How One Family Successfully Raised Their ADHD Sons

Family teamwork, love and support were key to success in school and in life.

ADD Boys, Part 3

KATHERINE: Tutors, pediatricians, psychiatrists, and counselors — they were crucial to our survival. When I was overwhelmed and exhausted, I would turn to other ADD mothers for support. We’d hold each other up.

The trick was finding a balance between making Ted and James accountable for their ADD challenges and knowing when to support them. You also have to figure out what works for each child. With James it was art. He drew incessantly from the day he picked up a pencil. I’d carry a pen and a pad with me wherever I went.

JAMES: I was impatient. Bribery helped. If I got something done within a set period of time, I would get Legos or go to a movie. Drawing worked too. I’ve been doodling and drawing for as long as I can remember.

KATHERINE: There wasn’t only the emotional toll on the family. It was expensive, too, starting with the doctors and the professionals. We got the boys re-tested and diagnosed every three years.

Also, Alan and I believed that the best thing that we could do for our sons was to encourage anything they seemed interested in, because that was where they had focus. Ted liked sports, so in the summers we sent him white-water rafting, mountain climbing, rock climbing. Jamie went to soccer and squash camps, but especially loved the summer art programs we found for him. ADD children spend a lot of time in the doghouse, so these experiences allowed the boys to master something they loved.

TED: After Dartmouth I started a career in investment banking. You had to be incredibly focused on little details. It wasn’t a good fit for me. In my current job, my boss is comfortable with the way I do my work, and I have a lot of freedom. I can work on a lot of things at the same time. I keep ideas in my head until I reach the tipping point. Then I say, “Uh-oh, time to write it all down.”

Some things won’t change. There’s always that frustration over trying to get things done. The trick, though, is being happier with the gifts of my ADD — namely, my creativity and insightfulness.

JAMES: I’m still pretty impatient. I don’t want to hear about the problem. I just want to hear about the solution. I’ve found comfort in art, which allows me to be myself. I create the best paintings on impulse. When I nitpick over every detail, the paintings don’t turn out as well.

ALAN: Ted and James are not wired to be planners or organizers. Ted is still impulsive. He decided to come home for Father’s Day, two hours before the plane left London. That’s just who he is, and we enjoy that about him.

KATHERINE: Nowadays, I can laugh more about it. These kids are spontaneous, creative, and exciting to be around. They have a different life view and are full of ideas. ADD presents a challenge for everybody in the household.

But it’s made our family stronger and helped Alan and me work better together. With Jamie off to college now, I want to focus on my ADD coaching and maybe write a book about my last 25 years. I thought I’d write about being an ADD mom — if I can find the time. There’s never a dull moment with our two sons — and we love it that way!

This article comes from the October/November issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: Teens and Tweens with ADHD,

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