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Parents of ADHD Children

Won't ask for help.

My 9 yo son is ADHD, is on Concerta, has all the IEP concessions, lots of help from sooooo many people.  He is happy and doing well at school and home.

So why am I asking a question?  Well, when he gets to a point where he needs to solve a problem he doesn’t ask for help. IE: yesterday at school he couldn’t find his pencil so instead of asking for a new one he sat at his desk and stared out into space.  This morning he couldn’t find clean pants (yeah, I really do need to do laundry.) and instead of telling us he just sat in one space and did nothing.  Any ideas on how to get him to ask for help?  We keep him on track at home (timers, reminders, etc) but if this is going on at school as well it is just going to get worse, I assume.



So sorry for those tough times.  We have two boys who have similar ways of handling things.  At the end of the day, (or during the day-lol) it is up to them.  I vascillate between worrying about it and letting it be. We have had many conversations with our boys-with their teachers present-and at home regarding how important it is for them to self advocate. 

I have had to learn to choose my battles and also let go of the end result.  As frustrating as it is, they are their own person and have to make their own choices and suffer the consequences.  We all know that certain types of ADHD affect motivation and connecting behavior/choices with outcome.  You can make yourself crazy trying to fix it or control it.  I often remind myself that it is not the end of the world if he wears dirty clothes, doesn’t take a shower, forgets his homework, you know the rest. 

Both of our boys have good hearts, love the Lord, and are smart enough to go to college.  I can’t let their failures be a reflection of me or their Dad.  I can’t let teachers or other parents judgement affect me or them.  We just keep trying, keep reminding, keep loving. 

I hope you can find some time for your own relaxation and know that summer is coming soon!

Posted by Kellie on May 15, 2013 at 6:16pm

Oh my gosh Kellie!  Thank you so much for this reply.  This wasn’t my question, but I also deal with it and I needed to see your reply.  In general my son’s ADHD makes me sad.  I’m a single mom and I am doing the very best I can with what I have, but I get really frustrated.  His teachers see how smart he is, but he struggles so much with his focus, organization skills, self motivation and so on.  It does make me feel better that people do notice the positive qualities he has.  He is one of the most caring, compassionate people I know.

Thanks for reminding me that it’s not the end of the world if things aren’t perfect.

Posted by jromero802 on May 15, 2013 at 6:37pm

Some of that is just going to come with the territory and will get better as he gets older. They do find ways to compensate and the strategies you’re already doing will help a lot.

When my son was the same age as yours his Dad would send him upstairs to brush his teeth and get dressed and every morning we knew he would come downstairs having done one of them, but never both. It takes a lot of patience and finding some humor in it to get through the day.

My son is 12 now and not only does he get dressed when we ask but after many reminders he even folds his pjs every day!! That’s not to say there won’t be times when the same thing won’t happen and they backtrack, but it’s less and less often.

His teacher needs to make sure he’s got the supplies he needs and to also keep reminding him like you do to ask for something when he needs it. The inattention aspect of it will improve, but medication has been made an enormous difference where that’s concerned.

Keep up the good work! You’re doing great.

Posted by Havebeenthere on May 15, 2013 at 6:52pm

Well, first don’t assume it is going to get worse.  This is just one of those glitches that happens in an ADD brain.

My husband does similar all the time and when asked after why he didn’t do something different he has absolutely no idea.  So clearly this is a symptom and not him being “lazy” or “not motivated”.  It just is.

My daughter also will do this sort of thing and when I try to push her to do something different or try to counsel her on what to do instead I get major pushback.  She’s 9.

Here is the thing, at that age they can’t tell that you aren’t being accusatory but this is how it feels to them.  And you can be the most pleasant person and use the nicest tone of voice but what you are doing essentially is pointing out to them something “wrong” about them.  And who likes that.  I think best to just deal with it as a non-issue and when you see it happening just ask a simple question like, “What do you need?” and move on.  The more hay you make out of it the worse they will feel about themselves.

If in all other ways he is doing well then it is all fine.  This is not likely to go away or improve significantly so best not to inadvertently make him feel bad about it by stressing.

Posted by YellaRyan on May 15, 2013 at 9:17pm

I listened to a great webinar here once.  I wish I’d have saved the link or at least I could remember the Dr’s name (he’s a well known expert in the field), but it made me change my thinking on the subject.

He explained that ADHD is a neurobiological condition which affects a person’s self monitoring.  They just don’t have the executive functions the rest of us have, and so can’t monitor themselves in the same way we do.  They are simply not able to organize themselves in this way.

That means they will need support for a good long while, possibly forever, to accomplish these goals.  That doesn’t mean you will always need to be there to hand him a pencil, but until he figures out tricks or strategies to remember on his own (e.g. keeping extras in his desk, keeping one tied to a string on his desk, I dunno…) someone will need to help him.  And if it’s in school, that someone will likely be his teacher.

We had a similar issue at school.  My son gets overwhelmed by a blank sheet of paper (sometimes, not always, which only makes it more frustrating).  If he’s not interested in the writing assignment he’ll just zone out.  His teacher came to me and told me how mad she was at him when she realised he’d sat there for a full hour with nothing done.  (My reaction of course was “how the hell could you not notice him sitting there doing nothing for a whole hour?!?!”, but I didn’t say that.)  She said she sent him off to the resource teacher who broke the assignment down for him and he promptly completed the assignment.  All he needed was a little support… a little push to kick start things and make them clear in his head, and he was fine.

After a few episodes like this, his teacher moved his desk next to hers so she could look up and monitor his work and make sure he was on task.  She thinks he’s got a lazy personality and doesn’t understand ADHD at all.  But she’s willing to do what’s needed to get him to do his best, and is a nice person, so that will work fine for this year.

ADHD isn’t considered anything serious enough for an IEP or anything here.  The best I can hope for is a teacher who is willing to make this accommodations for my son.  And that’s really all he needs.  A little more support and supervision.

Posted by Rai0414 on May 15, 2013 at 10:18pm

Iree.  In school support is key, with or without an IEP.  My daughter is 11 and was really struggling last year.  She had wonderful teachers who really worked to help us define her weaknesses and figure out what may be going on with her.  They even arranged an informal meeting with the district to discuss options.  However, sine she had not yet been officially diagnosed they did not do an IEP.  Her teachers however made all sorts of compensations and support available to her including keeping her desk near theirs and letting her take tests outside the classroom so she wouldn’t be distracted. 

This year, she has an official diagnosis but the school and district still don’t want to do an IEP and just let the teachers work with her.  Unfortunately one teacher has been relentless with insisting that she complete assignments and tests without offering her the supports that the school has put in place saying she does just fine “most of the time” and my daughter doesn’t speak up and ask for the help.  In some cases I have found I need to step in and fight with the teacher and call in the support team to back me up but most times I just remind my daughter to ask for her services and if she doesn’t and doesn’t do well let her learn from the mistakes.  It may take a long time for the “learning” to kick in but she is not always going to have someone there to fight for her and she needs to learn now.  It’s easier to correct the consequences now then in high school or college where the grades mean so much more.

Just keep working with your son and when you get frustrated, take a deep breath and remember that he is ultimtely happy and healthy and although ADHD is a struggle it can be so much worse.  Good luck!

Posted by lyndalaw on May 15, 2013 at 10:50pm

I worried alot about my daughter,  she wouldn’t ask for help either.  When she was little say 3 & 4 she wouldn’t talk to people,  dance class was too overwhelming,  she just cried.  at playschool she hung on to my leg &/or followed me out to the boot room.  I thought how is she ever going to survive the world but kids will work alot out for themselves an surprise you.  In 8th grade she went to Florida with her school for a science trip without either one of us chaperoning.  This easter she went to New york with her art group. Costa Rica this summer and is registered for college in the fall.  They work alot out for themselves as they grow and mature and this can be very slow for these kids and painfully slow for us watching them.  I talk to my son about things when he,s calm (usually before bed) things like If you ever need something it’s perfectly acceptable and okay to ask for help.

Posted by happydays on May 16, 2013 at 7:51pm

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