Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Re: New here
Welcome to the board, I'm certain you will find help here.
As a qualifier, I will inform you that I do not have children of my own, so may little qualified to speak to specifics here, view my comments in that light. I have spent my life living with ADHD, however, and my girlfriend's children all have it, so I have experienced some parental issues second hand.
I'm never one to favour medicating children. Children tend to react differently to ADHD medications than do adults, and often experience a very negative feeling while medicated; reporting feeling like a zombie, unable to feel emotion, and inability to get enjoyment from any activity. Assuming you have not already done so, it is my suggestion that you research dietary and supplemental options (such as Omega-3s, keeping in mind that animal-based options such as fish oil are far superior to plant-based options, such as flax), rather than medication. That said, I know many parents do medicate successfully, so take my opinion for what it is.
It's unfortunate that school has become such a locked down environment that any deviation from the norm is very negatively perceived. When I was a child (in the late '70s, early '80s), a fight was a fight and was punished accordingly, but didn't have life-altering effects; likewise, kids who were hyperactive were considered 'class clowns,' and were tolerated rather than shipped off to 'special' classes or medicated. We've demonized the 'boys will be boys' attitude of previous generations, but I think that, in time, we'll come to realize that there was a lot of validity there. Boys are constructed differently than girls and are far less likely to be passive and quiet, regardless of how teachers react to that. We're forcing our boys to keep quiet and submit unquestioningly to authority, then we decry the fact that our young men are risk averse and passive. It is my fervent belief that a large number of the ADHD diagnoses from this generation will be recognized down the road as boys being boys. I feel that the school system has become unwilling to work with children, preferring to segregate any child that represents a challenge to their absolute authority in the classroom.
My girlfriend ultimately made the decision to remove her children from the school system and home school them, as she felt it was less destructive to their self esteem than being relegated to 'special' classes. I have observed that it's common for ADHD children to feel stupid, having been relegated; a feeling that, once internalized, can drastically affect their life chances (researching 'Labeling Theory' is illuminating here). I'll spare you the details of the lives of my girlfriend's children, but all are doing very well in their late teens/early 20s, which I believe would not have been the case if they'd stayed in school.
Of course, I understand that not everyone has the option to home school, but I would recommend that you be aggressive in dealing with the schools on your son's behalf. Schools are interested only in the middle of the bell curve, and regardless of their protestations, are little interested in outliers. If your son does become relegated to 'special' classes, make sure he understands that he is not stupid, and has the ability to achieve the same or more than his peers.
As to your specific questions. Yes, your ADHD son will be more likely to lie to you than his non-ADHD siblings, especially as regards homework and chores. Don't allow this. I know it's a delicate balance, you want to trust him, but you don't want to be blind about it. I think the best thing is to take his word, but be strong about calling him on any lies you discover. If he tells you he's done his homework, make sure to double check. He will hate you for it in the short term, but will be far happier in the long term.
I wouldn't recommend double punishment unless his crime is particularly heinous. Don't be afraid to let him know that you're aware of his activities and transgressions at school, and be willing to validate the school's authority to punish, but make sure that he knows it's about the behaviour, not a flaw inherent to his character. Never let him accept a label, make sure he knows he's a person who is as valid and capable as anyone, but make it clear that you expect him to learn what behaviours are appropriate to specific environments and situations.