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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults


My husband and I are simply exhausted.

Our high school freshman is having a difficult transition to high school.  He is failing 3 classes and he is becoming more and more of a behavior problem each day.

There are many questions keeping me awake at night.  Maybe some discussion will help things settle in my brain.

1. How far and how long do we allow him to fail? We are checking homework for completion nightly and feel like he and his teachers should be responsible for the content.  It’s not happening.

2. We keep reminding the school of his 504 accommodations. They are not being followed.  What would you do after discussions with teachers, guidance counselors and administrators aren’t working?

3. Will he still be living at home when he is 32?


I understand your situation and it is difficult once the downward spiral starts. Does the school offer peer tutoring?Are the teachers able to provide any extra time for him to review content. Is he able to get a copy of the class notes? Does he have a study hall where he could go to a learning lab or a smaller location to get direction or guidance from a staff member.  Have you talked with his intervention specialist at the school? Does he need a reevaluation?
Just some things to think about.I We should give are children every opportunity and resource available to them. Is his behavior the cause of the grades or a response to the grades?

Posted by mjo on Nov 07, 2013 at 5:26pm

My son is in grade 10 and he has had a resource period in each of his heavier semesters. This means he isn’t getting as many credits as his peers but he has 75 minutes in a small situation with a resource teacher. She is my go between . His teachers talk to her or even come to the room with requirements. He works on homework , assignments, etc. he is allowed extra time for assignments but the worry is always that he might have 3 from 3 different subjects at once. He should have a resource teacher responsible for ? Grade 9. We have one resource for each grade. Only about 600 kids total. With 1/4 of population with IEP. If he is feeling overwhelmed and frustrated maybe this is his reason for acting out. You should request a meeting with resource and each teacher. Have him come with you. Are they available for extra help at lunch? After school? Are they available by e-mail? My son even emails assignment over the weekend and has teachers reply with suggestions. He needs to advocate for himself. Have him ask what he needs to do to pass the class, maybe he can do a different assignment, oral testing ? Is he allowed a scribe, copies of all notes? This means he can listen during class knowing all the notes are being given to him for tests and assignments. We have gone through similar situations. Should he drop down from academic to applied ?? These are college vs university levels. Email me privately if you like.

Posted by JulieBmotherof3 on Nov 07, 2013 at 6:06pm


High school is definitely a transition for teens from grammer school to high school. Not sure what type of school your son is in. How many students to each class? You also didn’t say where you live. When my son had difficulty and the school didn’t respond, I called the Board of Ed and had them intervene of which they did. Your son has 504 accommdations and this should be followed through. Your school is compensated for that. On another note, transition from grammer school to high school is any adjustment for any child let alone a child with ADHD or special needs. It took half the year for my son to get aclamated. What I recommended to him is that he get involved with any extra-curricular activities that included students from the school so he would get to know them. It was easy, but eventually it worked itself out. Good luck. I know how draining on the parents this is. Thankfully he has parents that care enough to see him through..
Posted by msell120 on Nov 07, 2013 at 11:11am

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 07, 2013 at 9:04pm

If no one at his school is listening to your concerns, including the principal, about lack of 504 Plan follow through, take it to your Board. There is someone on staff for each board of education responsible for ensuring disability laws are adhered to. In my area it’s the Director of Exceptional Children (i.e., special education). I’ve reached out to her a few times over the years when I couldn’t get what my son needed within his school and created an ally. She retired last year so I’m working on creating an ally in the new Director.

Beyond that, hire an educational advocate.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 07, 2013 at 9:09pm

My immediate concern as a former Intervention Specialist, now ADHD Coach is WHY are 504 accommodations not being followed?  This is a Federal Law that must be followed by any school/agency, etc that uses federal funds.  I would not just remind them but you may want to solicit an advocate and have a District meeting regarding.

I know your son is your first concern so what can be done to get the behavior you want, not punish what they see?


Posted by judyadhdcoach on Nov 08, 2013 at 1:40am

First - Let me tell you that you and your husband are not alone.  My Husband and I thought that for along time.  Our daughter is a freshman and we are in a very similar situation.  We both are exhausted…... I am especially and I am deal with her daily.  In the beginning we had said we were gonna let her fail so she can feel consequences.  But with 3 weeks left in her first quarter in HS - we were a little panic’d-  she was about to fail 3 classes which means at the semester she would have to pull A’s to get C’s.  So we stepped in.  We had put Tori(our daughter on a 504 in 8th grade.)  That transferred over to high school which we learned.  We also learned that Tori was denying the accommodations.  We felt as you do that the school needs to step in and help- Our first steps where to contact teachers and set up meetings- they all new she was on a 504 but she never asked for extra time on tests or help.  We also requested out review early which is where we got a awakening.  Although they knew she was on a 504 it was up to Tori to ask for help not the teachers to provide it.  I have to say my husband was not pleased.  We had to restructure the 504 and we came with many requests most which were turned down.  Example -  can I get a copy of the homework schedule/test schedule.  To much to ask on a 504-  can I get weekly emails - to much to ask and so on.  So I met with every teacher and asked-  one teacher gave me the plans.  One teacher agreed to email me weekly and one gave me her number and said I could text her anytime.  Her math teacher (joke)  I asked how can she get A+ on all the homework and D’s/F’s on the tests.  This is what got us so upset as it did in her junior high math-  they turn the homework in and they get full credit - they do not check it.  I shared all this with you so go to this point-
1) I encourage you to be your son’s advocate-  You have to meet with all the teachers one on one (not in a group setting ) 
2) although it is a struggle -  Tori must get her assignment book signed each day - we are lucky if she gets them but normally she will get most. 
3) Email your teachers - bug the teachers -  get them to put your son on their radar- which is what we did.  I email them once a week. 
3) We met with her counselor who thought our idea of letting her fail was very bad.  Kids get lost in the school system now and must have parent support to get by-  We were able with much struggle to get her grades up to C’s - 
4) If they do not follow the 504 then go to district -  but not sure where you are out-  in high school they will tell you that the child needs to be responsible and ask for the accommodation- 
I could go one but also wanted to share with you- that our daughter has some other issues as in ODD.  So we have to change our thought process some what - and maybe let her fail her Spanish class.  If you read a earlier posting you will see that we are going though a lot with her.  Both of us are fully exhausted. 
In the last week we have been to counseling (without her) and her counselor told us make sure you stay on same page (parents).  Take time out for you and to stay consistent - 
I am not sure if that helps you as I rambled on for a little while but it is exhausting but you have to be come your son’s advocate in the school system.  I never thought I would have to spend so much time there but we have and they now take us seriously -  we are putting in for a IEP now which they are not happy about but we need to get her the help or it’s gonna be a very long 4 years.  Good Luck

Posted by DABermea on Nov 08, 2013 at 9:01pm

I read this tread hoping to find a nugget of wisdom.  My son, like your daughter, suffers from ADHD ODD.  My son, academically, breezed through grades K through 8, even taking high school credit classes in 7th and 8th grade.  Thankfully; since high school has been a disaster.  After failing out of his first semester his freshman year and with his ODD in full bloom, we sent him off to his first wilderness experience.  It has been a roller coaster ride ever since. 

What we’ve realized along the way is: ADHD can academically hinder a child, but the emotional toll can cripple them.  Especially a child with ODD as a comorbidity. Teacher impatience/indifference, peer pressure, anxiety, bullying, hormones, social media and drugs are all a part of the academic and social experience of the high school student today.  Add the parental pressure to perform well academically, and it is not surprising that kids like ours shut down or melt down. 

We were so naïve when he was in 9th grade.  We were involved, experienced parents.  With two older children, one in college and another successfully navigating high school.  We could not understand why our son was not responding to our rules and expectations in kind.  During his entire high school career, there has not been a teacher that I have not talked to, a day when I wasn’t checking grades, a night that I wasn’t asking about homework.  It has been emotionally exhausting for me, my husband, and my son.  Taking away privileges doesn’t work, taking away electronics doesn’t work, holding back his ability to get his license hasn’t worked. 

My son is now a senior, and our hope is that he graduates with his class in June.  This roller coaster ride has had more valleys than peaks.  As a parent, it is hard to reconcile that my son, the honor roll student and president of his middle school of 1000 students, will be lucky to graduate high school much less go on to college.

If I could turn back time, I would:
1.  Start counseling early for my son with a therapist trained in ADHD/ODD.  Remember you cannot medicate away ODD symptoms.  Only by learning what triggers her response and employing coping tools will she be able to overcome what might be a pattern of behavior that defines all her future relationships. 
2.  Get family counseling.  The strain on my marriage and my other children has been tremendous.
3.  Closely monitor your daughter’s social environment.  Watch for any sudden changes in friends or withdrawal.  You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.  Remember with ADHD, she is far more susceptible to depression and drug/alcohol abuse.
4.  Work with the school. Call regular meetings with the teachers and bring your daughter.  It eliminates the blame game. I agree with taking it to the school board, but as you know (ie; her Math classes) some teachers will take the easy path and just pass them without holding them accountable, especially if under the microscope.
5.  Get tutoring outside of school.  Even if its just a place to get help with homework or help her get and stay organized.  ADHD kids have so much trouble staying on top of the demands of 6 different teachers in high school.
6.  Finally, no matter how well intentioned, our public schools are just not equipped to handle the needs of our children.  If all else fails, and it is within your means, research schools both local and boarding which specialize in working with students with ADHD.  We contemplated sending our son to the Oakley School in Utah this year.  We toured the campus, visited with staff and students.  It was amazing.  Unfortunately, we waited to long, my son turned 18 in August and we could no longer make the decision for him.  I wish I would have known about schools like this earlier.

I am sorry this thread is such a downer.  But, it is going to be a long 4 years as DABermea says above.  I just wish I had gotten some of this advise when my journey started.  I might have been a little less optimistic and a lot more realistic and proactive. 

My husband would say don’t worry, “he’ll grow out of it, there are a lot of people with ADHD that are highly successful.”  What we turned a blind eye to is the many adults struggling with the aftermath of decisions and behaviors cause by ADHD during their teenage years.  Get professional help early, for all your sakes.  I wish we had when my son was in 9th grade.  His future may have been a little easier.

Posted by cmkag on Nov 09, 2013 at 9:44pm

My suggestion: Intervene as much as he will let you.

As a girl who was diagnosed quite late (16), and who struggled incessantly all the way through college too, I can say from experience that I was incredibly grateful for everything my parents did on my behalf with the school. I had a lot of problems with the administration requiring me to retake classes I had previously failed or credits that they didn’t count from my previous school, and my saving grace was really my mom, who called and argued and advocated for me when I had no idea what to do. I never had accommodations before uni, so I didn’t know how to get them or what was allowed or even that I could have them, and that process was mostly orchestrated by my parents.

I do think I would not have been nearly as grateful if I hadn’t struggled a lot with failure. It was terrible for my self-esteem and dysthymia, but I also can’t know if I would have accepted so much help from my parents without failing so much first. It’s probably a trial-and-error sort of thing; as angry a teen as I was, I wasn’t receptive to help from my parents, but sometimes I managed to be reasonable and it usually worked out in my favor.

I am now 26. I am living at home with my parents again (not still!), but this time because of the job market - I haven’t found a job in over a year and can’t afford to pay rent on my own anymore. Let me tell you, too, that getting my own place is my first priority, because while my parents were my champions, it was much easier when I had the semblance of otherwise independence to lend me some credit, and now that I am back in the house I grew up in, I am of course 13 years old once more. raspberry

Posted by calenlass on Nov 10, 2013 at 2:34am

Hi, I had ADHD and it was difficult to manage over my teenager years, don’t shout!! listen!. work in the long run.

I had impulsive behavior and never thought of the consequences. Nobody understood my Adhd, therefore it agitated me.  The only thing i can advise to you:  have an understanding to his unique condition, and i was put on healthy diet to reduce my symptoms, which controlled my concentration, memory, behavior the works!. Now that i’m 25, studying Health Science. Its great to know I’ve over come the battle. Now i accept as an adult, its a gift, i can talk to loads of people, i want to be a nurse, i read loads of books and excel in class. be patient, its an extremely difficult phase, he will come through.. Adhd and sugar don’t go adjust healthy diet, you’ll see grin

Posted by Majella on Nov 11, 2013 at 6:11pm

I knew we were not alone!  My son, a freshman also, has had an extremely rough transition period.  He has 1 B, and failing all other classes.  He feels overwhelmed and shuts down!  He also has a 504 plan and accomodations do nothing for him.  I am in the process of getting him tested for an IEP.  I have asked repeatedly for “resource” teacher, they basically skim past that remark….I am a worried parent of course, thinking he is going to fail 9th grade and it would damage his self esteem even further.  Any ideas from this I welcome!

Posted by tmades on Nov 11, 2013 at 8:31pm

Thank you, everyone, for your advice and encouragement.  We are in this for the long haul with him and we are going to try to celebrate every small success…. Even a “D” on a geometry test!  I am giving the school the rest of this week to get the 504 accommodations in order, then I am going to begin work through an advocate. I made this decision after his English teacher told me that he thought that our son has autism when I asked him if he understood our son’s diagnoses.  Let me tell you, restraint was difficult as I replied, “what our son has is ADHD and what he is is twice exceptional.” The man didn’t know what to say!

Posted by Childele on Nov 13, 2013 at 5:00am

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