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ADHD questions and advice greatly needed

Hi. Let me start off by saying I am not a mom, I am in the step-mom roll in a very difficult situation. This is an emotional time for everyone in our family, but I really need some advice on helping our 12 year old son. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, he is medicated while he is/was with his mother. However we don't have access to his medication and are not even sure if this is the correct route for him. This may be long and I apologize but alive and answers would be so greatly appreciate.

A. J lashes out, often physically. Dad and I are willing to let small things, such as leaving a towel on the floor go. However, he often yells, screams and throws things when he doesn't get his way or loses a game. Should we step in immediately to correct this behavior? My initial thought was of course. Should he be reprimanded for this behavior immediately or just calmed down and address the misbehavior at a later time? Even when he has friends over,I pull him off to the side and address the behavior and explain to him the consequences.

B. J is very caught up in video games. I believe it's because of the stimulation however it isn't the good kind of stimulation. Would getting him out, against his will be the better option? He's prone to aggression, has been shown that its acceptable behavior and becomes more aggressive when playing these games.

C. He's very... Rude. I do believe some of it is brought on by the situation we are in but some of it is not. He will blatantly say 'you don't deserve respect from me.' What should we do in regards to this?

D. He's used to using his ADHD as a crutch. He loses a game and is a sore loser? It's because he has ADHD. Throws things when he gets mad? Not his fault he has ADHD. I don't believe ADHD is his fault, but I also don't believe he should let it control his life. How can we help show him this? What are some management tools we can learn and teach him?

E. Diet. J and his sister are used to sugary, processed foods and sodas. We do not have soda, except as a treat. I have done the wrong thing and had sugary foods in the house. I was using it as a comfort. However when you ask J to slow down, it's taken as a personal slight. He will seriously eat up to 5 bowls of Fruity Pebbles in one sitting. That's unhealthy and I believe it's contributing to behavior issues. Has anyone had any luck with diet changes? Please also keep in mind that regular visits with mom do happen and she hasn't been open to respecting our rules. Both kids appear to have been fed only fast food and ALWAYS have a soda and candy at pick up, which is right at dinner time.

Thank you if you got this far and I appreciate the advice!

Answer Question

Asked by Erica705 at 1:37 AM on Jul. 26, 2013 in Tweens (9-12)

Level 2 (5 Credits)
Answers (20)
  • A. Yes, you discipline a child with ADHD exactly the same as you would a child without ADHD. If you wouldn't tolerate the bad behavior from your other child(ren), then you don't tolerate it from him.

    B. Yes, kids with ADHD are drawn to video games because they are very active with lots of different things to focus on. Limit video games (as well as TV, computer time, etc.) to what you feel is acceptable. If he isn't happy about it, refer back to A.

    C. Refer back to A. Rudeness likely has nothing to do with ADHD and everything to do with the kid never being taught to respect others. Some of it is also probably being 12 - my 12 yr old can get a nasty attitude sometimes. I put him in his place, and it stops.

    D. You just don't let him use ADHD as an excuse. You treat him as you would anyone else, and expect the same things from him as you would expect from anyone else. Period. If he blames ADHD....

    Answer by wendythewriter at 7:59 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • you simply say, "No, it's not ADHD. It's you (being a sore loser; being rude; acting out; whatever it is he's doing) and then refer back to A.

    E. Dietary changes can help. Cutting out processed foods, foods with artificial dyes and preservatives can help. I found I could make homemade baked goods that wouldn't affect them while storebought versions of the foods did. Breyer's ice cream was a good way to let them have ice cream (but it has no preservatives, so you can't buy it and store it for too long). Eating 5 bowls of Fruity Pebbles, though - he's 12. My 12 year old can eat a ton of food. They're growing boys. When they're active and growing, they can eat like a horse. Swap it out for healthier options, but unless there are concerns about his weight, I wouldn't try to restrict how much he eats. If there is concern about his weight, then work with his doctor to figure out what's right for him.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:03 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • I agree with Wendy. The only thing I have to add is that is he is not already in some sort of psychotherapy or play therapy I highly recommend it. Also, though it is expensive, if you can do it I would recommend a behavioral therapist to help everyone out in this situation.

    Answer by But_Mommie at 8:28 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • we manage ADD without medication
    DS is 16 and is an active member of his treatment team
    he says:
    exercise helps- he is a football player and he has to work harder during the off season

    he is a gamer- gaming is easier to focus on because he controls the environment. he sometimes gets overloaded attempting to focus on multiple tasks. when this happens he feels frustrated because he is out of control
    he likes gaming as a way to decompress

    and replace the sugary cereals with homemade granola- it'll help the food bill and one bowl may fill the poor kid up. goodness 5 bowls? sounds like he's starving. damn growing teen boys :)

    and what they said^^

    Answer by feralxat at 9:49 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • Yes, working with a behavioral therapist could help a lot to support you in addressing things by adjusting the environment (giving you tools for relating to him changes the environment to which he's reacting. And it would help you to develop constructive responses to his more explosive, problematic communication so that you are less likely to inadvertently escalate the situation with your response.)
    You may find that your insurance covers this kind of therapy, so don't rule it out preemptively because of expense. Or the therapist may offer a sliding scale or a discount to clients without insurance coverage. It also may be well worth the expense, in terms of supporting your family & improving the tone in your home.
    In addition to that, you could consult the parenting chapters in Canadian physician Gabor Mate's book on attention deficit disorder, "Scattered." He gives very practical recommendations for HOW to (and not to) handle

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:06 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • the kinds of scenarios you mention (the specific interactions you described.)
    Another resource that would be significantly helpful in supporting your perspective & resourcefulness is Ross Greene's book, "The Explosive Child: A new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children."
    His collaborative problem solving approach can help you move forward in situations where punishments/consequences & rewards only frustrate the child further & lead to greater explosiveness and mutual frustration!
    If you are having behavioral issues & wish to make (probably unwelcome!) changes in the child's activities, diet & behaviors, then avoiding patterns of relating that increase alienation (and thus, opposition) rather than connection is very helpful. It truly is possible, but not necessarily instinctive, to relate more constructively. These books can help just like the support of family therapy would.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:13 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • Thank you for your answers so far! I did more research after I posted this. I'm seriously looking into the Feingold elimination diet. Has anyone tried and had luck with this?

    Comment by Erica705 (original poster) at 11:09 AM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • ahhh- feingold
    we have an expert
    post feingold and put it in special needs and she will tell you her success story and even where to find candy that the kid can eat (she has to special order)
    her name is fiatpax

    Answer by feralxat at 12:07 PM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • What you describe in your 12 year old could also fit MY 9 year old, almost to a T. My son was diagnosed last year with Asperger's (now Autism Spectrum) and ADHD. In a nutshell, his personality was fighting him. The Autism wants everything in order, logical, and predictable. The ADHD is a volcano exploding in ALL directions at once.

    We tried counseling with behavior modifications. It helped a little bit, but not enough. Finally, the psychologist recommended medication. I was reluctant because I DON'T like taking pills just to be taking pills. I finally gave in, got the meds for my son right around last Christmas. What a difference. He is night and day when on/off his meds.

    Grrr, due to lack of space, I'll address your actual questions in my next post. Stupid character limit.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 12:46 PM on Jul. 26, 2013

  • Should we step in immediately to correct this behavior? Should he be reprimanded for this behavior immediately or just calmed down and address the misbehavior at a later time?

    Yes to both. If he's being aggressive it needs to be addressed immediately. If he's just losing it and throwing a tantrum like a 2 year old, then calm him down and address the behavior later.

    Would getting him out, against his will be the better option?

    Yes. Kids spend WAY too much time playing video games. Kids should be outside riding bikes and playing at parks. Add to it that the video games are escalating his behavior, they need to be severely limited.

    Consider getting him into ATA (American Taekwondo Association) We did that for my son, and that has also helps. The forms they do use both sides of the brain. They also emphasize self-control and discipline over beating someone up.


    Answer by Rosehawk at 12:58 PM on Jul. 26, 2013

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