ADHD 15 yr old Stepson

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    • #119572

      Hi All,
      Have recently married a man who has a 17 yr old and 15 yr old, both with ADHD. Both taking meds , youngest I know is Ritalin. The problem I have is distinguishing between symptoms and bad parenting. Have researched quite a bit. Since I have entered the family, their screen time has reduced a bit, from after school to 2/3 in the morning. Now internet is shut off at 11pm. I know this is still too much.
      But things like not washing hands after the toilet, or wearing the same clothes for a week. Or continually taking seatbelts off, or being late (unless they are motivated ie they want something at the store. Lack of motivation for school or a job. It’s now summer holidays and it’s 24/7 tv or movies. What can be done about all this? Considering they have ADHD

    • #119588
      Penny Williams

      Think about behavior as a symptom. Why do they not wash their hands after the toilet? Why do they wear the same clothes for a week? What are they chronically late? There are reasons behind these behaviors, and they are likely tied to ADHD. They are not character flaws o moral failings.

      Executive functioning deficits common with ADHD make sequencing, planning, organization, and working memory more difficult. All of those things go into these tasks you’ve listed. They probably forget washing hands because it feels like they are finished with the task after toileting. My son is the same way. He will do it with a reminder to go back, so it’s not a refusal. Also, many boys and men I know swear they’re not touching anything germy when they pee — which is totally false! They’re touching germs to aim and touching germs to flush.

      Wearing the same clothes for a week means a lack of awareness or a lack of prioritizing the reasons it might be important to wear different clothes each day. Or, it could be something sensory or certain clothes make them comfortable and then less anxious.

      Remember, ADHD is a developmental disability and those with ADHD are typically 2-3 years behind same-age peers in a lot of skills and developmental areas. The means your boys are 12 and 14, at best, in a lot of ways. That’s a big difference in expectations.

      Our therapist once told me that kids with ADHD will “misbehave” knowingly as much as their neurotypical peers. The rest can be attributed to ADHD.

      6 Truths About Child Behavior Problems That Unlock Better Behavior

      When I was a kid, I sat around and watched a lot of tv. I don’t have ADHD. I’m a successful, functioning adult. Kids need a break to emotionally heal after a school year. They work so hard and struggle so much in that environment.

      If you want them to do more activity, encourage volunteering, a part-time job, or an active hobby like biking.

      A phrase I remind myself of often, and use as my parenting compass is: Your child isn’t giving you a hard time, they’re having a hard time.”

      Your Child Is Not Giving You a Hard Time. Your Child Is Having a Hard Time.

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

    • #119590

      Hi Penny,
      Thanks for your response. I guess what I’m stStruggling with is adhd vs defiant behaviour. Ie the reason younger doesn’t wash hand is because shit (excuse) isn’t dirty, or bringing his bird downstairs and letting it poop on the couch. What I’m saying is, is that everything is attended to when something is in it for them. Like when they are called back downstairs to clean their plate after dinner, I’m told I’m petty because it was two feet away and I could have done it. I’m talking about electing to take seatbelts off while enroute even though they know physical and financial consequences if something were to happen. I’m talking about straight A students when they elect to hand in the work and lying about not having homework to do. I understand the hyperactivity, inattentiveness, lapses in time and subsequent bad time management. But surely not all I’ve mentioned above is a result of ADHD? How do you differentiate and then how do you discipline considering the ADHD?

    • #119749


      ADHD is not that we can’t pay attention. It’s actually the exact opposite. We feel and hear thousands of thoughts a second. We are basically on overload everyday all day. So we may seem distracted but we are paying attention. The ADHD brain is amazing, and inspiring, and creative, however we can also be very hard to deal with.

      I have ADHD. I am a 33 year old male and I’m married now, and I have a bachelors degree and work in sales. I wanted to come on here and give you an understanding of what it is like for a boy/man with ADHD. First of all we are often misunderstood quite a bit. I remember being a kid and always feeling confused, and lost and alone. I remember feeling different and knowing that I was different. I remember hearing things like oh he is developmental delayed, or oh he is lazy, or not smart. I would try to avoid saying any of those things. I would try to understand how they feel, and what they are thinking. They are probably not changing clothes because they are occupied with other things they find entertaining. I used to wear the same clothes for a week as a kid, I still do now at times. The way I get past that now is I have a reminder, and I have my wife tell me to remind me to do something if I haven’t done it by a certain time.

      I also noticed that you said something about them only doing things thats in it for them. This is still true for me today, I will not do things that I know I need to do because I don’t get anything out of it. This is actually common for people with ADHD. They are most certainly not trying to be defiant. They don’t understand why its a big deal to clean their plates when they are done because in their head they finished the task, and now they are on to something else.

      From my experience you can’t discipline a child for doing something they don’t know how to do. What I mean is that if you do not have ADHD and you have a neurotypical brain you can do things that need to be done because that is what you are supposed to do. This is because you can think logically and your parents and society and what not have told you and taught you what to do. With ADHD we can’t do that. We physically and chemically do not have those things in our brain. We are unable to control our impulses and feelings. As we get older sure we can keep them under control at times but it’s not ever going to go away. People with ADHD are different and will never be like neurotypical brains, so trying to discipline them like one is only going to harm them. Their are a lot of good articles on this website to help with disciplining the constructive and right way. So if you discipline a child with ADHD for doing something you think is normal you’re only hurting them. Instead ask them what is going on, and give positive encouragement and reinforcement when they do things right. I also know that if I’m getting a reward at the end of doing something I’m more likely to do it. It has to be a genuine reward and something that they pick. In order for us to want that reward we need clear instructions and detailed. Maybe try something like if you do the dishes and change your clothes then you can have TV for an hour. Something like that where they know why they should do it. Then at the end of the hour stand in front of them at the TV or break their focus from what they are enjoying, and then tell them the next thing that needs to be done. This way they are getting things done, and are still getting what they want.

      The reason they can get all A’s is because that topic interests them and they get in what is called hyper focused mode. What that is is where we are literally tuning everything outside and for that brief period of time our brains are working like a neurotypical brain. We can get so much done in this time, and often times we can forget to eat, or bathe. If they are finding something that they enjoy then encourage them to continue to do it, and use it as a reward for doing a basic chore. Another thing I tell myself is that i’m just going to do this one dish. That one dish then turns into 2 and then before long I have finished all of what needs to be done. This is because we were given a simple task, then when we start we get “hyperfocused” to a point and complete that thing.

      As far as the taking the seat belts off while in the car, that is normal for ADHD kids. I used to do dumb things when I was a teenager for the rush, because again in our brains we don’t have the proper dopamine or serotonin as neurotypical brains, so when we do impulsive and exciting things it increases those levels. While I’m not saying it’s OK to do that I’m saying that is part of ADHD.

      You mentioned the white lies as well. The reason for that is because we don’t like to disappoint people and we take rejection hard so in our heads we tell a lie because at that particular time it makes us feel good. We also will do this to avoid feelings. The reason is because we feel feelings much more intensely than others and when they hit us it can literally consume our entire minds. At times it can even give us physical symptoms such as chest pains, and sweaty hands, at least for me. When we let someone down we think about what are they thinking of us.Do they want to be around us anymore, I can’t believe that I did this. Then we feel immense embarrassment, and then a sense of failure. If we can’t do this then why should we do anything else because all we do is disappoint our loved ones. As I got older I realized that is probably not what people think but I still find myself thinking like that on occasion.

      So I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. ADHD people are fascinating and smart and really successful when they have the proper tools to help them succeed. I wish you the best of luck and just remember how lucky you are to be surrounded by such bright young men!

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by Andyn86.
    • #119761

      Hi Andy, thanks for your lengthy response. Must have taken a while. I guess what I’m trying to say is how did you get to university if you never completed any school work? Did someone have to stand over your shoulder every day for hours EVERY TIME something was due? When you have a shift at work do you tell your wife you covered it when you didn’t and just not shown up to work? Do you remember to turn the lights off and clean up after yourself every single time without fail, once you knew you were in real trouble. Is it ok to lie about homework so you can play video games 24:7? Because I have understood that’s it’s all good and well if they are interested in the reward but other than that I can’t expect them to get anything accomplished. It seems the only way to get them to do anything is absolutely lose my shit and yell. In addition there was a lot of lax parenting before I came along. Husband acknowledges this. 21 yr old’s boyfriend actually said to me my mums house is perfectly clean but I don’t know why when I’m hear I don’t give a f***. At the same time I know two youngest have ADHD. So I’m struggling with how to differentiate between the unmotivated behaviour unless it involves video games, and lack of life skills (that were never previously taught by parents) and the ADHD. I’ve looked up subjects like when your teen opts out re school. And advice given is say ‘ultimately I would like you to get a’s and b’s but do you think a c will get you a good gpa?’ But that won’t work because we are not doing anything unless someone is standing over their shoulders. Do you have homework? No. A week later.. why is this a 0? (Shrug)

    • #119765


      Yes it did take a while for me to write that post but it is ok lol. So I graduated from college because i realized it was something that I wanted to do. In high school I was extremely smart still am. I could get A’s and B’s and never open a book, but I never did the homework I got too bored. I remember one time I was taking spanish so in order to try and teach myself Spanish I played a video game in Spanish. It worked for a little bit. Anyways I regress. I did have someone stand over me and lecture me in high school. It was miserable and I hated every second of it, and that’s why I didn’t go to college until I was 26. I tried right out of high school but it took all the fun from me because my parents stood over me and treated me like a 15 year old. When I was younger I would tell my parents I was going to work and I would go somewhere else and lie about it. It’s not that I didn’t want to work, but it’s that my brain was acting like a 16 yr old when I was 19, so that part is somewhat normal. As an adult right now I’m not happy in my job but I figure out why I like it, and that I will be able to get what I want, aka money to be able to go on vacation etc.
      As far as when something was due, yea that’s still a problem in my job. I have deadlines I need to hit in sales and I will forget about them, and then I will get in trouble from my boss. That disappointment is the worst feeling ever for someone with ADHD. It eats you away. However I have learned and am still learning to write things down. I write stuff down when I think of it at work and then I can look back at it and be like oh yea I need to do this or do that.

      The yelling is the WORST THING EVER that you can do for a kid with ADHD. They literally can’t think like you and don’t understand why you are yelling or what they did wrong. This will only lead to resentment and rebellion because they feel well what is the point. I screw up I get yelled at. I make a mistake I get yelled at why even bother trying to do things. I think you should have a conversation with them and ask them what they are struggling with and then help them and be understanding. You can’t yell no matter how much you want to. My mom did this when I was growing up and it lead to resentment and depression and other things. Instead of yelling help them understand the skills that they need to be successful.

      You mentioned the unmotivated behavior, it is there because honestly they aren’t motivated. Why would they be? They are getting yelled at for making mistakes, they know they are different they feel misunderstood. Would you be motivated to change if that was happening to you?

      As far as the lights and stuff go, I constantly need reminders to do that stuff because I forget. Luckily my wife is understanding and she will tell me I’m dissapointed or what not but won’t lecture. The worst thing you can do is lecture because an ADHD brain is very observant and we know when we made a mistake or let someone down and then we beat ourselves up.

      I hope this helps, and just remember they are not like you, so you have to think differently, and enable their creative and bright side to come out! Good Luck!

    • #119772

      Sorry the unmotivated behaviour was before I came along, when they could do whatever they wanted. They get petulant and upset when you tell them to clean their stuff in a calm manner. Is there anything I can expect them do do?

    • #119776

      In addition, re the lights. I started removing lightbulbs. Now they don’t forget. So is it adhd or bad parenting? Still I’m finding it very hard to differentiate. The 15 year old cocks his head whenever I talk and I understand that I’m very influential at the moment. He has never been taught social skills and parents still treat him like an 8 year old, which is not fair to him. So yes I am a wicked step mum/ogre who has their best interests at heart (some for me, I don’t want hands that have just wiped a bum on my fridge) but no one claps louder than me when they succeed. I offer career advice when they seem to have an interest and for example offer to pay for private programming classes etc. again and again I can’t differentiate what is adhd and lax parenting where kids are in front of computer 24/7 on school vacation or 8 hrs a day on school days and have never been taught how to wipe a bench or clear a plate. See where I’m coming from?

    • #119797

      Hi, I completely identify with your post. I am trying to learn/ understand how my 16 yr old son mind/ADHD works. I have tried implementing tools: not yelling/ remove myself when he is in meltdown mode / find incentive to motivate, etc… But nothing really changes. I use to give him $6 if he left the house on time-got to school on time n took a supplement(brain support),then i found out he was smoking pot, ive stopped giving him $$. I also understand my son will need constant reminders-which only aggravate him more. Currently, Ive taken away his computer/phone n keys. I know its excessive but i don’t know what else to do. Our constant arguments: are going to bed late because he’s on his phone or computer – when i ask him to give me his phone in order to remove the distraction, he would explode into a rage. Morning n evening routines are always argumentative. Since Ive taken away these things we haven’t argued about use of computer or phone. He is organizing his dresser n trying to clean his room, since he has nothing else to do. I took his keys away because when he skips school – he comes home n brings his friends, eventhough i have told him or tried to implement house rules: no cutting class n no friends at the house, especially- when im not home. His Dad n i are separated, thank goodness he goes to his Dad house every wkend,which gives us a break from each other. Ofcourse when he is at his Dad’s house, he is compliant n when i tell his Dad about his behavior with me, his reply is- he doesn’t do that at my house,which only make me feel like an unfit parent.When i tell my son if things dont get better at school or his behavior w/me -He might be better off living with his Dad. He becomes angry n accuses me of not loving him. He tells me he doesn’t like going to his Dad’s house. I know my son is hurting n is crying out-but we can’t seem to find balance or peace. despite the fact that we have heart to heart talks,we come up with plans to help him achieve his goals. We feel confident thing will work out with new plans. The moment we start – it fails. He is failing all his classes. When i ask him about homework he tells me either hes done it or teachers didn’t give any. But online school portal say otherwise. He was evaluated at school n diagnosed with ADHD,an IEP is being prepared. Since he will be going to summer school, They hope to start implementing it during summer school. Its been a long/exhausting/heartbreaking road. Im also trying to find out what works. Im going to 12 Step support groups to keep me sane. I feel guilty/sad/confused. Im sure my son feels it 100x worse. Im looking for therapy n parents courses. I’ve printed out providers who participated with my insurance all of them are nurses – the few that I’ve called dont treat adolescents. I feel like a hamster in a wheel. So, when is it ADHD or Bad parenting? I’m looking for the same answer.
      Hopefully we all can give each other strategies that has helped. I know they might not work all the time but im willing to try everything. I love my son unconditionally – he is an amazing soul. But i can’t enable disrespect n bad behavior. I want to learn what are reasonable expectation. I know its not his fault – how he processes information, however his homework needs to be handed in even if its wrong/ he should pick up after himself/ get to school on time n stop being disrespectful to me, when i enforced house rules. Im exhausted just by writing this.
      Thank you for your post n everyone comments – i hope we can find the answer soon and support each other-Parenting Our Amazing kids.

    • #121817

      Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. I think your situation is different to mine. It sounds to me like you are doing everything in your power to try and find out more and are putting in the hard work. I don’t think that is bad parenting. What I’m up against is their mother who complains she does everything for her kids and complains of being inconvenienced for eg a 20 min advanced warning delay in the pickup. However she only has her kids every second weekend, and sometimes not that much. So I don’t really know the example she set when she was here or what she does on weekends. I just don’t feel like the explanation I’ve received on here gets to the crux of the problem. Ie let them go out in dirty clothes or not shower because an adhd kid might be focused on other things. Let them not do their homework because they are focused on other things and you will make them hate school. I want to know what the expectations should be. I want to know is it ok to yell at your dad because your computer privileges got taken away because you didn’t do your homework, but you should have your computer privileges because the reason you didn’t do your homework was you blatantly lied when asked if you had any… in my opinion they need a good kick up the arse so I’m asking for advice as to what they shouldn’t get punished for

      • #122470

        Lets not get caught in the Society or this Forum’s ‘excuse sympathy of ADD/ADHD vs failed practical teachings of a parent’ genre because it is accepted by people on this forum to blame a symptom and not the Root.
        It is not acceptable behavior for any adult to fail to participate in a child’s life regarding responsible social behaviors (i.e. washing hands, no bird poop on couch, no bathing practices, etc.)
        The adult here, the Father you married, is the only one who has the responsibility to change the ‘learned’ behaviors provided to his children by his Actions and Inaction. If he tossed this to you to do, or He belives all this is ok, you have much more of a problem to content with than trying to change a persons bathing habits.

        And do not what so ever lay down or ignore the fact you are a step-mom, which is like bringing a goat into a lions den and expecting it not to get eaten. I know, I was a feral child when my step-mom came into play, and i never ever liked her.
        In the wild, a female lion normally kills a stray lion cub not her own. Children know this inherently.

        I believe your goal is to do one or both of two things:
        1. Hammer him (the father) to make consistent behavior changes with His children (not your children), or
        2. run from this as it will only harm you as all your statements are extremely unhealthy for you.

        Love them yes, but like a Teacher at school, let them go home where its the Fathers responsibility to make change.
        As these Social changes occur, the ADD/ADHD behaviors will show more predominantly.
        Highly recommend Testing for Him and the children.
        Highly recommend individual therapy for Him and the children.

        Like it or not, truth must be presented.

    • #122415

      So I have opinions. I have ADD inattentive. My son is 9 with ADHD and my daughter is 13 with ADHD. My dad probably has ADHD and my brothers.

      I’m going to say something unpopular. These boys sound feral. Not taking a shower as a teenager is unacceptable. Not washing your hands is unacceptable. Is this a judgement? Sure.

      Here’s the deal. A lot of us with ADD don’t want to be filthy, smelly, a social pariah. But we get stuck. Ask your husband, has his sons ever said anything disparaging about themselves? It is not spoken of enough but the number of 7-year-olds with ADHD that say they hate themselves and want to kill themselves for socially inappropriate behavior is astounding. This doesn’t go away. It often just goes underground in the teen years unless handled directly (therapy sessions, medication, coaching). These boys sound depressed.

      Another opinion. Saying “bad” parenting is the wrong approach however. Parenting kids with ADHD is hard, especially if you have it yourself.

      The coaching that needs to happen occurs quite slowly and it sounds like these boys haven’t been working on it. You take one task at a time.

      I read a book years ago but can’t remember it’s name. But it recommended taking on one challenge at a time and problem solving TOGETHER how to overcome.

      It needs to be something they can buy into (as teenagers there are very few of these left) so unfortunately flushing the toilet will not be the first on the list. There needs to be a rational, sit down, conversation, with no emotions (no yelling across the house) when you discuss the challenge and identify not necessarily consequences but suggestions about how to handle together.

      For example, wait for a natural consequence where boy X is kicking himself. Maybe your partner notes that Boy X missed out on a cool activity after school because he forgot his Nintendo Switch, or headphones, or iPad or whatever. Something he totally is motivated to do, but just f’d up on. Maybe you, your partner and his son unpack this issue and talk about what could have gone differently during a rare heart to heart.

      Son says I wish I would have thought through my day and what needed to go in my back pack the night before… Then your partner asks if he did this every night, would you avoid similar discomforts in the future? He admits yes, he would. BINGO! Your elbow your partner with ADHD to remind him – this is what we were waiting for the first family task.

      You say awesome, we can help you with that. How can we support you? (I dunno he answers)… you suggest, I can set a reminder on my phone and your dad can talk through your day at 9pm and make sure your bag is packed. Would this work for you? Or, let’s be honest, would that piss you off… What WOULD work? Be genuinely curious, take your time, it needs his buy in. His ideas will always be best.

      Now consequences. You don’t need to ground him if he doesn’t follow through, he’ll forget stuff at school again, and be kicking himself. No worries. Instead, suggest if he sticks with it for two weeks, you’ll take him to his favorite restaurant or pay half of a video game or…

      My point is overcoming inertia is HARD for ADHD and all an ADHD coach does is help us overcome inertia by supporting what we want ourselves so that inertia turns to habit. Then we add another challenge and slowly make it become a habit.

      This is what a “good” parent does when potty training a child for example, the difference, and frankly it makes all this much easier, is that instead of making a sticker chart YOU think will work, you need BUY IN and PROBLEM SOLVING from your kid. Since these kids are smart and can think for themselves, they are fully capable of choosing their tasks, problem solving and consequences themselves.

      My point is start small, discrete (don’t add ANOTHER thing to the 9pm check in, just “do you have your tablet”), support him where he is at. Don’t do EVERYTHING. In fact it is sort of nice to let yourself off the hook as a parent, remind yourself we are working on this not homework, not washing hands, not seatbelts. We are starting here. That is good enough for now.

      If he has one thing he is successful and in control of, it gives him confidence to add others to his efforts and things start to speed up. But start small. It also potentially adds a new type of conversation to your household that he might value in the future.

      Good luck.

    • #122435

      I highly recommend the book, Raising Human Beings by Ross Greene or check out his website, He lays out a collaborative process for working with kids that helps get the kids’ and parents’ needs met. In this method, you tackle one discrete problem at a time, and importantly, it’s done with empathy and kids have input into solutions. With his approach, problems are caused by what he calls “lagging skills” whether or not they are related to the ADHD is not critical.

      • #122477

        Yes! The Ross Greene book is the one I was trying to recall. Thank you!

        I totally agree these boys need discipline, I think this forum is trying to encourage you not to take on the bad guy role. Not because you will warp the boys, but because more likely they’ll just learn to ignore you and then you will have no power whatsoever. This is not unique to ADHD, it is common to all teens. The yes mom I hear you… “Got it.” might sound satisfying in the moment, but when you realize they never intended to do it and are lying to you, you’ve lost all hand.

    • #122446

      Please scroll down to last sentence when you become bored!
      My 23 year old son (still awaiting diagnosis around ADHD – it’s a long story of poor advice and lack of funding in the UK National Health Service) does NOT want anyone poking their nose into his business and advising him … until he’s, yet again, up sh*t creek without a paddle. Then it’s everyone/anyone else’s fault (but usually mine).
      Yesterday he narrowly avoided another custodial prison sentence because I accepted responsibility, in Court, to get him to 35 Community Order meetings. He complained vehemently that he’ll be expected to attend 35 meetings in 18 months and that (although he is not in employment) it will be difficult for him to find time to attend. I gently reminded him that I must attend all of those too, and I am self-employed.
      Son’s Current ‘Difficulties’:
      Fell in love in March & moved in with girlfriend.
      Fell in love with & took home kitten in April.
      Girlfriend pregnant in May.
      Arrested in June for assaulting a Police Officer.
      Social Services flagged up possible future child protection needs.
      Domestic Violence Prevention Notice given end of June (ignored after 4 days).
      Son & GF (& their pets) will be evicted on Monday (she will be rehoused as she’s pregnant).
      His previous numerous evictions, anti social behaviour, criminal damage, assault & drug use will render him homeless.

      Son now expects us to sort out all the above. Because: “No one’s ever helped me. You’re my parents, don’t you understand, that’s what families are for”

      He was not brought up to act the way he does. We are sober, hardworking, caring people. From listening to ADDitude podcasts, I do appreciate we must speak to him kindly, not shout, not expect him to do something he cannot, tackle one sensitive issue at a time. However, he brings out he worst in me. I want to shout at him. I want to kick his backside (hard). I cannot tackle one issue at a time because he’s already moved onto some other risky, immoral, illegal, aggressive, anti social issue.
      I am sorry ffall, I have no advice, but I do feel your pain and I sincerely hope it improves for you.

    • #123945

      I wanted to put in my two-cents..
      I’m not a boy with ADHD, I grew up as a girl with ADD- so some things I can’t speak to- but one thing did stick out to me that I have a thought about.

      The “won’t do something unless they get something out of it”. Now, I was a girl, and the way I was raised also pushed me to be very aware of social rules and conventions. So, I often had to be reminded to do things (I can forget at the speed of light!) but I always tried to follow directions and it was explained to me why.
      We wash our hands because everything from the toilet to the telephone is filled with germs, and people also don’t like the thought of that hand touching near private parts and then..un-washed..touching the door handle and everything else?! True horror. And we don’t want to get sick.

      But the part I wanted to touch on is this: A difference in how our brains work. When you start a project, or start doing the dishes or laundry..of course there are reasons we do them, they need to get done..but after all that work is do you feel? You see, I grew up hearing about taking pride in your work and “the feeling of a job well done” but really..I usually don’t feel it. I don’t feel some happy or positive feeling when I’ve finished a job well done. The reward center of my brain isn’t giving me that. The medication helps a bit, but when you just know: “This is going to take a while (even 60 seconds can be a long time for a kid) and I won’t be happy doing this, and after, I’ll be just as unhappy..maybe worse! Now I’m mentally tired, and stressed.”
      I think those things because that’s how it goes, and that makes it hard to be motivated to do those things, especially to start.

      So when “normal” brains do a task, upon completion something in the reward center of the brain activates- maybe they feel proud of themselves, or were told someone was proud of them in the past when they did that task. But for me? Nothing. I have to reward myself and I think in the past I was also reminded a lot to do things and then praised or thanked for doing them. That helped perhaps. But it wasn’t the words, it’s the tone, and actually meaning it.

      School was hard for me, so when I got home I just wanted to decompress. I didn’t think about plates or dishes or any of that. Mom nagging that we didn’t offer or just do it automatically didn’t help either. But when she’d come over and say “Dad’s coming home late tonight, so can you do the dishes before he gets home? That way he won’t have to do them later and he’s had a hard day at work, so I bet he will feel so relieved that he doesn’t have to do them if they’re already done” – man, I HAD to do them, then. I still remember his smile and the tone of his words “Thank you, sweetie” when he got home. He always did sound relieved.

      To me, chores were more mentally/emotionally hard than physically. So I can’t do something “just because Mom said so”, I need to know that it isn’t just a whim. So, some things might be possible to re-frame with that in mind. No one wants to do work for someone who appears lazy, either. So do things with them, and frame it as “many hands make light work” and/or show them in some way what it means to you when they complete that task. -Because, I can’t imagine where I’d be without all the encouragement and support I had. My brain didn’t encourage me. But others did, and that probably helped me more than even I realize.

      I still forget things. My mother used to help remind me “do you have /blank/?” And then “Are you sure?” If I answered too quickly, and then I’d have to check. I have my own mental tricks these days, and I can run through that mental checklist myself- but if the list is too long (more than 2-3 items) I might have to make a list. A lot of things I probably have down as habit too.

      I have only locked my keys in my car when I had to put something else in my keys-hand. This happened a few months ago, around my parents and my Dad then made me a copy of my key and suggested I keep that spare in my purse (it’s a long cross-body strap type purse, so I wear it and don’t forget it). I swear I am a functioning adult! But I do still really benefit from help sometimes.

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