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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Behavior Modification Options

11/21/2006

Question:

Can you give me some examples of behavior modification for my 23 year old daughter with ADD? She is very messy, yet a perfectionist to detail in design or art work. She looses things constantly. She is good friends now with the locksmith. Any suggestions you could give would be helpful. Thanks

Answer:

Hard to tackle this with so little information but I'll try.

When our kids turn 23, it is very frustrating for us when they don't seem upset enough to want to change a behavior we find abhorrent, but it is their life, not ours. If your daughter asked you to write to me, let her know this is something she should really be exploring for herself---she will begin to get better at just asking the question---an important life skill.

Does your daughter see this as a problem and want to do anything about it? If she doesn't, the only behavior modification program that might work is, if she is living with or supported by you, you could stop enabling the behavior by stopping financial support.

For folks who want to tackle a problem with constant disorganization, a professional organizer and/or an ADD coach can be helpful. Judith Kolberg's book Conquering Chronic Disorganization is a great resource. Ms. Kolberg also presents at Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD) conferences; audiotapes of her presentations can be ordered through CHADDs website (below). Professional organizers can be accessed through the National Association of Professional Organizers website (below).

Of course, not knowing more details, I can't be sure that what you mean by "messy" and "constantly" are what I or most others would mean. Take a look at how your expectations match up to those of parents and young adults around you to be sure this is actually your daughter's problem and not yours.

I wish you the best. If only we had the wisdom of our 40's and 50's in our 20's!! Then again, maybe our 20's wouldn't have been as much fun…

Thanks to Tom D'Erminio from The Affinity Center for his thoughtful ideas that added to my response!

Related Resources:

The National Association of Professional Organizers
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati