FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS OF ADOLESCENTS WITH ADHD - SCHOOL
The following article quotes extensively from an excellent article written by Margaret Weiss, M.D. and Umesh Jain, M.D. This article was published in The ADHD Report, edited by Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., Guilford Publications, Inc., Vol. 8, No. 6, Dec. 2000.
The functional impairments of adolescents with ADHD reviewed here encompass school, with friends, in activities of daily living and at home.Since it is often difficult to distinguish "normal" adolescent behavior from behavior in adolescents with ADHD, parents must continually educate themselves as to the differences.
Functional Impairments of Adolescents with ADHD in School
"The entry into high school may lead to a rapid deterioration in the child's behavior. The educational accommodations established in elementary school (e.g. a communication book, special seating arrangements, a daily report card, behavioral plans such as a token economy, protected work settings like a resource room) that are discontinued, either because the high school is unfamiliar with them, or because they are not appropriate to the high school setting. The following are some of the typical challenges the adolescent must face.
There are increased demands on organizational skills such as attention to detail, accuracy, time management, and planning. Faced with deficient skills in these areas, the student finds him or herself operating in a defensive and reactive mode: procrastinating, doing everything at once, rushing through things, or staying up all night. Simple tasks such as choosing activities, finding the next class, or registering for extracurricular sports may be overwhelming to the organizationally challenged student.
Many ADHD students have associated study skills deficits that their teachers may not be aware of or may misinterpret as lack of motivation. High school teachers may be less likely to check to see if the student understands the assignment request, has copied down the instructions, or has problems with written output than elementary school teachers. Problems with auditory processing, tracking, or dysgraphia our common in ADHD patients, and may persist into adolescence. As a result, the students have difficulty taking notes and may do poorly in courses that depend heavily on what is taught in class. Estimates of the prevalence of co-morbid learning disabilities varies widely... It is clear, however, that there can be considerable overlap between attention problems and learning problems...
It may be that teachers and learning assistance staff hesitate to identify study skills deficits on the assumption that the school will not be able to afford educational remediation. However, many of these deficits can be addressed through simple and inexpensive accommodations. Useful strategies include: using a laptop computer; having notes distributed before the lecture; assigning a daily note taker; and providing a supervised study block so that homework can be completed in a quiet setting, on medication, and with all materials available.
Adolescents with ADHD have difficulty setting and working with long-term goals. They do not see the relationship between sustained daily effort and long-term achievement at the end of the year. These students start the year off with genuine enthusiasm, but by November are already deteriorating. At the end of January they may have "incompletes." Experiencing a state of panic in May, they may be able to just pass. This gives parents the impression that the child lacks a work ethic and "is just lazy." Procrastination and "pulling all nighters" becomes increasingly dysfunctional at higher academic levels.
As a result of these impediments, ADHD students may be placed into nonacademic streams that preclude university entrance. The common theme that the individual is "not meeting their potential" only exacerbates their fragile self-esteem."
As can be seen from this material the high maintenance task of raising a child with ADHD continues into adolescence. The more careful and vigilant a parent is with the educational tasks of the adolescent the higher the odds of success. It can be a very daunting task, however, especially when a parent has other obligations such as children (with or without ADHD), a job or a life.