Sailor Joe: An ADHD Success Story

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flagToday, since it’s Veteran’s Day in the United States, I thought I’d give you an update our our family’s favorite Veteran – Joe.

Joe was the most inattentive of our inattentive bunch. He was the reason we heard about the inattentive type of ADHD. His teacher told us that she suspected he had ADHD and we laughed at her. But after researching it, we discovered she was spot on.

Fast forward to high school, when Joe looked at me one night and said, “What will I do without you in college?” And then he enlisted in the Navy. His high ASVAB score landed him in a program that gave him over a year of training. And he did very, very well.

The studying was one subject at a time. They started in the morning, and did one thing all day long. There was a lot of hands on. There was a lot of computer based learning. There was a lot of practice, and if you didn’t do well, there was enforced study hall. It had Joe’s name on it, seriously.

When you first join the Navy, you don’t pay rent, buy groceries, or – in our son’s case – even have a vehicle. The Navy tells you where to go, what to do, when to study, what to study…essentially every move to make. And then you get on a ship, and your every move is even more regimented. It’s a way more restrictive life than he had with us! I mean – we were pushing him to juggle and focus and prepare for ‘the real world’. The Navy did none of that, but in doing none of that, it must of given his brain a rest in many areas, so that the exective function part of his brain had time to catch up.

Joe still has trouble paying attention. He’s been out of the Navy for two years now, and he lives in ‘the real world’. And he’s succeeding far past our wildest dreams. He has a great job, he gets there on time. He pays his bills. He cooks. He maintains a car. He has zero debt and a retirement account.

When Joe was young, Joe used to have trouble knowing what to do next. He’d miss the bus, and really, truly, have trouble walking to the office or borrowing a phone to call us to come and get him. (Yes, before cell phones!)

The other day, Joe’s car broke down on the way to work. He pulled over, called AAA, and called his boss to let him know he would be late. Then he got a ride to a rental company, rented a car, and went to work.

In short, he’s doing it. All those nights when we struggled, all those years of frustration, all the times we said “think about the next thing to do”, “problem solve”, “you’re wonderful and you can do this”, and (yes) “I’m going to throttle you if you don’t pay attention!” – they paid off.

So on this Veteran’s Day we are not only grateful to Joe for his service, we are also grateful to his teachers and the schools that poured themselves into our son so that he could succeed and become a Veteran!

And by word of encouragement – hang in there, parents. We know – we really know that it’s so very, very hard. In the end, through, they do grow up, and with your love and support and instruction, they will make it.

Happy Veteran’s Day, Joe. We’re grateful.

Read more about Joe’s Navy journey.

Read more ADHD Success stories.

About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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