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WWK20A ADHD and Teens Information for Teens

WWK20A ADHD and Teens Information for Teens

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Published by Cyndi Whitmore

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Published by: Cyndi Whitmore on Nov 08, 2009
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NationalResourceCenteron AD HD
A program of CHADD
AD/HD and Teen:Inormation or Teen
have AD/HD…..so what??” In many ways, “sowhat” is right: mostly, you are just a regular teen,with all the ups and downs that come with being ateenager. In other ways, growing up and heading towardsadulthood with AD/HD (attention-decit/hyperactivity 
disorder) presents some unique challenges and obstacles. People used to thinkthat just young kids had AD/HD, something that you grew out o as you gotolder. Now we know dierently. oday’s research has shown that most kidsdo not outgrow AD/HD when they reach adolescence,
and most teens don’toutgrow AD/HD when they become young adults. So what does being a teenwith AD/HD really mean?First, you should know that having AD/HD doesn’t have to get in the way o living the lie you want. Countless teens just like you have grown up to pursuetheir passions, live happy lives, and be successul in their work. Tey’ve oundthis success because they’ve taken the time to learn how AD/HD aects themand taken charge o a treatment plan that works or them and their uniquesituation.
Te main symptoms required or a diagnosis o AD/HD—inattention,hyperactivity, and impulsivity—remain the same during your teens as they were earlier in your childhood. However, you may notice some dierences. Forexample, you may struggle less with symptoms o hyperactivity (such as dgeting
What We KnoW
ad/hd and teenS: inFoRMation FoR teenS
or staying seated) now than you did when you wereyounger. On the other hand, you may notice greaterchallenges with staying on top o your schoolwork andother responsibilities. Tis is because there are moredemands on your time and higher expectations or youto unction independently now that you are a teen.
 Tis can all eel overwhelming, but don’t worry - thesechallenges are not that dierent rom what your riendsare going through whether they have AD/HD or not.In your case, it may be more pronounced, but propertreatment can help you adjust as you grow into yoursel and adjust to the changes in your lie.Another characteristic associated with AD/HD inadolescence is diculty with “executive unctioning.Tis term reers to the unctions within the brainthat “activate, organize, integrate, and manage otherunctions.”
In other words, executive unction allowsyou to think about goals and consequences or youractions, plan accordingly, evaluate your progress, andshi plans as necessary. Sound amiliar? Tis may beexactly what your parents and teachers have been tryingto help you with over the years. However, in adolescence,your parents and teachers expect you to start doingthese things more independently, and sometimes thattransition can be tough on you and those around you.
“WHY ME?” – CAusEs Of AD/HD
You may wonder why you have AD/HD. Some teens eelguilty or having AD/HD. Others eel that it is somethingthat they should be able to control on their own or becured o. Having AD/HD is not your ault! Researchhas clearly shown that AD/HD runs in amilies and ishighly genetic. AD/HD is a brain-based disorder, and thesymptoms shown in AD/HD are linked to many specicbrain areas.
Tere is no known “cure” or AD/HD, butwe know many things that can minimize the impact AD/HD has on your everyday lie.
Some teens with AD/HD also have the challenge o other conditions that are common with AD/HD.
Teseconditions may have been present since you were muchyounger, or may emerge with the additional stress o adolescence. Te act is that up to 60% o children andteens with AD/HD have been ound to have at least oneother condition,
so don’t think you’re alone.Some o the other conditions commonly 
experienced by teens with AD/HD may aect howyou act and have names that may sound pretty heavy.Specic ones include Oppositional Deant Disorder(ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD). ODD is a termthat means you may have diculty accepting andollowing the rules and limits set by authority gures.CD is more severe and includes having diculty with ollowing rules set by authority gures but alsoincludes diculty ollowing rules and laws set by society.Other conditions that aect how you eel (called
mood disorders), including depression and dysthymia(a type o negative mood similar to depression butthat lasts longer), can also be common in teens withAD/HD. Bipolar disorder is another type o mooddisorder. However, a diagnosis o bipolar disorder inteens is controversial
and a diagnosis o AD/HD doesnot appear to increase the risk or bipolar disorder.
 Anxiety disorders may be present in as many as
10 – 40% o teens with AD/HD. Anxiety disordersare characterized by excessive worry, diculty controlling your worries, and physical symptomsincluding headaches or upset stomach. Tey can alsoinclude “anxiety attacks” and make you want to avoidsituations that make you anxious.Substance use and abuse is a signicant concern o 
many parents and teens. Te risk or later substanceuse among children with AD/HD ranges rom 12 –24%. Some substances (like alcohol) may be illegalor you based on your age. Other substances (likemarijuana or other drugs) may be illegal, period! Forthese reasons alone you should avoid using them.I you choose to use such substances and nd youhave diculty controlling yoursel, i others haveexpressed concerns to you about your use, i you needthe substance to “get going” or “slow down,” or i youeel guilty about your use, you may have a substanceproblem. You should get proessional help rom alicensed mental health proessional or addictionspecialist.Learning and communication problems can also
be common
and may become apparent with theadded demands o middle school and high school. I you are concerned about your ability to learn in theclassroom, your ability to understand what others say to you, or your ability to express yoursel the way youwant to, then you should tell your parent(s). You may 
What We KnoW
ad/hd and teenS: inFoRMation FoR teenS
meeting your goals and achieving success.You may have diculty eeling good about yoursel oryou may eel that you are not as good as your riends orother students. Research shows that teens with AD/HDand learning disabilities report eeling severely stressedwhen going to school and sitting in class, eeling tired,having requent arguments with close riends, eelingdierent rom other classmates, having low sel-esteem,and eeling that their parents didn’t understand them.
 I you eel this way, remember, you are not alone and youcan eel better. alk with a parent, another trusted adult,or health proessional about how you eel. Participatein activities you enjoy and recognize that everyone hasdierent strengths and weaknesses.Many teens are concerned about talking with theirriends about their AD/HD. You may eel that yourriends don’t understand your diculties or may makeun o you. You can choose the riends with whom todiscuss your AD/HD and what details you want to share.However, explaining AD/HD to your trusted riends may surprise you—they may be a great source o support,or even have AD/HD themselves! Although the exactnumber o children and adolescents with AD/HD isunclear, somewhere between 1.4 million and 2.3 millionyouths have AD/HD, so you are ar rom alone in acingthe challenges that come with it.
Academic Performance:
High school studentslives are more hectic, with more demands to juggle,and less supervision. Academically, the workloadand diculty o the material increases, and long-termprojects rather than daily homework assignmentsare the norm. Tese actors all present challenges toteens with AD/HD. You may benet rom assistancewith note-taking, study skills, and organization/time management. As you develop these skills, youwill come to rely less on parents or teachers and bemore condent about your own ability to structureyour time and perorm at your potential. Studentswho have a diagnosis o AD/HD and whose AD/HD symptoms impair their academic unctioningmay qualiy or classroom accommodations. Teseaccommodations are based on your particular needs,but can include extra time on tests, taking tests in aseparate location where distractions are minimized,or additional organizational support. Work with yourneed an evaluation by a proessional to determinehow you learn, think, or communicate.Sleep disturbance is also common in teens with
AD/HD. Changes in sleep cycles are normal or allteens and you may have noticed that you preer tostay up later at night, sleep later in the morning, andneed more sleep overall. As a teen with AD/HD, youmay have diculty sleeping well and this may notnecessarily be a side eect o medications.At this time, it is not possible to predict who willexperience these additional diculties. It is likely thatgenetics play a role. Te additional stresses experiencedby some teens with AD/HD, such as social criticism orinternal rustration, may also make you more vulnerableto these diculties. For more inormation on theseconditions (which are called “co-existing” or “co-occurring”), please see
What We Know #5: AD/HD and Co-existing Conditions
.What should you do i you suspect that you may suerrom any o these additional disorders? alk to yourparent(s) about getting an evaluation by a psychologist,psychiatrist, or other trained mental health proessional.
What does it eel like to have AD/HD? You may experience stigma or embarrassment related to yourdiagnosis. You may also wish to deny that you haveAD/HD. Having AD/HD may make you eel dierentrom your riends and you may want to believe thatyour symptoms have lessened or even disappeared. Itis important or you to understand that you are notresponsible or having AD/HD. Having AD/HD is notdue to any mistake you made and is not a punishment.AD/HD is just like other medical conditions, such asasthma or poor eyesight. You can’t control the act thatyou have AD/HD, but you can control the way youmanage it. Following your treatment plan is a key to
“...somewhere between 1.4 millionand 2.3 million youths have AD/HD,so you are ar rom alone in acingthe challenges that come with it.”

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