Getting a Diagnosis for ADHD in High School

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pediatric neuropsychologists Ubogy and Bernou

July 2015

We would like to get a neuropsych workup for my teenager (possible ADHD, OCD), and Seth Ubogy and Elea Bernou have both been recommended. Neither seems to have been reviewed yet on this website. Would love to hear your thoughts about both of them! Anonymous

Elea Bernou is wonderful. She is very thorough with her evaluations and her recommendations. She is a very knowledgable and kind person and really takes the time to get to know the child she is evaluatiing. I have had experience with her both professionally (I am an OT) and personally as she helped a relative of mine. Debra

We highly recommend Dr. Ubogy for neuropsych testing. He is easy to relate with, thorough and our son liked him. Dr Ubogy performed the typical test;Problem Solving, Planning and Abstract Thinking, Attention and Concentration... He talked with our sons school, therapist and specialist. We feel like we gained a better understanding of our sons strengths and weaknesses. Our son was given information to help him succeed in school. And, we had written plan for his teachers. You mentioned that there was no info on him on BPN. There was a recent inquiry on Dr. Ubogy with responses about a couple of months ago. We were still in the process with him and I responded that it was going well and I saw a few other replies.

I do not have experience with the doctor you asked about, but I can give a strong recommendation for Dr Marianna Eraklis in Orinda. We had the exact same assessment for our 10 year old daughter. Dr. Eraklis has a great rapport with my daughter and has helped us greatly with strategies to manage her ADHD at home and at school. Mom of ADHD girl


14 yo Won't Accept ADHD Diagnosis, neither does Dad

Mar 2012

My 14 yr old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD 7 yrs ago (re-evaluated and confirmed last year, both times by Gary Landman, behavioral pediatrician). In brief, we did a short trial of medication shortly after diagnosis, too short to see any results, and her father did not see the value in giving it more time. Fast forward to her first year of high school and she is struggling with the same issues she faced in elementary and middle school. Namely, inability to focus in class, doesn't write down the assignments, doesn't do much of the homework or projects or prepare for tests. She can usually perform well enough in one class that she pins her failures in the other classes on her teachers. They call her out more, they weren't clear about what the assignment was, the work is boring (please don't focus on the boring issue as her the issue is not that she's not being challenged), etc., etc.

She refuses to accept an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. There is clearly a genetic component as both her father and I have siblings, nephews, etc. with ADHD. It's likely her dad has ADD also, but he, too, is in denial.

Her father and I have been divorced for 4 yrs and he is very anti-medication, he derailed another trial of medication, scaring the crap out of her in regards to medication side-effects, yet he does nothing to acknowledge and make accommodations to help her be successful in view of the challenges ADD presents. He has an extremely hands-off approach, thinking somehow she will miraculously be successful in spite of her difficulties focusing.

If we presented a united front, I think she would be more amenable to trying medication. All I've asked of her is to give it a fair trial and then she can decide, she refuses. At this point I would like to go to family counseling with her and discuss ADD management. Freshman year is almost over, the clock is ticking and I fear she will continue to fail if something doesn't change. BTW, she meets with a tutor/mentor 2x/wk when she's with me, her father refuses to have her tutored in his home even though I've offered to pay.

Any recommendations for a good family therapist? I am not interested in any fringe treatment approaches, no offense. I'm interested in how other families have handled the issue of ADD acceptance and treatment with their teen.

Thank you. mother who cares have the exact same ex-husband as I do! I have a 14-year-old son who has been diagnosed with ADD, but his father (my ex) is totally against medications and has brainwashed our son against taking them (only mentally ill people take drugs, you will become dependent, they have side effects, etc.). I have a friend who is a pediatrician who has his own daughter on ADD drugs and swears by the difference they have made in his daughter's ex won't even consider talking with him. I've come to the conclusion that there's not that much I can do to change the situation. It is what it is and my son loves and respects his dad's opinions... Unfortunately, it is my son's loss.

Testing high schooler for ADD/other: BHS and/or private resources? Kaiser?

Mar 2012

Hi, We are discovering somewhat late that our child may have ADD and/or another learning issue. Has anyone had success with getting BHS (e.g., BUSD) to assess your child for learning differences, and how did you go about it? We have heard that they will fight very hard not to do the testing; is this what you found?

Given that it's rather late for him, we're also prepared to get private testing, but have no idea where to begin on this. We belong to Kaiser, if that helps (or if anyone has tried it there and can weigh in).

Where did you go for private testing, what did it entail, and how much was it? Any and all resources and recommendations are welcome! Thanks Need testing information / help

Public schools cannot diagnose ADHD. They can help a physician/neuropsych/psychiatrist with information that will be used to diagnose ADHD. Kaiser has a process for diagnosing ADHD. They also have some support services for families with ADHD. Otherwise, you can go to a private behavioral pediatrician or neuropsych who specializes in attention issues; this will be much more expensive than going through Kaiser. Public school funds are being streamlined as special needs are increasing. Getting extra services is tougher as resources diminish. Private parties such as educational therapists can provide targeted support for families dealing with ADHD and attention issues.

My son was tested at Kaiser while in 9th grade. We had no problem with getting him tested, he did come up positive for ADD, and they were happy to write a letter to the school, which included the test results. My son now has an IEP at Berkeley H.S. You need to call the Pediatric Behavioral Health Program at Kaiser to set up an appt. mom of two teens

Intelligent 10th grader's grades are steadily worsening

Oct 2011

Hello BPN, My 10th grader's in trouble. He is highly intelligent as proven by umpteen tests, yet he can't get to school on time, can't turn in homework, and is failing or below C in every single class, including PE! His grades have been getting steadily worse since he started middle school until he's now hit the lowest of the low. SST meetings at school formerly resulted in nothing other than ''he'll grow out of it''. Now, the SST suggested testing him for ADD. We are a low income family and are now looking for someone reasonably priced to come daily and sit with him while he does homework, make sure it gets into his homework folder, show him time management strategies, etc. How does one find a great tutor at a low price? I'd be grateful for recommendations for tutors that have worked for you and would welcome any advice anyone can give me if they have ever been through this heart ache.

If your son is having consistent troubles in his classes, and is in public school, you can write a letter asking the school to test him for learning differences including ADHD. Look at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund ( web site for more information on how to do this. From your posting, it sounds like you and the school need to know more about how he is processing information. anon

Even before I got to the line in which you wrote that SST is suggesting testing for ADD, I guessed he has it. My 10th grader does but luckily he was diagnosed in 1st grade. It is very trying and I cannot understand how kids get to HS without it being recognized. I think the schools wish ''he'll grow out of it'' so that they don't have to provide services. But they do. The school district is required by federal law to test him and if he does have ADD, they must provide accomodations and services. Since I don't have a lot of space to respond here, my best advice to you is to call DREDF, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. 510.644.2555 or info [at] They will educate you on your rights at no cost to you. I don't know if they can help you find a tutor, but they will probably have some ideas. ADD is a disability. He may also benefit from medication. Best of luck to you. Living with ADHD and it does get better

We think our 17 yo has inattentive ADD

June 2011

We believe our 17 yr old has ADHD. This is not a new feeling, we've suspected it for a while. Our child would be inattentive type if diagnosed. Our child is easily distracted, takes hours to finish homework, doesn't always remember to turn in work or other important documents on time, won't use resources at school for those who can help (counselors, talk w/teachers) and a procrastinator.

While a very good student, the past 3 months have seen a downturn in interest and motivation. Not to mention no interest in looking at college info, just thinks it will all happen. Even started failing some classes, but has since improved.

I have no idea how we will get through Sr. year and college process if our child dosen't embrace the realities of all the requirements necessary to apply to college. I know, perhaps a gap year is in order, yes, but we need our child to want this, not just do it because they cannot get their act together.

It is hard when child thinks it's OK to take risks at critical times like Junior/Sr. year. From what I read/hear, college dosen't just happen and I'm very worried parents will get burnt out in trying to have our child understand consequences of not being engaged right now.

We plan on having an ADHD evaluation, and have some family therapy to discuss how we can all get along with all the deadlines approaching in next 8 months. Any words of wisdom, family therapy/adolescent therapy recommendations, ADHD recommendations (we can't afford Dr. Berman), etc. would be very appreciated. overwhelmed is not the word

You have listed a lot of issues around teen sons and ADHD. It is overwhelming and horribly distressing to see this unfolding in your own home. Trust me I have been there. It might be good to pick off one thing and start there. Doing well in school is of utmost importance for everything to come. Consider a serious incentive program with him if he can't seem to motivate on his own. ''Big juicy carrots'' is what they say these guys need. With Summer coming maybe he does a particular thing he is good at. Engineer a little success in one area and see if that influences other things. Do what you need to, do not give up. Seek professionals that you trust. The economy sucks maybe they will lower their fees to gain another patient? Get school accomodations in place if he needs them and he might do better and feel better too. Importantly, if your son is smoking pot and it sounds like he might be, that must stop. It is a non-starter for everything else. Sadly people w/ ADHD want to self-medicate w/ pot because for a while it works, but, ultimately it's the path to self-defeat. You are beginning what will likely be a very trying time period. But it is does end. We thought our guy would never get there and he's off to college. Now I only hope that he will actually attend class. Mom of an ADHD boy

We went through a similarly murky process to try and get a definitive diagnosis as to whether our teenage son had ADHD; he had many of the same symptoms you listed for your son. ADHD is a term or diagnosis that seems to get thrown around quite loosely; we were looking for a definitive,analytical approach especially since it may involve medications in the future. Our experiences were that 1) schools rarely make a definitive assessment when testing a child, because to do so would commit them to a number of support services that cost the school district money that they don't want to spend. 2) the behavior questions asked by the pediatrician (at least ours) were so non-specific that a huge swath of the US population could be diagnosed with the syndrome. 3) We chose formal testing by an educational psychologist that had been recommended to us. He does not do any individual therapy, just testing, so he has no financial incentive to ''find'' ADHD in the children he tests. The process involved about 6 hrs of recognizable tests (I'm an NP of 31 yrs) and he made a definitive dx. of ADHD. Both the pediatrician and the school accepted his results. It took some nudging to get the school to initiate support services in the classroom.We chose a medication trial instead of organizational training and support.Our son's grades improved immediately, and he reported that he could ''feel'' the impact of the drug and when it wore off.

We did not search out and compare different psychologists, since we had a recommendation from a trusted psychologist. The educational psychologist who did the testing was Alan Siegal, PhD in Berkeley, and his phone # is (510) 527-7929. If additional information would be helpful, I can be reached at (510) 814-8134. Good luck on this tough journey! Kate

I could have written your post, with the exception that our son is one year younger. We too are in the midst of seeking every shred of help we can find to keep our son's academic ship from hitting the shoals. One idea you might consider: we have hired an educational consultant, Betsy Kaye (925-284-7229), to work with our son at least once a week over the summer. She will serve as both a writing tutor and information conduit to all things college prep. She has done one session with him and it was a complete home run. She's very savvy about school politics, is warm and engaging (our son loves her), and understands that she needs to meet him where he is which isn't anywhere near his abilities with humor and understanding.

I'd love to hear what you learn from other parents in this amazing network if anyone responds to you directly. Or, if you'd like to commiserate please get my information from the moderator. Good luck! Worried too

Testing for ADHD and possible dyslexia for teen

Nov 2010

Does anyone know of a good therapist that can provide testing for ADHD and possible dyslexia? I don't have a lot of money, but can pay over time/installments. How much does such testing cost? I understand that UCB provides testing - the cost is $700 to $2,000; Clearwater Clinic is at upper ned of that that reasonable?

We were recently referred to Marianna Eraklis,MD, a behavioral pediatrician. She came highly recommended, kids and parents both give her good reviews (check online), and she charges $1,800 for an evaluation - questionnaire, parent meeting, child meeting (2 hrs), and follow up parent meeting with recommendations. We haven't met with her yet but have talked by phone, and I felt like she addressed our concerns well. Pat

Gifted 9th grader with possible AHDH

Nov 2009

Have a very young 9th grader struggling academically and socially in public high school. Currently being tested (suspect ADHD) and, if so, is twice exceptional. Giftedness likely masked his ADHD symptoms all these years. He is a bit nerdy, immature, underweight. Would like to hear from other parents about what has worked to help newly diagnosed 2E teens thrive? Most ADHD help classes are geared for elementary school children. (If only he had been so lucky to have been properly diagnosed early on). Would love to hear from others what worked and what didn't work.
- Prescription meds, if so, which, and how were the side effects?
- Alternative treatment?
- Coaching?
- Counseling for teen? for parents?
- Skills class?
- Biofeedback?
- Do you have a great doctor (psychiatrist) who ''gets'' 2e kids, if so, feel free to share his/her name. Thank you one and all. Signed, New to 2E

Last year we discovered our 8th grade daughter has ADHD (w/o hyperactivity), after struggling all 3 years in middle school. Over the summer, she started taking Strattera (not stimulant ADHD med). Now, her first year in high school, things are going great. She has A's, and 2 B's, and she is accountable for her own homework (no more excuses, etc.) Strattera takes about 5-6 weeks to start working, which is why summer was a great time to start it. Now there are no side effects, but the first two weeks were rocky. She was nauseated and had no appetite, and had mild sleep disturbances. Strattera stays in your system 24/7, so there are no peaks and crashes. She does not seem ''different'' in any way, except happier and more confident. She's actually enjoying school for the first time in 3 years. I wish we had an earlier diagnosis so we could have started treatment sooner. Now in high school, she's repeating the math class she failed last year (getting an A currently). It's never an easy decision to medicate your child, but for us, it was the right one. Our daughter has been seeing a therapist prior to ADHD discovery, and still continues. Our pediatrician is Dr. Nash at Alamo Medical. After he told us the pros cons of all the meds available, my daughter ultimately made the decision to try Stratter. Good luck to you, and if you would like to have more information, ask moderator for my email. concerned mom

Our daughter is exceptionally bright with a myriad of learning differences including ADHD. She too is in High School but was diagnosed earlier. She is on Concerta. I fought against putting her on medication for many years however she asked for them in 8th Grade and I honored her request. It has helped exhorbitantly. She can focus more in class and I don't think she could navigate her High School classes without it. She has few side effects. Some headaches the first few weeks of taking it but she says that they disappeared after her body adjusted.

What is most important though is that your son truly understands how his brain works. To that end, I can't say enough about Dr. Teresa Doyle. She is a neuropsychologist who has a unique insight to kids with learning differences and she and her staff after testing are able to discuss with you and your son his strengths and weaknesses. As a psychologist, she can offer counseling as well.

After filtering through and administering more tests, what she also can do is a project with your son that helps explain to him and to his teachers his learning differences. By presenting this himself, he at that point will become his own and best self advocate. Projects can be anything from artwork, to a written and bound book, to a power point (my daughter's choice) or anything that your son and Terry decide on. As an example, my daughter's Power Point has been shown for the last two years to her teachers with great success. With a little ''tweaking'' it can even be shown to professors in College.

I know if you have a diagnosis, you have already had some tests administered and interpreted (we did too) but I still think you should contact Terry. She is on College Ave and her number is 510- 594-1926. She is pretty amazing.

I also know that as this is your first plunge into the pool of learning differences, this can sometimes be an overwhelming and costly experience. You have my empathy. The best thing you can do is make sure your son understands who he is, how his uniqueness will ultimately help him and encourage him to understand that school is just a small window in time where people expect him to excell in everything and once he finds his passion and profession his unique brain will be a magnificent aid. anon

Our 14-year-old daughter is twice exceptional, too: gifted and emotionally disturbed (anxiety and depression). She was miserable in a traditional middle school due to social aggression from other girls. We pulled her out and she now is thriving at a school that values her specialness. It's the Envision Academy in Oakland, a charter school that is the quality of excellent private schools but is free because it's paid for by public funds. Envision is pioneering learning centering around projects and numerous other alternative approaches to learning. I highly recommend it. Search this site for reviews, including mine. I did have to advocate for accommodations for her giftedness. I recently donated 2 books and a CD to the school on Teaching the Gifted in a Regular Classroom. It included over a hundred sheets developed by experienced teachers that show in detail how to teach the gifted in a regular setting. These have ''primed'' the pump with her teachers, the learning specialist, the school psychologist and the principal, and they welcomed my input. It sounds like your son would fit well in this school community and thrive there too. Nancy

Brad Berman, Walnut Creek behavioral pediatrician, diagnosed our son. When consistent routine in both houses (we're divorced) was unachievable, ADHD meds showed minimal side effects. Big breakfast, snack & late dinner (after meds wear off) help with less appetite. Late puberty's a plus; evaluating meds is harder with hormonal changes. Berman said 1500mg/day of fish oil helps some ADHD kids. Alternative therapies use more supplements & diet control, conflicting with autonomy, fitting in with peers, & was unenforceable. I told him caffeine's bad with his meds & sugar's not great for ADHD; Sam avoids caffeine.

Meds helped class/homework focus & behavior, but a 504 plan (which took a year) was also needed. Accommodations address intellect (reduced routine tasks) & social challenges (a focused friend in each class) as much as the ADHD that qualifies him for the 504.

Your son's individual issues determine needed help. Poor executive function & frustrated intellect can hurt social interactions or be compounded by anxiety or depression. Your diagnostician can identify the issues, leads for help, school options/accommodations. Diagnosis brings realistic expectations & tools to support your son. If a parent may have ADHD, get assessed & treated; it's a modeling opportunity that helps everyone. Talk therapy didn't help Sam, but the relationship's there just in case. He did biofeedback training, but doesn't use the skills - or organizational skills from Linda Lawton, educational consultant, but he liked learning about ADHD itself. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy requires motivated clients.

Sam's best in focused AP classes & structured extra-curriculars like orchestra. He resists homework & refused programs (Classroom Matters) & tutoring. He likes after-school tutoring at school, not for content help, but a no-stigma setting for all: he goes as needed to finish homework. More autonomy, fewer home battles. Some hire college kids to keep a kid homework-focused, then reward with fun after.

CHADD offers parent support groups, speakers, useful links. is for parents of easily frustrated or inflexible kids, common to some with ADHD (The Explosive Child by Ross Greene is great).

Your son will partner in identifying what works as you go. Some bright ADHD kids tire of a new routine once it's no longer novel. Expect a few sure bets & lots of improvisation. Try to enjoy the ride. Anon

It took us until age 12 to get our son diagnosed as well. I work professionally with kids, so I knew he had it. But like your son, he is very bright and was able to hide it quite well. I only just started him on Adderal last month. I didn't want to, because he's already on asthma drugs. But the very first day into the trial, I asked him how it went. He said ''mom, everything just made sense.'' His symptoms had gotten a lot worse over the past year, which his 6th grade teachers would be likely because the social scene ramps up so much in 7th grade. Not to mention puberty, etc. We did work with an OT through the school years ago and found that to be helpful. OT's are really good at teaching kids mechanisms/tools for self-management. Good luck! mom in similar scenario

I am an educational therapist who specializes in treating AD/HD. One of the first recommendations I make to my clients is that they consult the website of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) and follow the link to the National Clearinghouse for Information on AD/HD which CHADD cosponsors with the CDC. There you can find information about all the treatments you listed, and you can access research studies that might help you make up your mind about things like medication and neurofeedback. You might want to join (it's only $45 per year) because you receive a monthly magazine that keeps you up to date on research and timely topics across the lifespan, free attendance at support groups for parents, and discounts on AD/HD related stuff and the annual conference. A great book for teens to read is ADHD and ME, What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table, by Blake Taylor. Blake is a very accomplished young man and the book is full of good information and pretty entertaining. Good luck! Linda

We had our son diagnosed with ADHD at the end of 8th grade, and are also regretful that we waited so long. Although the school was willing to test him, they would not (cannot) make the diagnosis. We got recommendations from our pediatrician for a developmental pediatrician to handle the diagnosis and treatment. We selected Marianna Eraklis, MD , in Orinda, to work with our son and we couldn't be happier. She is really a wonderful person and doctor; compassionate, patient, great communicator, accessible and humorous. (She even gives out her cellphone # if you really need to speak with her.) We decided to try medication and our son responded really well. We see her every 3 months so he can talk with her and we have tweaked his dosage and even the actual meds. He is so happy and grateful to be dealing with his ADHD. I know he feels a huge relief to be feeling more alert and really able to block out outside stimulation and focus in class. He is also more functional at home, which has really improved our home life and decreased tensions. We all pitched in to make his room more well organized; everything from hooks for his clothes, boards for writing down memos, to changing and clearing his study area. He has pulled up his grades really significantly this fall, learned to approach his teachers, and he feels so much better about himself. We have lowered his dose recently because he had lost quite a bit of weight. That was ok, since he was slightly pudgy before,(he is thrilled), but Dr. Eraklis thought he could be less stimulated, so we are now working with another, non-stimulating med, which seems really good. I only wish we had done this sooner! We are all much happier. P.S. We all read a couple different books, one by a kid with ADHD, and my husband and I read a couple for parents, which were helpful. (Browse the bookstore or Amazon.) Her contact info: Dr. Marianna Eraklis db pediatrics 925-254-4000 Happier mom and kid

As the mother of a child with ADHD, I suggest you contact Dr. Mariana Eraklis (Orinda). She will be able to diagnose your child and recommend a course of action - including services that need to be provided by the school, outside services that may be helpful, and medication, if appropriate. I see you have asked for specific recommendations regarding medication. I would urge you to disregard any specific recommendations you receive. There is no magic bullet that works for each kid. Dr. Eraklis can explain to you how each of the drugs out there works. Unfortunately, medication is a trial and error process. It took us a long time to figure out what works for our kid - but some people have success right away. Lastly - don't beat yourself up about not having an accurate diagnosis in years gone by. Many people are not diagnosed with ADHD until they are adults! You are ahead of the curve. Fellow parent

Teen has just been diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type)

May 2008

We've just completed the testing on my HS teen, who has been diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type). We are about to begin the 504 process to get help through the school. However, this disability has affected our home life (and even more so now that we are dealing with a teenager who gets emotional). I really do not have a sense of what I do (as a parent of an ADHD child) to make life easier for all of us at home. My child resents our acting as room monitors but otherwise homework or a project (such as cleaning the bedroom) may not get completed. What should I care about and what should I let go? How do you keep them focused without becoming an ogre? My teen seems to rely on us to fill in the gaps but sometimes, I feel like I am doing too much. Medication may not be an option because my child is currently opposed to it and I feel this has to be a joint decision. On the other hand, it takes so long for anything to get completed that it seems like my teen loses out.

I have read the books but now I am looking for classes or training for how we, as the parents, should deal with everyday experiences. There has got to be something more than just putting a label on a kid or thinking the school will fix everything

Also, I would appreciate any updated recommendations on local occupational therapists. Thanks so much!! anonymous

We have an ADHD (inattentive type) son also. We did several things of the course of a few years (and researched everything!).

The first thing we did was to find a therapist for our son (a child psychiatrist) and a family therapist (Licensed MFC) for us as parents. It was important to us that we learn how to support him so he didn't feel like we were nagging him all the time and for us to be able to filter out what was important (studying, getting to school on time, making good choices with spare time) vs that with which we could live (messy room, messy-looking homework). Besides the formal process of getting and IEP in place, we also worked with his teachers so a) they would understand what certain behavior could be attributed to, and b) so they could develop a feedback system for him so he could participate in the monitoring of his behavior.

We, too, were trepidatious about medication. We didn't initially put him on medication because he didn't want to but made sure he was fully informed about choices and what was being recommended. After a year and a half in therapy and NOT on medication, our son, himself, asked for medication. In just a few days, after adjusting the dose, he could see the difference, as could we. A couple of years later with letters of admission to several universities and colleges, he - and we - are happy as clams.

In summary, the combination of therapy, medication, and total family commitment is helping with a better outcome. Hang in there! Another parent of an ADHD son

I too struggle with this issue with my son. A friend recommended the book, ''Bright Minds, Poor Grades: Understanding and Motivating your Underachieving Child'' by Michael D. Whitley. I just purchased it and I am still reading through it, but already see much potential in its 10 step program. I found the book on Amazon, used. Hope this helps! Donna

Who to diagnose ADD in teen?

Feb 2008

My son is suddenly undone by lack of ability to manage his attention as the work load has increased in HIgh School. Who do you recommend to diagnose and help decide whether medication is the answer? Who can oversee managing this with alternatives to medication? Thanks anonymous, anxious

My son had a similar situation when he hit high school. He is smart and articulate and did very well when he had teachers who knew him. But, once in high school with a new teacher for each subject, his inability to manage time and concentrate became very evident.

We saw Dr. Alan Siegel on Alcatraz in Oakland, phone 510- 527-7929. He was wonderful with my son and utterly professional. The full battery of tests were completed and he gave a very detailed report on specific issues and recommendations for treatment. It was well worth the time (several sessions of testing) and expense to have a full report with recommendations on how to address the issues.

Through trial and error we tried several medicines and enrolled him in organizational and time management programs. It took us years to realize that my son was integral to becoming successful. With all we could offer, he still had to stop denying the situation and take charge to find the work-arounds that fit for him and could make his life easier. (Really, we all do this whether we have ADD or not.)

As parents we tried our darndest to hand him the help. I think one of our mistakes was to try too hard to do for him and not share the issues in the report. Once he saw the report (at age 20 when new testing was needed to keep him covered by the Disabled Students Services at college), so many things fell into place for him.

I hope your son's road is easier and with fewer bumps for all of you. My son is now 24 and is truly enjoying his life -- without meds. Good luck! Anonymous Mom

This is for the person who wrote some time back wanting advice about her ADD teen and also a recommendation for an occupational therapist . For an occupational therapist, I highly recommend Kristine Hubner-Levin at 510- 331-3401 or 925-254-1137. We used her several years ago and she was phenomenal. As for the ADD teen, this is such a gigantic topic with so many subtopics, I don't know where to begin and don't have any magic answers, but just know you are absolutely not alone and this is hard and super frustrating for many many parents, not to mention the kids. I recommend reading Driven to Distraction by Hallowell and Ratey, if you haven't yet. anon

How can I get my teen son tested for ADHD?

Oct 2006

Regarding Honors student can't stay focused on homework , Woud you please help with these questions:
- How can I get son tested for ADHD? He also has difficulty retaining the information that he learned/studied for, especially in Math and Science.
- We live in Cupertino, CA, is there a similiar organization as in our area?
Thank you for your help in advance

Your physician is the only one who can diagnose ADHD because it is considered a medical condition. Your son should also be tested for learning capabilities by your school district. If you make a request to the district testing office, they MUST (by law) test your child per your instructions. Good Luck! Jenny

Two routes. To privately evaluate your son there is Plus Four Solutions in Los Altos with Dr. Steve Newton. Or, you could talk to your school counselor about having your son evaluated by the school. (I believe the Cupertino school district does this free of charge but talk to your son first about whether he's comfortable being evaluated while at school.) Mom of ADD kid


Does my 18-year-old have ADD? (negligent driver)

May 2003

My recently-turned-18 y.o. son has a problem which I don't really understand. He's had his driver's license for 2 y ears now. Early on in his driving career he put a few dents in my car, one of which resulted in a point being added to our car insurance (at an additional $2,000 premium). Then he bought his own car (with his own money) with the stipulation being that he would pay for his own car insurance. Over the last year or so he has gotten numerous parking tickets (all of which he paid), had a moving violation for which he did traffic school, and recently another moving violation. He was going to go to court to ask the judge whether he could go to traffic school again, but he thought it was today instead of yesterday so missed the court date. I wasn't even aware that the date was yesterday or I would have reminded him (is that possibly the problem, that he should be remembering these things by himself, instead of being reminded?).

Well, today I'm taking him off our policy, which will mean he can't drive. He doesn't seem to have a problem with this (he sold his car after he realized that it was more hassle than cool), since he'll be occupied with stuff over the summer that won't really require driving and then off to college.

I don't understand what's going on. We lecture him ad infinitum, he dutifully takes care of the associated bills, but the consequences of his actions don't seem to sink in on some level - that he's throwing money away and shooting himself in the foot. In most areas he's a very responsible individual.

If this is an indication of how he's going to deal with issues when he goes out in the world on his own, I' m worried for him. Questions - anyone have any idea what might be happening here? Do I just sit back and let this one play itself out and let him handle it completely, or should I try to guide him through it? One factor in my questions is his age. Supposedly he's an ''adult''. At what point do we abandon them to their unwise choices?

Naturally I blame myself. I've had pretty severe depression most of my life and only recently with drugs has the heavy blanket of fog lifted so that I can see what's going on around me. I certainly wish I hadn't resisted anti-depressants for so long; it certainly would have made me a much better parent. How do I help my ''adult'' child when I know that the parenting he received was far from optimal? Or do I just say that these are the cards he was dealt and he'll have to find a way to play them?

His father (we're not together) was recently diagnosed with ADD; as with many diagnoses, it seems that eveyrone has this these days. But I don't want to completely discount it. Is this a possibility? With the necessarily limited information I've given and the numerous questions, does anyone have any ideas/suggestions?

It seems to me as if things are working perfectly! He is 18 and is learning how to deal with issues for when he goes out in the world on his own.

Example: He bought a car, had numerous problems dealing with it and sold it. That is a great lesson for him to have learned! Next time, he'll buy the car knowing what's involved and he'll then be ready to deal with the responsibilities. Example: He's accepting the consequences of not having insurance by not driving. And is going on with his life. This is a very valid choice.

My advice for you is to celebrate his successes: ''dutifully takes care of the associated bills'', ''In most areas he's a very responsible individual. ''

As far as the problem of ''throwing money away and shooting himself in the foot,'' from your description, I would ''just sit back and let this one play itself out and let him handle it completely.'' This is the learning process. I wouldn't completely ''abandon them to their unwise choices'' yet . . . I'd give advice (knowing that it might not be taken.)

Congratulations on coming out of your fog. As far as helping your ''adult'' child when you know that the parenting he received was far from optimal, I think that talking with him about it openly would be beneficial. Acknowledge that you know you weren't always ''there'' for him, express your sorrow for that and tell him that you are so thrilled by how he's growing up, what a good person he is, how responsible he is becoming [I believe in seeding self-fulfilling prophecies ;-)], and how well he did without optimal parenting, etc.

Are you seeing a therapist as well as the person who is prescribing the antidepressants? It might help you keep things in perspective.

My 19-year-old has been going through very similar things, but he's very good (too good?) at telling me that this is his life, he needs to make a few mistakes, he won't be sleeping in a box under the bridge, he'll make more money if he wastes some, going to college a year after high school is a valid option, etc etc.! And, you know, he's right! This year he's in college and is turning in his assignments on time, reminding me to pay his tuition, living within his budget, riding his bike to school . . . And it sounds as if your kid will be fine too.

Another Mom still in training

All of the behaviors you described sound typical of ADD, plus it does tend to run in families (along with depression). Considering how dramatically an ADD diagnosis and treatment seem to have improved many people's lives, I think it's worth looking into.

I think I know how you feel, though. I keep struggling with my own skepticism and confusion, because for my family and me nothing is ever so simple as the latest popular diagnosis or solution. Neither antidepressants and therapy nor self-help books, exercise, thyroid pills, Omega fatty acids, workshops, church, etc. etc. have made my depression go away completely. One of my sons, who was diagnosed with ADD four years ago and medicated for school days and homework ever since, still has lots of times when he can't focus enough to accomplish anything. My older son seemed to get his act together academically without medication, but he has gotten in serious trouble several times and is currently way behind on a big research project.

Anyway, it can\x92t hurt to learn about ADD and consider having him evaluated for it. There are lots of books available, including a few focusing on teens and adults, and lots of resources at and

Good luck, and don't blame yourself or think about what you should have done differently; just go from here to help your son learn how to help himself.

I think we need a Berkeley support group for parents of ADHD teens! Anyone else interested? anonymous mom

It sounds to me like your son is learning from experience. Lots of people screw up on dates and paperwork. And it does get expensive.

Whether or not he has a learning disability, it appears to me that he is dealing with the car insurance in a logical and realistic manner to me. Is he ranting about the fact that he can't drive? If not, I'd count my blessings and move on to the next opportunity for growth. ~Anita

Support for teen daughter who has ADD

June 2002

I am looking for a support group for my teenage daughter who has ADD. We are seeing a counselor, and she agrees that my daughter would greatly benefit from a group of other girls her age with her same challenges. Things are pretty dicely right now between us, and I think we both need support. The counselor is directing me to a group in SF, but my daughter still needs one. Any leads? Teen Mom

My daughter is twelve, going into eighth grade next Fall. She is a mild ADD child, with very few noticed behavior problems at school. At home, she is a high-maintenance child. She needs help with organizing her time, her assignments, her belongings, and so on. I am very organized and can offer her all sorts of help in managing her life. However, I get exhausted from monitoring and shaping her behavior. I could use some help from a peer support group. Are there any support groups for ADD teen girls in the Berkeley/Albany area? Please reply to the newsletter. Thank you.

I am an MFT and familiar with a great resource in Berkeley: Ability Resource Center , run by Glenn Gelfenbein, MFT. He is well versed in ADD/ADHD and other learning issues and is available for consultation & on-going treatment. He can be reached at 510-528-6059. He has a brochure describing his services and I'm sure would be happy to mail it to you. Hope that helps! Best, Deb