Having ADHD does not have to get in the way of living the life you want. Many teens who receive a diagnosis of ADHD grow up to live happy, successful lives. This success is most often associated with taking the time to learn about ADHD, and finding the proper support in creating a treatment plan that works for them and their unique situation.
The main symptoms of ADHD (inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity) are the same for teens as they are for children. For teens, there may be some differences in how these symptoms show up, however. For example, as children grow older they may struggle less with symptoms of hyperactivity- such as fidgeting or staying seated. Teens may also notice greater challenges with staying on top of their school work and other responsibilities. This may be due to the fact that as teens move through school, their homework becomes more difficult, there are more demands on their time, and there are also higher expectations to be independent. This can all feel overwhelming for teens with and without ADHD. Teens with ADHD can benefit from remembering that proper treatment can help as they grow and adjust to the changes in their life.
ADHD in adolescence is often associated with executive functioning difficulties. Executive functioning is the brain’s ability to prioritize and manage thoughts and actions. In other words, executive functions allow someone to think about their goals and consequences for their actions, plan accordingly, evaluate progress and shift plans when/if necessary. As children, parents and teachers may have taken care of some of these executive functioning difficulties by giving frequent reminders about responsibilities, and helping with organization of homework and activities. In adolescence, however, parents and teachers generally expect teens to start doing these things themselves, and this transition can be tough on teens and those around them.
If you are a teen with ADHD, you might wonder ‘why me’? Some teens feel guilty for having ADHD. Others feel that it is something that they should be able to cure or control on their own. Having ADHD is not an individual’s fault. Research has clearly shown that ADHD runs in families (due to genetics). It is a brain-based disorder, which means that the symptoms shown in ADHD are linked to many specific brain areas. There is no known cure for ADHD, but there are MANY things that can be done to reduce the impact that ADHD has on an individual’s life. The most successful treatment plans generally involve a combination of education, behavioural therapy, and medication.
If you are a teen with ADHD-please remember: Although you may face challenges and experience struggles, with awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, support, and proper treatment there is a high likelihood that you will be able to meet the goals you set for yourself as you move through adolescence into adulthood.
Source: ADHD and Teens: Information for Teens, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Written by registered psychologist (provisional) with Wildflowers, Kerri Hill.