Over the past 12 years, I've been raising a son with ADHD. It hasn't been easy, but it hasn't been horribly hard either.
Just like any child, a child with ADHD has their good days and bad days. The only problem? Those bad days can and typically are much much worse than a raising a son with ADHD.
Anyone who knows anything about raising a son with ADHD knows the typical struggles:
- Doing everything EXCEPT what needs to be done
- Temper tantrum throwing
- Being impulsive
Oh, and the list could go on and on…… probably for at least another 100 bullet points…
Anyway, we went back to the long drawing board of struggling with our oldest who is 15 and thinks NOT doing his homework is okay. So we devised a plan. He wants to get his ears pierced when he turns 16. We’re okay with that. However, we told him he had to do the following without any fighting, arguing, etc:
- Homework is to be done by 5 pm daily
- Attitude has to be changed completely
- Stop throwing temper tantrums like a 2yr old
- Enunciate his words (which is hard because he’s hearing impaired)
- Chores are to be done without asking
- STOP, Think, speak (he talks faster than he can think sometimes)
- NO electronics until homework and chores are completed
Now we’re trying VERY hard to be positive in getting him to keep on task. It’s a constant struggle to keep him on task since he has been diagnosed with ADHD. However, I think we have a method that may work. We turn music on, low, turn a timer on and he has X amount of minutes to do each task. It’s not only working with him but also our 13-year-old son as well who has ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
Teens with ADHD have a very difficult life. This condition is one that you may not even realize that your child has. In many cases, the symptoms are so few that you do not see that it is there. In fact, they know it is, but you do not. ADHD is a learning disability and a behavior disability that causes many more problems than just a temper tantrum when they are five years old. ADHD teens face many problems throughout their childhoods and well into their adult lives.
What should be done for teens with ADHD?
Here are some things you, as parents, can do for your teens with ADHD:
Get them tested for the condition
If your child struggles with remaining focused, seems to be smart but fails tests, or struggles with some of the simplest of things but excels in those that are more difficult, he may have this condition. Talk to their doctor about how to get the test and find out.
Typically your insurance doesn't need a referral when it comes to mental health, but you'll definitely want to check with your provider first. Our insurance didn't pay for the testing, so we had to pay for that out of pocket which can start around $50 depending on the facility you use for the testing.
Medication is available to help children with ADHD. Before you questions, if your child needs it, determine what the benefits of taking it would be. For some children, it can give them self-control, self-worth and help them to finally feel good about what they are doing. For others, it does not provide a noticeable benefit.
We medicated for the first 3-4 years and I regret it. But don't let our situation deter you from using medication. It just didn't work for us. Make sure you and your doctor are well educated on the medication selections for your child, no matter the age. Also, you're ultimately the final decision maker, if you don't want medications, talk to your Doctor about alternative methods.
Give them time
Many ADHD teens will do well if they are given enough time to finish tasks and problems. For that reason, it is essential to clue your child's school in on your child's problem. They can provide extra help and encouragement to them.
Take the time to understand what it is like to be a teen with ADHD
Unless you have this condition yourself, you need to realize that it is hard. It is not their fault they can not pay attention. It is not their fault that they do not understand what their teacher is saying. And, it is not their fault that these things frustrate them so much so that they explode. Take the time to really understand them.
ADHD teens need extra learning help and they need emotional support. The teen years are already hard to deal with. Teens with ADHD have it just that much harder as it is.
BE THEIR ADVOCATE
I can't stress this enough. I don't care if the child is 5 or 17. BE THEIR ADVOCATE and demand that their 504 or IEP is followed. This is something that schools tend to hope parents won't push. They want you to forget so they can get away with it. There are great teachers that are out there that don't let IEP or 504 plans get pushed to the side. They honor them perfectly. However, there are many teachers that see them as burdens. I get it. I do, but it's the teacher's job to adhere to the plans.
You know your child best. When sitting down for an IEP or 504 meeting, make sure you firmly demand aids or services that will assist your child.
For instance: (my son with ADHD is also hearing impaired)
We've demanded that he be sat on the right side of the classroom in the front so he can focus and hear the teacher
He's not supposed to have electronics on his person unless needed for class (they all have iPads instead of books)
The teacher is supposed to have him repeat the directions back in his own words so that they know he understands the assignment(s)
If another student asks a question, the teacher is supposed to repeat the question to make sure he heard it and answer.
Extended time on tests by 1 1/2 times the regular amount allotted.
An extra day for assignments to make sure that he understands the assignment.
It’s been one of those subjects that have been a constant thing that we've needed to go over and re-evaluate several times over the past several years. As you can see in the picture above we love to goof off. It’s just trying to get him to understand when it’s time to goof off and when it’s time to get serious.