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

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Hi my 22 year old son is ADD inattentive. I just read (most of) this very interesting and sometimes heartbreaking thread, and wanted to respond to the original poster’s question about why there aren’t any success stories out there. I think many of us parents of ADD/ADHD kids keep hoping we’ll find the right therapist/coach/medication/school/whatever that will make things dramatically better. And then when it doesn’t happen, despite our herculean efforts, we get angry and depressed. I know, I did! The reality, I finally came to believe, is that quick fixes rarely happen, it’s a slow process with a lot of two steps forward, one step back — and sometimes three steps back. As a parent, I’ve also had to take a hard look at myself and my expectations for my son, some of which were unrealistic and put harmful pressure on him.
Like so many ADD kids, my son is very bright, so I assumed if I could just get him through high school (which required nonstop battling over homework, etc.) he would do ok in college. Wrong. He got into a very good college and didn’t even last a semester. Gradually I came to understand that sitting in a classroom and doing assignments are utter torture for him — on the other hand, he has good people skills that could serve him well in many professions. So, after several false starts he ended up in a vocational-oriented degree program in the hotel business.
Even that has not been easy — his executive functioning is still terrible and he is prone to a lot of ‘magical thinking’ about how to get where he wants to go. But I do see progress–not dramatic, but progress all the same. Barring an unforeseen disaster (I can never rule that out!) he will graduate this year. He’s currently doing a work internship in a foreign country and seems to be thriving.
My suggestion would be this: Find a quiet moment when you are not angry, to talk to your son and say, “Hey, seems like school is not going well,” and see if you can create an opening to discuss alternatives like maybe getting a job or even volunteering for awhile (my son volunteered in an animal shelter). I think it’s important not to present getting a job as a punishment, and not to assume that he’ll fail there because he failed in school. My son who was a disaster about cutting classes and not doing homework, has held several jobs and has always been totally reliable. I think it’s because he loves being part of a team and doesn’t want to let co-workers down.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in tough love. Staying home and playing video games isn’t an option, and I’m not shelling out big money for something my son wants unless he’s taking clear steps toward his goal.
Forgive me for this rambling answer, but I empathize SO MUCH with what you’re going through. All the best and let us know how it goes.