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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

My 13 year old son has no friends

My soon to be 14 year old has not had a relationship with any peers in over 2 years and those get togethers became more sporadic since he went to middle school. He has ADHD and because of rejections and bullying, rejects any attempt we make to get him involved in sports, camps, or other outside activities. He spends all of his free time in his room on his kindle watching videos and when we ask him to join us to go to get something to eat, go to the movies, etc, he turns us down. He is on meds for his ADHD and anxiety and he reluctantly goes to therapy but wants to quit because he doesn’t see any point. We have talked to him about group therapy for social anxiety but he tried it once and hated it and won’t try again. If he develops a passion, we try to help him to pursue it, but because he wants to learn something quickly and without outside help, that passion disappears as quickly as it came, usually within a few weeks. We have encouraged him to invite school kids or neighbor kids over but he refuses, again because they tease/bully him to which he says he ignores but in all likelihood gives it right back. Summer is coming without any plans for him and his father and I do not know what we can do further to help him. Any ideas? Thank you.

Replies

Sounds familiar…..does he see a counselor?  Sounds like he’s retreating to where he feels safe.  We banned electronics from our ADHD son’s room—-he has to be in the “public"areas of the house when he plays computer games and such.  Yes it can be annoying because he can get loud, but he’s also learning that he isn’t in his “own” world and has to interact with people—even if it’s his own family.

How about volunteering as a family or with one of the parents?  I wouldn’t make it an option.  Let him know that you believe that in this lifetime you should either give back for the help you received or pay it forward for the help you may need in the future.  Our son helps teach computer classes at the public library a couple nights a month.  The folks that come really want to learn and it’s a safe place for a kid who has experienced bullying because the grownups are too busy trying to learn Word, Excel or whatever to pick on a kid.  Our library offers them during the day sometimes as well and our son voluntarily went a couple times then to help out.  Our son also volunteered with the police Explorer group of our town—-fit him to a tee since he’s so black and white.  He learned alot and participated in lots of community based activities with them.

Or maybe a job?  Mowing lawns, taking care of pets or maybe a local business needs someone a few hours a week that he could do? 

Also what we found with our son is that sometimes he didn’t understand the joke when kids were joking around (really innocent goofy nicknames or whatever while playing a game)—- our son took things pretty seriously and what he would call being mean sometimes wasn’t really.  I think it wasn’t until he was a senior in high school that he starting making jokes—- I remember sitting at the dinner table one night when our younger son said something and our ADHD came back with a one liner—-my husband and I were laughing and then realized it came from the ADHD son. 

Good Luck!

Posted by greyhairedmom on May 17, 2014 at 4:51pm

I agree with the idea of doing something useful and productive as a way to ease into groups.

It may take a while but trying to re-issue suggestions which have not worked will just make him retreat further.

I think it’s important to find out what your son wants to do. But it’s tricky because he’s been turned off so many times. A question could be something like, “If it was guaranteed that people would be fair and kind and friendly, what would you like to be involved with?”

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on May 17, 2014 at 5:00pm

My son has found it easiest to spend time with other “quirky” kids like him. There are some interests, like robotics for example, that tend to attract kids like ours. See if he’d be willing to try an activity or group where there will be more kids he can relate to.

My other thought is camp for kids with ADHD. Again, this environment ensures that the kids have similar weaknesses and interests and will be a much easier environment for him to be open without rejection and teasing. I highly recommend SOAR, but it’s the only camp I have any personal experience with. We attended their parents’ weekend as a family two years ago and I was beyond impressed with their program. We intend to send our son to summer camp there when he’s ready. I know another parent whose child attended last summer and she said he came back “a new kid.” They focus on building self-esteem and turning coping tools into habits.

SOAR and many other camps for kids with ADHD are listed in ADDitudeMag.com’s Summer Camp Guide for 2014: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-guide/adhd-camps-schools.html.

Here’s an article with advice for cultivating social skills with teens with ADHD, too: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/6197.html.

It’s so tough to see our kids alienated and sad!

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on May 19, 2014 at 5:23pm

Thank you everyone for the support and suggestions. While some of them we’ve tried in the past we will try again now that he’s older. He mentioned today that he wants to learn guitar and agreed to go with me in a few days to find out more. Keep your fingers crossed!

Posted by Ann534 on May 21, 2014 at 12:41am

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