Could my Adolescent/Young Adult have ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a pretty well known disorder over the past two decades. Very simply explained, it is a disorder characterized by difficulties sustaining attention, focusing and trouble sitting still. There have been countless studies looking at whether the disorder is overdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Regardless of one’s stance on this debate, the important point is that many children, adolescents, and young adults suffer from this disorder. In addition, many go undiagnosed and thus do not receive treatment, especially adolescents and young adults who present with more symptoms of inattention.
Children who displays symptoms of hyperactivity (i.e., not being able to sit still), tend to be more likely to get evaluated and diagnosed at younger ages because their symptoms are more noticeable. However, for those individuals who may struggle more with difficulties sustaining attention and other less noticeable difficulties, they are somewhat less likely to draw the attention of teachers and parents, and thus may not get evaluated as frequently. This is especially true for individuals with undiagnosed ADHD who do well academically.
Many adolescents and young adults with undiagnosed ADHD who were able to get by in middle school and high school realize in college or when entering the workforce that their difficulties are really hindering them. Such individuals often have difficulty completing schoolwork, are disorganized, miss attending class and other obligations, and may struggle to remember to complete basic chores/tasks. When entering the workforce, they often have difficulty meeting deadlines, balancing commitments and staying on task. There has definitely been a rise in the past several years in late adolescents and young adults seeking evaluations and treatment for ADHD. In most cases, when looking back at someone’s history as a child, the evidence is there to suggest that they have been struggling with ADHD since they were a young child.
Many parents don’t seek an evaluation or treatment for their children or adolescents because they feel that their symptoms are not that severe, worry that they will have to take medication, or know they won’t let their children or adolescents take medication so they feel it is not worth having them evaluated. While the severity of ADHD symptoms obviously varies between people, in many cases, symptoms can become more detrimental without treatment as one gets older and needs to rely more on themselves in order to carry out tasks and be self sufficient. In addition to continued struggles as discussed above, untreated ADHD can lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, problems in interpersonal relationships, and a variety of other issues. While medication is often a very useful treatment for ADHD, it does not teach individuals the skills they need in order to learn to better manage their time, handle frustration, and deal with other issues commonly occurring in individuals with ADHD. Thus, even if you are against medication, there are many behavioral treatments that can assist your child or adolescent with ADHD symptoms.
Therefore, if you’ve had concerns about your child, adolescent or young adult having ADHD, or if they struggle with sustaining attention, completing tasks, are disorganized, cannot sit still, or display other difficulties commonly associated with ADHD, it is important to consider having them evaluated and receive treatment for ADHD.
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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship, and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*