I am the mother of a 22 year old with ADD.
i took a different approach when he was diagnosed in kindergarten that I could work on behavior changes without medication. While we still had to see a doctor to keep his diagnosis active, I trashed all the RX he gave me. Instead, I educated myself on diet and sleep and exercise and made sure he had plenty of that. Nutrition was important to me and he did well with fruits and vegetables with one day per week having something of his choosing.
I joined CHADD and I quit my job and started my own business from home so I could be available all the time…during school, after school for meetings and when he got home to start his homework. I never missed an ESE evaluation and I said yes to every test offered.
I used various activities to motivate him and we started projects weeks in advance because things had to be done slowly and methodically. We timed everything so he could have frequent breaks in between assignments.
I had school personnel constantly monitoring him and we set up a communication log so I could be fully aware of how he did each day. We had reward programs to encourage him. I spent a lot of time talking and writing to teachers. I had his Principal and his ESE counselors checking in to see what could be done to lessen the distractions.
I am telling you this because I spent a lot of time setting him up with programs each summer with activities that interested him. I had a keen ear to listening to him telling me what he liked. We put him in Civil Air Patrol at 12 so he could learn to fly. He has an interest in aviation. ADD can fly because it based on a set check list that works. He flew solo eventually. We took him to camp each summer since he was 5 so he could learn independence. One camp was about helping animals because he likes animals. He did volunteer work in the library for over 3 years to earn volunteer hours for high school graduation. The library is a good environment for ADD. Very quiet and not distracting. One summer he flew to WI for aviation camp. Another summer he hiked through the Appalachia Mountains because he was interested in hiking. If he told me he wanted to build a computer, which he did, I found a way for him to do it. We kept the IEP open and we kept it open even in college now. I still fight for accommodations for him. Currently, I am
requesting that his school give him an Assistive Tool which is a Mac Book Pro 2017 because it has a tool bar that helps ADD remember much better.
He was not motivated to drive until he was 16 which is about a year later than everyone else. I didn’t push it. Eventually he decided to get the license so he could make some money to buy his own things.
It has been a full time job for me, although my husband was supportive and he the one who did more of the driving getting him to activities. But I believe it paid off because he learned to ask for help and that was the main lesson he had to learn to succeed. He is set up with tutors now and most of his classes he can use headphones which we found early on were crucial to his success. It blocked out distractions and made all the difference in the world. And we were able to do this without medication which was important to me because I didn’t want him to learn to medicate himself if things were difficult and he lost confidence or he was sad. I was very worried about that.
He’s due to graduate in 3 months with a bachelors and I never thought he would have gotten this far. He thanks me for being there for him.
So my suggestion is to really listen to what interests them and do whatever you can to make that experience happen for them. If they like to cook, find a cooking class. If they like computers, have them offer to teach children or older folks how to use the computer (libraries) so the knowledge is put to good use. It also builds confidence and gives them purpose. If they like to put things together, give them that opportunity. I found that charitable organizations were best for special interests and they were more adaptable to getting all the help they could. I used to pay him a weekly allowance if he worked at a charity so he had some money. Once he volunteered at a cat shelter because he likes cats and I’d do something nice for him so he was rewarded for his time since it was harder to find a job. He did work at fast food and for ADD multi-taking was not easy. So he got a job with UPS as a driver’s helper bring packages to people’s doors and that type of work for his mind worked well. So I really tried to adapt work to his abilities as best I could and overall it was a success.
I hope my story helps.