It was once thought that children simply outgrow ADHD as they develop, mature, and age. We now know that although ADHD begins in childhood, troubling symptoms can continue into adolescence and beyond -- throughout a person's life. While some kids may seem to outgrow the disorder (or no longer have symptoms that result in impairment), in most cases kids with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD.
Though ADHD is chronic in nature, symptoms may certainly present in differing ways as a person moves through life stages. These symptoms may even diminish as that person grows older -- for example, hyperactivity and fidgetiness may decrease with age.
Symptoms in adulthood can also be more varied and present in more subtle ways -- for example, internal restlessness, wandering attention, disorganization, procrastination, impulsive decision making, etc. Though symptoms may be less visible, they can be just as impairing. Proper diagnosis and treatment of ADHD is important.
Teens and adults with untreated ADHD are more likely to experience a higher incidence of driving accidents, underachievement in school/work, relationship/marital problems, more frequent job changes or unemployment, and even substance abuse.
Many people with ADHD may not be diagnosed until their teenage or adult years. This is particularly true of those with predominately inattentive symptoms, which are less disruptive and less overt as compared to impulsive/hyperactive symptoms. Though the person may have successfully managed symptoms in childhood, the teenage and adult years bring on increased demands for sustained attention, planning, organization, and self-management that can make coping with ADHD more and more difficult.
- Is ADD the Same Thing as ADHD?
- What You Need to Know If Your Child Has Just Been Diagnosed With ADHD
- 5 Things Your Teen Needs to Know About ADHD
- Understanding Symptoms of Adult ADHD
Russell A. Barkley, Kevin R. Murphy, and Mariellen Fischer, ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says. The Guilford Press, 2008.