialized place that can really give him what he needs and accommodate his social skills as well.

Exhausted Mom needs help! Thanks for any suggestions, advise or opinion you're able to give to me. RG Loving Mom

Our son also has inattentive ADHD but is out of HS now. I know how hard it is as a parent to try, to keep trying and hoping.. I've never felt that there's a good fit out there for kids like ours in the academic arena, at least and surprisingly not around the East Bay. Academia has never come easily for our son, although very smart - and was very difficult to navigate for all of us. No school has ever been quite right. A lot of heartache with some good moments in between..If money was no object, Drew in SF, has a good program for kids with LD. They do seem to encourage one's individuality, dedicated to each kid's learning style while instilling good work habits and desire. Perhaps they have a decent scholarship program and can see through his grades.. (which are such poor reflections of our kid's)..

Tilden Preparatory School, in Albany, seems good, they try very hard to accommodate all kids. For some, reduced class size is utterly important, engaging those with inattentive issues. Your son might get lost at Berkeley High, but it could work out well. Bottom line is, these kids need structural support, even though it's hard for them to take it. At BHS, additional tutors and organizational helpers can make a big difference. Our son ended up at CPS - totally the wrong place. Lots of lip service, they really didn't get how out of the box he was. (very narrow norm there)

There aren't many good choices for our lovely kids with LD's, but in the end, they have to want to get the help we've made available for them. If BHS is the place, then build structure around it to help navigate through their uber political, chaotic, but very exciting environment. Keep eyes open for bullying and a system very lax in addressing it. I wish you a lot strength, perseverance and some good luck. Lisa

Does he have an IEP? If he doesn't then you can request an assesment from the school district, put it in writing I can't stress that enough! the district has 30 days to respond. Also there's an organization in Berkeley, DREDF they are an excellent resource. You can Google ''DREDF'' and it'll pop up. Best of luck & don't give up. cmr

I completely understand your frustration. My 17 ADD son has been to 7 schools trying to find one that worked for him. I had really good results at Envision Academy in Oakland. It is a public charter school focused on getting graduates preparred to get into college. They have an advisory period every day and must complete all work during and after school. This worked well for my son who didn't do well with homework or managing his own time. Unfortunately, he begged me to put him back in his old school with his friends, and I did. I was really happy with Envision, although my son was only there for a semester, so I really can't speak to the social environment or extra curricular activities. Anon

Have you looked into Bayhill High School on Bowden Way in Oakland? Bayhill is a small highschool for kids with learning issues, ADD, etc. My son is a junior at Bayhill and it is the PERFECT school for him. The staff ''gets'' these kids and they know how to teach them appropriately. I dont' know how the financial aid works after the fact, but it's worth checking into to see. We've gotten financial aid every year so far. Bayhill will let your son come and ''shadow'' for a day so he can get a feel for it. Good luck. Their office # is: 268-1500 (510) Feel free to e-mail me if you have further questions about Bayhill. june

Have you checked out Holden High School in Orinda? www.holdenhigh.org It's a small, alternative school with tiny classes, great support and academically sound. I spent three years there as a teacher and counselor several decades ago and know quite a few successful young adults who were previously my students.

I would highly encourage you to contact Holden High School in Orinda. http://holdenhigh.org/who-we-are/our-mission 925-254-0199

This very small school is amazing and truly is committed to working with kids who have struggled in school for any number of reasons. Their approach is non traditional with the goal of helping each student find success and graduate. Many of the administration/staff at Holden have worked there a long time and continue to do so because they are committed to helping teens who need and benefit from staff who genuinely get who teens are. Give them a call and make an appointment to go visit. They will put you in touch with parents like me who will be happy to tell you more about our experience there. Good luck. I hope this will work for you as it did for us. A parent who understands

I'm sorry to hear that you have been struggling all by yourself. Please don't be discouraged. There are a lot of helps out there. IEP is one way to get school district to help you. Besides that, you can find a good education consultant who specializes in finding matching schools/education for special needed students. They do cost a lot, but it worth the money. We got great help from Bodin. You may research this form, some parents have other recommendations. Good luck! another loving parent

High school that accommodates ADHD student

Aug 2012

Looking for high school in the Bay Area that accommodates a student with ADHD. I've been to Orinda Academy, Bay Hill and Holden. They are all great schools to check out!! I just want to make sure I'm not missing any other schools. Thanks!

My son has been at Springstone since 6th grade. He is going into 11th grade now, and is doing so much better than he was. He's been diagnosed with a bunch of things, probably bipolar, but certainly not Asperger's, which is what a lot, but not all, of the kids at Springstone have. They also admit kids with bipolar, ADHD, etc. so you should check it out. Classes are a maximum of eight, and they work on computers almost exclusively and are taught to organize their thoughts using computer tools. They have an Occupational Therapist on staff who teaches them techniques to siphon off all that extra energy appropriately. Let me know if you have any questions. HL

Hi - I would add Tilden Preparatory School to your list. My son has AD/HD and attended there last semester when he was overwhelmed at his highly academic/competitive public school. It is a wonderful supportive environment for all types of students and tries to help kids learn organizational skills without penalizing them for executive functioning weaknesses. The teaching is usually one-on-one or sometimes small groups. Kids get to focus on the course content without getting overwhelmed by the busy work that some high schools require. Grateful mom

Public High School for ADD daughter?

April 2008

My smart, social daughter is in 9th grade at Albany High, but she was found to have ADD and doesn't do her homework so they want to send her to MacGregor, the continuation school. Can anyone comment who has a kid at the new location? It sounds like the program has improved but I'm still worried. I'd much prefer she go to Holden or Orinda Academy, but she insists she wants to stay in Albany. Frustrated mom

Dear Mom of ADD girl - I too have an undiagnosed teen with ADD or ADHD - I too have been in a very stressful local school district - close to yours actually - I decided NOT to go through the districts ''testing'' or ''classification'' programs - I had her tested myself and realized that I as her Mom knew her better than anyone did anyway - she is distracted and needs someone to keep her focused - what did I do - TUTORS TUTORS TUTORS - we now have a great group of women who help her IN OUR HOME and she LOVES THEM AND LOVES THE 1 on 1 attention - GET HER A TUTOR fast - there is a great group in our area called STUDY SMARTER - they have a website - ask for Joel and get started even now before school is over - HELP your girl help herself and give her what our parents probably never could or recoginized - because for sure either you or her dad have ADD too - Best of Luck and sell your soul to get her a tutor who can work with her and give her the kind of encouragement she deserves and LEAVE HER WITH her friends and let her stay calm, happy and supported - don't move to the alternative school - those are just for the ones who are really bad off or parents just can't deal with them at home (or don't want to) - write me back on a post if you can't find Study Smarter - I have used many tutors and services and they are THE BEST by far maddie

My daughter also has ADD and attends Orinda Academy, which can be a good fit if the student needs support turning work in on time, etc. But I really encourage you to keep your daughter at Albany HS if she is happy there, doing OK academically, and has a good social network. You can always seek homework help and tutoring, but you can't buy friendship or self-esteem. I'm not familiar with the continuation high school, but the change could really really affect her in a negative way. I'd fight to keep my daughter with her friends. Parent advocate

High School Recommendations for ADD and LD Kids

Jan 2002

We have our daughter's IEP this month, and the district will recommend high schools for her, either public or private. She has ADHD, learning disabilities, and some emotional/self esteem problems that cause her to shut down if she feels unable to do the required school work. We are investigating Orion Academy, Contra Costa Alternative School, Le Cheim in Richmond, Arrowsmith (probably too academic) and we live in the Oakland High School district. Does anyone out there have any other ideas, or have any observations about the schools listed above? Thanks.

My son is a full inclusion student in Oakland schools and we are looking too at high schools next year. I don't have experience with the private schools you mentioned and Oakland didn't offer private placement. Oakland asked us to visit Skyline, Oakland Tech (our neighborhood school) and Far West. I have an appointment to visit Oakland Tech and will bring my son with me. I am trying to make appointments at Far West and waiting for someone at Skyline to contact me.

Last year I called Dr. Ann Parker about high schools. Her schedule is so busy that she didn't have time to meet with us but email me about options. Note: She knew my son when she was with Pediatric Medical Group.

My advise is to visit the sites suggested and of course talk to parents in their program. I always brought a close friend with me to see if what I saw and heard was what she saw and heard. Now that my son is older he is involved in his IEP and in the decision about which high school to attend. Not knowing all the details of your child's IEP, you need to decide which program will meet the needs of your child. Good luck. Doreen

Would you please forward my email address to the person who asked about alternative high schools? The description of their teen sounds very much like one of my daughters who is doing well at Arrowsmith. I previously wrote about Arrowsmith, and those comments are archived. I would be glad to share our experiences that might help these parents.

We are beginning the search early for a high school for a 7th grade girl who now attends a small school for children with learning and emotional problems. A large public high school will not work for her. We have heard recently of two schools that seem possible. One is Contra Costa Alternative school in Orinda, and the other is Orion Academy in Moraga, a new school just starting up. One seems to stress emotional and social needs, the other non-verbal learning disabilities. We are dealing with both, as well as ADHD. Is anyone familiar with either school? Any other suggestions?

There is a school in S.F. to look into. It's free...it's a charter school...and I understand it's good. They take some kids with learning differences and/of ADHD, and kids who what a different kind of high school experience. It's Gateway School. I don't have the phone number with me. From what I understand it's based on the ideas of Dr. Mel Levine and Howard Gardner.An MD I know sends his son there and speaks highly of it. (He lives in the East Bay). Rona (April 2001)

Hello to Anon. My son transferred this year from BHS to Contra Costa Alternative school in Orinda. I'd be happy to tell you of our experiences (90% positive) there.....write me and we can talk ....same offer to any other parents who might need a school very "therapeutic", alternative (i.e., not heavily academic, very tolerant of anti-authoritarian beliefs) and low-pressure oriented.. best, Lisa

Spraings Academy in Walnut Creek recently moved to a new campus and has been in existence for about thirty years - educating children with special needs from 2nd grade through 12th grade. Also, The Raskob Institute in Oakland is developing a high school that is scheduled to be open by Fall 2002. I've personally checked out all of the above. Rosa