Understanding ADHD in Teens. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is usually found in children and teens. If left untreated it can also affect one’s adulthood. This is a mental disorder that affects a teen’s ability to focus on the task at hand, organize his surroundings, and stay still. ADHD starts usually in childhood when the child is constantly active and cannot focus on simple daily tasks. Studies have shown that ADHD is the most common mental disorder found in children. It is also seen that boys are more likely to develop it, though it can often be overlooked in girls.
Our mind is like a big set of drawers where we organize our thoughts in each drawer according to our needs. The best way to organize anything is to set your priorities and organize your belongings according to the level of priority. The more important the thing is the more accessible it should be. We access those thoughts when needed. The problem with ADHD victims is that they cannot organize anything including their thoughts.
ADHD consists of three types of presentation. Inattention presentation, hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and combined presentation of both. Attention deficit (ADD) and hyperactivity were seen as separate disorders in the past, however significant debate has shown that they act separately as well as combined. Thus, the disorder is now categorized as a single disorder.
ADHD symptoms in teens are often more inattentive than hyperactivity. Teens suffering from ADHD are easily distracted by little things and find it difficult to focus on the task at hand. They tend to forget things and can’t organize their surroundings. Symptoms of different presentations of ADHD are:
- Seems like not listening
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty sustaining attention
- Easily distracted
- Losing belongings
- Lack of organizational skills
- Get bored in less time
- Problem remaining seated
- Excessive talking (Talking in a high tone, or speaking speedily)
- Blurting out answers in class (Whether it’s the right time or not)
- Excessive motor function
- Fidgeting, squirming (That can include excessively moving legs or arms while seated)
- Being intrusive
- A problem waiting for their turn
- Risky behavior (reckless driving, substance abuse)
Challenges Faced By ADHD Teens:
Teens with ADHD often get poor grades as they find it difficult to concentrate on their homework and find it difficult in follow-up tasks like assignments and quizzes. They tend to lose their belongings like books and pencils. They also rush through assignments and prioritize speed over accuracy. It’s not that teens with ADHD are unintelligent, it is more that they struggle to learn because they struggle to concentrate on things that they find boring.
Teens with ADHD often do not complete tasks and often start tasks even before listening to the complete instructions. These behaviors are easily mistaken for being defiant or non-compliant when in reality, they are a result of their struggle to focus and concentrate. They also often drift off in the middle of a class no matter how many times they are reminded to stay focused. It is hard to learn if you can’t stay focused or pay attention.
Teens with ADHD are more likely to be involved in risky behavior as they do not accurately anticipate the severity of things. They are more likely to indulge in substance or alcohol abuse at an early age. ADHD teens are more likely to start using drugs at an early age to ease the restlessness caused by hyperactivity.
Hyperactivity creates an urge for adventure in ADHD teens and it makes them prone to reckless driving. Statistics show that accidents caused by ADHD teens are more deadly than other teens. ADHD teens are also inclined to be sexually active very early and indulge in unsafe sex as an adventure. These behaviors put them at a higher risk of getting hurt or choosing the wrong path in life.
Poor Peer Relationships:
Due to their lack of attention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors, teens with ADHD may find it difficult to bond with classmates and as a result, may have fewer friends. It is also seen that teens with ADHD are more likely to be bullied at school and possibly become bullies themselves. It’s because of a lack of social and interpersonal skills that they find it hard to be friends with their peers. Teens with Attention Deficit may also struggle with their self-esteem and may become more reluctant to try activities that require sustained focus.
Poor Organizational Skills:
Teens with ADHD find it difficult to organize their surroundings. Your teen’s room may always seem like a mess and their school belongings are also disorganized and never in place. This makes it difficult for a teen to manage their daily tasks as they tend to lose their belongings easily. Poor organizational skills will also impact their ability to hold a job in the future as most jobs require a sense of organization and consistency in completing tasks.
Difficulty In The Regulation Of Emotions:
The teen years are already a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings due to the hormones and changes in body and mind. Most ADHD teens find it hard to regulate their emotions. They get bored and frustrated very easily and can lash out in anger due to frustration. This lack of regulation interferes with their day-to-day task as well as their relationship with others.
Diagnosis/treatment Of ADHD In Teens:
Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the causes or cures for ADHD. But, if diagnosed early and with proper treatment, the symptoms can be managed and individuals suffering from ADHD can live a productive happy life. Different kinds of medication including anti-depressants or stimulants are usually used to treat ADHD with the help of psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
How Parents Can Help ADHD Teens?
ADHD should always be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional. However, parents can help their teens learn to manage their symptoms and can help create an environment that helps them develop healthier coping skills.
The first step to any mental disorder treatment is that friends and family of the patient should educate themselves on the disease, its symptoms, and treatment options. It’s your responsibility to provide them with much-needed help and help them grow into a happy, healthy life.
Help with their academics:
ADHD teens need extra help with their studies and academics. Provide extra attention, help them with their homework or provide tutoring if and when needed to keep them on track with their academic career.
Create Clear Rules And Instructions:
Create clear rules and instructions for them to follow. Maintain clear expectations. Remember, that your teen is easily distracted and so may have difficulty keeping track of multiple tasks at the same time. Break down tasks to make them easier to follow and then redirect them back to the tasks if they get distracted.
Keep An Eye Out For Risky Behavior:
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on your teen, what they are doing and who they are spending time with. Look out for drugs and alcohol in the house. Keep an eye on their friends and whoever they are spending time with. Educate them about safe sex. If they are starting to drive, make sure that they have a lot of practice before turning them loose.
Create A Safe Environment To Talk:
It is absolutely important to create a safe environment at home to let your kids be comfortable coming to you and talking about their problems and what is bothering them. ADHD can be easily mistaken for being naughty or a slow learner. Create an environment that lets them be themselves without nagging them.
Help Them Find Their Purpose:
Teens with ADHD are not bad at all things. ADHD teens seem to do very well in the fields that interest them. Try out new things with your child and try to figure out what they excel in. Encourage them to take part in physical activities like sports and exercise. Don’t let them give up. Instead, help them develop resilience so that they can find their purpose.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.