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  1. #1
    Percycat is online now Platinum level (1000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

    Default What is normal for a 13 year old boy?

    I don't know if I should post in this forum or the special needs forum. My husband and I are struggling with my delightful son, who at different times is emotional/moody, bounces off the walls happy, forgetful and clueless, and takes medicine for ADHD. My husband is more involved with the regular doctor appointments/prescriptions and he asked me to post the following --- Thanks for reading and sharing your insight:

    What should normal look like? Our DS is 13, exceptionally gifted, and has ADD. He has a hard time starting things and has a difficult time staying focused on tasks. In the mornings he is bouncing off the wall, humming songs to the point of irritation, and unfocused. He takes his he two ADD meds and runs out the door to catch the bus and is off to school where he is calmer and starts off the day with classes he naturally enjoys – math and science. He struggles with English later in the day, but writing is not his thing. He comes home mid/late afternoon and will work on homework and usually gets most of it done. However, long term projects are a struggle for him. He is a picky eater (very very picky eater) and slow eater and dinner averages anywhere from half an hour to an hour (but sometimes even longer!). Any chores like dishes, cleaning his room, taking out the trash, etc.; and practicing the piano are unfocused and require almost constant redirects. We are wondering what realistic expectations are for a teenager taking the “right” dosage of the “right” meds should look like. How do we factor in that most teenagers have messy rooms and don’t want to do chores; or the fact they are learning how to be students their whole lives? If he is dialed in correctly for his medications, should we expect him to have the ability to be focused on his tasks throughout the day? Should he be a voracious eater like other teenage boys his age? However, we don’t want him doped up because of the meds all day either. It’s one of those we don’t know what we don’t know. Should we be satisfied with, “he’s somewhat focused at school,” and continue as we are outside of school, or is there more that we can expect?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    MA, USA.


    I have a 12-1/2 yr old boy and aside from the ADD diagnosis/meds and the picky eating, you are describing my son! He will be 13 in August and is in the 7th grade.

    The picky eating or slow eating is not my son at all. Granted, there are things he likes/dislikes, but it's never been a battle for us.

    He isn't diagnosed ADD or anything, but definitely is borderline in that department. It is hard to keep him "on task" for things he doesn't have interest in doing (homework!) but Legos and animation can keep his attention for hours. If he is "amped up" for whatever reason, it's really hard to get him to calm down, re-focus, etc. He is often told that he "just doesn't know when to stop", especially when arguing or having fun with his brother (11 yrs old).

    My son does get reports of lack of attention in school but not always, and not always the same class. It varies.

    I think your son sounds pretty least it's close to our normal
    Mom to 2 hockey-playing, Lego-loving boys DS1 2003 & DS2 2005

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    DC Suburbs


    I have zero experience. But my good friend who has kids from 1st grade to mid 20s told me that her son used to get a small dose of meds in the afternoon just to help him get his tasks done. He's a fine, well-adjusted adult now. So, maybe ask your ped if that's an option?
    Mommy to my wonderful, HEALTHY twin girls
    6/08 - Preemies no more!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    My son is young, and I'm not familiar with parenting a kid with ADD, but I do have some experience with my twin cousins who are now juniors in high school. One is incredibly brilliant and looking at the top colleges/universities in the country. I remember distinctly when they were 13/14 my cousin, their mom, having an exasperated discussion with them about their inability to move along from task to task and get anything accomplished, and she specifically mentioned eating meals in any kind of timely fashion. DS was 4 at the time, and we all joked together about all the things he could accomplish more efficiently and independently than they could. (The twins initiated the comparison. It wasn't an attempt to demean them.) my point is that I think your 14 year old is pretty normal, ADD and meds or not.

    Sent from my iPhone using Baby Bargains mobile app

  5. #5
    bnme is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Sep 2002
    Long Island, NY.


    I have 2 DSs, a 13 yo (typical kid, no ADD) and an 11.5 yo with ADD. I think the things you describe sound pretty typical IF they are not to extremes that over-take everything else. If you can get him to do chores, projects with prompting and nagging that is probably pretty normal. If it turns into melt downs and tantrums it may be an issue that needs to be addressed. I find my ADD son also has trouble focusing on these types of things in the late afternoon and early evening, but we are able to work through them and I think they are good experiences to help him learn to cope with/manages his issues. But if these situations occurred premedication they would be much different and not manageable with no positive outcome.

    Mom to JT 1/03 and TJ 8/04

  6. #6
    gatorsmom is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Oct 2003


    Is your DS seeing a behavioral therapist? I have an almost 13yo boy with very mild ADD and I have an 8yo with extreme ADHD. It was recommended to us that in order to really help the 8yo he should get medication as well as behavior therapy. A therapist should be able to tell you what he should be capable of. Also, what does his teacher say? Does he turn in homework on time? Does he obey verbal and written commands? What works for him to succeed at school?

    I will ill tell you when my DS3's meds wear off he has a very hard time staying on task. I'm am constantly redirecting him. My other 2 boys will set the table, empty the clean dishes from the dishwasher and out them away, take my groceries out of bags and generally out them in the right place in the pantry although I may have to ask them a few times because they don't want to do it. All of their rooms are messy and it takes at least the threat of reduced iPad time to get them to pick them up. But then they do it reasonably well on their own and come tell me when it's done. With my DS with ADHD I have to stand in his room and tell him what to do. When his medication is working, however, he will get it done without redirection. My oldest one is a little forgetful and slightly lazy about getting stuff done (which might be the add at work) but he gets things accomplished with visual lists posted around the house as well as mental memory tricks that seem to work for him.

    I work very very closely with DS3's teacher. She know how she expects her students to behave and although DS3 has ADHD, she knows he's on medication and is trying to bring his behavior up to the same level as his peers. She emails me to tell me how he did that day, how distracted he was, and we work on ways via email to help him succeed. Iiwy, I'd start with your teacher. Hth!
    Last edited by gatorsmom; 04-29-2016 at 07:32 PM.
    "People are made for happiness. Rightly then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him." -St. John Paul II

  7. #7
    pastrygirl is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
    Join Date
    May 2006
    New England.


    My son is almost 10, and when on the right dose of meds, does all chores/homework and stays focused through bedtime.

    In the morning before meds, he's out of control, extremely noisy and unfocused, etc. I have to be with him the whole time he is getting ready and eating breakfast. If I step away, he stops doing what he's supposed to be doing.

    I don't imagine this part will change when he is 13.

    As for being a picky and slow eater, most ADHD meds are appetite suppressants. My son doesn't eat nearly as much as he used to. And yes, meals can take up to 1.5 hours with me or my husband sitting there reminding him to eat every few minutes. It's very frustrating.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004


    He sounds pretty normal for 13 year old boy ADD or not. They are teens and tons of development happening but also loss of focus, not thinking things through etc. He is on meds and those often cause even voracious eaters to eat less and common off label use for many ADD meds is for weight loss for that reason. If he is doing well at school and can regulate his behavior there, I would keep providing scaffolding for long term projects and day to day things you want done. I was gifted and no ADD and never kept my room clean either or did other things without reminders.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    egoldber's Avatar
    egoldber is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Oct 2001
    Northern VA, USA.


    As ADHD kids move into MS, and especially HS, it is common for them to need an afternoon booster, even if they did not need one in ES. The demands on their ability to concentrate later in the day are just much higher.

    My older DD is now in HS and she never needed an afternoon booster for ES or MS (but many kids do). But HS is a new ballgame. If she takes an afternoon booster, she can get her HW done easily and in a focused way. If she doesn't then she can struggle for hours with the same set of work.

    Long term projects can be especially challenging for ADHD kids, even more so if there is a bit of anxiety in there as well. We have an organizational coach who comes to work with her one day each weekend, to help her plan out her work for the week and make a weekly plan of what she needs to get done. Sure this something we could do with her, but it would be a huge battle. She and the coach get it done in 20 minutes. They spend the remaining time working on specific skills like note taking, study techniques, etc.

    Meds have not really affected older DD's appetite, but it is very common. I would try to make sure he eats a big breakfast, has a big afternoon snack, and perhaps even a pre-bedtime snack.
    Beth, mom to older DD (8/01) and younger DD (10/06) and always missing Leah (4/22 - 5/1/05)

  10. #10
    California is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Feb 2009


    I work with middle schoolers, but am not a doctor.

    Emotional/moody: Very normal. Warning signs are if he is depressed for several days in a row, acts violently towards himself or others, or ever talks about harming himself. If he's just temperamental at times, that's normal hormonal surges that his body is still learning to regulate.

    Bounces off the walls happy: See above. Also normal. If he's been sitting at school a lot, exercise can help burn off that energy.

    Chores/afternoon schedule: Here, to me, it sounds like his struggles with focusing, starting and continuing work are probably being exacerbated by the ADD. If you want to try something other than meds first, you could try simplifying what he has to do, making it routine, and setting some reminders.
    - Simplifying cleaning his room: some things that help are to declutter his room as much as possible, simplify the bedding on his bed, clear out any outgrown clothing.
    - Routine/reminders: If he's got a phone, there are chore apps where you two can create a list and it'll give him a reminders. A simple chart he can check off would work also.
    If you are looking for comparisons, just about all the kids I work with who are neurotypical can follow a consistent, established routine of completing tasks and picking up after themselves in the afternoon. They sometimes need reminders because they are putting off the work- but, that's them not wanting to do it. It sounds like with your DS it's not that he doesn't want to do the work, he actually doesn't remember what he's supposed to do.

    Meals: Some kids really are slow eaters, or spend so much time talking it takes them a long time to finish. So I don't have a "typical teen" for that one as the ones I work with adjust to whatever time is given for the meal. They can eat really fast if they want to play a game. Or take really long if they are enjoying a conversation.

    Has your son gotten his foot growth spurt yet? If his feet are jumping up in sizes, that's often when food intake increases as the body is preparing for a jump in height.

    From what you are describing it might help to ask about an afternoon booster. That is pretty common. Rather than thinking of it as having him doped all day, it may help to think of it as keeping steady support through the day. My brother is highly gifted and has ADHD, and my mom didn't give him meds but rather focused on getting him extra behavioral support. I don't think one approach is better than another, if the approach taken helps your DS from feeling frustrated and he's generally thriving.

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