13 yo boy ADD/impulsivity I need help

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    • #76671

      So first, my apologies if my English isn’t that good.

      Thirteen years ago I adopted my son. I never had any problem with him until school. It would take too long for me to write everything but my concern is that he’s ruining his life. He is in trouble all the time.
      He still does not understand at 13 that no means no. If my husband or I say no, we wont change our mind. So argument on top of argument for longer than should be normal…. We get fed up, mad, and yell.
      He started stealing 4 years ago. It started with my credit card to purchase online games. Then he did some shoplifting. Then he stole another boy’s DSi game at school (he had one that didn’t work well). Then he stole my mom’s boss new cell phone. And if that wasn’t enough, last year he took my husband’s credit card number and tried to order stuff online with it. Last week, suddenly as he was about to be allowed to play games for a little bit, he slipped out of the house (without shoes), ran around the back yard through deep snow and entered our neighbors house through the back door (wasn’t locked). And apparently this was the THIRD time. I’m like “WTH? don’t you understand in the concept ‘stealing is BAD’ and they’re going to take you to jail if you keep going like that. We had the police show up and now we’re waiting for the social worker. Very fun let me tell you. He doesn’t want to go to juvenile home or jail….
      He can be so nice, but that “bad boy” takes over him all the time. Bad language, talking about inappropriate things, and he finds it funny when he’s like that. When I ask “Why? Why you do you do that?” he don’t even understand. He said I don’t know wtf is wrong with me. Its like it’s not my brain inside my head. He hates his life. He hates to be like that. He’s said often “I’m such a failure mom, why don’t you get rid of me?”, or things like “I should be dead. If I was dead that would be better for everyone”, that “mom” should never have given birth to me…… He hurts me so much the way he’s talking. I’m always scared I’m gonna go in his room in the morning to wake him up and I will find him dead.

      I’m trying my best and so my husband but I start getting mentally exhausted. He was taking medicine, he started around 6 yo with Aderall it was working well on him, nice focus…. but 3 years after we had to stop it because it completely stopped his growth. His doctor never saw that with Aderall. So he took Vyvanse with Intunive for his impulsivity but he didn’t have that focus he needs. It was very hard talking with him without having him saying random crap that nobody will ever think its possible. So we tried something else but it didn’t work well either. So after talking with the doctor we made the decision to put him back on Aderall because that worked well with him. Doctor said since he is growing normally….. it should be fine and everything was fine except for the fact that his impulsivity is awful. If he wants to do something he will not think first. He wants it, he does it, He wants it, he takes it. No feeling for what other people will say…. Its him and thats all.
      My husband read online that impulse is one of the side effects of adderal for some people. So I started reading more about it and finally decided to stop all medicine. Enough is enough. Most kids in France doesn’t even take anything for their ADD/ADHD/impulse….. They prefer natural products. So I bought vitamins, something for focus/impulse and Omega 3. I’ve tried that for a month or a little so. I don’t know if I’m doing good and I don’t know what else to do to help him.

      He knows he needs to ask permission to do things but he doesn’t. We keep telling him we are the adults here we make the decisions, not you….. I don’t know what to do, or how to help him.

      He saw a private psychologist for 9 months last year almost every week but I stopped because things seemed to be ok. Also I had to remove him from school because of his behavior. Now we do homeschooling. I don’t want social workers to take him away from here. I know what it is to be in a foster family…. He will never survive that.

      Sometimes when you can talk with him you can see he would love so much to be ”normal”, to think like everybody, not getting in trouble. He hates that. He doesn’t even have friends. When kids come here we don’t see them for months or never. I know its hurting him and he says, “I don’t care I don’t need friends anyway, they are bad friends”…. Its always someone else’s fault but not his. He’s built up an impenetrable wall of excuses and reasons to not improve.

      Sometimes I wonder if he is bipolar. Things can go well for months, but when it falls, god it falls hard. Everything goes so bad for weeks, until we get tired and cut out completely (as punishment) what he likes the most, the computer. Thats another thing, he loves games so much, its like the only things that make him happy. He keeps talking about games….. nothing else.

      There is so much to say.

      I keep telling him, the only thing I want is for him to grow up like a responsible boy able to make nice, clear decisions to be an awesome adult later.

      He knows, he understands (maybe not fully but he does) what we are saying but like he said, he doesn’t have the control of his head. He doesn’t know how to do things (even if we tell him).

      I need help, some tips….. I love him so much I don’t know what else to do now.

    • #76673

      Hi, I strongly recommend that you read Russell Barkley’s books. One is specifically about managing the behavior of adhd children. The Kazdin Method for Defiant Children is another book by a different author that I can recommend. Both barker and Kazdin have a similar philosophy about managing behavior.

      I would also recommend working with a professional therapist whose specialty is adhd. Look on Russell barkers website. Russell barker is the expert on adhd and has a clinic. Maybe you could even visit his clinic, do a phone consultation with him, or ask them for a recommendation for a therapist in your area.

      Is your son doing any activities outside the home that could give him a positive focus? Sports? Hiking? art? I would try really hard to involve him in something that will make him feel good, even if that means taking him out yourself into nature for some hiking for example. I would also

      If you read the books I mentioned above, you will see that lecturing, arguing, reasoning and criticizing is the wrong approach. Instead, the rules should be made clear and when the rules are broken, a consequence is given. Do not engage in a discussion or argument. If he harasses you about it, continue doing whatever it is youre doing and ignore him or leave the room. If he follows you and continues and you can’t take it anymore, calmly step outside for a few moments. (Don’t be dramatic about it. Just say something about needing to get something out of the car or whatever) Afterwards, don’t hold a grudge, or at least don’t show that your upset. Just move on. When you start implementing these strategies, he will increase his efforts to argue and get a reaction out of you but stick to to the program. It may take a while but after a a while he will start to see that the old behaviors won’t work anymore.

      You do need professional help and guidance though. You’re in a difficult situation and you need support. But I can’t stress enough that you need to find a professional who is highly experienced with this population of children! Don’t just go to a regular therapist who claims to have SOME experience with defiant adhd children.

    • #76674

      One other thing I want to mention is the importance of a healthy diet and of exercise. Personally I would also get rid of all computers video game and television. Staring at a screen is doing nothing for his mental health. In fact I believe that screens have greatly contributed to behavior problems and mental health issues in children. Good luck to you!

    • #76675

      Oh and one final important ingredient: any time he behaves well, even if it’s the smallest thing, praise him. Allow him to earn rewards for good behavior. Not video games preferably but a movie with mom and Dad maybe, a trip to a restaurant, a trip to a museum, anything positive that he can feel good about.

    • #76677

      Thank you Katherine, I will order the book and see with my husband if he can contact Russell Barkley and talk with him. My husband is American and I’m French Canadian so English is sometime a bit hard.

    • #76678

      Sorry, one other thing I thought of. Look for every possible opportunity to create loving, caring moments between you and your son. Hug him as often as you can. Tell him you love him as often as you can. Those moments of connection and love between you are critical to a trusting relationship and will make him more likely to want to do the right thing.

      • #76679

        He receive so much love even with all mistake he’s doing. I just ordered 2 books can’t wait to red it.

    • #76720
      Penny Williams

      I would first encourage you to change the language you use to describe his issues, it will help you reframe your mindset to be more helpful:
      “he’s ruining his life;”
      “He still does not understand at 13 that no means no;”
      “If he wants to do something he will not think first;”
      “He knows he needs to ask permission to do things but he doesn’t;”

      Do away with words and phrases like “refuses to” and “chooses to,” and replace “is” with “can,” to help recognize that often his behavior is truly out of his control. You have to banish the idea that this behavior is on purpose, because you know it’s his ADHD brain (and maybe bipolar as you mentioned?).

      For instance, change
      “He still does not understand at 13 that no means no.”
      “He still cannot understand at 13 that no means no.”


      “If he wants to do something he will not think first.”
      “If he wants to do something he cannot think first.”

      I cannot recommend Ross Greene’s work and his books, The Explosive Child and Raising Human Beings, strongly enough. They will change your lives if you implement what he teaches.

      In reading your story, it struck me that you have only tried one type of stimulant ADHD medication with your son: amphetamines. There are two types of stimulants: amphetamine (Adderall, Vyvanse, Evekeo…) and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Quillivant…). Almost everyone does well on one type or the other, but not both. So, it stands to reason that it may be beneficial to try a methylphenidate. However, if he really does have bipolar, experts say stimulants can make it worse instead of better and that the bipolar should be treated first. If you suspect this or another mood disorder, talk with his doctor about it and get an evaluation.

      [Self-Test] Does My Child Have Bipolar Disorder?

      You may find the contents of this webinar replay helpful as well:

      Free Webinar Replay: ODD and ADHD: Strategies for Parenting Defiant Children

      Remember, your child isn’t giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #76878

      also add has a hard time with cause/effect
      for example I know that if I don’t pay my bills – I get a late fee…yet I still don’t pay (also procrastination)
      get therapy for child and family
      go to dr. amen’s website for help

      watch diet esp sugar and carbs
      good luck and take care of yourself

    • #76907

      Thanks for your answer.

      @ ADHDmomma

      I know its not him its the ADD, like I said my english isnt perfect so pretty hard for me to write something correct. My son tried Aderall XR, Vyvanse and Concerta. The best was Aderall but actually his impulse is higher. With Vyvanse and Concerta he had to take something else Risperidone and the other intuniv for impulsivity. I’m trying now with natural product and I find that harder than I thought but you know, since 2 days he started having thought, yes he starting saying I know its me and not the other (blame always other), I know I have a problem and I wanna change….. He started saying good things that he NEVER said before. I think I’m not sure I did the good choice stopping the medicine we will see in a few weeks.
      I’m glad he can start saying some feelings. Its going slow but looks like he realize. I bought two books from Russell Barkley cant wait to read it.
      Also hen I think about it, I dont think he is bipolar, every February March things start going very bad with him, behavior….. but the rest of the year its ”fine”. So maybe the lack of sun light affect him badly I don’t know but I ordered a lamp to see. If I’m not trying everything I will never know.

      @ bkitchin1 Thanks I will take a look for Dr. amen’s. I’m trying to explain him about carbs and sugar but he gets so mad he think its a punishment…. Do you have a site or a place with some information adapted for a 13 yo kid to read about?

    • #76865

      Translation from French to English can be tough, so don’t get hung up on the words you are using right now. Just remember, to be respectful when describing your child, always say person first.

      I also have adopted 6 children with ADHD. Adoption brings a lot of baggage with it. Everyone, including your child, hears all the wonderful stories about “not growing in your tummy but in your heart”. And that is all and good, but every adoption story has a dark side. At age 13, he may be going through some developmental good searches in his mind for his birth family and looking at how he fits into your family. An adoption therapist may help with those issues.

      What information did you get from the adoption agency? Was there sexual abuse or severe abuse? These can all play into a child who is feeling out of control. Many times children come through adoption for abuse and neglect, but the underlining causes can very well be drugs and alcohol. All six of the children we adopted have diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Of the three birth families we are dealing with, two of our birth moms also had diagnosis of FASD and one is suspected.

      http://www.nofas-uk.org/ National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-UK

      France does not have a National Organization for FASD, but England does. Check out their website and see if your son fits the profile. ADHD is one of the co-occurring diagnosis and meds aren’t always helpful. Advocate for a correct diagnosis. Once you learn about how to parent someone with FASD, it will make things easier for everyone.

    • #77091

      Dear Hispetite,

      I would strongly encourage you to visit the website for the Institute for Attachment and Child Development in Colorado (http://instituteforattachment.ong). Your son sounds exactly like my adopted son, who we got at age 12 and who suffers from reactive attachment disorder (RAD). ADHD and ODD are symptoms of this larger disorder for a lot of adopted kids, and unfortunately, standard treatments for ADHD and ODD don’t generally work very well. What does work is neurofeedback. Another problem associated with RAD is that most therapists have no clue what it is and can’t very well guide parents. IACD really gets it, has a unique treatment model, and has a wealth of information on their website that will help you be able to determine if that’s what you’re dealing with.

      Good luck and know that you are doing an amazing job parenting your extremely difficult child!

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