KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Self-Advocacy in Teens with ADHD

This bodes well for the future:

Whichever of us, my husband Ed or me, is up at the god-awful hour of 6:30 a.m. when Neil, our ninth-grader, is getting ready for school reminds him to take his AD/HD and antidepressant–antianxiety meds. At about 7:30 this morning, when Neil was already on the long bus ride to school, Ed realized that after he'd reminded Neil to take his pills, the two of them had gotten distracted with chatting and our son never got around to taking his meds. Ed thought of driving all the way over to the school, in rush-hour traffic, to give Neil his meds there, but he couldn't because (1) I'd then have to be the one to walk Jared, our second-grader, down to his bus stop instead of getting busy working to meet a deadline and (2) Ed would then miss a good chunk of today's half-day continuing-education seminar on formulating special paint colors for spraying cabinetry. So we just let the pill issue go.

Neil arrived home from school about an hour ago, saying yes, he realized that he'd forgotten to take his meds, and he hated the superspacy feeling that he had had to deal with all day.

Here's the cool part: He had the wherewithal to advocate for himself in dealing with the problem! He talked to each teacher as he moved through the day's schedule and let him or her know about the missed medication dose and that he was feeling overwhelmed trying to both concentrate and get his assignments done quickly and completely. Because he is by now such a well-mannered, easy-to-deal-with kid who works very hard in school, all of the teachers cut him slack today, letting him complete just as much as he could in the time allotted and no more, without penalty.

This is astounding because until just about a year ago, Neil wouldn't advocate for himself even if his life depended on it. His social anxiety level was so up there that he never asked for help, for fear of calling attention to himself. I could see how pleased with himself he was at how he handled things today. "And I was even social!" he said, grinning hugely. Yes, his meds help a great deal. But while he's been taking them, he's been focused and calm enough to learn some very handy new interpersonal skills.

Geez, I love that boy. And I know that he'll do just fine when he's on his own one day.


KathyF said...

My non-ADHD daughter refuses to advocate for herself as well. I keep hoping she'll muster up the courage, but she'd prefer to suffer a lower grade than speak up about any extenuating circumstances, even when it's something that's clearly the teacher's fault or outside her control entirely.

I would be so proud of her if she finally spoke up for herself, so I understand your feeling about your son! A milestone indeed.

Anonymous said...

love your blog i was checking some of it out and its awesome. ill be back when i have more time keep up the good work.


Sapphyre said...

Neil is a shining light of hope for those of us with younger ADHD kids :)

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