If the transition between second and third grade seemed like a difficult one for the child with ADHD, the transition between grade school and middle school is even tougher. Not only are the academic challenges harder, but adolescents in middle school are developing more complex social relationships, trying to gain independence and find more and more demands and responsibilities placed on them.
In grade school, students remain in one classroom throughout the day. Books and supplies, such as pens, pencils and papers are kept in a desk. There is one main teacher who teaches the class the majority of subjects. All of that changes once a child reaches middle school. Suddenly, the students move from classroom to classroom, carrying books, pens and pencils with them. There is a different teacher for each subject. Now, students must “transition” several times each day and develop organizational skills to keep track of school work. The skills needed to succeed in middle school are the skills many children with ADHD struggle with.
Because of the additional demands, socially and academically, in middle school, many symptoms of ADHD become more pronounced. One recent study showed ADHD symptoms to increase or worsen and adolescents experiencing more problems at home during the middle school years.
Additionally, during middle school, a child’s self image as well as how peers view him or her often center around school performance. If a child succeeds in school, they may be well liked or thought of in a positive way. If a child struggles or fails a class, they are thought of as “stupid.” Social relationships change at this age as well. Belonging to a group becomes extremely important and when a child with ADHD feels he or she doesn’t fit in, it can be devastating. Parents and teachers can help by teaching social skills, reinforcing manners and practicing conversation skills.
Hyperactivity can begin to lessen during puberty, but may be replaced with a persistent “restless” feeling or constant fidgeting. Symptoms of inattention remain throughout adolescence and adulthood.