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ADHD in Boys

My son seems to only find happiness in one thing...

My 11 year old who diagnosed ADHD (innattentive type) has always had a tendency to become fully obsessed with one interest and therefore seems to only be happy when engaged in that particular interest.  I’ve read before that this can be a pesonality trait with certain types of ADHD but I haven’t found much on how to help when this becomes an issue.  His current obsession is collecting a certain toy and it seems like he’s always needing the newest one and when there’s nothing new to get he’s empty or unfulfilled.  He even has a difficult time having a conversation about anything other than his interest despite some of the social tips we’ve given him.  My husband and I have discussed taking the hobby away from him all together to end the obsession but he’s also the type that can slip into a mild state of depression easily. 
Is there anyone out there who’s dealt with this???

Replies

Yes, we had the exact same experience starting at around age 6.  For the longest time my husband and I did not realize that this was more than just a hobby/interest.  My son has ADHD inattentive ( and distracted and impulsive) and he was also diagnosed with anxiety (GAD generalized anxiety disorder) with ODC tendencies.  He does not have OCD.  He has GAD with OCD tendencies in order to make the anxiousness go away.  Often times this can be seen in the form of collecting.  At age 11 we started seeing a PhD in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) who explained what is actually happening.  With the first item in the “collection” there is a feeling of happiness to the extent that my son wanted to feel that happiness and content again.  So he wanted to add another item to the collection to experience the happiness. But with each additional item, the happiness diminishes.  So he wants to keep collecting in order try to get that feeling of happiness again which will never come.  This is the OCD tendency but not OCD.  As the doctor explained, it is okay to have hobby and collect as long as it is for the right reasons - a true passion.  And not out of anxiousness which can result in a depressed state if item to be collected does not happen.  Through CBT my son is learning to differentiate wanting to collect to feel better versus collecting as a true passion.  Often times the differentiation can be determined by the reaction of not getting the item for the collection.  He learns self talk and problem solving when he starts wanting to add to a previous collection.  And through CBT we have been able to prevent new collections borne out of ideas for the wrong reasons.  My son is 13 years old now and when he asks for something he really thinks it through and know that my husband and I have substantial input.  And my husband and I have the resources to help him guide him so that he can really think about what is making him anxious.  Hope this helps.

Posted by Sabine on Aug 26, 2014 at 1:31am

My son who is 17 now loved Bionicles Lego’s when he was about 6. He loved bay-blades when he was about 10 Now he loves video games and Long-boards. Kids and people with ADHD get really focused on the things they like. If they like it they are usually really good at it.

Posted by leslie 1 on Aug 27, 2014 at 2:07am

Sabine,

Thank you so much for sharing.  This explains alot especially since he has a tendency to fall into periods of sadness and also anxiety.  I’d love to learn more about the CBT you and your husband used.  Can you suggest a book or resources that might be helpful to us.  THANK YOU THANK YOU AGAIN!  It feels good to hear from another parent with similar experience.

Posted by LaurasboysTB on Aug 28, 2014 at 4:22pm

Hi Laura, I found this online website for a review of what CBT is and how it is used.  This is first time I have accessed this website but it looked pretty good.  We have used many of the exercises: relaxation techniques, self talk, problem solving and realistic thinking.  http://www.anxietybc.com/self-help-cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt.
The also have a resource link which I will check out too.  We kind of stumbled across our doctor. It might be helpful to start by looking up “anxiety specialists” in your area.  Or you can ask your pediatrician or your own doctor - perhaps they know someone.  Sometimes even the school has doctors or practices that they recommend.  I can tell you that CBT works.  My son still has anxiety and obsessive thoughts but they are not debilitating (they used to be - very sad to watch) and when he starts using some of the techniques mentioned above, it brings him back to the present.  I often hear him using self talk after he walk by and says “Mom, I’m nervous.”  The CBT helps to become more aware of what is really causing the anxiety.  For example, when he has a test coming up, he gets fidgety and distracted.  Then he decides he was to add an item to one of his collections. He wants to add to the collection in order to make the anxious feeling go away and be replaced with the happy feeling that the item brought.  By asking him what is causing the anxiousness, he can tell us that he is nervous about the upcoming test.  Then we do some realistic thinking and problem solving like how much to study each day, when to study, etc.  And the desire to add to the collection goes away.  This is a crude but real example, but it gives you an idea of how CBT works.  Our doctor’s practice’s website is http://ctanxiety.com/ to give you an idea of the doctors specialties.  You are not alone!

Posted by Sabine on Aug 28, 2014 at 10:02pm

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