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Does my 12 yr old son have ADHD?(3 Posts)
My 12 year old son is in second term at highly selective / academic secondary school. In his first term his reports were showing signs of him not focusing and being distracted and being 'chatty'. 50% of his teachers described him as delightful, charismatic, a great personality in class, and the other 50% distracted / borderline disruptive. This term things seem to be worsening.... his efforts to work harder and focus haven't paid off or had seemingly any impact, and the school want to put him on a behavior report. He knows it's coming after half term and says he'll try harder... I'm beginning to wonder whether there is anything he an actually do or whether it's time to properly consider ADHD.
Since 6/7 yrs old I would have described him energetic and fidget, full of personality and generally happy. He would often get distracted and throughout primary school his teacher's would need to praise him to motivate him, but with good teaching he achieved well and was happy. Puberty has hit him hard, and it feels like things are becoming much harder for him. Organising himself for secondary school has been a challenge, he has lost loads of stuff (thankfully nothing too expensive yet), struggles to focus on his homework etc. At home he cannot follow simple instructions.... Go and brush your hair and teeth often result him wandering downstairs 5 mins later with neither done and no clue on his part why he went upstairs. He has moody outbursts and can often lose his temper (as do I so I've often blamed this on the way we react to each other). He struggles to sleep well some nights and has become obsessed with having a fan in his room despite it being winter as he says it helps him sleep.
I have many questions but no one to really talk to about this. I guess my first question is should I raise the subject with school or let them go down the behavior report route and see if anything changes? It's a new school so I don't really know the set up or understand how the pastoral / education support system works.
Should I get him assessed? If so how and by whom? I'd prefer to do this privately so speed things up but no idea where to start or what type of professional to look for.
Am I overreacting? Is this normal during secondary school transition, especially in a school where most of the kids are academic high achievers and he is in the bottom quarter in terms of academics. Is he using his personality to make his mark and shine because he's aware that he's not as gifted as other kids?
Also on my mind is that my son and his 10 year old sister have been exposed to an up and down relationship. We have up and down spirals and there has been lots of arguing and shouting of late. My husband is a nightmare when he's angry with me and sulks, can't hide his feeling sin front of the kids, and in my opinion speaks to openly about the relationship when the kids are in earshot. He doesn't seem to realise his anger and frustration gets directed at the kids. He's not abusive by any stretch but his massively impacts his ability to parent in a kind, calm, supportive manner. I'm trying to show my son especially lots of love and support so that he can talk openly and share any worries he has, but my husband thinks I'm making matters worse and allowing my son and I to make excuses for his performance and focus at school. I can't help but wonder if the kids need counselling to process their emotions, and of course whether this is impacting my son at this time of transition in to secondary school.
So many questions and no idea where to start. My head feels like it's going to explode with all of this and the relationship challenges. I love my children so much, I might not always be the best parent either but I want them to be happy more than anything in the world right now. Any advice or suggestions gratefully received. Thank you!
The teenage brain restructures at puberty in the same way as it does when an infant. This happens through the night starting in the early hours and finishing each day around 10/11am I think. Here's an article on it.
I think it describes some of the things you are seeing. I haven't met your son so can't give an opinion but generally if you have adhd you always have it and praise / teaching style etc isn't going to affect performance unless they are learning tools for adhd. It sounds more like he is more interested in certain subjects than others. If it is a major concern for you and you will worry about it then an assessment might put your mind at ease. That said, all sounds like fairly normal teenage behaviour considering the up and down relationship exposure etc. Solihull Understanding Your Child has some interesting articles like the one above about what is happening to teenagers at certain stages of development, I'd recommend googling these and seeing if some of the behaviours seem familiar.
Your dc will be affected by the shouting. How could they not? Is his a long term thing or is there an end in sight? Counselling for you and your husband seems more useful than for your dc.
The behaviours you describe could be symptoms of adhd but could easily be something else. I can't get my own 12 year old to remember more than one thing at a time - the idea of collecting a jacket that's in his room at the same time as being up cleaning his teeth - no chance! I suspect he might have adhd. He certainly has dyslexia which affects his memory.
I would speak to the school, because they will see loads more of his behaviour. And take it from there. Do you know for sure that he has actually put more effort in recently by the way?