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Encouraging reading for ADHD 18 year old.

NlRooster profile image
14 Replies

Hi, I have an 18 year old son who has ADHD and anxiety. His high school buddies are moving on now while he is taking a year off from schooling. He is a bit down over this and is wondering if he will be able to make anything of himself. I am looking for a book written by someone who has overcome similar issues that might be of interest to him. Something to inspire /motivate him. Thank you.

14 Replies
MomO_Sea profile image

i don’t have a book rec - so this is a side step answer - but I do have an 18 year old son who’s still in HS but he would not voluntarily read a books in general. The best thing he did recently was get a job, which I feel is helping him keep occupied and hopefully giving him a bit of confidence. Best to you as and your family - if a book idea comes up I’ll reach out!

NlRooster profile image
NlRooster in reply to MomO_Sea

Thank you! Best of luck to you and your family as well.

Bad_mom profile image

I would love a rec too. My son is 18 and is attending Junior college this year but has expressed disappointment that his friends know what they want to do while he does not. He is going to be getting a job in December, maybe that will help. He is also on a kick of "I'm tired of dealing with ADHD" and has gone off his meds. He is doing much better than I expected, but he would probably do a little better with meds.

NlRooster profile image
NlRooster in reply to Bad_mom

Thanks for the reply. We hope to find him something "to do" to give him some purpose as well.

Saguaro22 profile image
Saguaro22 in reply to Bad_mom

A first step could be calling it community college. Calling it junior college has a connotation that it's not really college - which it absolutely is! Not criticizing here, just a word choice that will bring a little more honor and credit to his/her pursuit. Good luck out there!

Imakecutebabies profile image
Imakecutebabies in reply to Bad_mom

I don't have ADHD, and I still began community college having no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Pretty sure that's common!

In fact, I'm now 36 with a graduate degree and a family and am still not sure I could answer that question.

You can encourage him to focus on the short -term while contemplating the long-term -- what do you want to do THIS YEAR, or perhaps NEXT YEAR? That's much easier to figure out! Building a variety of experiences over the next few years may help him determine where he wants to focus, too.

NYCmom2 profile image

Beyond books I highly recommend a support group for ADHD. It helps to feel encouraged and normalize the highs and lows of living with ADHD. Attending talk therapy is a game changer. Try to be positive, encouraging and celebrate their strengths as often as possible.

There are tons of Podcasts with the ADHD theme, Good Reads is a trustworthy website for searching books.

For moms and female teens I recommend any book by Sari Solden especially:

A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers

Books I have not read but fit your theme and look interesting are:

Smart But Stuck - by Thomas E Brown

"Compelling stories that present a new view of ADHDSmart but Stuck offers 15 true and compelling stories about intelligent, capable teens and adults who have gotten "stuck" at school, work, and/or in social relationships because of their ADHD.”

NlRooster profile image
NlRooster in reply to NYCmom2

Thank you I will check it out!

NYCmom2 profile image
NYCmom2 in reply to NlRooster

If your child doesn’t already engage with sports and a gym check out OrangeTheory gym if there’s a chain near you. It’s members are younger and the program is structured in a way that really clicks for people with ADHD. Exercise, setting goals and being in an active community all build confidence and propel us forward. Hoping for all the best for you and your family!

Lingerly profile image

My son is 21 and in college as a second semester sophomore. Some of his same-age peers from high school are now seniors. When he comments about this, I remind him that there really is no timeline. Now that you are post-high school, there are many paths forward, not just the typical four-year march through college. In fact, many young adults who do the traditional path are also exploring. Most of us end up doing something different than what we set out to do at 18 years old. What is important is that he explore his interests, whatever they may be.

funpuzzles profile image

I just got it and haven’t read this book yet, but it has good reviews, focuses on the transition between high school and college, and has a chapter on “creating a personalized gap year plan” with a few real life examples. The book is called Launching into Young Adulthood with ADHD by Chris Ziegler and Ruth Hughes. It’s written more for parents, but might be helpful for an older teen?

Peerandparent profile image

The present story first: I am now well educated, have a job I find meaningful and look forward to every day, a loving wife and two kids (and my wife said it well... Having kids has been the most [insert any adjective here] experience of my life). I am HAPPY!

It wasn't until university that I struggled with my ADHD, anxiety and depression. I think it was made worse by the lack of structure and the fact that ADHD folks suck at self-motivation, especially for deferred rewards.

I won't lie; despite graduating I had a rough time of it for a while, ultimately burning out of my first career.

What I will say is that for me, I learned that I needed a job/career that was meaningful for me, and that I felt I made a contribution to other people's lives. I cannot thrive in a job that is JUST a job. On the other hand, I've gotten very good at spotting the meaning and purpose of many/most jobs.

Vocational tests were meaningless to me, because they looked at what was capable of, and honestly skills were never the issue; motivation and applying the skills I had were the issue. As dr Barkley said: ADHD isn't a skills issue but a point of performance one.

Instead I got the most out of something called the "values card sort" (you can google it) though I had to change the rules somewhat... Basically it's a list of personal values (e.g. family, wealth, independence, adventure) and you sort them into three piles: core values, important values, and other. To keep the results meaningful, I forced myself to limit myself to three core values and ten important values.

What that exercise showed me was:

1) why my previous career had been a soul sucking

2) what was most important to me

3) what I had to look for in a job moving forward (for example, family being in my top three meant no job requiring me to live a great distance away)

4) none of my core or important values were tied to a paycheck

5) that I needed to findbthings I could do them and there to connect to and nurture those values

6) I needed to spend time with people who shared many of those values and were supportive.

Also, having the right people in your life is essential. Ones that encourage and include, and don't judge. Ones that value him as he is, and help him develop his sense of self worth.

As a parent, I recommend avoiding the word "should" as much as possible. Instead of saying should, try phrasing things in a way that helps to motivate. (Example: instead of "you should go out and volunteer", you could say "if you volunteer you'll do work that's truly appreciated, you'll meet people, and you'll pad your resume" or "What do you think would help get past the barriers between you and a volunteer job?").

Help him connect the dots between the short term and the long term. For example, turn "all I did today was have a shower" to "I had a shower today, and that means I'm one step closer to feeling comfortableaaround people, and maybe have a job or a love life"

Remember that if a solution to his problem seems obvious and he's not doing it, there's almost certainly a reason, ranging from:

There are barriers you can't see

He lacks confidence in his abilities

There's an aspect of your solution that is like oil and water for someone with ADHD

The thought of doing it is completely overwhelming

He cannot see how your solution connects to his goals

Something else

Often he will have considered most/all of your ideas, so rather than make suggestions, ask him what he's considered for next steps and long term goals, and help him with the planning, prioritization and sifting. Look up what executive function does, and at least in the short term, help be a substitute executive function for his less functional one, while you help him find ways of building up his own strategies.

Encourage him to work with a doctor to make sure he's on the right medication and dosages. Going med free is an option, but it's a lot harder, and medication can be an important tool.

Also, I highly recommend he find a good YouTube channel for ADDults to binge, like "how to ADHD" or "Rick wants to know" I also liked books from Hallowell like "delivered from distraction". Also see if there are any peer support organizations locally and tell him from me that there is no feeling quite like being in a room with people who genuinely get you.

Finally, remind him that comparing ourselves to others only puts ourselves down, because we only compare their best features to our own. I'm not as athletic as him. I'm not as outgoing as her. I'm not as accomplished as them. Instead compare fairly, or only with the you from last week.

I've rambled to long already, but know that there is hope, a future and a meaningful life ahead.

NlRooster profile image
NlRooster in reply to Peerandparent

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Marlee75 profile image

Hi there! I have a 19 and 16 year old struggling. The 16 is the one diagnosed with AD/HD - inattentive type. I want to offer two recommendations here:

1. "Books" to read - anything by Todd Rose! He is amazing and his story is so inspirational. He tells his story in a very easy to read, quick bite in the CHADD workbook that we received when we took parenting classes (with Kaiser Permanente) many years ago. I am not sure how one could get that work book now. But his book Square Peg (that is not the entire title) is autobiographical. Basically though, he left high school in senior year with something like a 1.0 GPA (he dropped out). He went on to earn a doctoral degree and today he works at Harvard. He is a success despite struggling with AD/HD. I also recommend using this resource:


2. My 19 year old is really struggling with "launching." He does not have AD/HD but suffered serious depression (for few years) and now some anxiety and very low self esteem. However, we know he needed more support than we could give. We have tried so much since he graduated high school in June 2021. Now we have enlisted the help of an ILS Coach. I believe the ILS stands for "Independent Living Skills." We pay her to meet with him weekly and she is guiding him on how to get accommodations at community college, enroll, start exercising, etc. She can help children and young adults with all kinds of challenges and learning differences.

I hope this is helpful!

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