ADHD Medication – Safe Storage 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.
Who is ready for our students to get back to a normal academic and social life?
The pandemic has brought us closer as a family so much that I am NOT feeling a huge need to take our annual family vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my family and making memories together. Still, after over a year of eating, breathing, and working together, we have had a lot of time to get really close and make memories! My overtired and somewhat irritable mind is fantasizing about me, alone, at a resort that serves my favorite food and drinks while cleaning up after MY messes!
As a parent of a soon-to-be college student, I struggle with the mix of my lingering unabashed mother patrol. My intentions are purely to install good work and cleanliness values, but they are often in conflict with the desire for me to “let go.”
Some of the joys of trying life out on their own have been delayed. They are over-eager to get back to what they envision life to be like for them. For my daughter, it is an independent young adult ready to take the world on and prove that my over-bearing parenting worries are all false. I am feeling the time has come to let her try it out.
I am ready for this new chapter too. I can envision myself sipping fresh fruit drinks at the pool as my young adult happily departs home to chart her own course in life. But I have that deep feeling in my gut to give just a little more parenting around how to manage life responsibly.
Some may say I am overreacting. When ADHD runs in your family the way it does in mine, this is not going overboard. You get used to a predictably unpredictable life of happenings due to a family history of impulsive decision making. This is when I think of an exit plan just in case, I have to dash back from my dreamy solo vacation to intervene. Or at least have a solid phone connection. Those without an impulsive streak in their genetics would think that my thought patterns were absurd and co-dependent but believe me….I do not seek any pleasure in this!
So, how does one help their exuberant college student who cannot wait to escape the shackles of parental oversight help them enjoy the new freedom while using good decision-making choices?
In a perfect world, I see this transition to take responsibility for their life as a right of passage with me waving good-bye with joyful tears in my eyes.
Then I get a second vision where the joyful tears turn to joy FEAR tears.
I read books about the desire for a child to exert self-management skills as early as 3 years old when they say “NO! I do it myself!” This was cute back then, and I remember chuckling and marveling at the fact that my daughter “COULD” dress, brush her own teeth and buckle herself in the car seat. The outcome was not perfect, and I often jumped in candidly to assist, hoping she didn’t notice my takeover.
Now, at 18, she is really ready to exert freedom and self-management skills as an adult. I have to face the reality of my inability to fix things. I had to let go and hope that the years of parenting had some effect on developing a capable young adult who could make good decisions.
This is a mild concern for the neuro-typical kid as I have witnessed from being around moms throughout the years. For the student with ADHD, the only way I can think to describe it is using this metaphor:
Freedom is a dog without a leash
Think of a dog who is always leashed up. The owner can quickly correct the behavior by redirecting them. They are picture-perfect while walking with their owner. People may even comment on what a well-behaved dog you have trained. You take great pride in those comments, yet secretly you know if they were off the leash, the people would be running away from you, fearing for their lives. Not that your dog is mean or vicious. It just has an exuberant amount of energy and loves to interact with people. This leads to them forgetting the social norms you taught them about not getting in peoples’ faces, where and when to do their business, what they can run after and what to leave behind.
Basically, they forget all the rules you taught them in a flash of a second.
This is how I felt the day I dropped off my daughter to the dorms of her freshman year of college.
She was like a dog off her leash for the first time – despite all the trial runs we had practiced for years in advance. I just had the feeling her impulsive behavior would take over!
The fear was deep-rooted in many stories over the years. One of my concerns was her medication and the unbridled opportunity for misuse. I was hoping she had learned a lesson about the dangers of medicines from an incident back when she was 10 years old and was exerting independence and self-management.
I had to learn the hard way about safe storage of ANY type of medication. That toddler who said, “mommy, I do it myself,” continued to develop her independence skills year after year. The problem was, she didn’t always think through the outcome of her actions or consider all the factors it takes to make decisions.
She was competent, and that was the problem.
She had so much confidence in her ability to make decisions, nothing was off-limits.
I used to say she would do EVERYTHING once.
She learned from her mistakes experientially and did not have the type of wiring to think abstractly through her actions. This kept me on my toes as a parent for the most part. I had a real awakening the day the first time I left her alone. I took a quick 15-minute trip to fetch her younger sister from a dance class while she was watching her favorite show.
What could go wrong?
Well, I found out after interrogating her for hours after the incident what went wrong. The fast-acting and impulsive mind took over. Within minutes of me being gone, she noticed that she had a headache. She went to my medicine cabinet and found my aspirin. She never read the label, but decided she needed a few since her headache was bad. She logically followed the routine I did when she was not well. The problem was that she wasn’t using children’s medicine, instead, she grabbed my adult extra strength. I had no idea exactly how many she took because she became so frightened by my actions of calling poison control. I feared she took more than “a few” because the headache wasn’t going away. After watching every breath for the next few hours, I realized that she was fine, luckily. I still get that panicky feeling today reminiscing about that incident.
Adding to what some may call loosely parent PTSD is another incident to set the stage for my fears that day.
The very day she got her driver’s license, she immediately backed into a person behind her at the gas station because they had blocked her in. Yes, she did driver’s safety, driver education, practiced, practiced and practiced. But somehow, we missed that if you get blocked in at the gas station, don’t try to get out of the lineup; even if you are going to be late. Like I said, I had come to terms that she was the one that would do everything once!
It was exhausting as a parent.
I was SOOOO looking forward to the day she was 18 and going to college and yet had that visualization of the dog at the park off-leash for the first time!
Now off to college with her prescription medication in hand. I had a whole new worry.
How would I guide her on her own to navigate these things with the same level of vigilance I gave it?
I thought I had to create a sense of value for her medication safety the way she values her money stashes and cell phone. I approached the subject with a prelude of all valuable things to her: her cell phone, debit cards, computer. Would she allow a friend to borrow any of these things? We ran down the reasons she did not want to “loan out” her items and how to keep the things safe when she couldn’t carry them with her. We had good traction and then came my interjection of how she valued her medication. Surprisingly, it went well! The timing was good and I had segued into this topic smoothly: a win.
We even laughed about her headache story and how scary it was for me and how she would not want to experience that as an adult. So, I felt the timing was right and asked if she could see her medication as valuable and sacred to keep it safe with the other things. We found humor as we talked through the seriousness of her prescription medication. We used a creative analogy of how wonderful it would be to develop a Pez candy dispenser for her medication that had a code she only knew. We came up with a more realistic plan to buy a safe to keep in her room where she could keep all her things secure.
This empowered her to start her true “adulting” behavior. What followed was a conversation that led to a review of tips for keeping her medication safe.
Here are the points we talked about to be an enlightened medical consumer and be “SPAFE” (slang for Especially safe)
Create a daily ritual build the habit –more likely to follow through
Feeling a “laze-day?” DON’T Just snap the cap and play it safe
Spin the dial Lock it up in the SPAFE place
When it goes south In the unfortunate event the SPAFE place was violated.
Know the count: If you have a plan with your daily pills, this should be easy
Brave the ask While hard to confront, ask if you suspect someone did it.
It took quite a bit of energy to create a situation for a conversation like this to happen without the typical family triggers. The effort was well worth it to help ease my fears of the dog off the leash scenario happening given her past history.
Creating a relatable situation that she could truly identify with set the groundwork for this to be successful. My tip for you beyond the ones above is this: Find that sacred thing your son or daughter values so much that they put as their highest priority in any given moment. Use it in developing a strong analogy that will truly stick with them well after you leave them on their own.
Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys.
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?