College?: My son, age 30, was diagnosed... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

CHADD's Adult ADHD Support

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yourock profile image

My son, age 30, was diagnosed with ADHD and dyspraxia in second grade, but didn't have the school support available. He tried college, twice, with bad grades he withdrew. Two years ago he was re diagnosed and prescribed vyvannse, which he says has helped. He wants to finish his geology undergrad degree, but finances, the struggles of ADHD and dyspraxia, and his low wage, no benefits job make it a challenge. Any suggestions on how or where he can get support for the daily tasking struggle and how to complete the geology degree goal?

I didn't do enough to help him, because I didn't know what do to, when he was in K - 12. We were told he "will be fine because he is so smart". He is very bright, but the daily struggles are tough. He would have benefited from learning about ADHD and dyspraxia and from resources to teach him how to learn, organize, prioritize, as well as time and task management.

Thank you. I am new to this site and appreciate your valuable insights and experiences.

15 Replies

First, you should not take responsibility for you son's ADHD and dyspraxia based on any belief that you are to blame for his conditions. I am not saying that you should not help him find resouces; despite the difficulties that his diagnosises may create for him, he is the one who must decide he wants help, which your question does not seem to indicate that he wants help or is satisfied to just complain about the hardships. I am being tough, but for a good reason. Adults with ADHD, like myself, also may have other medical conditions that they must face, but not alone. All they need to do is ask for help and they may have to ask many times, but to give up asking will only lead them back to past, which is a place that we did not want to return too. If your son truly wants help, he will have to be the person doing the work and if he does get help, and if he takes the treatment seriously without saying out load or in his mind that the help he is getting is to hard to do, then he will find the courage to stand on his own and, I think that is want you want for your son - the strength to overcome his diagnosis, the courage to stand tall on those bad days, and the ability to see ADHD as a gift and not the enemy.


yourock profile image
yourock in reply to Tatchley1960

Thank you for your feedback. Very appropriate!

wishy2 profile image
wishy2 in reply to Tatchley1960

I see that too, but at the moment I'm struggling. I had long suspected that three of my four kids had something going on that was different, and also made them their selves. I instinctively knew that they needed structure, repetition, praise and stability. I was over reassured and ignored my gut feeling for my eldest, now 18. I have been considered an over anxious mother for the last three or four.

Then after I was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago, aged 48 I began to think again. In the last six months my 14 and 12 year old have been diagnosed with learning problems, and now finally, both in one week, one has been diagnosed with inattentive ADHD the other with mixed. To me at least I feel a kind of vindication-it wasn't me! life trying to gently but firmly lead these two opposite kids has been exhausting!

The school has helped to some degree, but show them tools that make no direct sense to them, and that they cannot yet use. Part of this is that they simply don't believe at all that they will help.

Therefore my job in the next 6 months is, I believe, to immerse them in tools such as external structure, time out, phones off, diet, exercise and all the things I know work. I believe that there after they must decide if they want to use their new knowledge.

My struggle will be to make this possible, in a family where only I believe in it.

I am trying to think of people I can bring in to help- there is just too much for one person- eg the school curriculum specs are too word dense and my daughter has already started her GCSE's and can't follow them (not surprising given her SEN) and inattentive ADHD. I believe people are too quick to give up on these kids, too slow to see how fantastic ADHD can be-but only in the right structure and system.

Without that it can be a very painful way to live, as I have found.

Wise advice at all for me?

yourock profile image
yourock in reply to wishy2

Your reflections are on point with so many who experience ADHD/learning disabilities.

Currently I have a graduate class on ADHD with updated information that I wish I knew when my son was young.

You know what helps you. Trust your instinct to do what you are already doing! YOU are an amazing person! It isn't easy, but you see the challenges and are aware of tips and tricks to keep them on track, while celebrating their amazing strengths. If something doesn't work, that's ok, try something else.

High school and adults with ADHD benefit from an ADHD coach, per the grad info. I don't know who they are, yet, in our state, but will continuing searching, so that my 30 year old son (with ADHD/dyspraxia) can learn tips and tricks for time management, prioritization, organization, etc.

Your caring concern speaks volumes to your children!!

I am a CHADD Adult support group coordinator in Omaha NE and found out through some of the non-traditional students at UNO that support is available through student services. More than likely he would have to present a letter of diagnosis to his counselor and can get further resources. There are also many grants, federal and statewide that he could apply for due to his income. The problem with those is that most of the time they are for high demand jobs and I don't know if geology is one of them. He could also start at a community college and get many general education classes that transfer taken care of as well as taking one or two classes a semester/quarter to ease into college. I went back for an Associates degree with state grants and reimbursement from work for a business degree at the age of 26. It took me 4 years and no medicine. I had to start at the bottom in math and retook accounting via bookkeeping but managed to end with a 3.2 GPA. It can be done with focus.


yourock profile image
yourock in reply to rhondaeby

Thank you for sharing your experience and information!

Wow, this sounds so antiquated. I'm 56 and have ADD and dyslexia. My parents were told the same thing when I was in school.

When I saw that my son was developing traits of the something that I too had experienced yet, didn't have a name for it at that point (he's now 32). I knew my life and my learning was challenging and though my son doesn't have dyslexia, the ADD was quite the challenge.

We now have 5 kids. Three plus myself have ADD. Two kids plus myself have dyslexia. My husband is a Saint.

So my infinite wisdom...As was mentioned earlier, your son needs to learn to advocate for himself and join this group along with going to the school with documentation in hand to get accommodation. He should invest in a voice to text program such as Dragon (which can be purchased online) make sure he keeps his life simple. I'd advise he NOT take on a full schedule at school. My daughters are both taking lighter class loads, and are able to succeed. No, they won't graduate in 4 yrs., but they will graduate and have good GPA. Touting is also vary helpful and if he can find someone to help him stay organized that's half the battle. Keep to schedules. Beginning of each week needs to be planned out and written on paper.

My son was in the Airforce and is now a firefighter, he swims twice a week, lifts weights and twice a week does marshal arts. Exercise is vary important and so is eating a clean diet. No soda, high protein breakfast, lots of fresh veggies and whole grains if any. Cut out or cut back on all dairy as well. These lifestyle changes have made a tramendous difference in all of our lives. I hope this all helps and best of luck to you both.

yourock profile image
yourock in reply to ADDMom1961

Thank you for your valuable comments and sharing good ideas.

wishy2 profile image
wishy2 in reply to ADDMom1961

so good to hear from someone who is surviving and thriving in an ADHD family.

How do you as a family manage to get everyone to sit down and plan a week. My other half also a saint, but has not been able to help or believe this is necessary. I know it is, both for me and them.

I feel I just have to plod on pushinh and pushing for organisation, structure and advance planning. But it's not exactly my strong point! I manage, actually I get really good at it, but wow at the moment it's hard. I've quit work for now to make it possible as the kids have only just been diagnosed after delays and fights with services. Now my suspicion is confirmed, I've got the advantage of being correct, which will support what I endorse.

However, not working is bad for me, and I don't think it's the right role model. It's good for now to enable me to cope, but I'm thinking only for six months and then back to very part time.

My extended family and school don't yet really believe in the problem. My ADHD coach hopefully will talk to school soon. I want someone who can say to them: this is what it is, what it's like for that child or adult, this is how you can help. tough things to do and find in a short period of time.

Would love to hear more about how your family runs, and how your children without ADHD have come to understand the problem. My unaffected daughter just doesn't get it!

ADDMom1961 profile image
ADDMom1961 in reply to wishy2

Wishy2. I’m so so sorry that I didn’t reply to your questions from three years ago.

I’d joined the group, found that I just couldn’t commit and stopped looking at the site.

Hope your surviving. Would love to share what I’m able to and maybe we can help each other.

My dedicated time is up for being on Healthunlocked and now I’ve got to paint for an hour then a walk with the dog. Finally doing some self care.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Many thanks for the three comments above.

He needs to learn to be an advocate for himself, but doesn't quite know how to do that, (how to ask and what to ask for). He would benefit from an ADHD/dyspraxia mentor or coach to teach him strategies for organization, prioritization, focus, etc. Thank you for the suggestions on possible academic supports at a tech school or college. He has completed 3 years, but hit a wall , understandably, but would like to go back to finish his degree. He is challenged to keep steady employment, which frustrates him.

I will pass on all of your suggestions to him, also encouraging him to join CHADD.

My sincere thanks!

DVR - Department of Vocational Rehabilitation helps find (and keep) jobs/training/schooling for ADHD adults (and those with other learning disabilities). Not sure if all states have this resource. DVR is a division of a states department of workforce. (just found this resource and wanted to share)

34 and diagnosed only a year ago. I STRUGGLED to get through both high school and college, and in college I often bought drugs off of classmates with ADD diagnoses and did the majority of my work, barely sleeping, during the final week of the semester. I was really ashamed about it, and I am still afraid to ever go back to school. Anyway, the few times I took courses over the summer, or during the January term, and therefore only had one class at a time, I always felt more successful. My whole life I got grades that were all over the place, and even in my best semesters there would be one or two classes that fell by the wayside. I think if he can do one class at a time, and slowly chip away at his fourth year, he will probably find the work more manageable. As for keeping a job, I realized in my early adult life that I was much more succesful in jobs that kept me moving, so I was unable to freeze in inaction/overthinking/distraction for too long. Restaurants, bars, personal grocery shopping. I did feel limited eventually, but in terms of holding a job while getting through college, it's one idea. I love the coach idea, and the idea of gaining more tools in general to keep organized. Best of luck to you and your son.

Thank you for your insights. Congratulations on your perseverance. It is not easy, with ADHD, to stay focused on goals. Staying positive, looking for the successes each day, is great feedback. Having a strong support system for those necessary reminders is great.

I hope my 30 year old son subscribed to this site, to be able to reflect on your encouraging experience.

Having a sustainable income and medical insurance is important, but not always attainable, with ADHD, without support. My 30 year old son has a year and a half left in his four year degree, but was unable to complete the BS due to lack of funds and academic frustration ( support was only lip service from the University). He is employed in a ten dollar an hour job, no benefits, sharing an apartment with a friend, barely able to buy food and pay for rent. He is very bright, but frustrated by this situation. Getting and keeping a good job, as well as finishing college, is tricky. I have encouraged, suggested, but, I am "only Mom". (LOL!)

Again, congratulations on your successes. My sincere thanks for your positive suggestions! It is refreshing to hear success stories, when one pushes "forward" with perseverance. That must be a good feeling!

Rock on!!

Your drive, schooling and focus in choosing your career is great thinking. Employment in a structured and understanding setting is brilliant. A good salary must feel rewarding, and reduce stress, with a sustainable budget. Awesome.

Good point - med. coverage options are available in a university setting. Thank you.

Rock on!

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