December 3, 2019 at 6:49 pm #135792CherylKing78Participant
Hi Everyone – I am recently remarried to a man with a 14 year old son with ADHD. Due to circumstances with my step sons mother, he has been under our care since August. He seemed to be doing well in school but it has dropped off over time. I hear he has always struggled with school and I am almost 100% positive while under the care of his mother, bad habits have formed with how to handle school and his ADHD. I do not know what to do or where to turn or where to start with what we should be doing to help him. My son and my other step son are straight A kids without ADHD, so navigating this is very difficult for me. I am open to any suggestions. I see him struggle and not prioritize and it makes things worse. I try to encourage him and help him, but when it comes to things like studying for a test, I am at a loss. I feel like he needs more structure and routine and even directions on how to study. It is very discouraging to me because I can tell he wants to do better. I do not feel like I have the right tools to teach him how to handle this. Does anyone have tips, websites, personal experience to share that may help? I can truly see in him that he wants to do well. – Thank you for any help in advance.
December 4, 2019 at 10:27 am #135819Penny WilliamsKeymaster
“I feel like he needs more structure and routine and even directions on how to study.” YES! That’s exactly right.
Many individuals with ADHD struggle with executive functioning. That impacts planning, organization, time management, task initiation, emotional regulation, and more. It is the daily FUNCTIONING skills.
Lots of structure and routine can help. Teach him how to use a calendar, how to plan projects by chunking. Provide timers and technology that can fill in the gaps — like calendars and alerts on smartphones. I have a check-in with my son every day after school. I ask leading questions to help him make a plan. “Tell me what you have for homework today (which should be recorded in calendar or planner, but rarely is).” “What do you want to work on first?” etc… And I have him write out the plan as he makes it, then he can use it as a checklist and cross off things as he makes progress.
Kids do well if they can. That means he needs accommodations and help to fill in where he’s weak so he can do well, as he clearly wants to.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
December 10, 2019 at 10:06 am #136001Dr. EricParticipant
If you want more in-depth version of the above articles, consider two books.
Taking Charge of ADHD – Russell Barkley — There is a school and parent section.
Smart, but Scattered – Peg Dawson and company.
December 16, 2019 at 6:42 am #136400avangeelParticipant
If you can get him onto a 504 Plan or IEP at school, then the school may be able to offer services that could help him. You could also consider hiring an executive functioning coach to work with him. Beyond Booksmart is one such organization, and it can do coaching sessions remotely via Skype. That organization is, however, very expensive; you may be able to identify less costly options in your area.
December 16, 2019 at 10:28 am #136430QweengooberParticipant
Seth Perler has great vlogs and helps for the practical learn to organize and study side of things. Keep focusing on the positive and letting him know that you see and appreciate his effort. It takes time and consistency to find what works best for his style of thinking but there are great told and methods out there.
December 16, 2019 at 10:38 am #136441scrispin99Participant
I have 6 years experience with 2 adhd stepkids now 20 and 15. My advice to you is stepmom related not adhd focused: work directly with your husband and let your husband primarily handle this. It’s his son. Understand that this is not a one time fix, it’s on ongoing process and a project. Talk with your husband and come up with an action plan together. Do not lead. Let your husband lead, not because he’s the man (obviously) but because he’s the child’s father. And yes in our case too the birth mother is not helpful and is counter productive, most everything we accomplish on our week is undone in her week. That’s classic and is simply one of the challenges of blended family. However I sense you are a competent get it done woman. Just be careful and don’t burn yourself out. Your top priorities are taking care of yourself, your own son, your new marriage and of course being a good stepmom but you’ll be fine there because you’ve already demonstrated you are someone who cares. Believe me, if you jump in and take this on it’s very hard to back off later. Make sure you ask your husband for at least equal involvement on his part. It is after all his child and his responsibility.
December 16, 2019 at 10:38 am #136443jcurryParticipant
I definitely recommend the book Smart But Scattered Teens by Peg Dawson and Russell Guare. It is excellent and explains Executive Functioning Skills. There is a self-assessement and parent assessment in it that will help identify EF strengths and weaknesses. There are tips to help with the weak areas. Be patient, this is going to take some time. Also see if your stepson can think of some peers with whom he could create a study group. He may need study guides or to make flashcards. There are also many online tutorial sites and HW help sites. Wishing you the strength to persevere….this is a process!
December 16, 2019 at 11:14 am #136488GetittogethergirlParticipant
You are wonderful in your willingness to offer support to him. I was diagnosed after I was out of school and got good grades but at a high cost. Looking back now, I realize a lot of my study habits were so inefficient that they became hugely overwhelming. I offer my hindsight in hopes it can give some help.
1. I saw deadlines as either “now” or “not now” meaning I could not motivate myself to do any schoolwork before last minute.
2. I had no idea how to study and would spend too much time just rereading the textbook instead of quizzing myself on notes or reviewing what I didn’t know.
3. I could not remember due dates or details of assignment requirements if they were not written down.
4. I was constantly forgetting to bring assignments I had completed or forgetting where I put them.
I had great parents who helped a lot, but we didn’t know what ADHD was. If you can get a few things in place for him, he can learn some tools that will help him the rest of his life. I would suggest a white board at home where he lists his tasks. Note that he will see the task in its entirety, so teach him how to break it down. For instance, instead of “write paper” he could write, “research paper topics” and then “choose topic”. You are so right about him needing outside help. It is hard to understand because skills that seem very natural to neurotypical people are foreign to people with adhd not because they are dumb or irresponsible, but because their executive function departments are out to lunch. A helpful metaphor is looking at the brain as needing glasses for executive function. The brain is constantly squinting in that area. I am sure your love and support will bless him now and in the years to come.
December 16, 2019 at 11:15 am #136489MiaParticipant
We have loved the YouTube channel How to ADHD. Has helped our understanding and has helped our son understand himself. She has multiple videos surrounding organization, homework, projects….
December 17, 2019 at 8:11 am #136666Jen HutchesonParticipant
I am brand new to this site, and the first thing I read was your post, Cheryl. My first thought was, how incredibly fortunate that boy is to have a step mom who cares so deeply about him, recognizes he wants to do well but is struggling, and is committed to helping him. Love and support alone cannot fix his problems, but they are foundational to his self-esteem and ultimately to his success in life. My wonderful son is now 27 years old. We paid for psychoeducational testing later in high school and, based on what was found, he was given some accommodations like a quiet environment to write tests and additional time. These things helped him, but were only a piece of the puzzle. We were not told about ADD or pointed in the direction of books or sites such as ADDitude. I did not have resources to help me put in place strategies for helping him to be more organized. Throughout school I helped him way more than my husband thought I should, in particular on projects that required multiples steps and organization. Everything took him way longer than it took his friends. He knew I was always there for him, which helped keep his anxiety in check, and this is all-important. He succeeded academically in high school, and then was able to get a college diploma for a trade without any help from me. We have only recently realized he has ADD, and me too, to a lesser degree, and now our weaknesses and struggles make sense. I hope you find some resources that help you support your boy, and that you find the effort as rewarding as I have. Bless you for caring so deeply.
December 17, 2019 at 1:34 pm #136715rnwlifeParticipant
Congratulations on your marriage and your bonus child. Study tips are great but I have found that counseling is a great first step. The counselor is trained in getting to the root of the issues and helping to decipher what will work and what is needed. Recently my adhd teen was struggling with her grades slipping and we found that one teacher was the catalyst. After 2 weeks of the switch, she is thriving in more than one area. Prayer will help.
December 17, 2019 at 3:49 pm #136758Amakk88Participant
*** IN WRITING- Write a letter to your step son’s school requesting IEP/504 Services, Learning Disability Testing, as well as Gifted Testing. The school will have 30 days to start the process – it’s the law (and we will all help walk you along with it).
– You can initiate an ’emergency 504 Plan’ which will go thru faster than a regular IEP (individual education plan) and allow him to recieve academic accomadations almost immediatley.
– Under this you can request that homework be completed during school like study hall or request he be allowed extensions on turning in homework at a later date. I’ve seen some where the school agreed to let the student turnin the homework whenever they could as long as it was before the end of that quarter.
-if he has an agressive temperament for example – you can request a positive behavior plan to where faculty would need to respond in such a way that it does not antagonize, increase, or cause his anxiety, agression, anger, depression etc. to continbue to escelate. if he is getting frustrated he could be allowed to raise his hand and ask that he take a 5 minute breather from the environment and get some energy out or go talk to the counselor…
just a couple ideas of what a 504 plan can do to help.
Once you make that request in writing, make sure you have a copy and keep a journal of all the dates and meetings, and make sure you get copies of all of his academic recordss. these will come in handy in the future. sometimes programs and support services require a track record of x-amount of behavior or lack of in order to recieve the help you’ll need.
My son is 10 – i thought he was delayed….. turns out his IQ was 129, and he is gifted – He also struggles with ADHD severe combined type, and a few other diagnosis.
he just got home from school – I love this topic so if you’d like to reach out to me, i have a buttload of recent resources and more information on ADHD and mental health. i think i can lend a hand 🙂
December 18, 2019 at 1:14 pm #136836sassycatmamaParticipant
My son with ADHD is 16, lives with his dad an hour away. He was formally diagnosed in kindergarten; we knew when he was in preschool. I’m the main communicator at school, and am the one who notices when something is awry. We talk every morning to make sure he’s up and has things in order. He comes over every other weekend–we work on homework if needed. He’s been seeing a psychologist for years, and the main thing that has helped has been communication with teachers (even without formal 504 or IEP). I meet at school if needed. I know his friends and their families–they check in with me, too! My parents are supportive as well. We discuss finding his “homework hub” dedicated to do homework in, a simple calendar planner, a “to do” and “to hand in” clear folders with pockets on the outside, and a small notebook in the “to do” folder. He takes a break right after school–sets a timer, then gets to homework before the Xbox or TV (it gets him superfocused and hard to get away from).
He still has troubles, and its frustrating that his dad doesn’t get on the ball or communicate. No, he isn’t one of the lazy distracted kids that was diagnosed early because he didn’t want to do his schoolwork–he really does have this. I have a neurodiverse brain as well. Not something that’s fun to deal with, and not something a person would want to pretend to have if they really knew what it was like.
Good for you to be proactive and wanting to be involved! It takes patience and persistence and love. Lots of love.
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