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Could ADHD turn my son a sociopath?
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SouthernBelle916 posted:
I've been a stepmom for almost 5 years. I met my step son when he was 6 and we instantly clicked. His mom abandoned him when he was a baby and I married his father. He's been in counseling and seeing a psychiatrist since he was 6. He was diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and we have been busting our butts trying to help him in anyway we can.He's been on medications throughout the years. They get changed every once in awhile when the doctor doesnt think they are working. I'm very adimant on not keeping upping the dosage because I dont want my son to keep using "The medicine isnt working, so I have every right to act like this" Excuse. The older he gets, the more sociopathic tendencies he shows. He will be starting psychological therapy to rule out any brain damage. He has no remorse or feeling when it comes to doing something wrong. He steals and lies and it comes totally natural to him. He's admiting that even though he gets caught everytime he steals and lies, he continues to do it because he thinks he wont get caught this time around. Isnt that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? He feels that he can steal something of someone eles, but if anyone takes anything from him, he goes balistic! I can always tell when he's lying and he doesn't get away with stealing. We have tried just about every punishment and NOTHING seems to help. My stress has gotten to the point where I have been incredibly sick and nothing seems to make me better. Are there any other treatments or something else we can do so that he doesnt end up hurting someone? I feel like I'm treading water in a never ending ocean.
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ChristophorM responded:
ADHD and Bipolar have similar symptoms. The doctors may change their diagnoses as they get more information.

My brother is ADHD and Bipolar. He'd steal from you and lie to your face for drug money. He has an explosive temper and a violent streak. He just got out of jail after almost a year. He's been clean since he went in. Maybe his life will change this time. I hope so. I love him but keep him at a distance for practical reasons.

ADHD isn't a license to steal or do whatever you want. But, self control is harder with ADHD.

I've had it my whole life. I don't steal. I'm not violent. I do lie to avoid hurt feelings or make excuses when I can't remember things. It's easier to say "I got caught up at work" than "I forgot to deposit that check."

BASIC ADHD Impulsive. Craves excitement. Poor self control. Underestimates the difficulty of a task. Doesn't think about consequences. Poor short term memory. Not very good at details. Compulsive behavior. Easily frustrated. Short Temper.

YOUR SON Gets bored. He has an impulse to steal. He acts without thinking underestimates the consequences. Doesn't think to correct mistakes he made last time, doesn't cover his tracks well. His mind is not really focused on making up a decent lie. He CAN'T say what made him do it because he doesn't KNOW. Has certain behaviors or habits on autopilot because his mind is elsewhere ALL the time. You're paying more attention to what he's doing than he is.

NON STEALING EXAMPLES My brother and I put too much oil in the turkey fryer and caused a little fire 3 years in a row. Each time we completely forgot about last year until it happened again. The fourth time. We followed the instructions, but it didn't look right. We were about to pour in more oil when he says "Didn't we do this last year?" We looked at each other and it all came back to us. We had talked about which stores were open last year when we bought more oil and we bought cat litter in case there was a fire. That's embarrassing. How do you remember everything EXCEPT the mistake that caused a fire 3 years in a row?

I'm impulsive. Last year I donated $2K worth of unread books to the library. 2 or 3 copies of some. I never read most of them. I have sci-fi toys, video games and gadgets too. Some have never been opened. I stop myself if I think about it. But I still get boxes I don't remember ordering.

My wife and I argued the other night I would NOT agree with her. She wanted me to repeat what time we were supposed to do something the next day. I was angry. I couldn't make myself say it. I told her I couldn't make myself say it. That was a weird feeling. It was on the tip of my tongue. I wouldn't say it. Apparently, I've been that way my whole life. From the outside it looks like stubbornness. It's called defiance disorder. He may have that too.

Punish him for stealing. There must be consequences for his actions. Beyond stealing, he's probably not trying to aggravate you as much as he is. He may not be aware of how his actions affect you. I suck at reading people. I'm not good at subtle.

It took at least 6 months to figure out the right dosage and timing for my meds. Changing them around like that may not be a good idea. Trust the doctor's judgment. Report how they work honestly. Share your concerns with the doctor but avoid saying what you think will get him to change the meds because you think they'll stop working soon. The doctor needs accurate information to make decisions.

ADHD is a complex disorder that affects multiple areas of the brain. It affects judgment and self control. It's difficult to diagnose. It's different for each person.We get better at working around our symptoms as we get older. That's why ADHD people were hyper as kids and not as adults. It never goes away you just get better at dealing with it. The meds help. There's no cure.

Help the doctors do their job. I don't know what else you can do but be patient.

Good luck.

- Chris
 
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SouthernBelle916 responded:
Wow!!!!! That was an INCREDIBLE response to my post!! I've read books on ADHD and read numerous articles online and it never sunk in until you explained it to me! I guess after all these years I started to resent his actions and not empathize with him as much because my life was getting so frustrated trying to figure out how to "fix" him and help him feel better about himself. I actually read him parts of your post and he got a HUGE smile on his face and kept saying "Mom!! That's how I feel!! That's how I think!!" He was incredibly thrilled at the fact that ya'll both have the same name! We both instantly felt refreshed and ready to live another day. I have to remind myself that I might necessarily understand his thought process because I dont have ADHD just like my family doesn't understand depression because they dont have it. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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ChristophorM responded:
Wow! Thanks!

This topic means a lot to me.

Hearing that makes me feel really good.

I've been through a lot of crap in my life. If I can do anything to help another kid avoid what I went through, then maybe it was all worth it.

We Chris's have to stick together!

You can't fix what ain't broke! He's made that way. Sure, he's needs help remembering things and maybe some reminders about making good choices. He is who he is. His brain moves so fast. It's hard for him to slow down and let the rest of the world catch up.

Speaking of that he's going to get bored! Idle hands don't do people like us any good.

Give him something to do!

I have to stay busy or I go CRAZY! I have a lot of hobbies. I fix stuff around the house and help my neighbors. I built a workshop in my garage and my own computer desk. Right now, I'm writing a Photoshop tutorial for a friend, building a balsa wood model house for my wife and a Pink Princess PC for my daughter. Even with all of that, I'm still Dad. I get her in the tub, brush her hair, read her books or watch TV with her and tuck her in every night. I don't stop moving until I go to bed and I don't sleep much. I can't help it. It's who I am.

Maybe he needs a hobby or three. I was a Boy Scout. He may like that. I was never into sports except bikes. I'm more of an artistic type. I make stuff. Help him find something interesting to do and you'll have trouble pulling him away from it.

Remember he's not a bad kid. He's a rocket. The fuse is lit and he's stuck on the launch pad. Point him in the right direction and let him go! Guide him along the way and enjoy the ride. You can't change who he is. You can't hold him back. But you can help him learn to get by. The sky is the limit!

Take care of yourself too. I've been depressed. It's no fun. You aren't alone. Maybe you can find a hobby to share with him. Help him get some of that energy out.

I hope you feel better soon.

Good luck.

Thanks for sharing and you guys made my day!

- Chris
 
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divtiredmom replied to ChristophorM's response:
I don't know if anyone can help with my son but here goes. He was 11 when I divorced his father. He visited his father some for a while then he turned abusive toward him and my son refused to go back and didn't except for times his uncle came down due to wanting to see his cousin. I have always been there for my son. Seen he had his medication concerta, bought him a truck and when he wrecked it I fixed it back with the help of my mom. I did good to get child support. His father tried everything including trying to get my daughter to go to court against me and say her dad needed cusodity so he wouldn't have to pay. But it all came out that he told her he would give her the child support money if she would help him keep from paying it. It has been a very long battle back and forth. My son is almost 20 now in a month and I put him in small collge a couple hours away .. His dad did everything possible to keep that from happening. Then this past xmas I noticed he started talking to his dad more. I didn't think much of it at the time. But then school was out and I moved him home for the summer he was home for 1 week and left and would only return to see his father. He doesn't have anything to do with me at all and very little to anyone on my side of the family. And we have always been the ones that supportted him in everything. And now its like his father walks on water. The cell phone I gave him brand new it was only 6 months old he gave to a friend and said he didn't want anything from me anymore. His dad after all these years bought him the same exact phone and now I am the villian even though I have been paying for it for years. Im sure my ex-husband may be a sociopath but I am not positive.. Just by what I read.. But know he is controlling my son and his friends are a part as well.. I've been taken off all his school information and he went independent I was just told after I faxed all the information for grants. But he and his father told I never sent the information which was a flat lie.. WHAT do I do ??? HELP ??? I thought I was through dealing with a stupid ex=husband and now he has come back into my son''s life and he will cause him to fail out because he has convinced him he no longer needs his medication. HELP WHAT DOES A MOTHER THAT LOVES HER SON SO MUCH DO ???
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
NO. ADHD cannot turn your son into a sociopath.
 
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An_240335 responded:
Don't be ridiculous. Sociopaths are BORN, not made.

I feel your pain. I know these personality types.....

You are treading water in a never ending ocean. They can not change. It will not change. Your best revenge is to disengage, have no contact period, and live well. You CAN NOT win at a sociopath's game. Get some counseling for yourself. There are several online support groups for those affected by people with ASPD.
 
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Gina Pera responded:
HI Southern Belle,

You sound entirely well meaning, and I applaud your efforts to help your stepson.

But honestly? It seems you could use a little better education about ADHD, specifically the link between untreated ADHD (or under-treated) and low empathy, low remorse, not learning from mistakes, etc. These problems are not common to ALL people with ADHD (no single behavior or set of behaviors is common to all people with ADHD; it's a highly variable syndrome), but they are common enough that you should be aware of them -- and know how to deal with them.

It sounds as thought you are relying on the physician to call the shots and yet at the same time you are intent on keeping the dosage low as possible -- which means it might not be working.

I encourage you to take the time to educate yourself about ADHD, especially the risks of untreated or poorly treated ADHD. Punishment is not going to work, just as punishment would not "treat" a child who has diabetes.

I hope this helps,
Gina

One book I'd recommend is ADHD in the Family, by Dr. Mark Bertin, a developmental pediatrician. Along with other evidence-based strategies for treating ADHD, he emphasizes compassion and empathy, which is sometimes enhanced by incorporating Mindfulness Meditation as a daily practice
 
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Gina Pera replied to Boyzmomee's response:
Actually, there is a higher incidence of anti-social personality disorder, conduct disorder, etc. among people with untreated ADHD.

It's something to take seriously. Very seriously.
 
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Gina Pera replied to An_240335's response:
I'm sorry but it is simply not true that children with ADHD who show little remorse, conscience, etc,.-- what some would characterize as sociopathic behavior -- cannot change.

Medication can definitely help to lessen the distractibility, impulsivity, irritability, etc. that interfere with a person's ability to act upon brain-based empathic feelings.

It also helps if the adult caregiver understands why the child acts as he/she does before overlaying outdated psychoanalytic labels upon the child. Labels which carry poor prognoses.

This is not to say that medication and psycho-education for all family members will "cure a sociopath."

We should all be careful of applying squishy labels such as "sociopath" without understanding the neurophysiological underpinnings, some of which are responsive to treatment.

Gina Pera
 
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Gina Pera replied to ChristophorM's response:
Very helpful answer, Chris. Thanks for weighing in.
 
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dspeicher replied to ChristophorM's response:
I feel better now that I have read this. I have not put my son on meds. I am afraid to. I am also afraid not to. I felt like the doctor didn't really talk to him long before making his diagnoses. I was happy to see your comment since you actually have it and have taken meds for it. How do you feel about the meds?
 
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An_251604 responded:
Hi,

I thought I might add my experience to this thread just to provide a warning.

Before I go on, please note that I understand ADD and ADHD are real and prevalent disorders in society. I am however acutely aware that these conditions are often under diagnosed and end up masking other disorders and anti-social traits.

Ask yourself a question...how many people do you know who have been diagnosed with an ASPD? The likely answer is none, and yet around 1 in 20 people are clinical sociopaths. So where are all these people? In many cases they are hiding behind the label of other conditions because doctors and allied health professionals are either too scared to following through on a full diagnosis for fear of legal action or they are manipulated by the sociopath through their sympathy scams. I mean let's face it, in this day and age nobody is going to label someone as sociopath unless they are a stereotypical axe murder and behind bars, yet these individuals account for a very small proportion of people with antisocial personalities.

Point in case, my partner spent 5 years in a relationship with a non-violent but extremely emotionally abusive sociopath - a sociopath who had been labelled as having adult ADHD. Whenever he went to jail, it was because of his ADHD or not having his dad around or his poor childhood - it wasn't his fault. Whenever he cheated, again ADHD, poor childhood, not my fault. Lied to her, stole from her, etc, etc, not my fault. He did these things constantly, all the while attacking her self esteem and twisting her emotions to keep her under control. He even used getting her pregnant every time he was in major trouble as a way of keeping her firmly in his grip. Ending the relationship took a monumental effort from her family and the few friends she had left and only happened after she had accepted that she was dealing with a remorseless, uncaring person not someone who deserved sympathy.

And that, in essence, is the core to dealing with any situation. Accepting and understanding what you are dealing with. If you understand the factors that define someone as having an ASPD rather than ADHD and you feel that they have sociopathic qualities rather than (or as well as) an impulsive nature, then they are likely to have at least some level of antisocial quality. Remember, you are the person at the coal face here, and if you have researched the subject you are the best one to know the truth of the matter, regardless of what experts, physicians or anyone else has to say.

As for how to deal with remorseless behaviour - with difficulty. I'll share with you the viewpoint that I once gave my partner on the topic and one that I hold to be true. A person mental attributes are no different from any other physical attribute they have. Someone can be born with a natural ability to run fast, or they may always be slow no matter how much they train. Someone may be strong and made for heavy lifting, another slight of frame no matter how many weights they lift. The same goes for empathy. Some people have a naturally strong social connection, others a negligible one. In those circumstances, you can train them and condition them, both professionally and on a personal level, but they will never have a strong understanding of how to care about others. It is simply a weak link in their system.

Redirection techniques help a bit, as do reward programs and other mechanisms that reinforce positive behaviour as the right choice. I say that as someone who is now fathering the children of someone who is a sociopath, with at least one of them showing similar traits to her father from an early age (even though she has had no contact with him for the past 3 years). As for medication as an option, you need to consider what is safest for yourself and others (including siblings whose lives and development may be disrupted by ongoing antisocial behaviour) as well what is right for the child in question.

All the best...stay strong.
 
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Len1956 replied to An_251604's response:
No.....


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