Q&A: Brother with Suspected ADHD & Upcoming Court Date

March 20, 2014 in Blog, Justice, Q&A by Kyle Dopfel

QAHello, 

I have a twin brother who we (family) always considered him having a Developmental Disability. He always played video games as a child and would play for many many hours, it was the only thing he would stay focused on. In school he did not perform well, and dropped out of High School. He also sought out smoking Marijuana, and found himself getting into trouble. Recently, he was arrested and I believe he was inconsistent during questioning as he always had difficulty explaining details and mismatched a lot! He can not remember more than one thing at a time. I always noticed he was different aside from being almost like every other teen. He was being screened by Special Education Teacher from High School and by Academic teacher and they believed he was showing signs of ADD/ADHD, my parents never had it checked out and never wanted him medicated, and Pediatrician advised against seeking medications for this. I guess I am asking if he does have ! this and how can we go about it for upcoming court date? I look forward to your response and hope you can help, if you need additional; details let me know!

ST


Hi ST,

Thank you for reaching out to us. It does sound like your brother may have ADHD, although he would need to be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional to confirm this. I’ve included a useful self-report screening that you may want to share with your brother. It won’t give you an official diagnosis, but it is a very good indicator of whether or not his symptoms may be consistent with adult ADHD, and can help you decide if this is something you’d like to pursue further with a clinician. Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions on how to complete and score the screening.

It is not uncommon for there to be some apprehension about going on a medication. It’s important to know that while meds can be very useful, they are not the only way to treat ADHD. There are also a variety of different types of medication that can be used to treat ADHD, e.g. some that work well are stimulants, but there are other non-stimulant options as well. Many people find that behavioral therapy and/or coaching can really help them better understand their ADHD and work on tools and strategies to help them manage their symptoms. Usually, the most effective way to treat ADHD is through a combination of medication and behavioral therapy/coaching- but everyone is different. If your brother decides to look into treatment options, that same professional that diagnoses him should be able to work with him to find a treatment plan that he is comfortable with and that works for him. I’d be happy to share some more information with you about coaching and medications, if you’re interested in learning more about this.

With regards to your upcoming court date, and how ADHD may play a role in the proceedings, here are a few general ideas to start with:

  • It would help to find your brother a local advocate to at least write a letter to the judge, discussing his limitations. For example: if you know that your brother sometimes has trouble with his short-term memory, keeping stories straight, and communicating clearly- it may be helpful for the judge to understand that this behavior is a symptom of his ADHD- not necessarily a sign that he is dishonest or insincere. This advocate could possibly be the professional who diagnoses his ADHD, a mentor from his previous school or job, or someone from your local CHADD chapter.
  • You may also consider putting together some information on ADHD in the criminal justice system to share with the judge. We can help by sending you some of our materials electronically or mail you hard copies, if you prefer. You can also find a good deal of information online at our ADHD Justice Support Center.

Both of these ideas will probably hold more weight if you can demonstrate that your brother has an official diagnosis for his ADHD, as opposed to only a suspected case. I am not sure of the timeline on his situation, but you may want to look into this prior to the court date- even if you don’t get all the way through the process, just setting up an appointment could help indicate that he is working on addressing this issue.

Another important thing to mention is that ADHD is not an excuse for wrongdoing. I’m not implying that your brother would do this, but it’s worth highlighting that we don’t want to be perceived as trying to use ADHD to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. What we can try to do is try to communicate to the judge any limitations we may have, so that he can hopefully take these into consideration when deciding a sentence that is not only fair, but that we are also capable of serving successfully. For example- if someone is sentenced to completing a class or community service, but their ADHD makes time management difficult for them, perhaps that may influence the scheduling requirements.

For more specific advice, it would be helpful to have a bit more information. For example: if you would be willing to share the nature of the charge, or any legal issues prior to this upcoming court date, it could help us get a better idea of your brother’s situation. If you have any more specific questions or concerns, (such as legal representation, etc,) please feel free to ask! I can refer those specific questions to experts on our panel, and connect you with people who can give you the best information and guidance on those issues.

I hope that you will find this information useful. Again, if you have any further questions or would like to learn more about anything I’ve mentioned, feel free to contact us. Good luck with everything, and please keep in touch and let us know everything goes!


Do you have a question for us? If you need guidance on navigating the challenges of ADHD in the criminal justice system, reach out to us at ADHDJustice@add.org. We will do our best to provide you with the support you need and connect you to the experts that can help!

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