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Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens Facts

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common conditions of childhood and adolescence. Research studies differ about how common this condition really is, but most experts agree that it affects 11% of school-aged children. More than 40% of children with ADHD also have ADHD during adolescence. If you are not actively parenting a teen with ADHD, chances are that you know someone who is dealing with this challenge.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Teens?

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ADHD in childhood becomes apparent when the child exhibits symptoms of hyperactivity, trouble sitting still or paying attention, and/or impulsivity. In teens, this condition may have characteristics of less obvious hyperactivity and more of boredom, restlessness, and irritability. Adolescents with ADHD are also more likely to be strong willed, have conflicts with peers, parents and other family members, as well as to have trouble effectively managing their anger. The degree of severity of every symptom varies widely. Some adolescents with ADHD may need only mild interventions and guidance, while others require much greater support, potentially including medications or psychotherapy to achieve optimal levels of functioning. While doctors do not fully understand what causes ADHD, it is believed to be related to both environmental triggers and inherited or genetic factors. ADHD tends to run in families. Like any other mental disorder, having ADHD does not protect a teen from having another one, like depression, anxiety, or autism. Therefore, appropriate assessment, treatment, and other support for any co-occurring (comorbid) illness is another important component of parenting the ADHD teen.

ADHD in Teenagers: Boys vs. Girls

ADHD is diagnosed more often in boys than in girls. The predominantly hyperactive type of the condition is thought to be four times more common in boys, while the inattentive type is considered to occur two times more often in boys than in girls. However, those statistics are complicated by the fact that men and women tend to be diagnosed with ADHD equally as often in adulthood. Also, the diagnosis may be more difficult to make in girls because of the higher subtlety of symptoms, particularly less obvious hyperactivity in girls. Children of all ages can be affected, and the condition can persist into adulthood. Medications are available that can treat many of the symptoms of ADHD, although they do not "cure" the condition.

Last Reviewed 12/20/2017

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD:

Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD - Symptoms and Signs

What signs and/or symptoms does your teen with ADHD exhibit?

Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD - Tips

What tips have helped you parent your teen with ADHD?

Teens with ADHD tend to have more car accidents due to risky behavior.

Signs and Symptoms of Teen ADHD

While symptoms of hyperactivity in people with ADHD tend to decrease with age, most of the differences in symptoms of this disorder in adolescents compared to children and adults have much to do with the tasks that tweens and teens are called on to do at this stage of their lives. For example, teens with ADHD tend to show lower grade point averages, lower levels of class placement (for example, remedial versus honors or advanced placement), and higher rates of course failure. Also, teens with this diagnosis tend to complete and turn in a much lower percentage of in-class and homework assignments and are much less likely to be working up to their potential. Adolescents with ADHD are significantly more likely to be absent or tardy from school, and they can be over eight times more likely than adolescents without ADHD to drop out of high school. ADHD teens tend to be more impulsive drivers and have more accidents due to risky behaviors. Research has also shown that ADHD teens have more difficulty making and keeping well-adjusted friends. Unfortunately, in the face of the unique and significant impact that ADHD can have on their lives, teens tend to be the least willing to receive treatment compared to their younger and older counterparts. Research shows that adolescents are often more likely to have a negative perception of treatment and to be more likely to expect to have a bad experience as a result of ADHD treatment. Substance abuse is more common in teens with ADHD than their peer non-ADHD population.



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