Teen ADHD: Finding Help in the Classroom

Teen ADHD: Finding Help in the Classroom

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is an impulse-control disorder that is a common mental illness among children and teens. In fact, it is so common that some clinicians believe it is grossly overly diagnosed for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies who want to sell their medication as well as parents who want to understand the misbehavior of their child. In fact, ADHD is the most frequently diagnosed childhood mental illness.

However, another reason for its excessive diagnosis could be the simple fact that boys, who are more frequently diagnosed than their female classmates, tend to mature more slowly than girls. One study indicated that the younger the child was, given certain qualifying behavior, the more likely he or she was diagnosed with ADHD. The study pointed to misdiagnosis of children and made clear that 1 million children in the United States may be wrongly diagnosed.

After years of research into the disorder, it is apparent that adolescents diagnosed with ADHD also have signs of other illnesses such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder. What is more troubling is that those teens who were diagnosed with ADHD were more likely to exhibit signs of opposition and defiance in adulthood. They were more likely to drop out of school and develop addictions.

In order for a teen to be diagnosed with teen ADHD or ADD, he or she should be assessed first. There are a variety of assessments that can be used to determine the type of impairment in attention or hyperactivity. If a diagnosis is made, treatment will frequently include medication or therapy or a combination of these. It is common to prescribe stimulants, such as amphetamines, which activate the brain in areas that facilitate attention and focus.

Whether your child has already been diagnosed, providing the right support can facilitate his or her academic success. However, the reality is that already having a diagnosis might open more doors to support provided by the federal government, the community, and the school your child attends. Despite this, having a diagnosis of ADHD does not automatically mean eligibility for Special Education services in the school system. ADHD is a diagnosis that would need to fall under one of the following: the regulation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), learning disabilities, seriously emotionally disturbed, other health impaired, or Section 504, which is a special education provision that can be used to offer certain students education based services.

However, you might be able to find special education assistance right in a general classroom (most schools separate classrooms into general and special education). In this case, a tutor of special education teacher would enter the classroom and work one on one with your child. The benefit to this is that there are no labels and no stigma for your child of being psychologically or intellectually impaired in some way.

Of course, outside of the classroom, a therapeutic treatment can also be useful. For ADHD teens this usually includes a combination of medication and therapy. For instance, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will explore the relationships between an adolescent’s thinking, feeling, and behaving. In this way, a teen can become more aware of his or her patterns of thought and how they influence their behavior, and more importantly, make better choices versus acting impulsively. One of the key elements to ADHD is acting out without thinking through any consequences of behavior or choices. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help a teen slow down and become more aware of choices, decisions, and behavior.

Furthermore, a treatment plan that includes medication can significantly support a teen in their success at school, home and work.

– By Robert Hunt

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