Re-starting teen on ADHD meds

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    • #193245

      Hello, I am a parent of an ADHD teen. When the pandemic started in March 2020 and our teen stopped going into school, we decided to ween him off of his low-dose medication. He felt better being off of it, we felt better not forcing him to take it. His grades remained where they were and he was pretty much the same child off the meds. Even our psychiatric doctor, who has overseen our son’s medication, believed he didn’t need the meds on a daily basis. We thought we were turning the corner on him permanently living independent of medication.

      I’d say we’re seeing a change over the past month. Our child has been caught sleeping when he should have been paying attention to class. He’s become increasingly agitated over little things like cleaning up after himself (it took him HOURS to put a plate away). He’s gotten into a conflict with his friends that has included a physical confrontation which may have contributed to this attitude change. Especially over the last two weeks he’s rude, disrespectful, and worst of all, unremorseful for his behavior. However, he does still have goals of doing well in school, studying for his SAT, working with a college advisor, and doing community service.

      Our therapist is strongly encouraging sending him back to school AND re-starting his meds. Our teen has previously been adamant against both. We need suggestions on how to convey to him that doing one or both is in his best interests — and that he will buy into it and not run into his room refusing. OR, we need some perspective on whether we need to do one or both at all. Like you guys, we unconditionally love our child and want to see him be happy and succeed.

      Thank you for reading and welcoming me into this no-judgment forum.

    • #193261

      Hi. I’m an ADHD adult who was first diagnosed as a teen. And I think I kind of see where he’s coming from.

      We ADHDers are famously “time blind,” and it goes beyond problems with punctuality, which I manage to mostly avoid. My time blindness is largely toward the past, I recently realized, especially to things more than 2 months ago, but sometimes as little as a few days ago can feel irrelevant. If he’s gone over 10 months off meds, especially as a teen, that can feel like forever ago, even not a real part of his life. So he might not be able to (emotionally, at least) remember being helped by meds or be able to connect his current problems with his past diagnosis or future goals. (With no past, it’s hard to imagine much of a future.)

      He might also be very sensitive if he feels he is being criticized for his recent behavior. We fall especially hard with that.

      I’d suggest starting by asking him about his short-term and long-term future plans and hopes when he is in a good mood (because in a bad mood, I, for one, am incapable of contemplating a positive future), and to brainstorm about what he might need to get there. Maybe ask him about his favorite activities and dream job, since dedication to getting and keeping my dream job has been key to my functioning even when I thought my ADHD was a 90s fad misdiagnosis. (Past blindness again, and self-awareness limitations.) Then help him work through a plan with concrete steps to practice daily toward the goal, and daily simple progress charting – how many minutes he studied, how many things he crossed off his to-do list. Let him do most of the work so he feels like he has more control of his life – something most teens crave and often feel deprived of. Make sure he has easy access to positive information from the past, which I find essential for my own symptom management (no meds for the last 16 1/2 years but open to the possibility if I have extended problems). Maybe then he’ll be open to reconsidering meds and/or in-person school, or else find a way to hack learning online and unmedicatedñ

      Good luck!

      • This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by eyeonthesky.
    • #193776
      Penny Williams

      Remember that kids are experiencing more anxiety and sadness during the pandemic (aren’t we all). That often looks like negative behavior on the surface. Try a collaborative approach with him — at his age, you must take his perspective into account. Without teen buy-in, it will fail.

      Time for Plan B? 10 Tips for Dealing with the Explosive Child

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

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