Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is an impulse-control disorder that is a common mental illness among children and teens. In fact, ADHD is the most frequently diagnosed childhood mental illness.
The benefit of there being so many children and teens with ADHD is that there is a growing understanding and acceptance of the illness – particularly in schools. ADHD is an illness that can most certainly affect a teen’s academic performance, as well as relationships with peers, parents, and teachers.
Fortunately, there is help for ADHD teens in the classroom. However, typically, in the current school system, a child needs to be deemed as requiring “special education” and thus giving him or her access to special services. Yet, it’s possible for non-special education students to also receive help in a general classroom (most schools separate classrooms into general and special education). In this case, a tutor of special education teacher would enter the classroom and work one on one with your child. The benefit to this is that there are no labels and no stigma for your child of being psychologically or intellectually impaired in some way.
This is an important tool for parents to be aware of. Rather than fighting with your teen about getting tutoring after school or demanding higher grades. There might be a school professional that can assist your teen, even if he or she is not considered to be a special education student.
There’s no question that providing the right support for your ADHD teen can facilitate his or her academic success. However, the reality is that already having a diagnosis might open more doors to support that is provided by the federal government, the community, and the school your child attends. Yet, sadly, having a diagnosis of ADHD does not automatically mean eligibility for Special Education services in the school system. ADHD is a diagnosis that would need to fall under one of the following: the regulation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), learning disabilities, seriously emotionally disturbed, other health impaired, or Section 504, which is a special education provision that can be used to offer certain students education based services.
In order for a teen to be diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, he or she should be assessed first. There are a variety of assessments that can be used to determine the type of impairment in attention or hyperactivity. If a diagnosis is made, treatment will frequently include medication or therapy or a combination of these. It is common to prescribe stimulants, such as amphetamines, which activate the brain in areas that facilitate attention and focus.
Of course, outside of the classroom, a therapeutic treatment can also be useful. For ADHD teens this usually includes a combination of medication and therapy. For instance, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will explore the relationships between an adolescent’s thinking, feeling, and behaving. In this way, a teen can become more aware of his or her patterns of thought and how they influence their behavior, and more importantly, make better choices versus acting impulsively. One of the key elements to ADHD is acting out without thinking through any consequences of behavior or choices. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help a teen slow down and become more aware of choices, decisions, and behavior.