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Understanding Teens and ADD

A Glimpse at Life as a Teen With ADD/ADHD


Updated November 19, 2008

Understanding Teens and ADD

The teenage years can present all sorts of challenges for children with ADD.

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Although it was previously believed that children outgrow ADHD by adolescence, it is now known that symptoms can continue into adulthood. The teenage years can be a difficult time for any child. It is a time of great change as an individual begins the transition from childhood toward adulthood and independence. Responsibilities, expectations, social and school pressures increase. Hormones peak. Boundaries may be tested. Risky behaviors may be taken. Insecurities, feelings of self consciousness, moodiness and irritability all multiply during the teen years.

Add ADHD to these normal teenage issues, and life can be very challenging. To top it off, ADHD can result in delays in age appropriate development by two to four years. So while peers are at one level, a teen with ADHD may appear significantly more immature and less responsible. In other words, a 15-year-old with ADHD may behave and think more like an 11-year-old. That may further exacerbate feelings of “being different,” making this stage of life very frustrating and isolating for a child with ADHD.

Often children who are on medication to treat their ADHD begin to resist taking their medicine during the teen years. Behavioral approaches that were previously effective may be less so. Treatment plans may need to be adjusted. If you are a parent of a teen, it is important for you and your child to communicate openly about any issues. Help your child through this period by giving him a sense of control and responsibility. Help him problem solve situations. Value your child’s strengths and nurture his interests.

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