We have a 20 year old son with ADHD a... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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We have a 20 year old son with ADHD and on the spectrum and we need help!

OCMOM profile image

Our son is 20 years old. He has ADHD and is on the spectrum for autism. He works full time in a grocery store which is great. He was attending college part time on line and failed his classes. He has decided to quit college. When not at work, he is on his phone and/or laptop on social media. He has no friends. He becomes argumentative when we talk with him. He seldom showers and brushes his teeth and seems very focused on electronics. He has little interest in learning how to drive. Recently we told him we would not drive him to work and he needs to take Uber. He lied and said he could not get one to come to our home. I had to order one for him the other day. Our concern is he seems very comfortable in our home with little responsibility and being on line. He eats his meals at the kitchen counter and will not eat dinner with us! We are very worried and have no idea of what to do!

10 Replies

I am not sure what state you live in but in CA. He would qualify for state SSI program. On addition there should be an adult agency that can help with work, social programs etc. Just curious at what tools he has been given to assist with the symptoms of the issues he has?

Do you know of any programs that could assist him? Most children with ADHD function at about 2 years behind their peers.

Hope we can help with other suggestions.

If not already done, he should work with a therapist to address his issues and their cause. This is not typical autism spectrum behavior but can happen with the ADHD diagnosis. IS he depressed? Has he seen a psychiatrist?

Although it may seem atypical, it can be typical for high-functioning, young adults on the spectrum. The hyper focus on electronics is typical and some young adults can slowly drift into an obstinate place. This one is a tough one. 😞

It is really hard to get an adult to cooperate with getting help, but he sure sounds like he needs it. Would he agree to seeing a psychiatrist, a good counselor?

My daughter did not have as many problems as your son , but it was mid twenties before she got really stable.

Don't know if adding the stress of finding his own way to work is going to help or make him quit.

Good luck getting the help your son desperately needs.

You might want to check with your state’s Independent Living Resource Center to determine what resources your state might offer your family. You can find yours here: ilru.org/projects/cil-net/c....

It sounds as though you have a hard working young adult who may need a little support in reaching his personal goals. Are there ASD social groups in your area? Your local autism society should be able to put you in touch. There are also zoom social groups for young adults online. He might benefit from meeting others on the spectrum live.

Does he have interests that would lend themselves to a hobby or career? Following your interest can open doors to meeting others. That can be hard to do when you work full-time, however. Was he attempting to go to school and work full-time? That’s a near impossible task for typical students. Often our kids will need even greater time to study and complete work due to attention issues. They may need help requesting accommodations at the college level. Community colleges often offer 101 level courses that transfer to university. Is that an option?

Your state department of vocational rehabilitation might have additional resources to help with your son establishing a career path. Voc Rehab might also offer driver’s education training. I would encourage you to first talk with some disability advocates—either through the autism society, the independent living resource center, or your state’s parent resource center (parentcenterhub.org/find-yo... before contacting Voc Rehab as they are an agency with qualifying criteria and you should probably have an idea of what “evidence” you should gather to help qualify before you go. Learning to drive on the spectrum is different than it is for neurotypicals. More info here: carautismroadmap.org/drivin....

To me, it sounds like the conglomeration of all of the answers cover the range of recommendations.

- I must say it must be tough watching all of your hopes for your child seem to shift before your eyes.

- Some of the resources above can expose him to others who may be able to model for him that he really would want what was previously planned.

- Some youth on the spectrum can present a challenge when a situation moves toward a power struggle. I am not saying that is what this is, I am saying as both parties’ frustration builds, it can lead there.

- Electronics can be a challenging influence, because there technically is a “world” in there. That may make him feel like he has all of the friends he needs, the connection needed and almost no need for anything else.

- Now the rub with that is he is missing the connection between the need for some degree of social engagement (if he is in a social role at his job), needing to make money to further his interests and the responsibility that goes along with the latter. That is where there should be a focus in teaching him- maybe those things are okay but these things can help with those interests.

- “Socializing” with others on the spectrum can expose him to people he may listen to. It is possible that the adult/person he connects with most can also convey these items, over time and in a completely non-threatening way.

- Celebrate small wins.

- If choosing the “discomfort” route, slow implementation is best. Immediate can cause a shutdown or engagement in the struggle to oppose.

Please know you are not alone! Take good care of yourself.

I appreciate how difficult this is for you, especially when trying to both establish boundaries and motivate your son. First, he is working full-time--that is excellent! He is establishing some financial independence and acquiring important skills for the workplace. Second--online school that didn't go so well. This is understandable. Your son's experience is shared by many students, including those who are neurotypical. The move to online education because of COVID has been challenging, especially since many faculty are themselves figuring out how to teach in this new format. Further, the online venue contributes to your son's isolation. I've seen this with my son as well--being at home gets really comfortable. And, being at home makes it easy to get a little lax with personal hygiene. My 20 year old son also does not drive, and much of the reason for why has to do with anxiety. (Also, I am seeing a trend among young adults waiting longer to learn to drive--for whatever that is worth.)

So, I guess the first thing I want to offer is some support and understanding. But, I also want to acknowledge that it is important to guide your son toward self-advocacy. We can't help but be parents, wanting to take care of our children, sometimes doing for them longer than we should. And we should--we need to care for our children, especially when they are negotiating unique circumstances connected to their neurodiversity. My suggestions then are twofold: First, try taking a problem-solving partnership stance with your son. Ask what he needs to get himself to work (for example). How will he get himself to work if you are unavailable? Second, consider an ADHD coach--someone other than his parents who can help him to set achievable goals and suggest strategies for getting there.

Best wishes to your family!

Tarezampe profile image
Tarezampe in reply to Lingerly

Could you suggest how to find good adhd coach.?

eaw49 profile image
eaw49 in reply to Tarezampe

There is a great magazine that is called ADDitude Magazine. It is full of great advice and resources. They even have an ADD coach directory.

Honestly he sounds like the typical teenage boy. There are great programs out to assist with Living independently but during covid they have been very limited. After all this pandemic stuff is over, I would suggest your taking up the recommendations of OP and connecting him to a program to guide Living Independently. Even the school, should connect you with appropriate resources. I would ask him how he feels about his co-workers smelling body odor that we all get if we don't bathe. Praise him over having a great job and give him kind reminders to be ready for work by bathing and picking out his clothes. Maybe ask him if there is a specific kind of soap or deodorant he likes.

If he likes being on social media, I would enlist some friends to connect with him. Make friends on social media. I'm sure like most kids they don't want to be friends with mom or dad but maybe a neighbor or the neighbor's kids. If you can see what he enjoys looking at, then this could give you an idea of his current interest. He is a grown man. I know it's hard for us to see our kids as anything other than our children. Does he like music? Take him to a concert. Does he like online games for social media? Play online as well with him but on your own device. Set up his uber account with him, then let him be responsible. If you have always expected him to do chores, then don't change it now. He still lives there. Life is life no matter.

Consider calling dmv and ask about testing for someone with adhd or autism. They can make accomadations. Have you let him drive you around some? Start with the neighborhood or a school parking lot.

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