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ADHD in Boys

ADD parent with ADD son struggling freshman

My son is 15 and a freshman. He was born early at 32 weeks. I am VERY attached to him and constantly worry about his social, school functioning. He has done well with no IEP due to medication use and my diligence in backing him up. I realize now that I really can’t back him forever. He wants and means to do well but struggles with all the executive function skills he needs to in spite of his best intentions. I recently began taking medication for undiagnosed Innattentive ADD which has helped me not to feel as overwhelmed as he does so I can guide him with tips that I have learned for myself. I feel so lost at how to best help him without overdoing it thus not allowing him to learn. I know my overindentification with him as well as my still seeing him as my fragile preemie is not helping things any advice would be greatly appreciated. Karen


Hi KM,
Good for you in realizing that you need to give him more space. It’s something I help parents with constantly. Sometimes they are afraid their child will stumble and they want to head off any opportunities for failure. Failures are great opportunities to learn and need to take place from time to time.

There is no one way that is better than another but you could talk to him about which things he wants supported and which things he doesn’t. Do not worry about someone else’s definition of parenting. I suggest that you just work with him and slowly take up more interests for your self that don’t concern him.

No need to be tough or the opposite. No need to dial down your affection. If you keep the dialogue open with him and follow your own judgement you’ll be fine.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:05pm

Thanks so much for your response. I have actually suggested we get a coach for him to help with his executive function struggles. He does not like to feel different than others and is such a good kid but I can see for him to take the reigns he needs support from someone that can let the failure happen. My concern is that because he has never been evaluated completely I am not entirely sure it is not an LD anxiety or true Innattentive ADD and I don’t believe in sink or swim for a kid who already is working from behind. Do you suggest I have a real complete assessment and with whom? neuropsychologist?

Posted by kmbauer on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:35pm

I would definitely get him on an IEP. This will reduce the stress for both of you and give him the extra breathing room at school if he needs it. If he doesn’t need it - at least it’s in place as he gets into grades 11 and 12 when homework will be more challenging.  There is really no down side to having one.

Posted by staypositive on Nov 05, 2013 at 12:30am

I have a 17 year old son, not diagnosed with ADHD, and an 11 year old w/ ADHD, an IEP and medication.

I can tell you my 17 year old probably has some ADD as well.  He is a poor test taker.  Did not develop strong study habits early.  As his short term memory is not good, he needs a lot of rote, repetitive review to get it into Long term memory.  He is okay with executive function, but probably has a small LD. Maybe he should have had an IEP… he is doing okay.

Other son, (11yr old), needs the IEP.  I do recommend the eval and help.  His school provides some extra support in a study hall that is about organization and re inforcing new concepts from other classes (this comes with IEP).  He has a hard time organizing and realizing how much work is needed to get projects done.  He is still a “kid” complaining about how much time homework takes.  I hope he can take more ownership soon, so far he hasn’t and I do have to step in and organize his homework and sometimes sit near by to ensure he stays focused.  Sometimes he is okay on his own, but again he doesn’t have the attention span to focus for long.

Posted by Janetv on Nov 05, 2013 at 1:21am

Hi again, KM,

Please excuse my not having responded yesterday.

If you can manage a team approach is best. A psychiatrist can diagnose and adjust medication but to fine tune learning strategies you will need a psychological assessment. This assessment, shared with the school, will provide the basis for teaching strategies and whatever accomodations are required to give him a fair chance to succeed.

Of course he may not want these accommodations because he does not wish to feel different. Often our kids are wiser than we realize because they avoid creating even the whiff of pity. I say wise because once that dynamic is in place it tarnishes most relationships and ultimately renders the sense of self fragile. But, knowing what they are and having the forms in place will allow him to avail of them at any time.

It is important that whoever you have doing the assessments is experienced with ADHD and is someone you and your son regard well. This is most important if you engage a psychologist since the interviews will be far more productive if the atmosphere is light and bright.

It is most important of all this whole conversation and the decisions completely involve your son since he needs to be in the driver’s seat and feel as though he is.

He may not want to be tested or he may embrace it. This conversation is an excellent opportunity for the two of you to discuss the options in a dispassionate, exploring way and you can safely tell him that you’re fine with whatever he decides about the assessment.

In the meantime, stay as close to the school as you can. This is where things can be wonderful or quite the opposite.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Nov 05, 2013 at 7:12pm

Thank you all so much for the advice.  I appreciate it so much.  I will work WITH him to move forward.  It is time for both of us to have breathing room.

Posted by kmbauer on Nov 05, 2013 at 9:29pm

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