Maggie

Maggie is a 13-year-old eighth grader who is extremely well liked by her peers. Although she is not an honor roll student, she is very involved in extracurricular activities. She excels in cheerleading, art, and life skills, and was recently chosen as "Star of the Month" by her life-skills teacher for her innovative fashion design. All of Maggie's teachers say that she is a pleasure to have in class because of her positive attitude and helpful nature. While she may not use the best approach to tasks, she is always willing to share her ideas with a struggling neighbor.

Maggie's positive attitude and willingness to help is also evidenced by her volunteer work at the local retirement home. She loves spending time with her grandmother whom she calls Nana. Maggie and her grandmother oversee craft projects, some of which are Maggie's original ideas. Maggie's original ideas aren't limited to her craft projects, though. She spends enormous amounts of time in her room arranging and displaying her sticker designs. Her favorite stickers are of dolphins and other aquatic animals. Maggie says that these animals make her feel free and happy.

While she continually wears a smile on her face at school, her parents say that she appears frustrated and overwhelmed at home. Her mother says that watching her begin a task is like watching a pinball machine-she bounces around and has no apparent pathway or direction. She does things by deploying the first thing that comes to mind. When preparing for tests, she goes over material in a random, disorganized manner. When beginning assignments, she is often missing the needed materials for the task. Because she keeps things in such disarray (e.g., locker, notebooks, bedroom), searching for these materials is a time consumer. Any effort given to a search ends up creating an even bigger mess and wasting even more time, adding to her exasperation. This inattention to time often results in frequent tardiness to class and other activities. Her lack of organizational insights and everyday practices stand in the way of efficient school performance and escalate Maggie's frustration.

Strengths:

  • Is well-liked by peers and adults
  • Is helpful in and out of school
  • Excels at life skills (home economics) 
  • Has strong familial support (very close to her grandmother)
  • Has good gross motor (cheerleading) and fine motor skills (art)
  • Has a positive attitude
  • Is very creative
  • Has average academic skills

Areas in Need of Improvement:

  • Loses track of things
  • Forgets to take home needed homework materials
  • Has a poor homework and test average
  • Keeps a messy room, locker, and notebook
  • Is frequently tardy to class

Possible Management Plan:

Maggie needs immediate help with the implementation of organizational tools. She has many strengths which could only be enhanced by organizational guidance. Maggie needs help understanding possible future pitfalls that could arise if this matter is not addressed.

Leveraging Strengths and Affinities:

  • Allow Maggie to create her own system of organization (for home and school) using her stickers
  • Suggest that Maggie get a study buddy to clarify homework assignments and review for tests
  • Ask the retirement home where Maggie volunteers if she can be in charge of organizing "Craft Days." Have Maggie decide what materials will be needed and how they should be organized. Talk to Maggie about how these same skills she used for Craft Days can be used for her school work and projects.

Accommodations and Interventions:

  • Incorporate assignment books and the management of these books. For example, have Maggie include areas for notes specifying "things to do the week before the test" or "things to do during the week of the test."
  • Help Maggie establish a space that is dedicated to the task of
    studying or doing homework. In order to help her get into the habit of studying in the place, remind her not to use it for  social conversations, art projects, or sticker collections. The
    elements in this space should promote alertness and concentration. Working at a comfortable desk used only for studying would likely promote the necessary concentration.
  • Institute a school telephone "hotline" that Maggie (and her parents) can use to check assignments and due dates. Have her work in teams to act as a backup for each other, confirming homework directions and comparing lists of necessary materials.