ADHD-the carelessness disorder - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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ADHD-the carelessness disorder


Today I drove my son to camp. Mom usually drives him. After our 30 min drive I finally reached camp and he says, ' shoes!!' He forgot his shoes!. Seriously! Worse, his tone seemed to imply it was somehow my fault. He's 10. So I blew up at him as we turned back and drove home. His tone upset me more than the inconvenience. I was wrong to explode at him, but it felt good I admit. While I was tempted to make him go to camp without shoes, I decided against it for safety. I screamed at him, 'How the hell do you forget your shoes!?' then I realized it's partly due to ADHD & the fact that we constantly are saving him from himself. This explains why he blamed me, as in his mind, it's my job to remind him of these basic things. the big problem is that his meds don't kick in soon enough and we're often struggling just to get in the car, with silliness, distractions, outright defiance for reaction, etc. Getting him in the car and to ANYWHERE on time is a massive accomplishment when he's unmedicated. I'm a forgetful person, but the ADHD brain can be frustratingly careless! Anyone with me? Thought I'd share.

40 Replies

Solidarity brother!!!

I would definitely have asked my son how the hell he forgot shoes!! I think this happened to us once or twice.

I saved him too. Started having a back up pair in the car because camp or school won’t allow him without shoes; and I have to get to work! And the tone! Omg it’s always someone else’s fault!

I got really good at going through a verbal checklist before leaving home.

Hey kid? You have shoes on?

Teeth brushed? Did u go to the bathroom? Etc... EVENTUALLY he started remembering. I had to do this for many years.

My son has this friend who will come to spend the night... with NO SHOES!!

They are 14!! WTH? Anyway, maybe you can have a laugh about it with your son after the fact. Lighten the mood.

It’s hard not to be frustrated. Also, tell him you’ll take the blame this one time and from now on, it’s his fault if he forgets to be fully dressed including shoes. Ask him if he’d forget pants? Lol

in reply to EJsMom

I asked him if I could blame him if I forget my shoes for work. He looked at me like that was so ridiculous, me at work with no shoes. 😁 This kind of stuff just comes with the territory. We do the constant reminding but I'm hoping of all hopes for self motivation some day. Love him to death...that pain in the neck of mine

in reply to Mmagusin

Hahahahaha. Blame him for forgetting your shoes! Love it!

Thank you so much for sharing. This story brought a smile to my face with the thought of "thank you sweet baby Jesus... I'm not alone". 😀 My son (age 6... almost 7) CONSTANTLY forgets to put underwear on and when he does he puts his underwear on backwards. My morning routine takes so much longer because I am telling him every step from washing his face to brushing his teeth to putting on sock and of course.... put his underwear on right. Lol. The ADHD brain is so frustrating to deal with because it's makes small easy task so much harder. I'm right with you. But we got this.

in reply to Chyna826

I joke with my wife that I feel like I'm dealing with a drunk person sometimes. He can't navigate the intricacies of putting on socks, sings off key with the wrong words, talks too loud and to anyone in his proximaty, can be overly emotional & belligerent at times, burps inappropriately in public, and often ends the day by giggling himself to sleep. 😏

I used those exact same words “I feel like I’m dealing with a drunk person” 😜


in reply to Chyna826

My son NEVER wears underwear unless I stand there and make sure he puts it on and then it's backwards

in reply to Chyna826

So had to laugh at the backwards underwear! My grandson, then 6, finally told his Dad that he thought the opening was to scratch his butt. He too is add....

in reply to Ezmerilda

That's hilarious! Hahahahah

At first I thought you were my husband talking about my 10 year old son! Seriously, we feel your pain.

in reply to CBitt575

Same here! Haha! I'm glad to know we are not alone.

Lol - my son left his winter coat at school on a really cold day. I didn’t notice until the next morning. How did he not feel the cold?

And then there’s the 45 mins it use to take him just to put on underpants....

I have a little bit of a different take on this and I don't think it is carelessness. My son's thearpist explained it as focus on the next event. For example: we are driving home and he wants to play basketball as soon as he races into the house. In his mind he has already planned out what clothes he is going to change into and how quickly he can get outside. Meanwhile, he is running away from my car with all of his stuff (backpack, water bottle,trash,etc)

This is a daily struggle for them because they can't stop and think in the moment, " wait I need to remove all of my things and put them away first"... they want to be on th basketball court... asap.

I hope I am making sense, the fact your son didn't have his shoes on makes toral sense, not a focus of his..

My son does this too.

Yes! Totally agree with you. Clearly he cared because he was upset about leaving without them. Indeed, he was too hyper, distracted, and unfocused to remember. Further, me yelling at him won't help because he won't likely be able to remember the consequences. Next day, he awakes hyper, distracted, and unfocused all the same. ADHD is a disorder of executive function, not laziness, irresponsibility, or careless seeming behaviors. The latter is the outcome. Great comment. Thanks

Mmagusin- I spend so many years yelling until I realized that it really is the ADHD that is causing this, therefore I need to change the way things are done. Our son is a competetive sports player who has to pack a bag with many items in it for each game. THANKS to huband, we have a laminated paper that our son must check off before we hit the road with each item and his bag has 2x of everything so there is never a "oops I forgot", in fact now many people come to us when they are missing something. .

He can now pack his bag and check his list without our help, before we hit the road. We are on season 5 and have learned a lot..

Hope this advice/example home 2 blocks before we arrive, I will prompt him. "We are almost home, make sure you bring in the house your...." Or before you playbasketball you must.....

You have definitely described my child it is always my fault! He did this one time with his shinguards for soccer we got all the way to the field which was about 30 minutes away I had to turn around thankfully we were early and I had to drive all the way back home just to get the shinguards. I was not happy probably overreacted but then explained the situation to him afterwards. He understood but somewhat still blames me anyway of course for making him leave early which was the cause of him forgetting. We are actually trying no medication this summer first time in 6 years. My son will be 10 next week. He is doing great actually. Definitely needs extra reminders and some patience. He is begging to try the first month of school with no medication but to be honest that scares the crap out of me. Just don’t want his grades to suffer or him for that matter. I’m working on getting him in with the neurologist versus his psychiatrist who just wants to keep pushing on the stimulants versus actually looking at a more natural way of doing things so we’ll see but hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far!

Oh how many times I recall these mornings. As much as I try to plan and prepare for any and every unforeseen occurrence that may result in a forgotten item and prevent a massive meltdown...something always sneaks up and I have learned to let it go. The medicine doesn’t kick in during the morning routine so each morning pretty much begin in the same way. Once it does kick in....usually once we are at the camp or school, I get a glimpse of a very normal happy boy that melts my heart. At that moment I realize all the stressful moments of the morning are part of the ADHD.

I pick him up from camp or school and the cycle begins again....

I'm with you 100% my son is still the same and he's 19 😢

in reply to Angel533

Mine's 23 now and exactly the same! But he now knows he has to take his medication and he is the one responsible for returning for lost items. The funniest (and the most gross!) is that he's had to borrow another official's socks to wear during the game because he forget his! Oh well - live and learn!! (And hopefully learn to check your bag before you leave!)

I'm not sure of the timing of your mornings, but I always got up first and then woke my son up just long enough to give him his pill, then he went back to sleep for about 20 more min. This was just enough time to allow some medication into his system and our morning routine was better. Also - as a back-up plan: I kept a spare "clothes bag" in the trunk - shoes, jacket, hat, gloves, socks, etc for days like your camp day!

in reply to seller

He's up before us, typically 6:30, to forage through food pantry. He's been 'cooking' since he was 5. He wakes up starved with sugar craving so he goes right for carbs. We stopped keeping treats and even baking material in the kitchen because he'd pig out on it. I make sure I get protein in him because sugar is the devil for him.

That was the old days in our house we now have a key code on ours.. and but to much went missing and he was not hungry for dinner all the time.

I’m hearing you! My son is 14 and just last week after asking the question, “Do you have your footy boots” and was told they are outside the door he’d get them as we leave, we got 5 minutes which was 10 as there were road works down the road and I just happened to ask again! He hung his head and put his hand to his face.

Needless to say we were late for football which was a trial for a development squad. ☹️ It’s not to the first time, it started when he was 6, got all the way to school and he had no shoes on.

🤣 Are you sure you didn't have my son in your car? my husband wouldve done the same thing. imy son is 10 as well and after several years i have a mental checklist. he has to be on the bus at 630 am. so i am always watching our time. he gets distracted EASILY! I do EVERYTHING but dress him and meds at night. the clothes for the next day go in MY room ! I put his socks inside his shoes. lunch is done ay night. i have his brush his teeth before getting dressed. i think the biggest help is that i get dressed before i wake him. it limits the amount of time he has to get off track. sometimes he forgets his glasses or lunchbox. those items are on my checklist. i Good luck

Oh yeah, sounds like my kid. He is five and still at the stage where he will hyperfocus and forget to take a bathroom break, then wet his pants and not notice. Last week I asked him why he didn’t pause his video to go use the bathroom, and he said “But you didn’t remind me to.” Definitely working on hammering home that it’s HIS responsibility, not mine! It’s going to take years to really get him to take that idea to heart in other areas, I can tell.

in reply to azulaco

I'd set an (My 12-year old will hyperfocus on a game and forget to come up for air and look around. She doesn't seem to notice mealtimes have passed if I don't pull her in every few hours ;) But when she comes up for air, she is starving :) )

I read this and actually laughed. This would have totally been my husband's reaction and it hit so close to home! My 15 year old son and I both have moderate ADHD so I can totally relate to both the parent and ADHD brain. (Neither of us take meds by the way) Yesterday, I took my son to summer school so he could turn in his weekly assignments only to find that he did not have his homework with him. Ugh!!! An extra half hour round trip. I just started laughing at him and said "Seriously, son what was the whole purpose of this trip?" I can totally relate though because I have to go through a mental checklist every time I leave the house: purse, wallet, keys, phone, sunglasses, what is the purpose of my trip (concert=do I have the tickets, birthday party= take present etc.)

I have taught my son that regardless of having ADHD, he is still responsible for his actions and the leading consequences but I do ask him if he brushed his teeth and put on deodorant before he walks out the door.

I think many of us can relate to this. Our family just did a trip to Lake Powell. Because of other things going on I had one day to pack. I always give my kids a packing list but I usually go over their items with them to make sure they packed everything they need. I didn't have time to review their items so when we got to the lake I discovered one boy didn't pack his bathing suit and another didn't pack his life jacket. :O

Been there - -done that, including the screaming. We become helicopter mothers and then everything is our fault. I found behavior modification very helpful. I told my son at the age of 7, he is my employee and he has a job. I gave him a list of his morning jobs - - make your bed, get dressed, PJ's in the hamper, get your back pack ready and pack your lunch, and on Friday, if he did his "job" he got his allowance. He just loved that. Out of my terrible pain and anguish of raising an ADHD child, I self-published and illustrated a semi-autobiographical book on and called "I have ADD and I'm Proud to Be Me." I could never find a book that explained how the CHILD feels about coping with his condition. It was emotionally healing for me to create the book and I hope to help heal parents who have children with ADD or ADHD so they will better understand how their child feels and be less inclined to blow up, which I am very guilty of on a number of occasions. You are only human and must forgive yourself for being human. For every one thing you do wrong, you do 50 things right by your child. If you are inclined, take a look at my book. You and your son can read it together and mutually understand what you are BOTH going through. Best wishes to you and your family. Wendy Kirkpatrick

Thanks Wendy! I think my son would benefit from reading a book to help him understand himself! If we leave that self journey to him, he may form negative thoughts about himself over time, and this in itself can translate into self destructive behavior. I hope your book exposes the many positive traits of our ADHD kids, because there's a lot!!

There certainly are. I found out my son was not only athletic, he was artistic and musical and poetic. Boys with these problems can grow up to be loving and compassionate people who would never bully younger children. (Some do though and that is another set of problems). My son is now a teaching assistant and has many years of quality experience working with children and he is very good with them. Maybe you two can come up with a poster to hang up in your kitchen, with words and pictures, describing your son's wonderful qualities and reinforce how positively you and your husband see him and how deeply you value him. They get so much negative reinforcement, and so little praise. He may really be thrilled to help with this. It's harder for them to make friends their own age and that wounds them deeply. One of my biggest mistakes is that I did not try hard enough while he was growing up was to show him that I was his best friend. I too could be negative and mean at times and I hated myself for it and never fully forgave myself. Self-forgiveness is one of the hardest things for a parent. I wish I had this site twenty five years ago. That book came as a result of years of pain and anguish, as a mother trying to walk in his shoes and see life from his eyes. I have a B.A in Psychology but the book was written and illustrated from my heart. My best wishes to your family and for your son. Wendy

Wow. You just described my 11 year old son perfectly. I scream at his silliness, forgetfulness, outright defiance for reactions, and making us late to work, camp, school, etc. Then I find myself asking him constantly, do u have anything left to do on your chart( that I made for him so I wouldn’t have to tell him everything he has to do). I feel rediculous bc I’m enabling him but getting mad at him for depending so much on me and my husband.

Sorry the response is so late. Just joined and started scrolling down the conversations.

Omg!! I recently had my son forget to put on a shirt to go to football practice! He was with friends and with the chaos of getting in the car she didn’t notice until looking in the rear view mirror. 🤪 thanks God other people understand this!!

I had a moment like that in my van... I'm a single mom of four daughters. My eldest had a friend over to play. I didn't realize that I had left my second oldest in the house, locked it up, and put the car in reverse before the friend of my eldest pointed out that my second oldest wasn't in the car...

Sadly, it's a common thing to try to leave that particular child places. (She never seems to jump in the car fast enough...) ...but rest easy, she's now over 18 years of age and graduated early...and attending a fabulous college she doesn't mind "being left" at ;) lol

Good for you yelling at him. He’s being very disrespectful to you. You everything you can for you want the best for him. He needs to treat you with more respect. I bet he also needs to start being more responsible for himself. He’s got to learn to do things on his own

I have a recently turned 12-year old daughter who is on Concerta and she expects that if she forgets something at home on her way to school that I will bring it to her as "it will affect (her) grade!" if I don't.

Now? Before she walks out the door (and an alarm sounds off on her cell phone every few minutes for different tasks from taking her medication before stepping out the door to eating breakfast to making sure she is ready to walk out the door to the bus) we verbally go through it all. School-issued Chromebook? Check. 3-ring Binder and single Spiralbound Notebook? Check. Shoes & Glasses on? Check. Purse loaded with invisalign retainers and inhaler for asthma, plus two pencil pouches (one for just colored pencils so they don't mix)? Check. School Library Book to read on bus? Check. Water bottle (often in her sweatshirt front pocket so she can keep her hands more available for everything else)? Check. She is often running out the door with breakfast too.

I can now visually look at her and because she has to keep everything by the door, I'm able to catch the things we're "forgetting" beforehand.

Two of her three older sisters had ADHD but it was never really this bad. She's the baby of the we have been constantly "doing for" her.

I'm considering a printed note attached to my magnetic front door with a STOP sign checking that she has everything, so she can self-check. She's in 7th grade now...

We used as a minor helping agent when my older girls were smaller. Its a routine builder at the very least, and that helped me... Just like we have our own routines for hygenie in the morning (I take a shower, start getting dressed, brush my teeth and then finish getting dressed and complete make-up, etc), the kids need a routine for their stuff too... If they step out of sync that is where they will mess up and things get forgotten. I can say "Are you 'dressed to the shoes?'" and that means hair & teeth brushed, clothes on, glasses (if applicable) and socks & shoes on...and they go through that mental check list. (It also helps that the Flylady has a "control journal" that keeps things on a list format...the kids can build their routines and remember to keep track of it in a way that we, the parents, can also monitor ;)

But you aren't alone...

in reply to AussieBorn

Thanks! Great advice! We’ll look at Flylady

I know this is a very old post but I can relate. It takes my 12 y.o. about the same amount of time to get into the car when we are leaving someplace to come home. There are the same problems with silliness, distractions, defiance etc. At home I experience this same crap at homework time, when he has to do chores or when given simple directives like putting toys away, turning off lights or going into the shower.

If he has misplaced something, forgotten important things or finds something broke he insinuates it is my fault. It is very frustrating. I try to make sense of him, but it is exhausting trying to do so.

I find it’s best to avoid asking too much of him when I know he’s winding off medication. It’s really tough with homework since he’s been at school all day already. He’s home by 4 and it’s best to give him a snack & hit homework in small chunks. I’ll even add small rewards, like a couple skittles, for finishing a page, depending on his focus level. Without incentives, he can stretch a 20 minute assignment into hours. Threats & scolding NEVER work. Consistent timing is key as this sets expectations. No gaming on week days. This avoids the arguments & him rushing through homework. It’s a never ending struggle but it’s always best not to show frustration even though you’re ready to beat your head against a wall. Hang in there.

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