View Full Version : ADHD and Sports Breakdowns


tonyd0517
10-19-15, 11:32 AM
Hey guys,

I'm new so I apologize if this has been covered. If there is a thread that would help me out, feel free to copy a link to it into a reply. Anyway...

My son was recently (6 weeks ago) diagnosed with ADHD. He has been on Focalin XR with a 5 MG boost of regular Focalin in the afternoons only on days he has football practice. He is 7.5, by the way. He is a heck of a player. He is the strongest kid out there and loves the physical nature of the sport. He was recently moved to middle linebacker due to his aggression on the field and willingness to go tackle the kids. He loves to tackle them, he gets up and immediately finds me on the sideline and gives me a thumbs up after every tackle. The issue we are having is that if our team falls behind (which is quite often, this year) he immediately starts crying on the field to the point that he has to be taken out of the game and he has to sit out and miss a huge chunk of time trying to get himself composed. If we start mounting a come back, sometimes that will snap him out of it, but the boy is just terrible with losing. This happened in baseball, as well, to an extent. Baseball was pre-medicine and he would get upset if he struck out. This was remedied by a few minor tweaks in his swing and he didnt strike out anymore. He has always been the type of kid that thrives on positive reinforcement. When I am coaching him during practice, I am very rarely negative with him at all. Every mistake is greeted with a, "that's ok, just try it again, you'll get it." Something along those lines.

Off the field, his teachers have said he has been great in the classroom since starting the medication. His behavior has very much turned around. He is no longer scatterbrained, follows directions and is no longer making noises during quiet time and almost to appears to have developed patience. His after school teacher (who he is with for about an hour per day until i can pick him up from work) said he is very emotional in the afternoons, which i attributed to him coming down from the meds. Occasionally, he has broken down while i was picking him up from school, if he was in the middle of something and we didnt have time to wait around for him to finish.


Do you think this is more of an issue handling disappointment as opposed to losing? Is this something that the medication could magnify? His doctor does not think this is an issue that upping or changing medication will remedy but it does seem to have gotten worse now that he has started the medicine.

We were originally going to try Vyvanse, but there was an insurance hiccup, so Focalin was next on the doctor's list. Well, about 2 weeks into Focalin, we got a call from Walgreens saying that his Vyvanse was ready (very unexpected as we were told it was rejected). Does anyone have any feedback on whether maybe Vyvanse may be better the Focalin for a kiddo who reacts to things like this?

RedHairedWitch
10-19-15, 08:35 PM
It's probably an emotional regulation thing. Kids with ADHD are usually a bit behind their peers on emotional maturity. So expect a 7 year old to have the emotional response of a 5 year old. Sadly, medication doesn't really help with this. He will catch up in his early twenties.

That being said, kids with ADHD often do much better in individual sports. Such as swimming, cycling, skating, skateboarding, golf and so forth. Team sports have a lot going on, it's tough to follow everything happening on the field. There's also more pressure to perform for the team and not let them down. Team sports are harder on focus and feelings! In individual sports, you can focus on yourself and what is in front of you. No one is counting on you, and you aren't counting on anyone else. There's also usually less of an audience.

sarahsweets
10-20-15, 02:14 AM
Hey there.. this might not sit well with you but, is it worth it for him to go through that, not matter what the reason is? I ask because even if its an adhd thing (it is) and even if it has to do with not winning or disappointment, is it really a good thing for him to deal with anyway? Believe it or not, some adhd kids just arent ready for team sports., Just because he likes tackling and seems to do it well doesnt mean that he is actually ready for team sports. My son was never cut out for team sports, or really any sports however he was very physically active. My daughter is on the color guard team and they have competitions and she loves it but no way could she have done this until high school. Just a thought.

aeon
10-20-15, 03:31 AM
Inability to maintain composure is almost certainly a deficit of affect regulation, one of the core presentations of ADHD.

I think RedHairedWitch and sarahsweets both gave excellent advice.

Iíll offer a couple other things to consider. You mentioned a 5mg booster on the days he has practice, but what is his dosing and timing on the days there is an actual game? Are games scheduled later in the day than practice occurs? If so, he may be experiencing a lack of coverage by game-time. Even on regular days, it sounds like he might be experiencing return of symptoms because of lack of coverage from his meds.

Now this will be purely anecdotal...so feel free to disregard. I tried Focalin IR back when I was exploring meds with my doctor. In terms of focus and motivation, I thought it was amazing. On the other hand, it did nothing for me to help with affect control. In fact, it made it worse...I always felt on edge, not anxiously, but like I was always 2 seconds away from raging crying and a fistfight. For me, that is not even close to my usual demeanor, so I stopped the med.

I only offer that to suggest a point of consideration of how Focalin works in terms of your sonís affect. It sounds like he is OK on this given:

his teachers have said he has been great in the classroom since starting the medicationSo it could simply be an issue of coverage. The need to change meds...you can cross that bridge when you get to it.

For what it is worth, I hated team sports. Swimming and bicycling all the way for me! It was there I discovered both my athletic potential as well as self-confidence and personal growth.


Cheers,
Ian

tonyd0517
10-22-15, 04:04 PM
It's probably an emotional regulation thing. Kids with ADHD are usually a bit behind their peers on emotional maturity. So expect a 7 year old to have the emotional response of a 5 year old. Sadly, medication doesn't really help with this. He will catch up in his early twenties.

That being said, kids with ADHD often do much better in individual sports. Such as swimming, cycling, skating, skateboarding, golf and so forth. Team sports have a lot going on, it's tough to follow everything happening on the field. There's also more pressure to perform for the team and not let them down. Team sports are harder on focus and feelings! In individual sports, you can focus on yourself and what is in front of you. No one is counting on you, and you aren't counting on anyone else. There's also usually less of an audience.

Thank you for your reply. The emotional response delay makes a lot of sense, it is something we have always kind of noticed. I sure hope he catches up before his twenties, haha.

As far as an individual sport, he does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well. He has done well emotionally with that. Only really had one time where he started to get upset due to frustration. He started Jiu Jitsu in August and was diagnosed with ADHD in September.

Everything is still very new, so maybe I just need to have more patience with the process. His doctor also said she did not think his breakdowns were a medicinal issue, so I am glad to hear that echoed. She also offered to double his medication 2 weeks ago, which we balked at, due to him seeming to improve. Then, this week, I mentioned that things were rough again and that the meds seemed to do very little all weekend and that maybe we needed to up it a little, she was against it. The inconsistent messages from her regarding medication is what drove me to this message board. We have our first appointment with a therapist next week, so I'm hoping to get the poor kid fairly regulated as soon as possible.

tonyd0517
10-22-15, 04:27 PM
Hey there.. this might not sit well with you but, is it worth it for him to go through that, not matter what the reason is? I ask because even if its an adhd thing (it is) and even if it has to do with not winning or disappointment, is it really a good thing for him to deal with anyway? Believe it or not, some adhd kids just arent ready for team sports., Just because he likes tackling and seems to do it well doesnt mean that he is actually ready for team sports. My son was never cut out for team sports, or really any sports however he was very physically active. My daughter is on the color guard team and they have competitions and she loves it but no way could she have done this until high school. Just a thought.

Hey, thanks for the feedback. I really do appreciate it. As far as him not being ready for team sports, that has definitely crossed our minds. It is always his choice whether to play or not, I have never and never will force him to play anything. He enjoys it, i swear, haha. He has made a lot of really good friends, enjoys being around all of the other kids and gets a good self esteem boost by being successful. He has the same melt downs if he loses at Mario Kart on the Wii U. He actually has the same problem when doing something as simple as playing a board game or drawing a picture. I have had to remove a board game from his room for a solid year because he could not handle me beating him at it. It got to the point to where i would get anxious about winning at the game because I knew it would cause a problem, but at the same time, if he could tell i lost on purpose, he would be disappointed that he could not beat me on his own. I AM NOT THAT GOOD AN ACTOR!!! HA.

This is actually his second year of football. He did not have any issues last season, but he told me that was due to him not having a major role on the team (he was playing on a team for older kids) so he did not care if they won or lost. This year, with him being on a team for his own age group, he is a major contributor so he said it hurts more when he loses. He has been told a million times that he just needs to go out and have some fun. Heck, I tell him before every game, that no matter what happens or how he plays or if he cries or not that we are going to go out and get pizza or something with his teammates after. The other coaches have pretty much let him have free reign to do whatever he wants to try and keep him happy and on the field because when he takes himself out of the game, its a big time loss.

There are 2 other ADHD boys on the team that do not have this issue. Both of them, however, were diagnosed about 2 years ago, so they have learned to cope with their emotions. Hopefully, for his sake, he just needs more time. There is only one more game this season and he wants to finish with his team, he really does like these kids and they like him back.

Thank you again, for your feedback. It truly is appreciated.

tonyd0517
10-22-15, 04:44 PM
Inability to maintain composure is almost certainly a deficit of affect regulation, one of the core presentations of ADHD.

I think RedHairedWitch and sarahsweets both gave excellent advice.

Iíll offer a couple other things to consider. You mentioned a 5mg booster on the days he has practice, but what is his dosing and timing on the days there is an actual game? Are games scheduled later in the day than practice occurs? If so, he may be experiencing a lack of coverage by game-time. Even on regular days, it sounds like he might be experiencing return of symptoms because of lack of coverage from his meds.

Now this will be purely anecdotal...so feel free to disregard. I tried Focalin IR back when I was exploring meds with my doctor. In terms of focus and motivation, I thought it was amazing. On the other hand, it did nothing for me to help with affect control. In fact, it made it worse...I always felt on edge, not anxiously, but like I was always 2 seconds away from raging crying and a fistfight. For me, that is not even close to my usual demeanor, so I stopped the med.

I only offer that to suggest a point of consideration of how Focalin works in terms of your sonís affect. It sounds like he is OK on this given:

So it could simply be an issue of coverage. The need to change meds...you can cross that bridge when you get to it.

For what it is worth, I hated team sports. Swimming and bicycling all the way for me! It was there I discovered both my athletic potential as well as self-confidence and personal growth.


Cheers,
Ian

Thanks for the reply. I will try and go in order and stay on task with what you posted.

On game days, the games are no later than noon. Most have been around 10:30. So that is well in the realm of his initial Focalin IR dosage. The medicine does absolutely wear off by the time I get him from school, the booster is not given to him until we get home. Does letting the medicine wear off completely before giving a booster have negative effects or does in not matter?

As far as being edgy on the Focalin, I have to agree that i can see it. When he first started taking Focalin, the booster affected him like speed. He would talk fast and often and was crazy focused. He seemed able to control himself in this state. When he was able to adjust and the medicine did not hit him that way, he got edgy while on it and myself and the other coaches kind of felt like we had to walk on egg shells around him. That's why I asked about the Vyvanse.

As I mentioned in a reply to one of the above posts, he does an individual sport as well, his problem is, as he likes to say, "he is built for strength, not for speed." which makes individual sports a bit more elusive.

i really do appreciate the feedback and It is good to hear you say that Focalin tended to put you on edge, the way it seems to do to him as well. Did you switch to a different medication, or just go off medication altogether?

RedHairedWitch
10-24-15, 06:54 PM
Hmmm ... is he into sports stats? Maybe if he saw how often his favorite pro teams loose, yet are still awesome, he will gain some perspective on loosing vs winning?

tonyd0517
10-26-15, 04:08 PM
Hmmm ... is he into sports stats? Maybe if he saw how often his favorite pro teams loose, yet are still awesome, he will gain some perspective on loosing vs winning?

He will sit and watch a game with me for a while sometimes up to half of the game. He would much rather go play the sport than sit and watch it. He has favorite players and stuff like that.

he just started watching wrestling which was funny to see his comments on all of it. Commented that one of the guys must not play outside very much because he had very pale skin. another, Ric Flair, was talking in the ring and he had to make sure that he wasn't going to wrestle anyone because he was too old and would get injured. Maybe seeing some of his favorite wrestlers lose will help him realize you dont always win and that it isnt a bit deal. I dont think he will learn much from the show about sportsmanship but maybe he can take something from it, or heck, maybe he can just watch it and enjoy the show.

aeon
10-26-15, 06:41 PM
Does letting the medicine wear off completely before giving a booster have negative effects or does in not matter?

It doesnít matter in the sense of there being no medical issue.

That said, boosters for ADHD are usually given such that the booster dovetails with the initial dose so there is a continuous period of coverage.

Thereís no right or wrong on this...except to say whatever works best for him.

As I mentioned in a reply to one of the above posts, he does an individual sport as well, his problem is, as he likes to say, "he is built for strength, not for speed." which makes individual sports a bit more elusive.

Thatís me too...and it didnít stop me. It all comes down to what you enjoy and look forward to. Like most things in life!

i really do appreciate the feedback and It is good to hear you say that Focalin tended to put you on edge, the way it seems to do to him as well. Did you switch to a different medication, or just go off medication altogether?

I was evaluating alternatives to Concerta, which was effective, but caused me too much anxiety. I talked to my doctor about a trial of Focalin.

I got two weeks worth of the IR med, at 40mg a day. That was good because I wasnít going to last more than two weeks in any case. Iím a gentle soul...Focalin made me feel like I was going to punch someone while doing something like grocery shopping...and I was hair-trigger for feeling angry about inconsequential events and trivial things. That was surprising to me because I had a history of tolerating Ritalin formulations...perhaps it was the nature of the IR? Dunno...

My next med was Dexedrine, and it works a treat. Iíve been on it for 4 years now.


Cheers,
Ian

tonyd0517
10-27-15, 11:24 AM
I was evaluating alternatives to Concerta, which was effective, but caused me too much anxiety. I talked to my doctor about a trial of Focalin.

I got two weeks worth of the IR med, at 40mg a day. That was good because I wasnít going to last more than two weeks in any case. Iím a gentle soul...Focalin made me feel like I was going to punch someone while doing something like grocery shopping...and I was hair-trigger for feeling angry about inconsequential events and trivial things. That was surprising to me because I had a history of tolerating Ritalin formulations...perhaps it was the nature of the IR? Dunno...

My next med was Dexedrine, and it works a treat. Iíve been on it for 4 years now.



Thanks, Ian!

My wife and I had a good opportunity to observe him last night while on his medication and we did not like the observations. I gave him his 5mg booster at 5pm and by 5:45 he was complaining about how he felt weird and how the medicine always makes him feel weird. He seemed, as you said, edgy. When we first started the medication, he did not seem to mind that little jolt of energy that he would get, now he seems very annoyed by it. Around 6:45 i ran to grab some dinner and when I got back around 7:15, my wife said he was a monster and cried in frustration because she would not scratch his back for longer than 15 minutes. I gave everyone their food, and he insisted on eating in his room, I told him no, he needed to eat with everyone else (my wife and i) and that caused crying. Around this time, wrestling (one of his new shows he likes to watch) had come on, so I turned it on for him and he immediately lost it. crying and carrying on. He was upset because he was under the impression that last night was the pay per view event, which it was not, the event was on Sunday (i told him i was not paying 50 bucks to watch wrestling) and he was made aware, 2 times last night before I turned the show on, that the pay per view had already happened. At that point, he was told to go take a shower and relax. MORE TEARS! That lead to us getting frustrated by everything! He took a shower and put on his shorts to sleep in and decided at that point to remind me it was pajama day at school tomorrow. He doesnt have any pajamas as he does not like them, would prefer to sleep in gym shorts and no shirt. I told him we could find something for him to wear and he lost it, again, proclaiming that he was the only one not to wear a costume to the halloween party (he chose a scary costume this year and the school sent home a note saying no scary masks. Apparently, we were the only ones who followed that rule, because there were kids up there all over the place in scary costumes) and now would be the only one not to wear pajamas to pajama day. I told him we would figure it out and to just go to bed. My intention was to go buy him some after he calmed down. After the whole home calmed down, about 20 min later, he and I went out and bought him some PJ's. He was happy and went to bed a happy camper. Anyway, that got off topic real fast. It seemed like last night, whenever something did not go his way, he would lose his mind and just start crying like his world was falling apart. He is 7, so I assume your experience with the medication was slightly different, but does that sound about right to how you felt while on the medication? When he was not on the meds, it was not this bad. Probably would have had a breakdown or 2 about the above topics, but not all evening.

Brachenheiser
10-27-15, 02:15 PM
It sounds like your kid has an awful lot of energy. Maybe a sport that isn't so stop and start would be good. Running and swimming come to mind.

When I was a kid, I was bad at handling the breaks that came with playing soccer. I played really well, and I made it to several national championships as one of the key players on my team. But, every time I had a moment to stop and think, I began to think about all the mistakes I had made in the game, and if we were losing I would take that blame on myself.

If you can get him interested in a sport where he has to stay focused while still putting out significant energy, this might be better for him long term. He's too young to run hurdles, but the kind of explosive power you're discussing may find a resolution in a sport like that.

I think there is a lot of pressure for kids to not let their team down, and it's even worse for a kid with ADHD. They assume, especially at age 7, that they are to blame for the team losing. It's pretty hard to explain that they are not at fault. If he loves the game though, I don't think it's a good idea to tell him no. He'll likely remember that the rest of his life. At least, I know that if my parents told me I couldn't play a sport I loved, I would likely resent it.

What RedHeadWitch said about the emotional regulation and the winning versus losing is good advice I think. He needs to realize that losing happens. The problem is his teammates are also invested, and how they react could be a contributing factor.

Sports that might be better for him: Martial arts, running (sprinting), swimming (short distances), track and field events when he's older.

Brachenheiser
10-27-15, 02:21 PM
I found dexedrine to be mild, it was slow to come on and slow to go off. I loved it. It barely felt like I was on anything at all. But, everyone is different. When I was a child, I had a similar reaction to what you're describing when I took Ritalin. For what that's worth.

aeon
10-27-15, 02:59 PM
He is 7, so I assume your experience with the medication was slightly different, but does that sound about right to how you felt while on the medication? When he was not on the meds, it was not this bad. Probably would have had a breakdown or 2 about the above topics, but not all evening.

No, I didnít feel like that, but what I felt like in this case isnít really of concern.

Just from what you described there, it doesnít sound like that is the right med for him. Not at all. I think a talk with his doctor is certainly merited.


Best Wishes,
Ian

tonyd0517
10-27-15, 04:58 PM
It sounds like your kid has an awful lot of energy. Maybe a sport that isn't so stop and start would be good. Running and swimming come to mind.

When I was a kid, I was bad at handling the breaks that came with playing soccer. I played really well, and I made it to several national championships as one of the key players on my team. But, every time I had a moment to stop and think, I began to think about all the mistakes I had made in the game, and if we were losing I would take that blame on myself.

If you can get him interested in a sport where he has to stay focused while still putting out significant energy, this might be better for him long term. He's too young to run hurdles, but the kind of explosive power you're discussing may find a resolution in a sport like that.

I think there is a lot of pressure for kids to not let their team down, and it's even worse for a kid with ADHD. They assume, especially at age 7, that they are to blame for the team losing. It's pretty hard to explain that they are not at fault. If he loves the game though, I don't think it's a good idea to tell him no. He'll likely remember that the rest of his life. At least, I know that if my parents told me I couldn't play a sport I loved, I would likely resent it.

What RedHeadWitch said about the emotional regulation and the winning versus losing is good advice I think. He needs to realize that losing happens. The problem is his teammates are also invested, and how they react could be a contributing factor.

Sports that might be better for him: Martial arts, running (sprinting), swimming (short distances), track and field events when he's older.

Hey,

Thanks for chiming in. You covered a lot of ground, there, so I will respond the best I can.

I think he would enjoy track and field events, like shot put, dicuss and things like that. He is not much of a runner, does not like it. He currently does jiu jitsu, which he really enjoys, have only had one melt down, there, and his coaches were able to pick him up from it relatively quickly.

Losing doesnt seem to bother his teammates. They are little and most just play for the fun of playing. It seems like him and one other kid only really get upset (show any negative emotions) when we lose. I think that makes him mad, too, haha. He gets frustrated that the others dont want to win as badly as he does. he is a competitive little booger!

You also mentioned dexadrine. aeon also mentioned dexadrine. What do you mean by it is mild on the up and mild on the come down. I have never been on any sort of medication whatsoever, so this is all super new to me. We did get him switched over to Vyvanse since we have those pills at home already due to an insurance error, so the doctor said to give those a few weeks. We also start seeing a therapist tomorrow and have parent teacher conferences which will hopefully give us a good view into how he has been behaving at school as well.

thanks again for your input, it was helpful, for sure.

Brachenheiser
10-27-15, 07:22 PM
The medications make it possible to better control the symptoms of ADHD. In my case, I was very sensitive to how and when the medication started and stopped working.

Again, this is my experience only. But, I noticed that Ritalin and Concerta were very strong and noticeable when they kicked in. I could identify the exact moment when they started working. Adderall was a little bit better, but I could still tell when it kicked in and when it left my system. With Dexedrine, I could barely tell when it started or stopped. It helped me control my symptoms, and I rarely even noticed I was taking it. In short, I felt normal.

I ranked off the charts in the hyperactivity aspect of the disorder. So, if a medication stopped working suddenly, as it did with Ritalin and Concerta, it was too much to handle all those emotions and thoughts that came rushing in. On more active days, this would result in a complete and total meltdown. If it was a subdued day where very little happened, I might be able to control it.

Some medications start and stop working so fast, it’s like a roller coaster ride. Especially if you have to give second or third doses throughout the day, this can cause problems with sensitive individuals. They are constantly going up and down on the spectrum of symptom severity. That would be hard for anyone.

You’ve never taken medication, but maybe you can understand it this way. Let’s say you’re sitting peacefully in your home, and then you get a phone call and are informed someone very close to you has passed away. You then get a call a few minutes later from someone who tells you the previous phone call was a mistake and your loved one is fine.

The flux of emotions is similar to what someone with severe symptoms might experience. They may be calm after that second dose, but they are still dealing with the shock of it. So, a med that is slower to come on and slower to come off might be helpful.

What worked for me when I was a kid was the doctor would prescribe Ritalin in the morning to help with the motivation and concentration, and then about 6 hours later I would get a low dose of Dexedrine. It allowed me to come off the medication less abruptly and I felt much calmer. No more meltdowns.

tonyd0517
10-28-15, 09:34 AM
The medications make it possible to better control the symptoms of ADHD. In my case, I was very sensitive to how and when the medication started and stopped working.

Again, this is my experience only. But, I noticed that Ritalin and Concerta were very strong and noticeable when they kicked in. I could identify the exact moment when they started working. Adderall was a little bit better, but I could still tell when it kicked in and when it left my system. With Dexedrine, I could barely tell when it started or stopped. It helped me control my symptoms, and I rarely even noticed I was taking it. In short, I felt normal.

I ranked off the charts in the hyperactivity aspect of the disorder. So, if a medication stopped working suddenly, as it did with Ritalin and Concerta, it was too much to handle all those emotions and thoughts that came rushing in. On more active days, this would result in a complete and total meltdown. If it was a subdued day where very little happened, I might be able to control it.

Some medications start and stop working so fast, itís like a roller coaster ride. Especially if you have to give second or third doses throughout the day, this can cause problems with sensitive individuals. They are constantly going up and down on the spectrum of symptom severity. That would be hard for anyone.

Youíve never taken medication, but maybe you can understand it this way. Letís say youíre sitting peacefully in your home, and then you get a phone call and are informed someone very close to you has passed away. You then get a call a few minutes later from someone who tells you the previous phone call was a mistake and your loved one is fine.

The flux of emotions is similar to what someone with severe symptoms might experience. They may be calm after that second dose, but they are still dealing with the shock of it. So, a med that is slower to come on and slower to come off might be helpful.

What worked for me when I was a kid was the doctor would prescribe Ritalin in the morning to help with the motivation and concentration, and then about 6 hours later I would get a low dose of Dexedrine. It allowed me to come off the medication less abruptly and I felt much calmer. No more meltdowns.

Wow, I appreciate how open you are about all of this and how you were able to "dumb it down" for me. He is a pretty sensitive kid (i hear about any and all teasing, no matter how minor, that happens at school every day). I will definitely look into the milder onset medication, like Dexidrine. We have our first session with a psychiatrist this afternoon, I am hoping she takes over his medical treatment, something tells me she will be more in tune with what he is going through and what we are seeing than his pediatrician.

Thank you all again so much for your help on this. like I said before, This is all very new to me so it is great to have a place I can go and get advice and maybe hear things from my son's perspective that he is not able to verbalize to me.