I have dug myself in a hole..I do abo... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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I have dug myself in a hole..I do about 85% of my son's schoolwork :(


Hi there,

My son is 16 and has inattentive ADHD. We've tried methyphenidate and Vyvanse and both were a disaster. They made him very sick and I never want to relive that again. He's a junior. His freshman year he didn't do too badly academically, but I had to watch him like a hawk. If I didn't he would get lost. Every single night I was on Powerschool. He made it through. 10th grade year started rough. He made it through the first semester with a 504 plan and a LOT of help from me. Well, Covid hit and he was at home. When that happened, it was like pulling teeth to get him to do work. The only schoolwork he does is math with the help of a paid tutor. My husband and I are not so great at math, so this subject he has to do. The other subjects, I started to do the work. All of sudden, I'm doing all his assignments! Im afraid if he does it on his own and I don't help, he will fail. He won't work with me, he tries to do it and can't stick with it. He has trouble working on his own. I'm embarrassed I've let it get this way. I never thought this would be my life. He is too close to graduating to fail. I'm sad because I know this isn't preparing him for life or success. I want to stop being a helicopter parent, but don't know how to stop it. Things have to change.

18 Replies

You are so brave to post this message! Thank-you. It shows what parents are willing to do so their child doesn't fail.

I love your outlook in your message.

With the written 504 plan can you get help from any school staff to assist him?

I know that some kids in high school can have a study skills class ( instead of an elective) and therefore there is a credentialed teacher in the class who can go over assignments/tests for the students. Do you know if this is possible? Or can you find out who at school can help him/you. I think that would be best becuase he would have to deal with them. This is the thing that has helped our son the most. He is a freshman and he is working well with all of his teachers. When we were 1/2 way through with the block his teachers asked him if he needs anything and he advocated to re-do all assignments that were an "F" and they allowed him to.

This is a hard question, but does your son have any "carrots" you can hold over his head? That might motivate him? Or maybe he can find a new hobbies/ interests that would make him really want it so you could use school to motivate him.

Hope this makes sense.

I really hope your message motivates parents of children in middle school to make changes well before they get to high school so their child can be motivated to do things independently.

There is so much love in your post. You know you must stop, as you cannot sustain this game for another two years. Perhaps start weaning yourself off checking his assignments, maybe just Wed and Fri. Then start preparing for some potential school failure. If he really can't do it alone, you need to put all that homework energy into advocating for more help from the school, homeschooling, getting back on a med trial, or some other significant change for you and your son. Best wishes. I know how painful it is to watch a child struggle academically.

It is a deep hole, true, but I can totally imagine it happening during remote Covid schooling. Try not to beat yourself up, you want to help your struggling child. It’s natural and normal. The problem is that it’s gone too far. Now it’s actually harming him, causing him to go in reverse even. How can you turn things around? That is a huge question.

Our inattentive adhd daughter just barely graduated from high school. She had a lot of caring teachers (but not all), but it was her IEP (individual education plan) that made the difference and provided the case manager that helped work with the teachers. A 504 Plan isn’t taken very seriously by the teachers we found. It took an IEP with a special ed designation fir the State to provide funds to pay the school for the case manager. The case mgr is a kind of special ed teacher that meets with a high school student once or twice a week to review assignment status and is allowed to go talk with/email teachers for extra time, etc. Very important when you have a student who won’t advocate for themselves!

You know what you have to do. Get extra support for your struggling student (even if that means a special ed designation!!) and know that they are going to have some failures and tough times ahead.

There’s some saying about the blessing of a skinned knee when young and the lessons learned at a younger age, otherwise those same lessons learned at an older age are much more painful.

You already know that to keep the current situation up things will be even worse. He’ll have no self confidence in addition. He’ll be afraid to try to do much of anything. I’ve seen it happen after years of compiled constant failures, generalized anxiety and mental paralysis. It’s heartbreaking.

Revise your college expectations from the typical concept of going off to college because this will just add even more stress to the current situation. It will happen, but it will look different and that’s ok. There are many paths in life to happiness and fulfillment.

Be flexible and know that he has talents that the world needs. Time will tell what those will be but just get through these next days, months, grade. Trust that it will work out... but you have to build that scaffolding for him so that you can let go. Then consistently pull off the bandaid a bit at a time. This is his life, he has to take the reins. How’s that for a mix of visual metaphors? I’m hoping at least one will resonate with you and provide an easy thing to remind you of the end goal when you’re in the thick of things. You can do this!

I know how hard it is to figure out how much help to give your child. My son is 16 and I have to be involved in his assignments, and I wish I didn’t. My suggestion to you is to try again with meds. He needs the right meds in order to focus. Our pediatrician handles my son’s meds so maybe you can see the pediatrician, and start experimenting to find the right medication and dose. My son didn’t like Vyvanse so we tried Dyanavel. Dyanavel is in liquid form so we can fool around with that to get just the right dose. My son absorbs the meds fast so we have to give 2 small doses during the day instead of one larger dose. My hope is that if he can get the right medication he can start to focus and begin to work independently. Medication is only one piece of the puzzle but it’s an important piece for us. Good luck.

A 504 is not going to provide the support he needs- it only provides for accommodations at school. You need to meet with the school and let them know what is going on and insist on an IEP. With an IEP, he will get a special education teacher to assist him. If you can afford it, there are also coaches to help with executive functioning skills and due to Covid, many do this virtually via Zoom- Google Executive Functioning coaches in your area. They help get them to do things on their own and keep them organized which will help him with self-advocacy and self confidence. Plus it is better for your relationship to have someone else do this. There are also medications other than stimulants that help ADHD kids to focus, like Intuniv and Strattera. All medications take time to figure out what works for focus without the side effects, so you should be meeting with a psychiatrist to find the right meds for your son. Hope this helps.

I have a much younger child than you, but what would happen if you let him fail? Would it sink in that he has to start taking responsibility for his own work?

I don’t know, this may be crazy, but my daughter’s therapist is a proponent of “natural consequences.” So if our daughter doesn’t get ready for school on time, she is late, and she gets a tardy slip. She hates getting a tardy slip. This helps to motivate her to get ready on time.

Just a thought (and a pretty extreme one at that), but you can’t be there to rescue your son forever. Maybe he can learn a hard lesson. All the best to you guys!

The stakes are always going to be great and if you don’t stop now, I’m not sure when the right time will be. There’s a lot to be learned in making mistakes. More so than in earning a grade on an essay. I love the ideas above for other forms of support.

I completely understand! My son is only in 4th grade, but since virtual school, I've become his personal admin... I sit next to him just out of camera view and bring up assignments as they're needed, and I type most most of his work while he dictates. I know I have to step away more, but we're in between doctors and meds, and if I'm not listening in, he has no idea what subject he's even supposed to be working on... (i'm also supposed to be manning my own desk a few feet away). It's very easy to fall into this trap... i'm hoping once we get back in some meds (new appointment next month), he'll have more focus and willingness to work independently.

Could he try speaking into google docs and use speech to text option?

This is a better option for both of you.

Probably, yes, at least when it comes to regular writing assignments and projects. Alot of the work is just sheets with text boxes added (teachers trying to make in class work convert to virtual). If I let him do that on his own he's likely to delete the text boxes and mess with fonts/colors. What he really needs is to learn to type. But it's a good suggestion and I'll look into it, thank you!

YES, typing is critical. I hated to write anything because my handwriting was/is awful and it takes too long. Find a program, a teacher of Keyboarding as it is called now and offer a carrot if he learns to type. See also Pax tools for parents on You tube. You have to adapt the tools for older students but my daughter teachers HS English and changed the rewards to age appropriate items they desired. Since she "flipped" her classroom and incorporated cell phones into the research, if the class got everything done that day, e.g. they might get 30 seconds of free time texting, just before the bell, pre-covid of course.

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Hi there! I'm sorry for what you are going through. I have similar issues here with my son who is younger than yours, (sixth grade). Is there any chance that your son may have a learning disability in addition to ADHD? Has he been tested for dyslexia/dyscaculia? I would say, it's never too late to see if there is also a learning disability that is making school difficult for him so that he does not want to stay on top of his work. My son has several learning disabilities in addition to ADHD, and even though he is on medicine, he rushes through his work or doesn't pay attention to what needs to be done. I am constantly checking his assignments because he does not do this on his own to see what is missing.

My son is on an IEP and it does help because he has intervention specialist that helps him during one of his class periods. This specialist also attends some of his classes so he is available to help him. I would definitely see if this is a possibility at his school.

Another issue would be to see if the school can assist with study skills or organizational skills. Maybe he needs a schedule that includes checking what work needs to be done and scheduling time for each. Those executive function skills can be difficult for kids with ADHD.

I wish the best to you and your family and I hope you can find a solution that works!

like pulling teeth to get him to do work. The only schoolwork he does is math with the help of a paid tutor.

^Right there is your answer! Get a tutor who can help him with EVERY subject. My daughter is not a self starter and only follows through when a person is hovering. It can’t be me, her mother because it’s too personal and involves too many fights. I have hired a tutor who will be helping push her through every subject. Expensive? Yes, but still cheaper than private school — and they won’t be in school forever. This is a temporary expense.

I hope all of these answers provide some guidance for you. I just want to send a hug from Australia.

Any update on how things are going?

I guess it comes down to fail now or fail later. I haven't had my son traditional school since 2nd grade because of his behaviors mostly. He is doing hybrid school but as I have insisted it's my way or the highway. Get great grades bc he is gifted and bc you can or fail and get a ged. I will not have my time wasted monitoring everything everyday...slowly I continue to put more on his plate. He told me today he hates high school. You know why? Bc he is having to work hard academically for the 1st time ever. Love you kid but you can do it! You got this, keep encouraging him! Mom you got this! Head high, shoulders back girl. And luck never hurts!

Please check out Prof Russell Barkley's proven method. pesi.com/Store/Detail/15799... - I have used it on several DHD kids qndeven aspberger kid. Watch this excellent video addressing challenges raising ADHD chilkdren and it elaborates in depth with regards to ADHD children issues at school and issues with homework. youtu.be/SCAGc-rkIfo

Managing ADHD in Schools details more than 100 evidence-based recommendations to help teachers and clinicians increase the success of children and teens with ADHD. This manual goes beyond the “what” to explain “why” the problems are likely occurring, followed up with the most effective interventions.

Classroom strategies for managing ADHD

Reward systems for good behavior

Downloadable assessment guide and report cards

Proven discipline methods

Medications and how they work

Tips for teen management

some free worksheets for ADHD in scgool - pesi.com/blog/details/1501/...

An internet course on ADHD- school management - youtube.com/watch?v=Rnq4HBFvda

sorry for overloading you with maybe too many links, but I am eager to try to relay valuable information that will alter your frustration you must be feeling. I recommend the links attached, there are more free ccoursses by Barkley, specific ones for challenges at home as well at their educational environment. Spend a few hours listening to Barkley, it opened my eyes and the education has improved, medication over time will improve results... Best wishes, don't give up, there are resources available... Have a nice weekend, regards from Norway:)

sorry - one more. Have ADHD myself but managed to get a master'æs degree in engineering and a bachelour in economics.... ADHD does not help learning but you can succeed.... youtube.com/watch?v=qMuBAvY... - I was lucky with great teachers and no homework:)

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