All rights reserved.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
Re: Special Needs for Teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Do teenagers with ADHD have special needs?

Most kids with ADHD continue to have symptoms as they enter adolescence. Some kids, however, are not diagnosed
with ADHD until they reach adolescence. This is more common among kids with predominantly inattentive symptoms
because they are not necessarily disruptive at home or in school. In these kids, the disorder becomes more apparent
as academic demands increase and responsibilities mount. For all teenagers, these years are challenging. But for
teenagers with ADHD, these years may be especially difficult.
Although hyperactivity tends to decrease as a youngster
ages, teenagers who continue to be hyperactive may
feel restless and try to do too many things at once. They
may choose tasks or activities that have a quick payoff,
rather than those that take more effort, but provide
bigger, delayed rewards. Teenagers with primarily
attention deficits struggle with school and other activities
in which they are expected to be more self-reliant.

Teenagers also become more responsible for their own
health decisions. When a youngster with ADHD is
young, moms and dads are more likely to be responsible
for ensuring that their youngster maintains treatment.
But when the youngster reaches adolescence, moms
and dads have less control, and those with ADHD may
have difficulty sticking with treatment.
Are stimulant medications safe?

If your adolescent asks for later curfews and use of the car, listen to the request, give reasons for your opinions, and
listen to your youngster's opinion. Rules should be clear once they are set, but communication, negotiation, and
compromise are helpful along the way. Maintaining treatments, such as medication and behavioral or family therapy,
also can help with managing your teenager's ADHD.

What about teenagers and driving?

Although many teenagers engage in risky behaviors, those with ADHD, especially untreated ADHD, are more likely to
take more risks. In fact, in their first few years of driving, teenagers with ADHD are involved in nearly four times as
many car accidents as those who do not have ADHD. They are also more likely to cause injury in accidents, and they
get three times as many speeding tickets as their peers.13

Most states now use a graduated licensing system, in which young drivers, both with and without ADHD, learn about
progressively more challenging driving situations.14 The licensing system consists of three stages—learner's permit,
during which a licensed adult must always be in the car with the driving adolescent; intermediate (provisional) license;
and full licensure. Moms and dads should make sure that their teenagers, especially those with ADHD, understand and
follow the rules of the road. Repeated driving practice under adult supervision is especially important for teenagers
with ADHD.
To help them stay healthy and provide needed
structure, teenagers with ADHD should be given rules
that are clear and easy to understand. Helping them
stay focused and organized—such as posting a chart
listing household chores and responsibilities with spaces
to check off completed items—also may help.

Teenagers with or without ADHD want to be independent
and try new things, and sometimes they will break rules.
If your adolescent breaks rules, your response should
be as calm and matter-of-fact as possible. Punishment
should be used only rarely. Teenagers with ADHD often
have trouble controlling their impulsivity and tempers
can flare. Sometimes, a short time-out can be calming.