November 28, 2017 at 3:05 pm #69154AlexanderDParticipant
I am a dad who has ADHD my whole life. I was lucky in the sense that my parents really never made a “huge deal” about it and only talked about it in a positive way. Telling me things like I had special abilities that let me hyper focus and that I am blessed with a endless amount of energy. I attended a private school not for my ADHD, but for a better education for my brother, sister, and self. My third grade teacher, who I am now realizing just how thankful I am, changed my life. She told my parents to ditch the Adderol and that I was going to have to learn how to get through life without medication and learn to cope. This was a lot she took on. And let me be clear. I don’t advocate this way of thinking, or have an opinion or judgment one way or the other to use medication. I actually struggle with that daily. I would love to be able to focus and let my brain feel calm. I know my wife would appreciate it too. My job demands that I can never take such things, so I must continue to cope, my relationships probably suffer, but I am so thankful I learned to cope.
This brings me to my subject. I have a son from a previous marriage that is now 13. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was two. And has been medicated since then. He lives with his mom 800 miles away and I only get to see him holidays and half the summer. Every time I see him I am reminded of me. I understand what he is thinking and his rationale and the lack of it sometimes, the impulses, and the struggle. He does seem to have something else going on though and we can’t figure it out. He has a really hard time letting go of things. He is very black and white, and grey confuses him. He has a great trait of standing up for what is right, but when something is taken out of context he can’t processes that. For example, he was working out at a class for coordination and conditioning and afterwards another kid said that the workout was savage. My son then chimes in and said that that is racist. The instructor tried to explain it to him but my son could not get past it. They called his mom and he was crying and she had to come get him and calm him down. My son has a revolving door of friends. We are always afraid he will run out, or get depressed because no one stays his friend. However he is like me where we are quick to forget and move on. His latest issue was he was having issues with a girl next to his locker, not sure of the circumstances exactly, but he ended up opening his locker door really fast and hitting her in the head with it. He felt really bad right after he did it when he saw her crying and felt remorseful. He was suspended two days for it. His mom now wants to get him re-evaluated for autism and anything else that she can then go see a physiatrist and change his meds if need be. His mom took him off Meds over the thanksgiving weekend and he said he felt really happy and good being off them but couldn’t focus. He just wants to be “normal”. When he said that it about broke my heart but at the same time I get it. I struggle socially every day too as a professional airline pilot. And I would love to be “normal” for my wife and family. I feel I am very good at my job when and if things go south, because I hyper focus when things get stressful and things actually slow down for me. It’s like driving 110 mph vs 60. My wife says I the worst driver at 60 mph, but at 110 I drive normal. I don’t know why that is but in my job it suits me well. It’s the sitting there trying to listen and answering radio calls that Kills me.
I don’t know what to do with my son. Granite he is being raised by his mom, so I do have little input, but I want him to have the best opportunity to succeed in life and not have labels hold him back or shut doors. I also don’t want him to get lost in the public school system and written off as a troubled kid. His grades are starting to slip, and he’s starting to lose hope. I need help and guidance. This site is great, but with my ADHD I feel oceans scattered brained, spinning my wheels and losing focus. And like I mentioned before I am quick to forget and move on. But I am deeply worried about my son.
November 28, 2017 at 4:24 pm #69159MsKaVRParticipant
ADHD affects different people in different ways. Your son sounds exactly like mine, now 15. I medicated him. We had to search for the right one – Concerta – but it changed his life,and mine too, for the better. But meds are not a panacea. He still struggles with metaphors and similes. Executive functioning is the reason. I did two other things – sent him to social skills camp – and put him in a program that assists ADHD kids -IN PUBLIC SCHOOL. If you want to get him re-evaluated, you should do it for your peace of mind to know you did everything your instincts said you should. He hasn’t made a 180 degree turn but I’m happy with the 145 degrees! He made 3 friends in the camp that he has held onto for years. Yep, multiple year friends he sees on a regular basis! Oh joy! when he was 10, I thought it would never happen and I cried about it a lot, I got educated through the tears and this website was a big part of it. Do what’s in your heart. It’s the best guide I’ve had!
November 28, 2017 at 4:24 pm #69160Pump2DuncanParticipant
You’re pretty much describing my son. When you mentioned the savage incident, my immediate thought was – well yep, “Savage” is a bad term for a Native American therefore it can be taken as racist. Even though the term was meant in a positive manner. Kind-of like how the term “sick” is a good thing. My son would have taken it the same way as your son did. Social cues are hard enough for him to read, throw in slang and its a recipe for disaster. Sarcasm might as well be a foreign language.
Counseling might be helpful. And additional evaluations never can hurt. My son was in counseling awhile back to help him read emotional cues. It was helpful and gave him a sort of self awareness that helps him control his emotional outbursts when he’s unable to read a situation. He comes home and asks more questions now when he’s not sure about how a situation was really going down.
I know you may feel helpless in your situation, but you can provide valuable feedback to your son. You have first hand experience that no one else can give him. Pick up the phone, use Facetime or even just texting. Whatever form of communication works best. Giving your son an understanding outlet of communication could be the best thing. You don’t say the age of your son, but if he’s too young for a cell phone, perhaps you could talk Mom into him having one just for communicating with you. Or if not, arrange a time to speak with him daily.
November 28, 2017 at 7:02 pm #69179annietatParticipant
I have add (& self diagnosed efd 😂) and often feel how you described your son. I too can be very black and white and can get too absorbed in my passion for a certain topic to see the other side of it. To calm myself, I listen to music, read, or workout. I find exercise really helps because it lets off steam: for me, a more intense workout gets more pent up anger, sadness, or confusion out of my system. Maybe your son hasn’t found a good outlet to let his emotions go. You also mentioned he lives 800 miles or so away and you only see him often. Maybe in that time, you could try different things with him and find what he’s most calm doing, and in that time he may open up more to you…
November 28, 2017 at 7:24 pm #69181liasamturnParticipant
I don’t think I’m as experienced as you with the chaos that is adhd so this may well be…b.s…but I’m going to put my 2 cents in!
How you sound right now is very much how I was before medication. I’m not trying to preach that medication is the answer – good on you for finding another way to cope! – but I think medication has changed drastically in the last 10 years (it seems like it was a while ago you came off of yours). My older brother was medicated to the point of appearing to be a cast member of Walking Dead, but it hasn’t been the same for me, being that much younger; I just felt like the constant hamster wheel in my head had shut up for the first time since I could remember. I reckon that maybe meds might be worth revisiting because they’re less…horrific…nowadays. I hope that hasn’t p***ed you off – it’s just my opinion, and it reminded me of my brother’s crap experiences with meds.
Your son… I’m a teacher, and I feel so, so sorry for my adhd kids. 90% of staff at my school don’t believe adhd exists, so I can only imagine what a sh*t time you’re having. It sounds like your son is in high school (?) – is there a certain teacher that seems to get him or that he produces good work for? If so, push for a meeting with them. It’s so much easier once you have someone in the system on your side. If not – try to arrange a meeting in which you and your son can have your voices heard on your terms (i.e. not because he’s in trouble). I live in England, so am not sure how it works of you’re from over the pond, but often having a doctor present at these meetings is incredibly helpful. In my experience, lots of teachers will try to brush off parents’ concerns (not always with neglect – it’s so d*mn stressful and there just isn’t the budget to give children the support they deserve), so if you can get a medical professional to push your cause with their authority, it’s invaluable. It’s the only way I’ve managed to get my kids the support they deserve and protect them from ridiculous suspensions from behaviour that could have – should have – been prevented. Anyway, off track..
Lots of luck to you, mate 🙂
November 29, 2017 at 8:50 am #69197Penny WilliamsKeymaster
What you described about your son is exactly what lead me to have my own son evaluated for autism, 5 years after getting an ADHD diagnosis. The concrete thinking and getting very stuck can be part of ADHD, but when it doesn’t improve at all, and actually gets more debilitating, I see it as a potential sign of more. The additional “high-functioning” autism diagnosis was that missing piece of the puzzle for us — finally finishing the full picture of our son.
Now, when autism is added to the mix, ADHD medication can be much more tricky. A psychologist once told me that individuals with HFA tend to be extraordinarily sensitive to mental health medications, like stimulants and anti-depressants. We experienced a lot of that. My son couldn’t possibly function without the help of a stimulant. It’s only one tool though. Pills don’t teach skills.
This article shares all the secrets of getting ADHD medication just right — it’s a process of trial and error and can be tricky and exhausting.
A further/current evaluation could help the school be more understanding, and put accommodations in place so that he doesn’t get punished for missteps that are due to his neurology, not his character.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
December 1, 2017 at 10:09 pm #69560AlexanderDParticipant
I sure appreciate all the responses and advice. I feel so overwhelmed with so many directions and advice, but hearing from you guys has made me feel that I am not alone, and unsupported. I appreciate all your input from everyone. Thanks for taking the time. I am sorry I didn’t get right back. I was flying and I wanted to get back with the appropriate level of focus. Thankyou.
January 7, 2018 at 1:56 pm #72563Kyga2Participant
I am a high school teacher. It depends upon the school and school system, of course, but in some cases and official diagnosis for your child can be a good thing because it can lead to helpful accommodations. There is a formal process to set it up, but you can get your son on something called a 504 plan. I cannot remember what the number is for; it’s a federal designation, meaning it’s available in all states, as is special education. A 504 plan lists specific accommodations to help a student, and each teacher must abide by it. Some examples of accommodations might be preferential seating, extra time on assignments, allowing a student to leave the room and stand in the hall for a moment if he/she feels overwhelmed, etc. All of my students on the autism spectrum have 504 plans. It has helped me as a teacher because it provides guidelines on that specific student and what helps them, such as the best way to redirect or how to best help that student calm down. For students with ADHD, accommodations can include extra time, repetition of directions if needed, help with organizing notes, etc. In talking with parents I have found that often medication that worked for a child doesn’t work anymore as a child hits puberty, so it’s good to re-evaluate everything as a teen grows. Sorry if I repeated something someone said above. Even though you are concerned about labeling, I have found that older kids who understand how their mind processes things handle the struggles a bit better. When I got my ADD diagnosis, I felt better because I thought, “Wow, I’m not stupid!” Maybe getting a full diagnosis of how his mind works will give him some reassurance.
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