By CATHY BROWNFIELD
Family Recovery Center
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a daily challenge for a teenager, his parents, his teachers, and other people who are on the front lines of the condition. More boys than girls are diagnosed with ADD, and adults can suffer with the disorder. A lot of conscientious effort is required to focus, to remain on task until assigned tasks are done. It isn't easy to achieve the self discipline required for these students to achieve their goals.
ADD in teens is different than children. Children can't sit still (hyperactivity). By the time the child is a teenager the hyperactivity is replaced with restlessness or rebellion, advises Chris Zeigler Dendy, who writes not just as a mental health professional, but as a mother of two boys diagnosed with ADD. (Teenagers with ADD: A Parents' Guide, ISBN 0933149697)
Parents and teachers, Dendy writes, complain their these teens "have difficulty following rules and instructions."
For instance, Mom gave "Randy" a recipe card with instructions, "Get all the ingredients out before you do anything else. Make sure you have everything you're going to need." When she looked up from what she was doing, Randy was dumping ingredients into the bowl as he took them from the cupboard.
"Did you get everything out to make sure you can make this? Did you measure what you' have already used?"
Mom supervised his work because he had to throw out what he'd done. Later, he advised on his Facebook page that "I made a mean pizza for supper!"
"The two core characteristics of ADD, inattention and impulsivity, are largely to blame," Dendy says. These kids, she advises, have a difficult time focusing on dull, boring, repetitive taskshomework, class work, chores at home. Instead, they prefer activities with "a more satisfying, immediate reward."
Problems of ADD:
- Doesn't listen.
- Doesn't pay attention.
- Can't concentrate
- Loses things.
- Can't work alone.
- Doesn't finish what he started
- Shifts from one task to another.
Others, including the teacher, may have the impression that the student is immature, irresponsible, lazy and rude, says Dendy. A clue can be found when punishments and rewards don't work.
How heartbreaking it is for a parent when a teacher says, "Your son isn't stupid. He's lazy He won't do the work. I give up!"
Teens with ADD are at risk of:
- School failure
- School suspension, expulsion
- Dropping out of school
- Substance abuse
- Speeding tickets
- Car wrecks
Students need good study and organizational skills to succeed academically. Teens with ADD can't stay on task. Conflicts with teachers and parents arise because the kids are failing to complete assigned work at home and school. These kids may be defiant, stubborn, verbally hostile. They may throw temper tantrums or disobey authority. They are difficult to discipline.
Dendy advises that parents don't cause ADD in their children, however, researchers think it may be a part of the gene pool.
That doesn't excuse unacceptable behaviors in teens with ADD. The student has to work harder to focus on the tasks, to develop the self-discipline needed to succeed.
One more note for parents and teachers comes from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
"Parents and teachers can miss the fact that children with symptoms of inattention have the disorder because they are often quiet and less likely act out. They may sit quietly, seeming to work, but they are often not paying attention to what they are doing."
For more information on this topic, or help for your teen or family, contact Family Recovery Center, 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is funded, in part, by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.