Reply To: Is it ADD or is he an A$$

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I understand how frustrating being a parent of a child with ADHD can be. My son is 14 and he was diagnosed when he was 9. The thing is, his diagnosis led me to realize that I had been living with ADHD my entire life. Throughout school I was always in trouble for not paying attention, being late, forgetting things etc. I was labeled a bad kid because everyone thought I was doing these things on purpose and I just needed to make a decision to do better. People said they have given up on me, they were wasting their time, I was lazy and all of the other negative hurtful comments most of us are very familiar with. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do what people say I should be able to do? Since everyone else had given up on me I felt like I should also give up on myself. I tried to go to college after I barely graduated from high school. Of course, I had the same issues so I failed out.

My son suffers with similar trouble, even though I know exactly how it feels I still get frustrated. However, I would never tell him he is wasting my time, my money, he is “forgetting” or anything else like that. When he forgets to bring is homework, doesn’t write down all of the instructions to a school assignment, or gets in trouble I get extremely frustrated. I do my best not to let my frustrations show but I’m sure they do, at least a little. Instead of yelling, calling him names or intentionally making him feel worse I discuss the situation, relate the ADHD symptoms to his ADHD and look for ways to handle the ways h disability manifests itself. Both of us take medication and work together to try to overcome the challenges but they still happen. I am making my second attempt at college, going into elementary education because I want to help students who have learning disabilities. Many of these children are mistreated at home and school, they have no support. Nothing you do can make your son feel worse than he probably does, we are our worst critics but comments like yours just reinforce his beliefs. He needs emotional support, it is not coddling, it is helping your child who has a disability. Any disability is hard for a family but a parent would never tell a child with down syndrome to just stop having downs syndrome. That parent would be considered a horrible parent by most people.

I am 43, diagnosed with ADHD 5 years ago, take medication, see a therapist, constantly look for techniques to improve but I can’t just choose to get better. Neither can my son and neither can your son. I am still late, always in a rush, unorganized but I am an adult with a diagnosis. I at least know what is wrong with me and I do my best to improve. Just last week I was getting ready to get in the shower, noticed it needed to be cleaned so I started cleaning it. Fifteen minutes later I realized what I was doing and I had to rush so we weren’t late. Fortunately, I have a fantastic support system at home. My wife does not have ADHD, she doesn’t fully understand it but she does see the struggles It causes in my life.

Instead of complaining about his “lack of effort” and “laziness” try helping him. Setting alarms and criticizing him when he is still late is not considered helping. That contributes to his feelings of incompetence and worthlessness. Every college has a disability services office that can help establish accommodations for your son. I now receive accommodations for ADHD because it is a disability, not a choice. You could help your son by contacting that office at his school. You could then show him your support by advocating for him in the meetings with the disability office. They can customize a plan that deals with his tardies because they are related to ADHD and not disrespect.

This is a much longer response than I planned but your post created a wide variety of feelings. It made me extremely angry, deeply sad for your son and it made me think of all of the other people with ADHD who receive this type of treatment. If you and your husband want help for yourselves to seek help instead of blaming your son. You are the parent, take some initiative. The way you talk about your son in your post is horrible. Everything is judgmental and condescending. I hope this isn’t the way you talk to him but I have a feeling that it is. Instead of insisting that your son change without your emotional support you need to change your perceptions of your son’s disabilities.