Lack of communication

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    • #70449

      My 20 yo son has inattentive ADHD, diagnosed in the 2nd grade. He did well in school with an IEP until he graduated in 2016. He is attending college but was put on academic probation after the second semester and is currently struggling and will probably fail out. We thought the school would be a good fit for him and there have been a lot of positives (living on his own, figuring out how to live with a roommate and just the general day to day things that come with living at college and being away from home) but there have also been negatives (not getting the support he needs, not regularly taking his meds, some professors reading his symptoms as a lack of caring and motivation). Our issue with him is that we cannot get him to communicate with us. He is home on winter break now and refuses to show us his grades. We told him that we know it has been difficult and we just want to know where he stands so that we can start thinking about where to go from here. We also need to pay the tuition IF he will be going back so we need to know his current status. We have some ideas for him but can’t get those across to him if he won’t talk with us or even listen to us. We told him tonight that all he had to do was pull up his grades on his computer and walk away…we promised not to talk about it at all tonight. He dug his heels in and refused and we started using threats (turning off his phone, no car privileges, no tv). We gave him until a certain time and told him that it was his choice but he never came through. We turned off his phone, packed away the tv in his room and he is currently in the basement watching tv (I refuse to let it get physical, and it would, trying to turn off the tv and getting the remote, so I will wait until he goes to bed to hide the remotes). I know he gets ‘stuck’ and can’t back down but there comes a point where real life needs to happen. It just seems that he cannot communicate with us sometimes. He is immature and I know that its like dealing with a developmentally young teen but I can’t get much more than a grunt out of him. I feel like I have spent my life with him trying to ask the exact right question in the hopes of getting any answer. I mostly text with him, that seems to be his choice for communication. When we tried asking him a few things about school over Thanksgiving break he literally got up and walked away and stood across the room with his back to us. He has always done well when he is ‘forced’ into a situation that he may not choose for himself but that is appropriate for him (for example college). If he did what he wanted he would be sitting on the couch with his phone and watching tv.
      I’m looking for any ideas or strategies that may help him learn to open up even just a little. We told him that we are here to help and support him, that we’re not going to be mad at him no matter what his grades are. It just feels like dealing with a brick wall…he can’t express what he wants to do or what his opinion might be and he won’t communicate with us.
      Thanks for also letting me vent a little…

    • #70488
      Penny Williams

      It sounds like you’re dealing with a wall of pain and self-loathing. If he passed this semester, I imagine he’d be excited to show you his grades. He’s likely upset with himself for “letting” it fall apart, scared about his future (because he probably thinks failing once means he’ll never get a college degree and never get a decent job), and feeling like a total failure. He’s taking it all very personally and decided he’s a “screw-up” or the like. Of course, none of that is true, but it’s very likely how he’s feeling.

      Now, if you pay his tuition, you have every right to see his grades. I know you’re wanting to plan for what comes next, but I’d give him a few days or even a week or more to work through his own feelings and be ready to talk about it. The more you dig in your heels, the more he will match that.

      The other thing is that he really has to accept his ADHD, see that college will be more challenging for him, and do what’s necessary to succeed with it (even though it’s not fair and totally sucks). Until that happens, no amount of support and advice from parents will help. He needs to use the disability services and other help that is available to him.

      This article offers some very wise expert advice on the subject:

      “Mom, I’m Failing the First Semester!”

      And here’s a great success story that starts where your son is now:

      From Dropping Out of College to Working for Google: How My Son Found Success

      Maybe it’s time for a gap year program and then going back to this college, or pursuing a vocational route or whatever will help him access the career he wants.

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

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