Building Trust with Your Teen with ADHD Takes Knowledge, Patience and Structure
This post is sponsored by Adlon Therapeutics L.P., a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.
Being a parent of a child with ADHD changes the lens of how you look at child-rearing and the responsibilities that go along with shaping an independent and responsible young adult.
Development of attentional functions (skills needed to process day-to-day life demands such as emotional regulation and decision-making skills) are often delayed or develop slowly in children with ADHD compared to those without ADHD. It can feel like a burdensome job for the parent with no end in sight.
I used to say that my child with ADHD would do everything once. The learning curve for her was an experience. Good and bad. She was the first to jump in and try something out. She did not have a lot of cognitive stops in place and I was often her backstop. She was and still is impulsive. This placed a lot of stress on me as a parent navigating a teenager who wanted to be independent.
I tried to stay ahead of her journey to independence. I researched the strengths and weaknesses associated with having ADHD and considered her potential outcomes.
I joined as many ADHD support groups and associations that I could find at that time. In fact, I even became a specialist through my quest for knowledge, all to be prepared for what she “might” do. On a side note, I discovered meditation during this time, which was a savior for me to sustain mental toughness during the rough times.
By the time my daughter was 16, she wanted me to hand over the keys to her car, stop volunteering at her schooling events and let her be in control of her medication. Giving up the volunteering at the school events meant I had to give up my insight window into her teenage shenanigans. You can learn a lot about your teen’s decision-making skills by attending these events. Losing the ability to monitor her periodically reckless behavior was the most challenging part of giving her the independence she craved. I increased my meditation times from 5 to 10 minutes a day to deal with my anxiety around wanting to trust her to handle the temptations and dangers she would inevitably face. One of my favorite mantras was, “This too shall pass”. I used that a lot during those teen years.
Teenagers with ADHD are 36% more likely to get into a car accident than newly licensed drivers without ADHD, and in a study of all college students (both those with and without ADHD) almost 16% admitted to misusing prescription stimulants as study drugs.,Misusing prescription drugs is when a medication is not used the way it is intended by the prescribing doctor.  This includes not just overusing but also sharing it. Read more about one student’s story here when he shared his medication with a fellow student.
If you are worried about your teen misusing their ADHD medication, here are some things to look out for:
Being more alert and hyperactive
Acting withdrawn or hostile
Being frequently tired or depressed
Trouble sleeping, agitation, anxiety and paranoia
Saying they need higher doses than prescribed & running out of pills
Excessive mood swings
Knowledge is powerful. Here are a few tips:
Ask for your doctor’s opinion. Many doctors these days have a portal where you can ask questions directly to them.
Know how the medication should be followed: read the prescription Medication Guide carefully
Knowing what to expect with medication can help you monitor the effects and better communicate with your doctor.
NEVER allow using prescription medication other than your own (even a family member)
It sets the stage that it might be OK to share it with others.
Discuss the consequences of prescription stimulant medication misuse with your teen and reiterate that the medication is prescribed for them only.
Set rules & establish contracts
Sometimes, all it takes is setting up some ground rules and consequences for breaking them so they understand the importance of using their prescription stimulant medication correctly.
Keep their prescription medications safe
Help them to get away from temptations, keep track and lock up their prescription medications in a safe place, like a locked cabinet or box. This is also to make sure that they are not selling their medications to other people.
Leaving unused and expired prescription medications should be avoided. You may consult with doctors for the proper way of disposing of unused medications.
Through my deep breathing and in-depth research, I formalized my plan to allow for my daughter’s independence.
I gave her a longer leash but stayed close so that I could help her out when she needed it. We created a contract that entailed what she wanted while sticking to my boundaries. We agreed on what consequences would be invoked if I became aware of any violations.
We signed it together and each kept a copy. I meditated more and then let go of my fears…sort of.
The outcome was good overall. We did have to enact the consequences a few times…ok…quite a few times over the next 4 years.
Notice that I said 4 years. We maintained this contract until she was 20.
Since she lagged a few years in maturity, it took that long until she was truly independent. The point here is that it worked. I survived it.
So, what can you do to navigate building trust with a young adult with ADHD? Knowledge is the key to success. With the knowledge, I was able to stay a step ahead, notice signs of trouble and intervene quickly. I found resources for attentional issues while driving and risks of prescription medication misuse.
With my newly gained knowledge, I was eager to share it with her. The next challenge was getting her to listen to me. I mean, really listen to me. I knew she needed it broken into chunks of information with minimal distractions. I chose times that were strategic, like taking her to get pedicures where she was my captive audience for a solid hour. We can now look back at those times and joke about our conversations and how she knew that this would be a dual event when I booked the appointments. She got her nails done at the expense of having to discuss topics important to me. It was a good trade in her teen mindset!
During this uninterrupted mother and daughter time, we accomplished the groundwork. We worked through my concerns of newly found statistical information around ADHD. I would ask her questions to test her knowledge and thoughts around the issues. It proved to be very helpful to bring attention to it and talk through scenarios of what-ifs.
What if she was asked to share her prescription medications?
What would she do if she was driving to volleyball practice late knowing the coach would be upset at her?
How would she handle these and other types of situations?
My goal was to get her in the mindset, so that WHEN it did happen to her, she would have a plan of action.
Was my method perfect?
Was it a good one? I would say yes. By preparing myself with information I was able to address the biggest concerns I had at the time: safe driving and not misusing her prescription medications. I had the knowledgebase to start these conversations with my daughter. My goal was to get her thinking about these situations and how she would handle them independently. It helped me let go of some of the control I felt as she gained independence.
Over time, the contracts became less of a parental threat and more of an agreement that we both could refer to when needed. It was the beginning of helping my daughter gain independence with tools to help make decisions that had some thought.
So, dig in and find out as much as you can about the risks associated with ADHD and stay a step ahead of your teen.
College is a big deal, especially for incoming freshmen. It is the most awaited time for students to finally have their freedom, freedom from home, freedom from their parents’ rules. Entering college is a new era of making friends and opening up themselves to the excitement and fear that goes along with it.
And then comes Covid-19
It’s like someone just popped all the balloons at a party and turned off the music! This has had such a significant effect on college life that many students are opting to take a year off and wait this out.
So, what about the students that are going ahead with their college plans for this year?
Adapting to a new normal is filled with uncertainty, fear, and disappointment. Let’s discuss some of the possible challenges that you may encounter along your college journey and what possible solutions you can do to still create memories.
Cut the cord and finally have some freedom!
Now that COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and schools have transitioned to online learning, you might feel that you’re still stuck if you are living at home. You still live in the same house as your parents and you still have to follow their rules. So much for you cutting the cord and being independent, you are thinking.
While at home, challenge yourself to be more independent. Do activities alone, finish some chores alone, or give yourself time to the things you need to learn before wanting the freedom that you’ve always wanted. Do you know how to balance your bank account? Know how to set up utilities in your name? What bills do you pay on your own? Take some time to set yourself up with some personal finance skills needed to be genuinely independent while staying at your parents’ house. You might just get some useful guidance and input. Trust me, they will most likely be very eager and willing to help you out!
Social Life Stifled!
If you do have some classes in person, making new friends while not meeting other students without wearing a mask is awkward at best. How are you going to know them? Maybe you have an online class that is hybrid with some in-person and some remote learning. In this situation, you can get the benefit of actually seeing the person without a mask! I know seeing them online is different than knowing them personally, but it can be a hybrid situation like the classes themselves. It will certainly give you something to look forward to when it is safe to go out with friends without masks. Having something to look forward to is a good feeling too. Making new friends in the middle of this pandemic is one of a kind experience for sure!
The excitement of a change of scenery after so many months at home…
One of the things that you might be excited about college is the change of environment. Arriving on campus and realizing that you are still: confined to wearing masks, staying in your dorm, pod or apartment to study, eat with little socializing can leave you feeling disappointed and frustrated. How can you really have the freedom to explore and enjoy the new scenery change if you are so confined? Maybe, this is the time to take up hiking or biking. Often college towns are in ideal areas for outdoor opportunities. If you did not get to leave and remote learning is your only option, you can look at the positive. A good thing that studying at home can offer us is being in the comfort of our own home with no negative influences and distractions around you. You might just have a stellar academic semester. During this challenging time, appreciating the little things at home is one positive way to look at it.
As you navigate this fall with Covid-19 and college challenges, think outside the box and find ways to make it work out the best it can for you. It is a good practice to find the positives or lessons in the face of challenges. When this pandemic of over, you will be better equipped to face whatever the next challenge is in life.
Talk about change, this pandemic has made a huge impact on how the world works, thinks and lives. Working from home has become a part of the new normal. During these challenging and uncertain times, almost all businesses large and small has made a transition to work remotely. Having objectives that would be beneficial for both the company and the employee, aiming to protect the people and to keep the business up and running. While it is mandatory to adapt to big changes like this, people with ADHD tend to think that they cannot work from home.
The reality is, you can!
In this episode I share some of the tips on how to start working from home.
First and golden rule: Do not check your emails before your start to work
Staying and working at home has become a challenge for everybody but it will become easier when you finally found the proper ways and strategies that goes along with it. It may be hard but it is not always a challenge. The best attribute that can help you is to be creative and think of what can help you achieve and deliver work in no time.
For all our friends with ADHD, everyday can be tough but look at it as an opportunity to be better, to be more productive and to be more creative than yesterday. The tips above are just some of the guidelines that will help you overcome the thinking “I can’t work from home” because, you can!
Dark Impact of Remote Learning for Students with Disabilities
COVID 19 has caused pandemic that brought a lot of changes to our way of living. One of the most affected areas is education, especially for students with disabilities. The pandemic has resulted in schools shut all across the world and as result, education has changed drastically with the rise of remote learning where lectures will take place remotely on digital platforms.
While schools are having transition from traditional face to face classes to online education, there are several issues that must be given attention to. A big portion of that is the disadvantages of remote learning to students with ADHD.
The following are the barriers to education through remote-learning practices that students with disabilities may encounter along the process.
Need for one on one instructional support challenges.
Students tend to learn faster, master more instructions and remember lessons in one-on-one teacher and student interaction or the traditional face to face learning method. One-on-one learning relationships encourage students to take control over their studies, have the confidence to communicate what they need, and receive the attention that will enable them to focus on what they’re doing.
Now that classes will be through online learning formats, there are several things to worry about. Teachers paying attention to students and their educational requirement will not be as personal as before. Giving the students the instructions online is different from supporting and guiding them.
Behavior Modification and intervention needs.
Nobody can’t force a child to change his behavior. However, there is one thing you can do. Change the environment in a way that he’ll be more motivated to change. Behavior modification is about modifying the environment in a way that your child has more incentive to follow the rules.
While behavioral intervention for ADHD students is finding a way to understand and modify or change behaviors that interfere with the student’s ability to learn.
The need to modify a child’s behavior depends on the personality of the students. When developing behavior interventions, it is important to remember that every ADHD child is different.
With the students having more time at school than at home, behavior modification and intervention is often exercised at school by their teachers. A change in learning environment is a factor to look at. Students are expected to also change their behavior in a different environment. They can lose their focus, get distracted easily and take a more relaxed approach to their studies.
Mental Health issues: Depression, Anxiety and Isolation.
For some people, depression, anxiety and ADHD happen to co-exist, but for others, depression or anxiety is a result of ADHD, with low self-esteem and a poor self-image caused by ongoing feelings of being overwhelmed by life due to many ADHD symptoms that they are dealing with on a daily basis.-
Studying at home with ADHD alone is a challenge, what more if the student is suffering from depression and anxiety? How hard can it be for them to accomplish remote learning? It will be difficult for students to complete tasks that require high-motor and cognitive skills. They may feel confused, scatterbrained, overwhelmed or easily frustrated. Even basic everyday tasks become difficult for them.
Students with disabilities are at higher risk due to the needs and impacts for remote learning mentioned above. Amid the challenges and risks, the most important thing to keep in mind is the education and safety of students and teachers must be balanced. Education is important but enjoying and learning through the process is what makes it more valuable.
Can you think of other challenges that might get in the way during remote learning sessions?
What are those and how do you think will it affect the quality of a student’s education?
We have all gone after scrumptious confectionaries and delicious chocolates in childhood! Some, or probably, many of us, have carried the urge to gorge on ‘sugary foodstuffs’ into adulthood too! Apart from warning us about the risk of health issues, doctors do not condemn us for possessing ‘a sweet tooth’! In other words, it is a perfectly natural occurrence. Then, why should anyone be surprised that ADHD brains have a craving for sweets? It is because the craving is excessive in nature.
The ADHD brain asks for sugar all the time!
Does a normally functioning brain require sugar/glucose?
The answer is ‘yes’!
Glucose is the fuel for all your cells to remain active and function well. It is responsible for the activities of two crucial neurotransmitters in your brain. They are dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals secreted by the brain. They behave as messengers, carrying messages from one nerve to another in diverse regions of the body.
Dopamine and norepinephrine control your cognitive behaviors, moods, emotions, responses to pain, movements and actions, etc.
Dopamine, specifically, is the happy neurotransmitter. It rewards you when you do something well with feeling emotional well. For example, you store the lessons learned from good experiences in your brain, creating a motivation to do it again. It can motivate you to take up greater challenges where you feel the same emotional well-being. Over time, you it can help you learn to make good decisions and even acquire leadership qualities.
As dopamine secretion increases, you experience excitement, joy, exhilaration, etc. This enables sustained motivating behavior. At the same time, nothing goes overboard, because your normally functioning brain keeps everything under control.
How is the ADHD brain different?
Unlike the ADHD individual, neuro-typicals experience a sense of gratification even while completing mundane chores well. Their brains are not over-aroused. They do not become bored easily. In contrast, the ADHD brain remains unsatisfied and bored with tasks that offer no challenges. The symptoms display themselves easily. Attention wanders. There may be irritation, temper-tantrums, frustration, etc.
These are the signals to indicate that the ADHD brain is in distress. It is demanding glucose to activate dopamine secretion. This is possible when the ADHD patient consumes foods containing carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, cookies, sweets, etc. Carbohydrates convert into glucose rapidly.
The individual experiences suppression of restlessness. If you have noticed, ADHDers can eat continuously, they are not keen to adhere to set mealtimes.
Their brains are eternally seeking stimulation.
Another odd aspect is that ADHD brains become more active towards the evening. This is the time when the individual prefers to engage with social media, play video games or watch television. It does not help that the blue light emanating from these screens make the brain even more alert.
Naturally, the patient finds it difficult to sleep. Waking up early is also a problem. Such irregular patterns in the sleep-wake cycle have adverse effects on the family’s waking and resting hours.
The ADHD brain is continuously striving to self-regulate. Its stimulation needs vary by the neurotransmitter levels within it. Whatever is the case, it struggles to get its response right.
ADHD brains always wants something riskier, faster, funnier, bigger, louder, etc. There is no satisfaction at all!
However, the brain and body can only take so much. Over time, when everything gets to be too much, the sufferer becomes physically and emotionally overwhelmed. This is often seen as the crash.
Research shows that small amounts of sugar can help the ADHD brain function optimally. The overall goal is to find a balance to help self-regulate this dopamine seeking brain while fueling the energy needed to function optimally.
My suggestion is to keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel cognitively for that given day. When you have a few days logged, analyze it and see if there is a pattern.
Can you use it to help satiate your sugar craved brain and feel balanced?
If you have questions go to my website www.razcoaching.com and use the ASK Raz! Q&A. Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration. I post almost every day. There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.