Newly diagnosed 13 year old daughter

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    • #173417

      Good Morning,

      My name is Ellen, my 13 year old daughter has just been diagnosed with inattentive ADHD combined form (I think that was how it was worded) I am very new to this and to be honest a bit overwhelmed, feel a bit guilty for missing it, and am looking for support, advice, resources etc. Back story, at a young age my daughter was a perpetual spinning motion machine. Very busy but never what I would call “hyper” or frantic about it. No issues in elementary school Straight A Honors Student up until the last quarter of 5th grade. Most of her elementary school teachers did describe her as a daydreamer and that she would drift off into “Katieland” comments would be made about her lack of organization, but nothing mentioned about or suggesting ADHD except one conference with her 3rd grade teacher who to be honest did not like my child. Her comment was “did you ever consider medicating her” No Hey I think there may be a problem/issue here etc. The last quarter of 5th grade she got strep throat and missed about 2 weeks of school. She failed math that quarter. (A-B average in Math the rest of the year) I put that down to her being sic. From then on it has all been downhill especially with math. 6th grade was rough which I put down to her adjusting to me going back to work full time. (I was a stay at home mom for 10 years) Her grades were C’s and B’s in all classes except math which was barely a D. The school was at this point still insisting she stay in the Academically Gifted program in both ELA and Math even though she was struggling hugely in math. Now in the 7th grade with remote learning we are at the end of our ropes. The struggles the meltdowns, flat out not turning in assignments doing the work sometimes but forgetting to turn in. I felt as if I was doing nothing but fussing/yelling/arguing with her all the time. If it wasn’t about her schoolwork it was about her chores (which are minimal BTW) or cleaning her room. After one especially bad day my DD started weeping – not screaming or having a tantrum just weeping saying “I’m trying so hard, I promise I am, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I can’t remember anything” My heart just broke. At that point I knew I had to do something different. I set up a Televisit with her pediatrician and she requested the Vanderbilt forms. Boy was that an eye opener. So many puzzle pieces fell into place. No I am determined to learn and do all I can so that she can be set up for better success in school next year. We just had an in person visit with her Dr yesterday and they have started her on Concerta 18mg per day. We have talked about how we need to proceed together as a family to help Katie so that she is able to stay better focused and organized. Any thoughts suggestions are greatly appreciated and most of all, Thanks for listening!

    • #173459
      Penny Williams

      First, give yourself some grace. You did the best you could with what you knew. Now you know more and you’ll be able to use that to do better.

      There’s so much to think about when first diagnosed, but you can’t do it all at once. You’ve started treatment and that is crucial for improvement. The next step is to shift your parenting. Remember, Ross Green PhD teaches us that “Kids do well IF they can.” Kids want to succeed. If they aren’t meeting expectations consistently, then there’s a barrier and/or your expectations are too high for where your child is right now, in light of development and neurological differences.

      Free Webinar Replay: Beyond Rewards & Consequences: A Better Parenting Strategy for Teens with ADHD and ODD

      “Raising Human Beings” by Greene is a fantastic book. I am reading “Beyond Behaviors” by Mona Delahooke right now and it’s beyond amazing. This two books will help you determine where your daughter is, why she does the things she does and struggles in certain areas, and how to help her thrive.

      Our kids can’t be changed, we parents must do the changing.

      Her self-confidence needs your consistent attention, to help her build confidence and experience successes. She needs that now more than ever, with the way things have gone recently, and at her age.

      Good Grades Matter—but My Daughter’s Self-Esteem Matters More

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

      • #174181
        Bella W

        Hi! I’m almost 13 with combined-type ADHD, and I think I might be able to help. First of all, learn as much as you can about ADHD and have your daughter do the same. Make sure she knows about her diagnosis. There are a lot of symptoms I didn’t know were ADHD and I thought I was dumb and lazy. Definitely consider medication or therapy if she feels like it’s impairing her ability to function at school and at home. Next, a lot of parents of kids with ADHD do this. DO NOT compare it to neurotypical people having difficulty paying attention, assume she’s not trying, or accuse her of making excuses. If she has ADHD she is trying and probably working twice as hard as her peers. Only use the term ‘excuse’ if she really is blaming her ADHD on something that isn’t even really a symptom. And lastly, please don’t say anything along the lines of “Everyone has trouble paying attention sometimes.” or “Just pay attention. It’s not that hard.” Paying attention is much harder for someone with ADHD. Also, check in with her every once in a while and make sure she feels like she can talk to you about it. I’ve had plenty of experiences where I zone out or get distracted even though I really am trying my hardest to pay attention in school and I didn’t hear the directions. I don’t always ask for help, or tell my parents because I didn’t feel like I could talk to them. Now that I take medication it’s easier and I feel like I could ask my mom or one of my teachers. My dad is my last choice and I wouldn’t ask him for help unless it was my only other option because he’s not very educated on my diagnosis and tends to accuse me of making excuses or not trying. Don’t be like my dad. Parenting a kid with ADHD is not easy, though, and it’s not your fault you didn’t have her evaluated earlier and couldn’t help her, especially since girls don’t always get diagnosed.

    • #188977

      Hi! This is a late response to this post, but I saw it, and wanted to share some stuff that’s helped me, that might help you! I’m 22 now, a senior in college graduating very soon, and I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD since the first grade, so I’ve had a lot of different experiences!

      I will start by saying the truth, which is that it has been really difficult. There have been some really dark times in my ADHD journey, and it’s always when I… forget I have ADHD and start blaming myself again. The most constant conversation I’ve had with teachers in my life is them saying, “Gosh, Grace you are so smart, and when you’re in class you contribute so much and are engaged and present, but you just need to do the homework, you need to try harder, because you can’t get extensions in the real world. There won’t be exceptions in the real world.” To which I have always said the exact thing your daughter said to you. That I am trying, so hard. It has been a long and difficult journey! You are not late in catching this, my mom wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until she was 25, I know people who are my age just now getting diagnosed, and I know people who have been diagnosed as long as your daughter as been, who haven’t had be support system that you clearly are providing. You should really be proud of yourself for beginning to do the work now, a lot of people don’t do that. That’s going to be extremely important for her life.

      Here is some information that I’ve recently discovered about ADHD that I found out this week (after all these years) that literally changed everything to me, and may prove to be super important in you and your daughter’s journey! There is a lot of research emerging about how ADHD effects girls differently than boys, that girls are under-diagnosed because they tend to be inattentive and because, well, doctors tend to believe girls less. The most mind-blowing bit of information regarding this, has been how hormones effect women with ADHD. We already have less active Norepinephrine and Dopamine receptors, but estrogen and progesterone effect both symptoms of ADHD, AND effectiveness of medication based on where you are in your cycle. My whole life, in the two weeks following ovulation, my symptoms have always gotten worse, and I’ve fallen into short depressive states, where there have been times that I’ve been unable to get out of bed for extended periods of time. When estrogen levels drop, so do the neurotransmitters most effected by ADHD– by nearly 30%. Doctors who are aware of this will prescribe higher doses during those low estrogen, high progesterone days, which makes symptoms better. Planning productivity for pre-ovulation, too, is actually super helpful (though I didn’t know the science of the hormones before, I could sense that there was a relation to my symptoms and my cycle) and planning to take it a little easier and give myself a break which my body is in the second half of it’s monthly cycle. It’s a lot of moving factors, and honestly super unfair, and super not talked about. So doing more of your own research on that and talking to the psychiatrist, and ESPECIALLY your daughter, about that might prove a really useful thing. I know that I wish I’d known this at her age. There are also a lot of other ways women are socialized that I’m still unpacking, that were not made easy by my ADHD.

      I’d also really suggest finding resources that are from first hand accounts of ADHD. I’ve found a balance for myself between extensive research of clinical trials and studies of ADHD, and people who have ADHD talking about what it’s like to have ADHD. Hearing it first hand will give you a lot more insight into the actual lived experiences of someone with ADHD than the stuff that is heavily research based and more science-ey. The science is important, don’t get me wrong! I live by the science an it’s imperative to understand it! But there’s also a lot of conflicting information and I think often there is a lack of humanity in the ways people talk about it. It might even be a really good bonding experience and really enlightening if you and your daughter sat down and did the research together. Connecting the dots together may lead to a better understanding between both of you, and may make her feel really seen. I think the research is really exciting, and I wish I’d known so many of the symptoms that go beyond the typical, simple symptoms listed on most places online. That’s where finding like, youtube channels where people talk about their ADHD, might be really helpful. There’s a lot of beauty and strengths in people who have ADHD. I’ve found a lifestyle that works WITH my ADHD rather than trying to fit into one better suited for someone without it, and since doing this, I am so much better off.

      The last thing I’ll say is this: Keep listening to her. It seems like you’re doing this now, so just keep going. So many people don’t listen to us. If her medicine is making her feel bad, listen to that, don’t let her doctors barrel over what she knows is right for her, because we all feel that in our bodies. We know when something is wrong. I’ve had some really bad experiences with medication, and if my psychiatrists had listened to me, I’d have had a much better time in most of my life. I’ve finally found a really good medication plan, that really works for me, and as I learn more about ADHD, I have a much better handle on it and my life. Just listen is all!

      Omega-3 supplements are EXTREMELY effective for ADHD brains. I’d look into that, too. Increased effectiveness of medicine and also overall brain function!

      It really is a puzzle, and is endlessly complex, but the more you know, the better things get, and the clearer things get! You’ve so got this, and I’m happy to know there are parents out there like you who will listen.

      Good on you!

      Be well, be healthy, I hope this is still relevant and helpful.

    • #189616
      Katy Perkins

      Now that you have a diagnosis, a lot of dots should start connecting themselves. If they haven’t yet, they will. Your daughter will have to learn how to make friends and get along with social interactions. What you can do is listen and give her real positive reinforcement. Don’t just praise her if you think she’s not trying her best, but when she is trying, say things like, I know this is hard for you, and I’m proud that you’re giving it your best shot.
      When she does have a Victory celebrated, you don’t have to go overboard but do something nice like bake her some cookies or anything she likes, and you’re probably already doing all of this.
      If there’s a support group, try and get her involved. Read and learn as much as you can. Talk to other parents who have the same problems. The best thing my parents ever did for me was to give me a roof over my head, loved me with all their heart, taught me discipline, and helped me out when I did something boneheaded. The same thing that all parents do or should do. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult. We wish her well. Tell her it gets better!

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