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My 16 y/o son w/ ADHD, ODD, OCD, and anxiety

ODDmom1987 profile image

Hi! I am a mother of a 16 y/o son. He was diagnosed at the age of 8 with ADHD. His bad behavior started at about the age of 3 y/o. With many different Psychiatrists and psychologist, we have litterally found that nothing works for him. If there is a side-effect with a medication, he seems to get it. The trial and error is horrendous and so frustrating. I have wanted to throw my hands up many times and say, "just forget it!" "nothing works!" I too have suffered with ADHD, ODD, and depression since about the age of 12 y/o. Mine was never this bad! Believe me, I struggled for many years to find the right doctors to diagnose me correctly and find the medication that worked. Finally, at the age of 35 y/o, I was put on Concerta XL, Zoloft, Wellbutrin and many vitamins. I have taken the same medication now since the age of 35, and I am now 52 y/o.

My question to all of these parents out there who are dealing with children in their teens with these issues, what have you found to work? He does see a therapist every Friday, a Psychiatrist 1x every 3 months, and now is doing Neurofeedback once a week for the next 10 weeks. Nothing is truly helping!! He is miserable! Our family is suffering! My marriage is on the rocks, and my other son, whom is 17 y/o, literally cannot stand his brother. I am ready to throw the towel in, but I can't because he is my son, and I need to help him so he doesn't end up in trouble one of these days in the outside world. Any advice would be GREAT!! If I don't find something soon, I am looking into sending him to one of those Wilderness Boot Camps for discipline problems. I just can't take anymore. Thank you in advance for any advice given.

5 Replies

I can empathize. At age 16 1/2, we sent our son to an all-boys therapeutic boarding school for 18 months. I can tell you that there are both pros and cons - it was very expensive and did not "fix" him permanently - only age and maturity do this. However, it did save him from consequences of hanging out with some sketchy kids, skipping school, and possibly not graduating from high school. I can also tell you that there are usually side effects to all of the medications used to treat ADHD, but many abate as time goes by, or your son just adapts to them. Of course, some side effects cannot be tolerated, such as tics. I would be interested in knowing more about his behavior and what meds you have tried. I would not allow him to drive and I would also be vigilant about drug and alcohol use. We had a lock on our bedroom door for years, kept prescription meds and alcohol locked us, as well as any cash/credit cards.My son is now 26 and lives on his own. However, I will say that the effects of ADHD continue well into young adulthood, as you are probably aware.

even though my son is 9, What truly made a difference in his ODD was when me and my husband started to love each other again after being as close as you can get to a divorce, and we started highlighting the positive sides of my son. I am sure adolescents are way more challenging, but my main advice would be. Put a lot of effort in your marriage. When you and your husband are happy, it will definitely help!

Good luck!

I am so sorry you feel like you’re at the end of your rope! There are many of us here who have also dangled off that rope!

May I suggest a couple of things:

1. Relationship change.

Take time to just BE with your son. It sounds too simple but hear me out. When my teen daughter seemed awful is when she really needed me most. Her therapist told me this and she was right! I would just spend time hanging around her without expecting anything in return. I just let her be her and I joined in alongside her to empathize. No advice. No lecture. Just listening and empathizing with whatever she talked about. It could seem insignificant to me but it wasn’t to her. This deeper interest in her life brought about change. It softened her over time and I was encouraged to continue as I witnessed this change. Today our relationship is close.

2. Genomind.

My daughter and her psychiatrist had a tough time finding the right stimulant and anti-depressant for her adhd and anxiety. Finally, after a year, her psychiatrist gave her a Genomind test and it determined that her liver was metabolizing meds too quickly. He was able to hone in on what would work after the detailed test results came back and we found the right medications quickly. The test? — a quick swab of the cheek and mail it in to the lab.

You can do this. I didn’t think I could either but then I did!

I can only echo what others have said about trying to change your own focus. His "bad" behavior has roots in a legitimate disability. I would be willing to bet money he doesn't like being this way anymore than anyone around him.

It sounds like you've poured yourself into "fixing" him. What about changing your perspective just a little, so that your focus instead is on supporting him? What does he enjoy? What is he good at? Are there any activities, foods, experiences, jokes, books, games, anything that you both like? What if you just...focused on finding those things that you like about him? How often do you let him know he's gotten something, anything, right? Have you tried to just connect with him? No lectures or expectations....just hanging out?

My youngest is diagnosed with ODD, and I've had to work very, very hard to be mindful of staying positive. If youngest remembers to say "please," I notice and say thank you. Every little thing that youngest does that is "good," I try my best to notice. Of course I don't always get it right, but my attitude has an impact on her attitude. These kids are quick to anger, and quick to assume that everyone is thinking the worst about them. They need to hear even more than normal that they are capable of doing good things.

When it comes to consequences, a counselor once told me that reframing how I talk about them goes a long way. So now, it's never "you've lost X privilege," instead it's "great job, you earned X privilege today." If they don't earn it, then it's "sorry, you'll have another chance to earn it tomorrow."

This is hard. It has and will continue to try you and your marriage and your family relationships, but it can get better. I'm glad you posted, and I hope this place is a support for you. If you're really very overwhelmed, maybe a therapist could help be a support for you too?

minvaz profile image
minvaz in reply to ADHDx3

Thank you for reminding me to be positive because it is the answer dealing with ADHD negative behavior. I needed to hear this!

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