ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions diagnosed in children. Many people may not be aware of the prevalence of ADHD that goes undiagnosed until the teen years. Often ADHD symptoms in teens are written off as part of the expected changes in teenagers going through puberty. But ADHD is different than normal puberty, and the impact of ignoring these symptoms in adolescents may follow those individuals well into adulthood.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a chronic disorder characterized by high activity levels, an inability to focus on tasks or communication, and impulsive behavior. It is most often diagnosed in early childhood but, in some cases, may go undiagnosed until adulthood.
Undiagnosed and untreated ADHD may result in developmental and educational problems. It may also negatively affect interpersonal relationships and the ability of the individual to attain their academic or career goals.
ADHD Symptoms in Teens
The diagnosis of ADHD in teens may be particularly challenging. This is partly true because these years are filled with rapid emotional, hormonal, and physical changes that bring on their own turmoil that may mask symptoms.
The fact that the teen has probably lived with ADHD for their entire life makes diagnosis challenging. They have already found a way to live within the confines of the condition and developed their own coping mechanisms. By adolescence, these are frequently seen as oddities, not symptoms of an underlying condition.
Teens with this disorder may show any or all of the following symptoms:
- Inability to focus
- Dramatic reactions to stimuli
- Frequently interrupting or becoming distracted from conversations
- Fear of rejection
- Difficulty picking up on social cues
- Inability to compromise
- Problems following multi-step directions
ADHD Symptoms in Teen Girls
While teen girls may show any of the ADHD symptoms listed above, they also may exhibit some that are unique to their gender. This is partly due to the fact that girls and young women are more likely to blame themselves than to look for outside reasons for their struggles. This leads to them finding ways to control their symptoms by internalizing them. Some of these unique symptoms include:
- Taking the time to ensure that their homework is done correctly, but then forgetting to turn it in
- Frequently reading ahead in textbooks or reading assignments, but finding themselves unable to answer questions related to the current work
- Difficulty making and keeping friends
- Either sitting quietly and uninvolved during discussions or dominating the conversation by interrupting and talking rapidly
How Can I Help My Child with ADHD
Regardless of the age your child is diagnosed with ADHD, therapies and treatments can help them learn to control their impulses and focus on the here and now. If you have a teenager just beginning their treatment journey, it is best to find a place that specializes in teenagers’ unique needs and realities.
The Forum at San Diego Brainworks is just such a place. Here you will find doctors and staff who have devoted their lives to helping teenagers cope with issues brought on by mental, emotional, or educational difficulties. Contact us today to learn more about how The Forum can help you and your teen through a diagnosis of ADHD or any other problem.