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Old 02-16-2013, 07:31 AM   #1
MichelleinMaine
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ADHD diagnosed in teens

Anyone have any experience with this? DS16 has always had homework issues (getting done, remembering to hand in, etc) but many things are starting completely fall apart. OF COURSE, the full extent (I don't even know if I've seen the "full" extent yet) came to light 2pm on the day February vacation started.

I will be setting up conferences with teachers once break is over, but also trying to work with him to figure some strategies to get caught up as much as he can over break.

I've also been looking at ADHD and some sounds like him. (Then on the flip side, too, some of it sounds like "normal teenager-itis". That could totally be his diagnosis too. Either case, it's not working for him!)
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:41 AM   #2
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I think a good number of kids get diagnosed as teens; especially back in the 1990s when it was less recognized.

One thing that is cautionary about that, though, is that, for the most part, ADHD is lifelong. Your son has grown up in a time where it is easily identified. That he made it to his teens without any significant issues would almost suggest that he may not have it.

Alternatively, everyone with ADHD has a different threshhold of where it "all starts to fall apart" as you said. For some, that level is very low and it falls apart in 1st grade (if not sooner). My DD happened to fall apart in 4th grade, although there was slight signs before then. Typically, I've heard, 4th grade is where it becomes very noticeable because the level of responsibilities increase. Certainly, middle school is another time.

I think it's important to really try to discern if this is teenager-itis. If you think it is more than that, try to go to someone REALLY good at making the diagnosis. I do believe that it is overdiagnosed and there are doctors out there who will quickly put your teen on medication. I am not against meds, my son uses them but I am sometimes amazed when I hear of others and how quickly it was done without looking for other issues.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:54 AM   #3
Katy Belle
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Yes. DS15 was officially diagnosed in September, and started on meds.

Honestly, I've known, or suspected for a long, long time. He's not hyper, other than he talks a lot and paces while he talks, sometimes. He was never the naughty, annoying hyper kid. He was always the smart, entertaining, talkative kid. He has always been the kid to do the papers, but not turn them in. Or not do the papers because he has no clue they were assigned. Teachers have constantly recommended he use a daily planner, not going to happen. He loses the planner and sometimes accidently brings home other students planners!

He was in private school and had really good teachers in Elementary. They took care of him. Sat him in the front, put a hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye when giving assignments, let him go to his locker to get the completed assignments. Grade 6, Middle School, he had 7 teachers. It got harder. Grade 8 we moved back to the USA and started public School. Harder, but he was still making Bs and Cs, with LOTS of effort on my part and his. Super stressful and frustrating for BOTH of us. Grade 9, this year. By the second week of school he had three Ds in the on-line Grade Book. I took him to the Pediatrician. He just couldn't make it happen for himself. He was trying, he just didn't have the ability to do it.

He started on Vyvanse in September. We've had to increase the dosage once. It has been a blessing. Seriously. He is so happy he has it. He ended first semester with 4 As and 3 Bs, a 3.57 GPA. He did that with so much less effort and pain than any other school year. And with it being High School, many of his teacher accept NO late papers, so he would have surely flunked.

He came home the other day and said, "I enjoy band class so much more this year. I always have my music!" He has missed only a few days all year. He told me he goes to school even if he's feeling a little sick, because he enjoys it more.

It is such a relief. Really. He's going on a school trip to Ireland. Without the meds I would be so worried. Worried he'd leave something behind. More worried he would not pay enough attention to stay with the crowd and end up getting lost...it has happened in the past.

The meds have had zero side affects for him. Our Dr. explained that with all the new meds out there, you should suffer no side affects. Keep changing until you get one that works for you.

He's a super creative kid. It has not changed. He is in AP Art and doing great. Still winning awards in band. Still teaching himself to play the guitar and writing his own songs. Some people say the meds kill their creativity, not so with him. He's super funny, like having a stand up comedian in your house. He still is. He is just able to keep it all together now. Seriously, a blessing.

As I said in the beginning. This is not new behavior for him. He has been like this his whole life. I was just reluctant to have him tested and treated. Now I'm wondering why I waited so long.

Good luck to you!
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:01 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply.

In hindsight, he has always had homework issues. (Since first grade, he told me yesterday he doesnt' remember ever not having problems staying focused to get it done. We've certainly fought over it that long.) He's a super smart kid, so I'm not sure if it's just he's been able to compensate that way. He's also extremely polite- we had a conference in middle school with his math teacher over not doing homework, I was asking to please let me know/give him a detention/etc- the teacher told me she hated to do that because he was such a nice kid. Yeah, one that doesnt' do his homework though.

I am definately not looking for a magic medicine fix. I would like to rule ADHD out though, before sitting down with him and his teachers figuring how to get him back on track. Mostly I'm feeling like a schmuck for "letting" him get so behind and wondering if I'm further a lousy mom for not seeing something "obvious" that he needs help beyond a kick in the pants. (Which has been always liberally applied, but obviously not working.)
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:04 AM   #5
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The way it was explained to me is that ADHD is a developmental disability meeting that the child has behaviors that are appropriate for a certain developmental level but are not appropriate for the child's current level of development.

For my dd, we first became aware of issues starting in first grade but did not get a diagnosis until 3rd grade.
It does not surprise me that a child with less severe symptoms could get by until high school with good parent and teacher support. Once a kid is in high school it is expected that they are more independent so when they are not capable of being independent it is more obvious that there is a problem.

I personally believe that medication can give the child a chance to learn the coping skills necessary to be successful with ADHD.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:12 AM   #6
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Katy Belle- yes, alot of what you're saying sounds like DS. Planners, I'd forgotten that. We have gone through I don't know HOW MANY planners. The middle school issued 8x11" ones, but he would forget it because it was too big to carry. (?) So I bought him a smaller one and then that was too small and he couldn't see it. Then DH gave him his old electronic planner (preBlackberry days, lol) and I forget why that didn't work. Then he thought bringing his ipod to school would be the answer and then he washed it. (It wasn't the answer either, anyway.)

After the knockdown drag out fight yesterday (UGH!), he asked me if I could help by checking him each day that everything was done before he watched TV/played computer. Great idea, but I have no clue what he needs to do (nor does he) half the time, because he has nothing written! A couple of the teachers post assignments online, but there is one who does not. That is a quasi-independent study as well and DS's schedule only allows him to go to one class of the 4 the class runs. (I have no idea why this allowed for this class. I'm not impresed with the teacher's communication on multiple levels. He's also DS's robotic team coach and we never know anything what is going on.) The whole thing is a perfect storm. I suggested DS drop the class but add/drop is past and he does LOVE the class. Unfortunately, getting a 37 in it for the quarter is a major problem.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleinMaine View Post
Katy Belle- yes, alot of what you're saying sounds like DS. Planners, I'd forgotten that. We have gone through I don't know HOW MANY planners. The middle school issued 8x11" ones, but he would forget it because it was too big to carry. (?) So I bought him a smaller one and then that was too small and he couldn't see it. Then DH gave him his old electronic planner (preBlackberry days, lol) and I forget why that didn't work. Then he thought bringing his ipod to school would be the answer and then he washed it. (It wasn't the answer either, anyway.)

After the knockdown drag out fight yesterday (UGH!), he asked me if I could help by checking him each day that everything was done before he watched TV/played computer. Great idea, but I have no clue what he needs to do (nor does he) half the time, because he has nothing written! A couple of the teachers post assignments online, but there is one who does not. That is a quasi-independent study as well and DS's schedule only allows him to go to one class of the 4 the class runs. (I have no idea why this allowed for this class. I'm not impresed with the teacher's communication on multiple levels. He's also DS's robotic team coach and we never know anything what is going on.) The whole thing is a perfect storm. I suggested DS drop the class but add/drop is past and he does LOVE the class. Unfortunately, getting a 37 in it for the quarter is a major problem.
Sounds very familiar. I did always try to make sure he had his homework finished before fun, but he never knew what he had. Sometimes he thought he knew, he rarely knew all assignments. In Private Overseas School they did post ALL assignments online and we were able to keep up better, even with the 7 teachers. Here, one teacher posts assignments.

He still is not perfect and my first post kind of made it sound like it solved 100% of the problems. He still forgets things. Luckily he is smart and he can pull it out at the last minute sometimes. But really, what a feeling to constantly be missing stuff and not able to do it. Ugh. I'm so thankful the meds are working for my kid. I was VERY reluctant to do the meds. Seriously. That is why I drug my feet for so long. But I do believe we had tried everything and it just was not working. I was his personal assistant. I cannot be that anymore, without going to school and sitting in the class, so I KNOW what was assigned.

When we moved here I met a lady that is now a Dear Friend. She is 10 yrs older than I, and her kids 10 yrs older than mine. She has a DS that had the same issues. When I would tell her stories of my DS she would have an identical story about hers. Her son flunked his Junior year of HS. Then went on meds. Took summer school, went to Senior year. All As Senior year. Went to Community College for 2 years, GPA too low for University. Then onto University. Graduated as an Electrical Engineer and now is very successful! Still on meds. Always will be. Needs them. I feel God put her in my path. I feel my son needs these meds. I really, really, really was anti meds and wanted something else to work. I wish it had.

The changes in my own kid have been remarkable. He is getting way better results with way less effort and way less anguish! He is seen as more capable, I guess he really IS more capable. Last year he was passed up for the award "High Achievement In Band." Even though he had beat out Freshman for First Chair in All District Band, had made Superior Ratings on his Solos and Ensembles at Contest, had been first chair all year, etc, etc. The teacher said she didn't give it to him because he forgot his music a lot. He HAD achieved High Achievement in Band...but she couldn't see it, because it was so frustrating for him to never be prepared. I feel his lack of organization, etc, was really going to harm him in the long run. If he had diabetes, I would medicate him without question. This is the medication he needs. I'm so relieved I finally let him try it. He can't wait to go back to his DR. in March and tell him how well he's doing!
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:42 AM   #8
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Thank you all so much for this post. We have struggled with DD for years. Her main problem is that she would rather read a book than do anything else. She ends up doing schoolwork all night long b/c she sat and read at school instead of working. She may make A's on a few assignments, but then she'll make F's on the next few. It all depends on her attention level at the time. We have finally decided to take her in for an evaluation next month to determine whether we are dealing with ADD, learning disabilities, or both.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Katy Belle View Post

The meds have had zero side affects for him. Our Dr. explained that with all the new meds out there, you should suffer no side affects.
Wow....that is really sad that a doctor would say this. All drugs have side effects and everyone should know the potential side effects/adverse effects before taking anything. Please do research prior to allowing your child to take anything. Some the risks are very serious and one should be aware.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:13 AM   #10
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My son was diagnosed with ADD in 6th grade only because I insisted that we figure out what was really going on with him. He was having issues with fighting at school and his school work suffered. There was some bullying going on which was part of it. Once he was on medication it was like night and day. He is a Junior in HS now and only takes his meds on school days. Not in the summer or on weekends. It's made a huge difference for him.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:21 AM   #11
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Wow....that is really sad that a doctor would say this. All drugs have side effects and everyone should know the potential side effects/adverse effects before taking anything. Please do research prior to allowing your child to take anything. Some the risks are very serious and one should be aware.
You are right... i mispoke. He didnt say there arent side effects. There are. Pages and pages of side effects. What he said was that with the different meds and dosages you can achieve a theraputic level without suffering from side effects. In the past, kids had to live with bad side effects. Now, not as much. If your kid is having bad side effects, your Dr will work with you to make things better. You are right. There are lots of side effects possible.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:25 AM   #12
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Your first step is to talk to your son's doctor. Meeting the teachers is a good step, too. I've taught middle school for 11 years. There are definitely times when it's "teen-boy-itis" but if it's been going on this long, you should talk to the teachers and doctor.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:29 AM   #13
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Ask a psychiatrist. Psychopharmacology is no trivial matter and should be dealt with in as professional way as is possible.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:58 AM   #14
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Thank you all so much for this post. We have struggled with DD for years. Her main problem is that she would rather read a book than do anything else. She ends up doing schoolwork all night long b/c she sat and read at school instead of working. She may make A's on a few assignments, but then she'll make F's on the next few. It all depends on her attention level at the time. We have finally decided to take her in for an evaluation next month to determine whether we are dealing with ADD, learning disabilities, or both.
DS right there with her, nose in a book (just not his school book ) ALL DAY LONG. He's not up all night doing home work, but it's just not getting done.

Thanks all. I also did talk to one of his elementary teachers (because she's a friend and I don't mind bugging her on vaca). She said she'd totally not be surprised with him and ADD, but at any rate agreed something's up and he needs help of some sort. (*I* need help of some sort!)
She also gave me some local specialists and I'll run over later to pick up some books she has for me to look at. I'll give his pedi a call on Tuesday and see what we can get rolling. Here's hoping for some answers and some easier times ahead for the kid.
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Old 02-16-2013, 03:02 PM   #15
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I'm 57 and was recently *officially* diagnosed with ADD (no H).

I've always known this is my problem and my father had it and my daughter has it seriously. I didn't want to go on any kinds of meds because I'm already mild diabetic and have high blood pressure so just did not want one more drug in my body.

However, I watched my adult daughter thrive when she finally started back on meds so I got brave and figured I'd check into it.

I'm beyond happy about how different my life is, how different I !!! am. It's pretty amazing really. Everyone around me is blown away by it too.

Someone up thread mentioned that because your son made it to his teens without being diagnosed suggests that he might not have it.....I sincerely don't agree. I think the really bright shining kids make it through and into adulthood WITH their add/adhd but it's their ability to figure out, no matter how difficult it may be, a way to deal with their issues. But I think that if you have it, at SOME POINT you WILL crash and burn.

Good luck to your son. Meds can be life altering. If you go the medication route it was suggested to me to try the simplest meds first, like the adderal/amphetamine/ritalins. Those have been out long enough to have plenty of data on side effects and their costs can be lower than the new drugs that are out on the market for ADHD.

Again, best of luck! It's a journey of discovery for sure!
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