Psychoeducational group for adolescents (13-18) specializing in teaching healthy coping skills through mindfulness strategies. DBT 101 has an “open door” policy; you may join at any time.
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a very common condition that is diagnosed mainly in young children and teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016 approximately 3.3 million children in the teenage years were diagnosed with ADHD. For a more comprehensive overview, check out CHADD — a website full of helpful and up to date information about ADHD/ADD.
What are the Symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD is a complex syndrome and how it manifests can differ between individuals. However, the main symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These signs can manifest in different ways:
- Being easily distracted.
- Constant forgetfulness.
- Persistent fidgeting and inability to be still.
- Difficulty waiting for a turn.
- Overvaluing immediate versus delayed rewards (delay discounting).
ADHD Myths and Misconceptions
Most of us have heard of ADHD, but we may not be aware of the many myths circulating about it. If you are the parent of a teen or young adult, it’s important to realize that misconceptions about ADHD shape how we think about, react to, and support those who have it or those we suspect may have it. Here are some of the more common myths followed by what is true about ADHD.
- False: My adolescent is hyper, so they likely have ADHD – Teens are full of energy, and they can sometimes be rowdy. Although hyperactivity is one symptom of ADHD, if unruly behavior is the only symptom exhibited by your adolescent, then it’s best not to jump to the conclusion that they have ADHD.
- False: My Adolescent has ADHD, so I must be a bad parent – Causes for any kind of mental disorder are difficult to pin down. The general consensus is that ADHD is rooted in brain chemistry. Certain individuals with genes that affect how the brain processes two neurotransmitters called norepinephrine and dopamine may be at an elevated risk for ADHD.
- False: Teens with ADHD are only affected in school – ADHD and its symptoms aren’t limited to the classroom environment. However, ADHD does have an adverse effect on school performance and academic attainment.
- False: ADHD affects only boys – ADHD is not limited to boys and it’s just as possible for girls to have it. The symptoms of ADHD are the same in both genders. But because of the persistence of this myth, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
- False: Teens with ADHD will eventually outgrow it – Unfortunately, many adolescents diagnosed with ADHD will continue to exhibit symptoms throughout their twenties and on into full adulthood. Without help, they are highly vulnerable to a host of problems – anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, career difficulties, and troubled personal relationships.
- False: ADHD medication turns adolescents into “zombies” – The term “drugged” often suggests lethargy and loss of capacity. In fact, the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD typically do not have this effect. And, according to the CDC, between 70 to 80 percent of youngsters with ADHD have fewer symptoms when they take prescribed stimulants.
- True: ADHD is a real mental disorder – A teen with ADHD has a diagnosable brain disorder. However, an accurate diagnosis will require observations by an ADHD expert of multiple symptoms in different settings and evidence of significant behavioral impairment.
- True: ADHD diagnosis is on the rise – ADHD is one of the most prevalent psychiatric illnesses among young people. Various studies show that ADHD has been rising over the years, but the increase could be attributed to a tendency for medical professionals to indulge in over-diagnosis.
- True: ADHD can lead to other disorders – Research suggests that teens with ADHD have an increased chance of developing other types of behavioral disorders and of developing substance abuse.
- True: ADHD can be treated – Treatment of ADHD has been proven to be beneficial for many teens and young adults. For those with mild forms of ADHD, they can be symptom free after just a few years of treatment. However, others with more serious cases will continue to benefit from life-long treatment that enables them to manage their symptoms successfully.
Treatment for ADHD in Phoenix
If you’re unsure about whether your adolescent or young adult has ADHD, it’s best to have a consultation with a medical professional experienced in assessing ADHD and who can prescribe any necessary medication. Doorways offers therapy and counseling aimed at mitigating the symptoms of ADHD and any associated behavioral issues. We treat individuals in the 13-25 age group, so make an appointment with us for a free consultation.
- Maintain a peaceful environment at home. A peaceful home environment means not lashing out when your teen talks back or doesn’t immediately calm down and tuck into homework. As a parent, you may get angry at your teen at times–upsetting that peaceful environment. When this occurs, just say you’re sorry for the outburst, remind your teen that you love them, and explain why you are frustrated with them.
- Find an outlet for your teen’s energy. If your teen is especially hyperactive, they may need additional activities in which to channel this extra energy. There is a myriad of extracurricular activities available for teens, many they can easily sign up for through their school. Consider a sport, scouts, or another activity with plenty of outdoor time.
- Cut down on media distractions. It can be difficult for teens with attention problems to filter out extra noise when they’re attempting to concentrate. Keeping the television on in the next room can limit your teen’s capacity to complete homework, so turn it off when you aren’t watching. When possible, find ways to reduce screen time. Perhaps set a rule that they can only play video games after dinner or they must turn their cell phone to airplane mode between the hours of 4:00-6:00 pm.
- Make sure your teen knows the rules and enforce them. To make sure parents and teens are on the same page, talk openly about rules and standards. Whether this is the type of grades you’d like them to maintain, a designated homework time or the media rules discussed in the tip above; your teen should know what you expect of them, and what the consequences will be if they don’t follow rules or meet standards.
- Offer organizational strategies. Encourage your teen to approach large school assignments by breaking them down into “chunks.” This will help them view bigger tasks as a series of manageable smaller tasks. Teens who are prone to distraction will begin to feel motivated by their small successes. Moreover, keeping a checklist or to-do list is a great habit for distracted teens. The simple act of crossing something off a list will reinforce productive behavior.
- Build up your teen’s self-esteem. Teens who have problems focusing often feel like they’re in trouble or not as good as their peers. Let your teen know that you believe in them. Share that you know they are capable and that they can do anything they set their mind to.
If you are having difficulty helping your distracted teen to focus, and their school work is suffering, consider seeking the help of a professional who specializes in working with teens. At Doorways, we are leading experts in counseling for teens and young adults and employ experts in the treatment of ADD/ADHD.
With help from the team at Health Central, we have outlined some invaluable apps that can help get and keep your adolescent student on track.
While the features may differ slightly amongst each app, the purpose of these apps is to keep your student on track daily by managing classes. These apps allow you to put in all pertinent information about your classes like teacher, assignments, test dates, project deadlines and grades and also set reminders.
Dropbox might be an online tool that you are familiar with. This tool allows you to store files and then access them from any of your devices. This can be helpful for your student because files saved to Dropbox can be accessed from a home computer and as well as say your student’s phone.
It is likely that your student has lots of ideas for an upcoming project, but just isn’t sure how to organize. What is great about this app is that it allows you to jot down your ideas and then it outlines them in a logical order.
This app allows you to keep all information in one spot, like images, web links, and notes. The best part is that later you can search and find the information that you need.
- 30/30 for Apple Devices
30/30 is an app designed to help you manage time. This is great for students because it allows to you to allocate a certain amount of time to each desired task i.e. 30 minutes of English homework and it sets a timer and counts down the 30 minutes.
This is another document storage base. What’s really helpful about GoogleDrive is that it allows you to scan or type in additional important information.
This app is the modern-day family calendar. It allows you to add appointments, family functions, sporting events, etc. to your entire family’s calendar and hopefully avoid being told by your teen that they didn’t know they had a dentist appointment because you hadn’t told them.
These apps are merely organizational tools to help you and your teen achieve greater academic success. If you have additional concerns about your teen, please consult a health professional that specializes in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
There are several areas that your teen might have difficulties with and that you should be examining. These include:
- School work
- Relationships with peers
- Home life
- Behavior that is risky
- Sticking to medicine regimen
According to the Child Mind Institute, if teenagers are not getting the support they need, they are more likely to have lower grades and test scores. As a parent, you can help by making sure that your teen has access to special testing accommodations if necessary. Help your teen with organization to stay on track with homework assignments or consider a tutor or homework helper. The most important thing when it comes to school work is to check in with your teen and make sure they are staying on track and getting the help they need.
Relationships with Peers
Research has shown that teens with ADHD are likely to have problems with relationships and be subject to bullying. The reasons for this are likely just a lack of social skills and cues or impulsive acts. There are ways you can help your teen with friendships. Most importantly, get to know who they are hanging out with and encourage communication about any difficulties with peers they may be having. You can also encourage your teen to try a new activity to make new friends.
CHADD The National Resource on ADHD, suggests that households with a teen with ADHD are more likely to have conflict between the parent and teen. As a parent, you must make certain demands on your teen from completed chores, following house rules, and getting school work complete. While this can be stressful, it is important that you give your teen supervision and reminders to comply with necessary tasks. This can cause tension for both of you and can lead to more conflict. It is important to steer clear of negativity. In order to do this, make sure that the two of you have clear communication and that expectations are clearly stated. It is also important to wait to discuss things until everyone has calmed down.
Emotions are going in all different directions during the teen years then add ADHD to that equation and your teen is likely to have more ups and downs. The Child Mind Institute suggests helping your teen by practicing strategies to cope and cool down.
Behavior That is Risky
Teens with ADHD are more likely to use alcohol, smoke, try illicit drugs and engage in sex earlier than other teens. As a parent, know where your teen is at and who they are with. Try to keep them engaged in structured activities. Also, talk to your teen about those issues and the risks involved. Don’t be afraid to tell them these are activities that you expect them not to engage in. Make them feel comfortable to talk to you about these issues.
For teens with ADHD, driving can have additional challenges. Difficulties stem from the impulsivity and inattention that teens with ADHD have. This can lead to more driving errors like accidents and tickets. It is important that your teen knows about good driving habits like wearing a seat belt, staying off their phone, and limiting passengers in the car to minimize distractions.
Sticking to Medicine Regimen
According to CHADD The National Resource on ADHD, almost half of teens with ADHD do not take their medication as directed. There are several reasons for this including teens thinking they don’t need it anymore or they could be giving it away or selling it. If your teen has decided they don’t want to take medication anymore, talk to their physician to see if a trial period could be beneficial. Talk to your teen about what the expectations are for them to remain off the medication otherwise they will have to resume. In addition, talk to your teen about the dangers of the medication for someone that has not been prescribed it and about peer pressure.
Lastly, the most beneficial thing that you can do for your teen is boost their confidence. Show your teen love and support. Show them you believe in them and they can work through their struggles. Help them find their strengths and encourage them to engage in those activities they are successful at.
If you find that you are still having difficulty helping your teen with their ADHD, consider seeking the help of a professional who specializes in working with teens with ADHD.