My Forum Comments
You have much support here.
I am the mother of an ADD 22-yr old and have been involved in his development since he
was diagnosed at age 5.
I understand the struggle and certainly everyone’s struggle is not the same.
I chose to treat him with behavior modification instead of drugs, which is life
changing as I had to work from home and devote time to his academic and personal
needs for years. Attending conferences such as CHADD was instrumental in guiding
me along the way with his diagnosis.
I realize you are older and your circumstances are different from our own.
He is graduating college next month with a Bachelor in Recording Arts. I tell you
that because of all the academic degrees we explored, this one was adaptable
to his ADD. I’ve written before how the use of headphones has made a significant
difference in his academic learning and now his career path. Headphone-work helps
him to focus and gives him the opportunity to hear something he needs to remember
over and over. It was a gift when I realized in 5th grade he could remember much
better and stay on task if he was hearing, without distraction that which he
needed to know and accomplish.
Difficulty in remembering tasks was a problem. So I would often record on an
iPod or similar what needed to be done in the order it needed to be done. He learned
to read that way too because reading meant concentration and focus but if he could
follow a book with audio, it made all the difference.
One more piece that made a considerable difference in his life was to learn how
to ask for help. It was baby steps getting through the teen years learning how to
reach out without embarressment. It’s hard enough to admit he needed help But
eventually, he has learned to do so successfully.
Keeping the IEP open during college also meant he could reach out for tutors
successfully and without embarrassment. Some people close out the IEP at age
18 but I recommend leaving it open.
He reaches out to me just to review his grocery list or talk about expenses
and always my replies are met with encouragement and compliments so he doesnt’ feel
like he’s failed. And when people around him criticize, we’ve talked about how
to turn around these critiques and use them a way to expand instead of deflate.
The last tool that has made him feel a true sense of accomplishment is to help
others who have the same ADD/ADHD issues. He was a camp counselor for many years
and understands the triggers particularly when it comes to chidren. Perhaps
you could use what you know about the condition and pay it forward. There are
organizations that could use your insight. There is great satisfaction, as you
know in helping others and being an expert in something you have overcome.
I wish you well.
I would suggest contacting CHADD http://www.Chadd.org and use their free hotline to obtain advice. Seek out other Moms and support groups. I used to take
my son (now age 22) with me and he’d play while we talked. I learned so much about ADD and what resources were available. He’s graduating college
in 3 months and I thought we’d never get here but it is possible by reaching out to as many people as possible.
I’d like to suggest that you reach out to CHADD http://www.chadd.org/ . There is a hotline that has been helpful to me raising a child and new a young adult through the years. There are free resources, trainings and conferences that networking with others has been instrumental in helping to raise a child and get him now through college…something we had been told could never happen.
We learned that NJ was a state that viewed ADD/ADHD as a disability in our state through the Exceptional Student Education or ESE counselor at our son’s school.
I suggest you contact your ESE counselor for assistance. All schools must offer help by law; both public and private.
The ESE counselor is the one who creates the IEP or the Individual Education Program that schools must follow to help the student. My son is now 22 and we still have the IEP open even through college.
If you need additional help you can consult CHADD http://www.chadd.org/ and they have an open hot line which I have utilized successfully in the past. I am sure they can provide the information you need.
Your pediatrician is also a great source of assistance and recommendations.
We were able to get one-on-one tutoring in kindergarten and first grade. As he got older there was still an aide in the classroom for help and as he progressed, he received group tutoring.
I already raised a kindergartner with ADD and the one thing I suggest is to ask as many questions of physicians, call CHADD, get his IEP done, make sure all teachers are actually using the IEP and following instructions, show up for all IEP meetings, call the ESE counselor periodically and ask him/her to circle around with you on his progress, set up logs with the teachers with 4 or 5 behaviors your child needs to work on daily and then review the log with him every day. Reward him with a star and if he has enough stars allow him to make a decision as his award such as selecting dinner, dessert or stay up an extra half hour. There were many times I ate donuts for dinner or watched Sponge Bob for the 1,000th time because he earned the privilege to make that decision.
If you go to a CHADD conference you can meet other parents from your state and they can offer academic recommendations.
Be involved and advocate for your child. Make sure he receives all the benefits of his IEP.
What does his IEP offer? Does he receive accommodations?
Does the school have an ESE counselor? That is their job to create an education plan, which
includes help with his studies.
Do you come from a state where ADD/ADHD is a disability as opposed to an impairment? When we
lived in NJ, this was a state that recognized ADD as a disability and the school provided individual
tutor who would come into the classroom and assist the children.
When we moved to a state that didn’t recognize ADD as a disability, the state provides group tutoring
classes outside of the regular classroom.
I also found that from an early age that any math that could be done electronically helped to reinforce
math lessons all through grammar school. ADD has trouble paying attention and focusing but we found
that handheld devices that required interaction were the most useful.
We also started using headphones
in Kindergarten that plugged into the device which helped to keep his attention in one direction. Our
son is now age 22 and still uses headphones in college. It’s been a saving grace. Often teachers would
record lessons for him and he would listen through the headphones. This also helped to reinforce the
Consider introducing your child to a computer and various computer programs. Set up a timer when he can
use the computer and when he has to do his homework. I had timers all over the house. It helps them
to stay focused and paces their learning with frequent breaks.
Your child’s IEP should include any adaptations that your physician agrees will help your child. It has
to be in writing.
My suggestion is to learn about what resources are available to your child. Speak to people who are responsible
for ESE students. Learn what your state offers. Call the Dept of Education and ask questions. Google CHADD and
attend a meeting. Educating yourself is the best way to help your son succeed.
Learning math early on is a good thing IMO. It sets him up for success for 1st grade. Not having confidence
is a huge factor in ADD/ADHD so if you set him up for success early, he’ll be more confident which can only
help him meet future challenges.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by gregorje.
I am the mother of a 22 year old with ADD.
i took a different approach when he was diagnosed in kindergarten that I could work on behavior changes without medication. While we still had to see a doctor to keep his diagnosis active, I trashed all the RX he gave me. Instead, I educated myself on diet and sleep and exercise and made sure he had plenty of that. Nutrition was important to me and he did well with fruits and vegetables with one day per week having something of his choosing.
I joined CHADD and I quit my job and started my own business from home so I could be available all the time…during school, after school for meetings and when he got home to start his homework. I never missed an ESE evaluation and I said yes to every test offered.
I used various activities to motivate him and we started projects weeks in advance because things had to be done slowly and methodically. We timed everything so he could have frequent breaks in between assignments.
I had school personnel constantly monitoring him and we set up a communication log so I could be fully aware of how he did each day. We had reward programs to encourage him. I spent a lot of time talking and writing to teachers. I had his Principal and his ESE counselors checking in to see what could be done to lessen the distractions.
I am telling you this because I spent a lot of time setting him up with programs each summer with activities that interested him. I had a keen ear to listening to him telling me what he liked. We put him in Civil Air Patrol at 12 so he could learn to fly. He has an interest in aviation. ADD can fly because it based on a set check list that works. He flew solo eventually. We took him to camp each summer since he was 5 so he could learn independence. One camp was about helping animals because he likes animals. He did volunteer work in the library for over 3 years to earn volunteer hours for high school graduation. The library is a good environment for ADD. Very quiet and not distracting. One summer he flew to WI for aviation camp. Another summer he hiked through the Appalachia Mountains because he was interested in hiking. If he told me he wanted to build a computer, which he did, I found a way for him to do it. We kept the IEP open and we kept it open even in college now. I still fight for accommodations for him. Currently, I am
requesting that his school give him an Assistive Tool which is a Mac Book Pro 2017 because it has a tool bar that helps ADD remember much better.
He was not motivated to drive until he was 16 which is about a year later than everyone else. I didn’t push it. Eventually he decided to get the license so he could make some money to buy his own things.
It has been a full time job for me, although my husband was supportive and he the one who did more of the driving getting him to activities. But I believe it paid off because he learned to ask for help and that was the main lesson he had to learn to succeed. He is set up with tutors now and most of his classes he can use headphones which we found early on were crucial to his success. It blocked out distractions and made all the difference in the world. And we were able to do this without medication which was important to me because I didn’t want him to learn to medicate himself if things were difficult and he lost confidence or he was sad. I was very worried about that.
He’s due to graduate in 3 months with a bachelors and I never thought he would have gotten this far. He thanks me for being there for him.
So my suggestion is to really listen to what interests them and do whatever you can to make that experience happen for them. If they like to cook, find a cooking class. If they like computers, have them offer to teach children or older folks how to use the computer (libraries) so the knowledge is put to good use. It also builds confidence and gives them purpose. If they like to put things together, give them that opportunity. I found that charitable organizations were best for special interests and they were more adaptable to getting all the help they could. I used to pay him a weekly allowance if he worked at a charity so he had some money. Once he volunteered at a cat shelter because he likes cats and I’d do something nice for him so he was rewarded for his time since it was harder to find a job. He did work at fast food and for ADD multi-taking was not easy. So he got a job with UPS as a driver’s helper bring packages to people’s doors and that type of work for his mind worked well. So I really tried to adapt work to his abilities as best I could and overall it was a success.
I hope my story helps.
Please advice who Dr. Halloway may be. I see the name
but no reference, unless I have missed it.
I posted above with my story of how I helped my ADD son through his grammar and high school years by
listening to each of his interests and enrolling him in whatever I could to find that matched those interests.
My goals was to build confidence and achievement. We did that without therapy and drugs.
I changed his school too. I took him from a public school to a public charter school that offered more options
to types of learning. So I tried to match the opportunities to his needs rather than the other way around.
I joined CHADD, spoke to every educational specialist I could through the years, read whatever I could and kept
logs and journals figuring out meticulously what worked and what did not.
I quit my job and started my own business from home so I could be available for him before and after school. I drove him
back and forth to grammar and middle school each day so I was sure he got there. I also noticed he was the most ‘open’
to how his day had gone during those commutes to and from school with no gadgets in front of him or other distractions. I got
more information out of him in the 15-minute drive than another other time of the day. It was just the two of us.
And that made a difference in understanding how his day had gone.
He’s 22 now and with 3 months left to go, he’s due to graduate a leading university with a B-average. I know I am
going to ‘lose it’ when he walks across that stage. It has been a difficult journey.
I’m not here to brag that the results have been better than I could have imagined. It wasn’t easy. There were times he
didn’t want to attend school or finish his work. Worse yet, he told me he only wanted to do the ‘bare minimum’ and then
that would get my mind churning to see what could be done. I’m not educated in
any ESE work. I am a business woman with a marketing specialty. So I went into this ‘cold’. I had no outside family support. Fortunately, my
husband saw my vision and worked with me. He’s a mechanic and knew nothing about ADD either. With him, life would have
been even more difficult.
everyone accountable to helping him and maintaining his IEP in school. I made friends and some times, enemies,
but I wouldn’t go down with out trying behavior modification over medication. But teachers saw me doing my part in helping him
do his work and show up in school that they often complimented my efforts and would be more likely to go that extra mile for him when needed.
One teacher would call me from inside the class when he wasn’t cooperating and I’d have to speak to him. Another teacher had the power to
keep him back a grade in 4th grade due to poor reading test scores but she knew he could do the work and she knew I was his greatest advocate.
So she offered to go go the school board and pleaded the argument to let him pass through to 5th grade so he wouldn’t fall behind. She told me she did
that because she knew I wouldn’t let him fall through the cracks.
I am writing because I saw your list of meds that your son takes. I am not judging because I know the meds
really do help so many and for many they are a saving grace.
However some of the side effects that you mentioned could possibly be attributed to the medication. For example, weight
gain and depression are some of those side effects.
I only mention this because if the meds don’t work and all that the therapist is doing is raising the dosage, then perhaps it could be
best to step back and question why to continue with something that is not working.
Perhaps, a re-evaluation of those drugs
with a doctor who takes a non-pharmaceutical approach could answer that question. If something is not working then try something else.
Perhaps contacting CHADD for recommendations. It’s a laborious process but it is your right to find the most
suitable medical help for your son.
I also checked on astrophysics camps for children. Yale offers a summer camp https://yspa.yale.edu/ as does
Columbia University http://sps.columbia.edu/highschool/summer-immersion/new-york-city-3-week/courses/astronomy-and-astrophysics
and NASA http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/Discipline.aspx?sort=ENG-Astrophysics_Astronomy%20*%20Astrophysics
As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time finding programs that met my son’s interests. This was a full time job. I would
start in January and make a list for the summer of places to contact. And I put away money to afford these opportunities.
I applied for scholarships and grant monies whenever i could. I worked a babysitting job in the mornings in addition to running my business to raise money for flight
lessons he wanted. I would find sponsors who would support him. One year, about age 14, he painted mailboxes in our neighborhood to raise money to fly to WI to attend an aviation summer camp. He got a scholarship that year as well. I created a website for him, purchased the domain and took pictures of him
painting. Then I copied in an online calendar for people to book appointments and I made business cards for him on
my printer. He was eager to attend camp so he was motivated to do the work and go door-to-door to ask people if they wanted their mailbox painted to advertise his
painting ‘business’. It was a successful venture.
Even though a camp might be out of reach, I suggest calling them anyway and ask them to make a recommendation. I found one
camp through a recommendation from another camp and eventually he attended that camp for 5 years and then became a counselor and then he got a job there his
last summer in the kitchen. So one thing can lead to another and if they want it, they will work for it.
I am not a medical professional so my view point is only from a lay perspective. Since you describe some physical and mental
attributes, I’m suggesting to rethink every aspect of what goes into his body and his brain. I know when a Dr. prescribed
Adderall in 2000 when my son was only 6 years old, I spoke to many medical professionals to learn how this drug actually reshapes
the brain. And at that early stage of development; at a time when the brain is at a critical stage, it scared me to think
that something I would give him could affect his brain for the rest of his life. So I backed down from meds and devoted my
time to behavior modification. Again, that is my story and I recognize our path is not the same treatment for everyone.
Find a support system for yourself. CHADD was all I had for so long but it was instrumental in deciding that I
could help him myself. They have a hot line that is free. And they have networking events and conferences. It really
helps to be around people who understand your position. http://www.chadd.org/
Give yourself kudos for reaching out for help.