ADHD and Teens

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a true medical condition that affects how a person concentrates, stays focused on an activity or the ability to sit still for periods of time. Often not diagnosed in childhood, it may be diagnosed in teens. ADHD teens can be less mature than other teens, be more disruptive in class, and have trouble organizing and getting assignments in on time.

The fact that an ADHD teen can be easily distracted makes driving especially dangerous. Having a licensed adult in the car to limit distractions such as noisy friends, the radio or cell phones can make driving much safer. This is something that needs to be taken into consideration when your child reaches the driving age. Do you think he/she is mature enough to handle a vehicle without being distracted? Just because they are the legal age, doesn't mean they are ready.

Teens may be more apt to try drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their condition. I see this in my line of work as a juvenile intake officer for the county in which I live in. Many of the kids that are arrested say they have ADHD and are on medication because of it.

The ADHD teen does have some control over how they can receive help. They can speak to their teachers; explain their situation so the teacher can react appropriately. Perhaps sitting in the front of the class to limit distractions, giving the teen an activity break when the hyperactivity becomes too much. More schools are learning to help the ADHD teen by allowing them more time to take tests.

Another option is home education. This allows the teen to study with less distraction and take breaks when needed. Each subject can be tailored to the level the teen is on and they can learn at their own pace, with mastery in mind. Home education also allows more time for teens to study things that they are truly interested in.

So what can be done? Several treatments are available; most doctors will suggest several different treatment methods instead of just one medication. Counseling may help the ADHD teen, with the family communicating altogether. Regular exercise is also showing promise in reducing hyperactivity symptoms and a change in diet can help minimize symptoms, if not take them away all together. Encouraging the ADHD teen to communicate their condition to their friends and explain it to them promotes a healthier social life. Friends usually forgive if they know what's going on.

ADHD teens can be very bright, creative people. Encourage any positive activity that focuses the ADHD teens attention. Help them discover what they are passionate about, then support them in all they do to become successful in that area.

There is no one single solitary cure-all answer. And one-size-fits-all doesn't work with ADHD, or any teen for that matter. Tailoring a total treatment plan is something your doctor can do or he may refer you to an ADHD specialist.