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Teen ADHD lacks motivation failing high school

MomAteen profile image

Would like to connect with others who have a teen going through similar situation. Son has IEP and in learning center for English and math and failing all classes for not turning in work or "trying" his teachers say. They are all frustrated with him. He's extremely lazy at home. Been on Concerta for years. What will get this kid going? I have no idea.

21 Replies

Hello MomAteen. I am suffering from an almost identical situation. I am a single mom with a 13 year old son on concerta. He never picks up a book, never has any passion for anything but video games. It is truly a struggle to get him to do his work and to do it well and not just slap things together. I find myself lashing out with frustration and impatience...yelling too much.

MomAteen profile image
MomAteen in reply to jogoldy

When my son was in 7th grade his IEP teacher no longer had him do "home"work because he gets irate when I try to help. He does it at school. Well he "doesn't " do it now which is why he's failing. I thought the special ed teachers would understand him but they don't! They say he shows no motivation or trying anything. But that's their job to find what motivates him right!? That's their specialty. I'm not an educator. If they give up on him then what?!

Afafa profile image
Afafa in reply to jogoldy

Hai Jogoldy

I am also sailing in the same boat. My son also shows no interest in studies. He was under concerta which s not permanent relief so I stopped which has made him worse. Share ur contact number or watsup me 0096566327822. Lets stay in touch to discuss further

I feel for you!!!!! I am going through the same thing with my son. He has an IEP too. He could care less about school. He is failing all of his classes except band. He would be passing if he just did his homework. I work with him as much as I can but most of the time he doesn't have it to work on. I don't feel the school is doing as much as they can either. I think he is just overwhelmed with the subject matter and has just shut down. I'm at a loss of what to do.

Travelmom profile image
Travelmom in reply to AnnIrene

I am in the same boat my son goes to a public school, has an IEP he is failing all core classes etc PE and a personal finance class. He is overwhelmed and unmotivated in school. My son says school is boring and he doesn't see the point. My son has struggled for years and has given up on school. I stress and worry trying to figure out what to do.

My grandson is in a magnet program and was failing. Not only did he not care but he was really having trouble with aggression. The doctor thought it was depression and put him on an antidepressant which after awhile increased the violence. You should see his bedroom door!!

A month ago he was started on Risperdone because I flat out told the doctor I could not live with this anymore. Not only is the violence almost gone but he managed to pull his grades up to passing before report cards came out. I will say I constantly emailed teachers, worked out a tutorial schedule, etc. The teachers would tell me he did much better in tutorials with them than in class.

I’m also in the same boat. 12, almost 13 year old. Homework is a nightmare. It’s destroying the family.

My friend with a high school freshmen and an iep with adhd and odd. He does not have homework but did his class work. He also has a study skills class where they help him be organized and where he can get his work completed. The homework was ruining her family as well. My freshman has taken a long time to get in track: he comes home, has about an hour of down time ( i leave the house before he gets home so i am not tempted to nag about hw right away). He knows when i get home it is time for hw. We go to therapy every week (now together so we can communicate better). He still misses homework sometimes but has improved with using one folder for all H.W. or using an accordion folder - one for each subject- homework goes in, and when completed goes back in to the subject slot for him to find easily. You might also see if the teachers are posting on blackboard.com or the remind app so you can see the homework - the key is many teachers done us it. Good luck.

The other thing to keep in mind: the school needs to be responsible to the IEP or 504. They have to follow it. Fight for what you think is best for your son. The hard part for me was to realize that my relationship with my son was more important than his grades or getting his homework done. We worked in compliance- it was done by i didn’t how he did it. Now that he has gotten better and doing it and turning it in, consistently we can start working on quality but that is up to the teachers. Rally have struggled but I don’t care if he gets C’s as long as he is trying. If he gets less, then he may behave to drop from honors but i would be ok with that- his dad not so much

We are having a very similar issue with my son. He has seen a therapist in and off about his lack of motivation and we are heading back to her. He asked for this as well as a tutor or coach type to help keep him organized and on task. I will be searching for someone today to tutor and I will begin checking his backpack and all work again. While he is 16 yrs old, he still needs this to succeed I guess and I will do whatever I can to help.

Most of his teachers think he doesn’t care and is just lazy but that’s not it. Those are characteristics of a person with ADHD which I feel most teachers are not as knowledgeable as they should be about it.

We are hoping the therapy will help and getting a tutor to oversee his work and help him stay on task. If not we will just keep trying to find something else to help him. It’s definitely a struggle as a parent Bc we just don’t have the answers but all we can do is research and keep trying to help

Priscilla7 profile image
Priscilla7 in reply to Rmthomas

are you going to find him an ADHD coach? if so, how did you locate one?

Hi! I have a 15-year-old son who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5. He didn't struggle with school until middle school and is now failing all of his classes in high school. He's tried several meds (stim and non-stim) and has also been in counseling for almost 10 years. Nothing seems to be helping. He has changed schools 3 times in 3 years, hoping for better options, but things only seem to be getting worse. I'm a single mom of 3 kids, working full-time, and I am really struggling with how to help him and balance everything else. Feel free to reach out! -Jaime

Hi jaimejoy! The environment changes probably aren't doing your son any good. Because our brains are already kind of hectic, constants are practically a must in day to day life. Depending on his eating habits, the meds can fluctuate in effectiveness. I've personally noticed that I have to limit my caffeine and sugar intake and can't have caffeine and sugar at the same time. I hope this helps you with your son!

Hello MomAteen! I've been in a similar situation as your son and am also currently on Concerta. One of the ways I got anything done was to break larger projects into smaller projects with "due dates" so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed. Teachers, and a lot of parents, have issues communicating with an ADHD child because the teen feels isolated because of their disorder. I suggest you sit down with your son and just let him vent to you. Try to listen to what he's going through emotionally and try to step outside of the mama bird mindset. Try not to lash out and yell as that triggers a fight, flight or freeze response and he'll probably just shut down or yell back. I find that this helped me and my mother communicate better and I hope it will help you and your son, too. Best of luck to you!

Hi there: I'm caring for my 16 year old grandson who has been on Concerta for some time. Regardless of whether or not he is on the medication, his motivation for school, taking a part-time job, cleaning his room, household chores, etc is nil. I'm worried about his future prospects. Without motivation where the heck will he end up? Looking for advice, guidance and support! MJ

going through the same thing. My 16 year old is completely lacking in motivation, could care less about failing history (currently an F) while getting A's in math. He doesn't seem to get that this will seriously derail him in terms of getting into college, or having any sort of productive life. Is this a temporary phase while his frontal lobe is developing, or is he doomed for the rest of his life?

Hi, I sent you a direct message. Hoping to connect for support as we navigate these years both our boys.

Hi, have him talk with the guidance counselor to see if there are any underlying problems. He may benefit by having a 1:1 tutor for difficult subjects. Finding him an adult mentor to re-direct him may help also. Our kids lose interest in school when they are struggling and ready to give up.

Hi, Wondering are things are going, because my son, too, is struggling. He's 2e, he has ADHD comorbidities (anxiety and depression), and takes medication. At first I thought it was just the executive functioning, but now I realize it's everything together. He has an IEP, which the school is following, but with Fs and Ds, clearly it's not working. At the very least, I think my son needs more [private] therapy (he goes every two weeks). Huge impediment is that his father (divorced) with ADHD and poor EF, doesn't get it. He's mostly disengaged so he's not knowledgeable (but considers himself engaged), and seems to be denying the gravity of the situation. He has his own unique way of seeing things (let's call that one reason we're divorced). Trying (unsuccessfully) to advocate for my son, and work around the road blocks my-ex puts up.

Madmarie profile image
Madmarie in reply to 2mom4

Omg.... just reading your post. My son is 12 and has been diagnosed with ADHD. His dad is in complete denial! Our son has a severe learning disability, and he refuses to give him medication. I now have the school give it to him. I had to take him back to court , because he kept saying I was doping and drugging my son up. Numerous nasty text, and e-mails about this. Now anytime my son gets in trouble he refuses to get involved, until I stop drugging him! I feel so hopeless, and exhausted. I’ve taken my son to see a behavior therapist, she said it will be hard to help him fully with out corporations from his dad. A pediatric psychologist told me the same thing! I have so much anxiety about him approaching middle school, elementary has been tough! His home room teacher has completely washed his hands of him! Thank God I have a good relationship with his special ed teacher. Sorry I’m rambling it sometimes feels like I’m all alone in my battle!


I totally understand what you are going through.

My 16 year old daughter is going through the same thing. She has adhd and we just recently discontinued concerta over concerns of depression. However, I think not being able to bring herself to do her work is creating some depression as well. We’ve gotten her tutors and she is in GLC. The GLC coach gives her a schedule to follow after school in order to have her homework completed. She doesn’t follow it. Actually, she doesn’t do any of her homework until we strongly enforce it. But, she then becomes upset with me and doesn’t connect with me and I know she’s sad. It’s killing me. I wish she didn’t have to do school and that life was easier for her. I don’t know what to do. Last year her teacher said she lacking the ability to complete her work because she’s afraid of doing a bad job. “Perfectionist” I have her in CBT for the second time. I think she’s given up. They say to let them fail. I guess that’s all I have left to do now.

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