How to Help ADHD Teens Succeed in School

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is an impulse-control disorder that can cause difficulty for teens, especially when they’re in school. For instance, the following are typical symptoms of ADHD that can easily get in the way of a teen’s academic success:

  • Difficulty with organizing  and prioritizing tasks
  • Difficulty with getting started on tasks.
  • Excessive procrastination to the point where they begin to see completing the task as too overwhelming.
  • Inability to focus and sustain attention, such as keeping attention on words when reading.
  • Easily distracted
  • Inability to regulate alertness and process information when needed
  • Difficulty with long-term projects that require sustained attention over longer periods of time.
  • Challenges with maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
  • Inability to manage frustration
  • Inability to manage emotions, which can get in the way of thinking and communicating with others
  • Inability to utilize their working memory and access information stored in memory when needed.
  • Difficulty with holding pieces of information in the mind while focusing on a specific task.
  • Inability to regulate the pace of their actions and tendency to be impulsive.
  • Tendency to fidget and be hyperactive.

After reviewing this list, you might be able to see why a child may have difficulty in their classes when faced with the above challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one to three teens in a classroom of 30 students has ADHD. This means that approximately between 5% and 7.5% of students face the challenges of ADHD.

1. Find help for your teen right in the classroom. You may have to go through a process of notifying the school of your teen’s diagnosis and requesting specific services. However, once done, your teen may be provided with a teacher’s aide or tutor who can help with homework and in-class assignments.

2. Ensure that your teen is eating in a healthy way. If teens are not digesting well, eating the wrong foods or even eating at the wrong times, they may not be able to absorb the micronutrients needed for the healthy functioning of the brain. Taking your teen to a nutritionist can begin the process of finding a diet that best heals any imbalances that may exist in your teen’s body and brain.

3. Encourage your ADHD teen to stick to the same sleep schedule. Although this might be difficult to establish at first, a teen who goes to bed and rises at the same time every day might feel the difference in his or her mental health. The hyperactivity in ADHD can inhibit a regular sleep schedule; it will either cause little sleep or oversleeping. Yet, having a regular schedule can help with getting the right amount of rest.

4. Make sure your ADHD teen is physically active throughout the week. Exercise can also help with long-term mental health, including making new connections in the brain, which alone can facilitate long-lasting change. Furthermore, to experience these benefits from exercise, your teen doesn’t have to run three miles a day; taking a walk regularly can boost mental health.

These are suggestions for easing the academic experience of your ADHD teen. However, for professional assistance, especially if you find that your teen is not doing well in school, contact a mental health provider for additional support.

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