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Q&A: ADD Parents with ADD Kids

Contributed by: Terry Matlen, ACSW

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Terry Matlen Answers Your Questions:

Question: I am about to throw in the towel. The stress is completely overwhelming me and I don’t know where to turn first. I have an eight year old son with ADHD and I have ADD myself. To top it off, I am also a single mom, struggling to stay afloat financially. My son is driving me nuts at home. He is out of control, belligerent and doesn’t listen to me. He is failing most of his tests at school. If I don’t “sit on him” to get his homework completed, it doesn’t get done. We work 3 hours a night to get his assignments in, and by the end of the evening, I’m so wiped out, I can’t see straight. What can I do?!? — A Frustrated ADD Mom

Answer: Just reading your note exhausted me. I can only imagine how you are coping. One of the hardest things to deal with when there is ADD in the family, is the combination of an ADD parent and an ADD child. On the one hand, the ADD parent can empathize and understand the difficulties of her child. But more frequently, I hear complaints of how difficult it is to raise an ADD child when the parent is so disorganized and overwhelmed with her own ADD issues.

First, it is imperative that both your son and yourself receive appropriate treatment for the ADD. Your son needs to be working with a therapist who truly understands ADD in children. He may need support and to learn strategies on how to manage himself in school, at home and socially. The therapist may suggest he be evaluated for medications, so I would encourage you to follow through on that recommendation as well.

As for school, if it is documented that he does have ADHD, then he is entitled to receive special help, either under a 504 plan or an IEP, depending on the severity of his problems. Under a 504, he can be given

accommodations at school, such as longer time to complete tests, having someone help him take notes, preferential seating to decrease distractions, etc.If he is under an IEP, he could get direct special education services. You may want to discuss your concerns with the school psychologist or social worker.

I would also address the homework problems. He may be able to have his homework load decreased–discuss this with his teacher or during the 504 process. In the meantime, you both may be happier if you can remove yourself from the evening struggles. Consider hiring a high school or college student to help your son with his homework. Both of you will be a lot less stressed by having someone outside of the family step in to help.

Being a parent with ADD creates it’s own problems, as you probably know. I would suggest that you consider getting treatment as well–counseling, medication (if indicated), and even an ADD coach. Once you have a better handle on your own problems, you will be a much calmer, and more effective parent.

Consider joining CHADD–a non-profit organization that offers support groups throughout the USA. You can call the national office to find the chapter closest to you: 800-233-4050 or visit their Web site.

ADDA is another wonderful resource. They cater more to the needs of young adults and adults, and put out a wonderful newsletter. Check their Web site or call for a membership brochure at www.ADD.org

Posted on December 13, 2011