Children with ADHD are diagnosed more often in the early school years. Children with ADD (without hyperactivity) are sometimes not diagnosed until later in childhood or in their teen years. Many times, children with ADD do not have the behavioral problems associated with ADHD. Their inattention may be harder to notice and harder to diagnose. They may have gotten good grades through elementary school, where parent and teacher support are highest. They may be very shy, withdrawn and quiet. Teachers and parents may see them as simply underachievers rather than children that have difficulty paying attention. Many other symptoms of ADD such as not following directions are often masked when there is a strong support system of parents and teachers.
As children enter middle school and high school, their responsibilities increase and they may be in a school where they need to change classrooms several times throughout the day, have to keep track of all their belongings as they move from class to class. They are expected to be more independent and complete more of their work on their own. They may have more homework than in the past. All of these extra responsibilities can cause symptoms of ADD to become more noticeable.
If you feel your teen may have ADD or ADHD, keep a daily log of what symptoms you have noticed. Ask for teacher’s feedback as to classroom behaviors, completed homework and projects. Keep track of symptoms and determine if they have existed for at least six months.
The following guidelines can be used to help determine if you should seek medical attention for your child. These should not be used for the purpose of diagnosis, as your doctor will determine if your child has ADD or ADHD.
- Does your teen have behavioral problems at home and at school?
- Is there a noticeable difference between your teen’s intellectual ability and their performance?
- Does your teen lack social skills?
- Does your teen have difficulty making friends or maintaining friendships?
- Does your teen show signs of depression?
- Does your teen take hours each night to complete their homework, even though teachers have let you know that homework should only take a certain amount of time?
- Does your teen have problems completing chores or projects?
- Does your teen get distracted easily or have problems focusing on a task?
- Does your teen seem to be emotionally immature as compared to their peers?
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.