View Full Version : ADHD teen - interests and goals

12-04-14, 02:46 PM
Hello all,

My son is 16 and was diagnosed at age 10 with ADHD, inattentive type. He took medication for a couple years until we determined that it was ruining his sleep and his appetite, and ďzombifyingĒ him Ö regardless of dosage, or medication type.

Heís been off meds for a couple years now, and frankly his grades havenít suffered that much because of it. There has been some slippage Ö maybe from a B- average to a C+, but both of these are far below his tested intellectual capacity. In other words, medication didnít seem to have significant benefits regarding schoolwork or grades. In any case, school is a major stressor for him - we see his mood take a nosedive at the beginning of every school year, then pick up again when summer comes.

Which brings me to my question: Iím increasingly concerned that my son doesnít seem to have his own reasons for doing things, or his own goals. Iím not just talking about grades, though those are an issue. I also mean social engagements (he doesnít have many), and sports as well (heís participated intermittently).

As heís 16, I donít see much point trying to leverage - or punish - him into making certain choices, or doing certain things. Iím not even convinced that I know definitively what those things should be, for him - just that being completely apathetic canít ever be constructive. Weíve suggested cognitive behavioral therapy Ö more exercise Ö etc, but these arenít things we can do for him Ö he has to want them for himself, and (he says) he does not.

Is there a way to guide him to greater awareness about his own preferences and desires - or is apathy just something he has to overcome in his own time?

(I should also say ó Iím not convinced the apathy and lack of direction is only related to the ADHD. It's possible that he feels anxious and uses apathy to cover that up. So cognitive behavioral therapy might be helpful to him, if heíd consider it as an option, but he says he won't.)

Thank you in advance for your insights!

12-04-14, 04:49 PM
Welcome! :)

What are things he's interested in? If he's (or in the past) been interested in *anything*, even if it's something that's not normal, I suggest encourage him to do that.

I've always had weird interests, and was apathetic toward everything else.

Apathy could *also* potentially be a sign of depression.

12-04-14, 05:23 PM
you can geniunely look for things he may be interested inand stay positive but this might just be where he is for now, and he has to find his own way out.
if he is interested in anything just go with it! even if you think something else may be "better" for him.

( my adult son does not have adhd but has been through times like this)

12-04-14, 06:12 PM
Being completely apathetic can indeed be constructive and extremely important, not as a permanent way of life of course, but as a temporary stage. Allowing it to run its course, without trying to pry him out of it, can be of benefit. If it goes on for much too long, such as (I have no real idea, just grasping for a number, my sense of time is likely to be very far off the mark) let's say more than a year, then comes time to start changing things on his behalf instead of waiting for him.

12-04-14, 08:50 PM
Crashjones, you have just described my 15 year old. He is taking meds, but in school he is a definite underachiever. He is extremely apathetic, as well. He used to play sports and really enjoyed it. But he did it for fun and finds that, at his age, the teams are no longer fun because of the super competitiveness. He does ref soccer when the season is on. When he is forced into participating in something, he's OK, but he does not seek out any social stimulation. Maybe its the age. Maybe it's because he doesn't have a girlfriend (some of this friends do). Maybe it's because this has become a world revolving around electronics, especially for kids and teens. When I was young, face-to-face was the only way to interact with people.

12-05-14, 10:45 AM
Thanks everyone for your responses! I find myself agreeing with all of them which is a pleasant surprise ;-)

In terms of interests: he loves gaming (big shock! adolescent boy with ADHD … ) and I’m OK with that to an extent … I think he spends too much time at it. I occasionally catch him reading interesting things too, like Nat Geo, or articles about computer culture.

I haven’t ruled out depression as a possibility - I’ve experienced it myself and I do see some aspects of it in my son’s state of mind, particularly the apathy. But as I said before … I think the apathy is at least in part a defense. I know he is by nature a curious person. And I do think CBT would be helpful.

For now I’m going to keep engaging him in conversations (not the easiest thing to do) and keep an eye on how he’s doing, check up on his homework progress, etc… and see how things go and see if his own interests become more evident to some extent. Thank you all !!

01-09-15, 11:31 AM
My son sound a lot like yours and is only 11. He doesn't seem to care about much. He is not medicated, was diagnosed with ADHD and depressive disorder. He is doing well at school, but mostly because I am on his BUTT all of the time. He does seem to care when he does poorly on a test, but does not show interest in studying prior to the test.

He doesn't have many friends, and prefers to talk to people online (via Skype, so it is actual speaking and interacting) as opposed to face to face. He does fine when he is face to face, but doesn't really seek it out. I watch out for signs of further depression, because I know changing hormones can exasperate it.

I do think therapy can help, but I can't afford the weekly sessions at the moment and it is not covered by my insurance. So I make sure he is interacting with the family and try to set aside time and do something with him, even if its playing a video game.

Other than that, I am no help. Just wanted to put it out there that it seems common for boys in particular.