A Problem Shared… Does My Adult Grandson Have ADHD?

A Problem Shared Education Health News | by | 29th Apr 2016

problem shared adhd adult

Peggy’s concerned that her grandson, aged 20, still hasn’t grown out of ADHD and wants advice on how to help him.

We live in West Wales and my oldest grandson Dylan, who’s 20, mostly lives at home with my daughter and is causing everyone a lot of worry.

When he was a boy he was diagnosed with ADHD and we all assumed he’d grow out of it but, as he’s got older, things have just got worse. No matter how hard we try to help him and get him on the right track, he just messes up again.  Could he still have ADHD as an adult?

He can’t manage his money, he’s had loads of jobs which he does well but doesn’t stick at them, he’s lost his driving licence, smokes weed and has a really low self esteem and no motivation. On the other hand, he’s a great kid – really warm and generous and caring and got a great sense of humour – but that results in his friends and his girlfriend taking advantage of him.

I’m worried about my daughter as she’s tried everything – regular chats, spending time together, helping him get a council flat, setting up a bank account, finding him paid jobs but everything’s failed, so she ends up getting angry and treating him like a child.  It’s like Dylan’s on self destruct, but we’ve run out of ideas how to help him. Dylan and his brother were brought up the same but their lives are like chalk and cheese. So if it is to do with his ADHD, is there any help for him as an adult? 

adhd tiles

Photo Credit:PracticalCures.com

Our FamilyPoint advice to Peggy

I’m sorry to hear that Dylan and your family are finding his patterns of behaviour worrying and difficult to manage. ADHD is generally diagnosed in childhood, however, contrary to common belief, it is a life-long disorder, albeit one that can be successfully managed with the right support and treatment.

People with ADHD often experience difficulty in completing tasks, staying focused, being organised, and some – like Dylan – find it hard to stay in or keep jobs.   Repeated experiences of job losses, financial mis-management, disorganisation, letting people down, etc, can lead to feelings of low worth, a sense of failure and sometimes depression.   To some extent, it is these effects, rather than the ADHD itself, that can get in the way of adults with ADHD making positive progress in their lives.

It sounds like your family is very supportive to Dylan, and have helped to sort out a lot of things for him.  You haven’t mentioned what Dylan has done/does to resolve the difficult situations he finds himself in – would I be right in thinking that others have tended to do this for him?  If this is the case, you may want to think about asking Dylan what he thinks might help him to develop his ability to manage his behaviour and the resulting difficulties himself.   Encouraging Dylan to do this could, in the long-term, give him a sense of greater control over his life, increase his self-esteem and reduce the worry and stress on family members.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be really useful for adults with ADHD as it focuses on changing negative patterns of thinking (which can adversely affect behaviour) and encouraging positive thoughts which in turn lead to improved behaviour.  Adults with ADHD can use CBT to develop strategies to improve attention, impulse control, memory, and planning, develop consequential thinking and problem solving skills, emotional control and an increased awareness of the thoughts and feelings of others who may be affected by some of the more negative behaviours.   Pembrokeshire Mind offers a free 12-week personal development course which uses a CBT approach.  Medication is also an option, and is often used alongside therapy.   If your grandson is willing to consider these options, he could discuss them with his GP, who may refer him to specialist services for adults with ADHD.  

There’s a wealth of information and resources on adult ADHD on the internet, a few of which I’ve listed below:


UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN)

‘ADHD: How I got my sanity back’ article on The Independent

‘Driven to Distraction – Recognising and coping with Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood through Adulthood’ by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey

‘Your Life Can Be Better, using strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD’ by Douglas Puryear

‘Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perspective’ by Thom Hartmann

The Meic helpline offers information, advice and advocacy to children and young people in Wales.  The Advisor Advocates use coaching as a way of encouraging and empowering young people to find their own answers and solutions to difficulties they face.

We hope you find this helpful, and you can get the support you need for your grandson.  But if you feel this is something you’d like to talk to us about in more detail, you can contact us by phone – 0300 222 57 57, text – 07860 052 905 or instant message.

We are open Monday – Thursday 6pm – 10pm and Friday & Saturday 10am – 2pm.

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