Taking on a new perspective
Teenagers have to deal with a number of issues as they grow up. Their bodies are changing, and they are testing their independence and gaining freedom from their parents. They may be learning how to drive, working at a real job or starting to date. They are most likely faced with difficult decisions about drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure. Having ADHD can make these teen transition years even harder.
As students move from middle school to high school:
- Homework increases
- Class work becomes more complicated
- Social pressures multiply
- Other outside activities take up more time such as jobs and sports
Students have to learn how to be very organized to keep up with classes. At the same time, they have to juggle after school activities, and get ready for life after high school. Since ADHD affects organization skills, teens need to pay special attention to this weakness during this crucial time.
In addition to complicating schoolwork, ADHD can cause low self-esteem in teens. As a result, teens may have a hard time with authority. They may get into trouble, or fail to reach their potential in school, or have a difficult time managing work requirements. ADHD can also make them more likely to mistreat their friends, classmates, and family members. And if not treated for the disorder, problems caused by ADHD may only get worse. Not only is it important for teens to seek treatment for ADHD, but those already being treated should continue their treatment during the transition years. Medication is still believed to be the most effective single treatment for ADHD, and research shows that children with ADHD who take stimulant medication at the properly-prescribed dose and time do not become addicted to stimulants.
A few simple strategies can start teens with ADHD on the road to better behavior. While it can be hard, teens should:
- Remember that they’re not on center stage all the time
- Try not to interrupt when other people are talking
- Make eye contact while listening
Also, teens with ADHD shouldn’t overload their schedules. A varied schedule should help teens stay interested and focused. Teens should also find out if their school offers support services, such as tutoring, or smaller classes.
Perhaps the best thing that a teen with ADHD can do is to welcome support. They shouldn’t be afraid to talk to other people about their disorder. In fact, friends can be some of the best allies as a teen learns to cope with ADHD.