ADHD symptoms can sometimes decrease as children get older. Hyperactivity and impulsiveness tend to lessen as children mature. Although these symptoms may remain throughout life and continue to cause difficulties for adults, typically, the symptoms are not as disruptive in daily life for adults as they are in children.
One recent study, conducted by Joshua M. Langberg, PhD and Jeffrey Epstein, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Center, showed that although symptoms did decline as children aged, this trend was disrupted in middle school.
In elementary school, children normally are in one classroom, with one teacher. Once a child enters middle school their daily routines change immensely. They have multiple teachers, go into different classrooms, and have more homework. Middle school requires organizational and planning skills more than elementary school does. Children in middle school are expected to be more responsible.
The skills necessary to do well in middle school are exactly the skills children with ADHD may have trouble with. The transition between elementary school and middle school appeared to cause more problems at home than in school, the study showed. This was apparent in children that took medication for symptoms as well as in children that did not take medication. Children with ADHD appeared to have more stress and difficulty with middle school requirements than those that did not have ADHD.
Although the environment does not cause ADHD, this study seems to support the theory that the environment can increase or worsen symptoms of ADHD. Parents need to be aware of the difficulties ADHD can cause for students in middle school and work to help them develop skills such as time management, planning, organization and study skills.