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Untreated ADHD teen

Well, I’m pretty much at my wit’s end, so I figured I’d throw this out there to see what comes back. 
My son is 16 now; nearly 16 1/2.  He’ll be starting his junior year of high school in the Fall.  He began manifesting behaviors consistent with ADHD during grade school, but his natural intellect and charm carried him through with only occasional bumps in the road (disciplinary issues, frustrated teachers, etc.). I brought up the possibility of his having ADHD way back when, but the conversation never gained any traction with his mother.
Things started to turn south in middle school, and now, in high school, the wheels have come off.
The problem is that his mother (we’re divorced 12+ years) doesn’t believe that he has ADHD, despite the fact that he was diagnosed with “severe” ADHD by an area pediatrician who is regarded as an authority on the condition.
Because we operate in a shared custody situation, she pretty much has “veto power” over the recommendations that we’ve received from an assortment of pediatricians, therapists, and even someone who billed themselves as an “ADD Coach.”  Eventually, they all recommend that we get the kid on appropriate meds…at which point she concludes that they’re incompetent, and insists that we discontinue seeing them.
I don’t know what else to do.  My son is starting to manifest many of the behaviors that we all know untreated ADHD kids are prone to.  He can’t get it together academically, and, worse yet, he just seems to have lost much of his enthusiasm for life.  It frightens me.
Has anyone else been down this road?  What options do I have left?  Do I need to go to the “nuclear” option and take her to court in an attempt to gain sole decision-making power?  Do I just ride out the storm until he’s 18, at which point he can tell US what he wants?
I’m feeling pretty helpless here; any/all suggestions are welcome.

Replies

Hang in there we are all feeling your pain.
Does your son not have any voice in any of this?
Good luck

Posted by Anna from toronto on Jul 19, 2014 at 5:27am

Yes, I think you should present your information to the mediator/court.  I think if you give all the facts, they will understand why you need help on your side.  My prayers are with you and your son.

Posted by Liz A on Jul 19, 2014 at 5:31am

Well, something has to be done for your son! I have an almost 14 year old son with ADHD and ODD,who was diagnosed at 5. He understands that taking his meds far out weighs not taking them,
My thoughts are… your son’s mother is feeling if she admits that he has ADHD then somehow she has failed. I assure you that is a valid feeling, however, once you understand that ADHD is a neurological imbalance and that it is not your fault and you are not a bad parent the meds really make a huge difference in their daily functions. If your son is 16 then he is old enough to have a say in what he thinks. Did you ask him what his thoughts of this are? Would he be willing to try meds to see what the changes are? Now, you will be prescribed a low dose of something and then the doctor will increase it. Appetite loss is a huge side effect so don’t worry if he suddenly stops eating during the day. He will eat at night.
My son currently takes 60mg of Vyvanse and 3 mg of Intuniv, which seems to work well. Good Luck and don’t give up on your son we all take it one day at a time!!

Posted by chaos on Jul 19, 2014 at 3:11pm

Its not too late. If you think your son has ADHD and is having trouble, why not just go and get him evaluated. My husband has ADHD and didn’t get treatment for it until about five years ago. He is now doing much better. Your son can try stimulants, but there are treatments recommended for adults as well. If he doesn’t respond to stimulants, there is always Webutrin (What my husband takes) or Norimprimine.

I just finished reading Understanding ADHD in children and Adults. He is one one of the leading experts in this subject and has a lot to say about ADHD in adolescences and adulthood. He believes that whatever else you do, you should consider medicine first.

I hope this is helpful to you.
Sue H in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Jul 19, 2014 at 6:10pm

Hi rep58!

I’m sorry to hear that you and your ex can’t agree on helping your son—it really hurts him the most. I agree with other comments—it’s important to ask your son what he wants too, and that could have more influence on your ex’s decision.

There’s some helpful advice on next steps when divorced parents can’t agree on treatment in this article too: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/9557.html.

Keep advocating for your son—that is what is most important!

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

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 21, 2014 at 1:01pm

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reply.

Trust me, I’m not opposed to the idea of embarking on a trial course of medication.  If it were solely up to me, we’d have started that long ago.  But, none of the professionals we’ve seen thus far will even consider prescribing medication for my son, because his mother won’t give her consent.  She blocks everything. 

adhdmomma: thanks for the link to that article.  Very reasonable advice.  However, as I have learned (again and again) during the past two years…you can only reason with a reasonable person.  And yes, it WOULD help—a lot!—if my son would advocate for himself.  But, he doesn’t, and I think that has much to do with the level of control she imposes on him.  I think he’s afraid to stand up for himself around her.

Maybe I’m just avoiding the inevitable.  Maybe my only option IS the legal option.  I don’t want to go that route, but I will if I have to.

Posted by rep58 on Jul 21, 2014 at 11:55pm

My now-18 year old daughter did great in school…until high school when things slowly and steadily unraveled. She was treated for severe depression and anxiety (we all assumed the cause was her father’s death when she was 9) beginning in 9th grade, but it never got better. It wasn’t until mid-12th grade that she was diagnosed as Inattentive ADHD…but it was too late at that point.

I now have a GED-holding young adult who wants to be independent, but is unqualified for universities, and totally unable to manage her own business or academics. She feels like a total failure. She won’t see a coach or counselor and I’m really not sure what we are going to do next. I only WISH I had the diagnosis earlier so I could have begun treatment and implemented routines in her life.

I will point out that many people recommend non-prescription treatments (diet, supplements) and maybe you can work them into his life. I’m just now learning what these are for my own child.

I have often felt miserable dealing with this as a widowed solo parent, but your situation highlights that some parenting situations are much more difficult than mine. I truly wish you and your son the very best. He’s lucky to have a strong advocate. Don’t give up seeking treatment!

Posted by Late2TheGame on Jul 22, 2014 at 6:39am

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