Reply To: My son is 19 and has not graduated high school

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums School & Learning My son is 19 and has not graduated high school Reply To: My son is 19 and has not graduated high school



All this hyperfocus this and hyperfocus that, help, help- what do we do with ADHDers addicted to Video Gaming…so sad, so draining, so tragic. I have a smart chronological 18 year old (actual 14-15 yr old) that truly does not seem interested in doing anything except gaming. He just failed out of his first college class and now lays in bed all day gaming. He games 20 hours a day nonstop?? He is not eating, not checking BG (Type I DM) and not sleeping. I don’t think he would care if he was in jail, as long as he could game?! This Does not feel like hyperfocus.
3 out of the 4 high school years, he did the same thing despite punishments, rewards, token systems. He did not seem to understand that he cannot game 24/7, therefore, we are just “mean”. Finally, in his senior year he stopped doing anything, so my husband and I did the work just to get him a diploma!?! That was the last thing I ever wanted to do (I do Not want to enable) but the school was just ready for him to “be gone” and would have graduated him with all “D”s, despite no work.
I am trying to get my hands on his devices the best I can but I can’t- Did I say he’s smart? He is hiding them. He is so dysfunctional, I just could not put him out on the street. Because we stand between him and his devices he tries to tell everyone we are abusive but his psychologist and psychiatrist are the ones that told us to take his devices. He is very adversarial toward us and really avoids talking with us at all. We do not have a lot of options for ADHD treatment in our area. I filled out several applications for minimum wage work and he did go to the interview and is suppose to start tomorrow but I fear he will not do well given his inability to stop gaming. What do we do to help him? Does anyone have any ideas?

I’m not a parent, and as you can see by my other post, I’m not exactly my most coherent right now but I’ll do my best. There are a few things I can tell you. Take it with a grain of salt, I can only give you a perspective on the other side. I am sorry if it comes off as insensitive from the parental side.

1. I think you’re trying to do the right thing conceptually but approaching it in a very confrontational way. And maybe that’s fair after having to deal with it so long. But to me, once you know the method you are trying isn’t working, and the constant expression of disappointment from my parents would possibly make me distrustful and even more closed off and distant from them. At a point, I would probably lose sight of their intentions. He’s going to feel very defensive and possibly even develop insecurity issues.

He is very adversarial toward us and really avoids talking with us at all.

IS really telling that he’s become disconnected from you and you’re going to lose him at this rate.

2. Maybe I’m not the most responsible kid, but I never have bad/selfish intentions. I do really love my family and trust their intentions wholeheartedly even if I know they are wrong or out of touch with reality or modern society, I don’t question their motivations and look past the unintentional ignorance or little mistakes. They only want the best for me. Maybe your son doesn’t feel the same about you. You may mean well, but most anything you do is going to come off the wrong way until you fix your relationship. Punishing them and taking away their things isn’t going to help. You’re not solving the problem you’re just removing the outlets they express the problem in. Until they find something that they can become just as interested in (which is hard but not impossible) this will keep happening. If you sour the relationship by accident and he feels he can’t even talk openly with you, he’s going to get trapped in his own head even if he wants to become better.


I filled out several applications for minimum wage work and he did go to the interview and is suppose to start tomorrow but I fear he will not do well given his inability to stop gaming.

This is the one that really made me decide to answer honestly. I can’t express enough how I think this is a dangerous idea no matter how much you think it would help him. You need to be very aware that mundane and repetitive task that are not mentally engaging WILL make him detest work and will set you back on a lot of progress because it will feel disouraging and he will loathe every day he has to go, you might even trigger some depression if you force it. You’re going to unintentionally breed a worse behavior into him. I have quit well-paying jobs in the IT field because they stopped being intellectually stimulating and turned into “labor” instead of problem-solving and I stopped feeling like what I did made a difference or couldn’t be done by someone with 10 minutes of training. Working McDonalds, folding clothes at an apparel store, and doing front-end customer service work is not only understimulating but is also EXTREMELY taxing and mentally draining if I do not feel like my work is helping and impacting others in a meaningful way.

I can’t tell you how much this applies to your own son. But instead of just trying to force him to be “normal” or do things like most people should be able to and are expected to do is slightly insensitive in a way that will make your attempts not only unsuccessful but harmful. I do not mean in any way to offend or upset you or imply that you’re not being a good parent. You obviously care and are making an effort if you are even here and asking this in the first place. But you do need to adapt to find the right way to benefit them in a way that feels rewarding and that they can be into and get passionate in the same way about.

I’m no expert, I could be wrong. But the solutions you have expressed would only really cause anxiety and stress for me and would set me back even further, if not cause me to become depressed and shut down altogether.

Sit down with him (in his most comfortable setting) and just let him know that you’re sorry for not understanding him (if you think you’ve made mistakes or done something that affected him badly but with the best intentions). That you aren’t mad at him, you just want to see him be successful and you were trying to do what you thought was best for him even if it wasn’t ideal. (Be careful you don’t express disappointment, make it about helping him be his best, do not fixate too much on making him resent his own behavior as it might inspire a lot of regret and self-hate). Things like “I care about you and I want to see you be happy.” “I want to be able to help you find a way to express your talent in a way that you enjoy and are passionate about, and that you can make a career out of.”

Without knowing more about his other interests, or where you live and if it’s populated enough for stuff like groups to be an effective tool to help him build some connections and share mutual interests with others to get him more motivated, I can’t help you find what the productive outlets could be, but I hope you can work it out. You may also be able to look into some telemedicine options if there are no local options available for ADHD treatment. It’s probably unfamiliar and I have no personal experience with it, but it can’t hurt to try.

Good luck

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by rawriorr.