Mary trains educators and parents on ADHD, emotional challenges, and classroom management practices. An internationally recognized expert on ADHD, she is the author of four books, including the bestseller, Maybe You Know My Kid (3rd edition), Maybe you Know my Teen, the original CHADD Educators Manual, and 20 Questions to Ask If Your Child has ADHD.
“Think of this book as facts with personality. Answers are written in an easy-to-read, conversational style from a parent who’s been there”. Organized into four easily manageable categories:• General/Medical Information • Social/Emotional Well-being • Home Issues • School Issues. ($10 on Kindle – $13 for paperback)
Based on conversations I have had with other moms, we all have moments where we wonder if we have done something wrong. Have the Gods cursed us? Are we bad mothers?
When my son screams at me in public or verbally threatens his kindergarten teacher I want to sink into the floor. I envy the moms whose children come out of school beaming, holding up their prizes for an entire day of good behavior.
Not that my son never gets a prize, he does, but every single day I am sweating, waiting for the phone call.
I write all the time about how abnormal I am. I have no explanation for why I want my son to be something I am not. But I am starting to think my feelings are not uncommon.
My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Life in my house can be a little…..errrr challenging.
It is totally normal and acceptable to have mixed feelings about your child’s diagnosis.
HOW TO ACCEPT YOUR CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS
ENJOY YOUR CHILD
In the past, my son has had some emotional regulation issues. I have run around town to play therapists and occupational therapists and one cognitive behavioral therapist. Each time we went through a bad spell, we came out of it and I thought that I had it under control.
In my own way, I was arrogant for believing that having lived through ADHD I could handle it in my own son. As it turns out he does have ADHD. But he also has Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high functioning autism that does not affect speech.
E likes the same things all 6 year-olds like. But he cannot transition at all. Not from one activity to another, and not from one environment to another. And if his daily schedule is altered in any way he is highly likely to have a meltdown.
When I say meltdown, that means anything from crying and covering his ears, to telling his teacher that he will, “Hulk smash the building.” He is that unpredictable.
E is also incredibly funny. Within the last week I have discussed all of the following:
Where “meat” comes from = dead animals
Black holes in space
The fact that my son swears he is never moving out of my house
Meditation, mindfulness….and, “why does that lady keep talking?”
When you get a diagnosis for your child you will go through a process. Here are some ideas to get you through the tough times.
TAKE PERSONAL TIME
I have not been alone in 6 years. Literally. My son was attached to me like an appendage for most of his life.
If there is one piece of advice I can give it is to take time for yourself.
This year we didn’t have a dog-sitter for Easter so I stayed by myself in my house over the holiday weekend. It was glorious. No interruptions. Just quiet time.
And I was fine. I can exist separate from my child with Asperger’s Syndrome and my husband.
My life is so consumed with taking care of others that I often forget how to take care of myself. Now I know that I can. I can be alone with my thoughts and it is ok.
For at least 2 years I suspected my son has some kind of sensory processing or pragmatic disorder. Nobody really believed me, but I always knew. A mom just knows.
To date, I have yet to cry over my son’s diagnosis. Maybe because I spent so much time crying before?
Having an answer is somewhat comforting. With the diagnosis, I can make plans. I can enroll him in social skills classes, and schedule occupational therapy.
There is a forward motion to what I am doing.
But there is sadness. Will he ever be the boy I KNOW he could be? Will he make friends?
Let yourself cry if that is what you need. Hopefully, I will get there. Right now I feel like I don’t even have time to feel sorry for myself.
I have cried enough for all of us.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Like every other parent, I want the very best for my child. I want him to achieve… everything.
I have this vision of a handsome young man traveling abroad his junior year of high school. The same young man goes off to college and leaves me. I can literally feel the potential in my son.
I can feel it, but my son is too young to see the world through my crystal ball.
We have had issues at every single child care provider we have tried. Daycare directors have told me my child is “unmanageable.” There have been countless notes home from preschool teachers.
I have cried for days. I have cried rivers over my son. Every meltdown, every incident report chips away at my “vision” of who my son is.
But this is the thing – I know that he is more than his behavior.
It is my expectations that are being shot down. My hopes and dreams.
It is ok to grieve the death of your own expectations. Always keep the end goal in mind.
MAKE THE TOUGH DECISIONS
I live in one of the best public school districts in the country. I have shared with them my son’s recent diagnosis. We are working on a 504 plan.
It’s complicated because my son has an above-average IQ, but marked social skills deficits.
I am fearful of the labels that are often assigned in public schools. The labels, though necessary, tend to be life-long. I do not want to go to IEP meetings for my son. I do not want to get phone calls and emails from the school.
But as the mom, it is my job to make the tough decisions. Talking to teachers and administrators is part of my job. I got this. So do you.
THE FEAR IS REAL
I worked for a time with older students in a special education setting, I loved my time there but what I saw was not encouraging. I witnessed bright kids who were going through a tough time being thrown together with emotionally disturbed kids.
My students believed they could not and would not achieve. They had given up on school and even worse, on themselves.
In order for my son to be successful in any school he is going to need support. Private schools are sometimes unable to offer the types of supports that a kid like mine needs. I would like to think that I can provide enough support outside of school that he can live up to his potential.
I am scared and I am sad. But I know I am not alone.
To all of the moms out there dealing with an Autism diagnosis; I hear you. I feel you.
It is totally normal to question everything. It is also ok to just sit and cry. Sometimes this feels like a life sentence.
Every single expectation and hope goes down the toilet when you hear the words, “autism spectrum.”
But it’s ok. Your mixed feelings are ok. A diagnosis gives you the chance to learn and grow and provide the resources your child needs.
I feel you, I hear you. And I am right there with you.
Now I want to know: How do you accept your child’s diagnosis?
About the author: Elizabeth Lewis is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and self-appointed CEO of her home. Liz founded A Dose of Healthy Distraction, a website and a private Facebook group to provide a realistic yet positive face to living with ADHD. She also runs the ADHD Coaching Corner, a low-cost online support and coaching group.
ADHD overwhelm is real. To survive, we think we must tackle the most visible of our symptoms, the disorganization, forgetfulness, and unfinished tasks first. But it helps to start at the beginning with basic self-care. Many of us neglect basic needs for supporting ourselves physically and mentally. We don’t even realize that they may be part of the problem and increase impairment from ADHD symptoms. Yet, a poor diet, disturbed sleep, a lack of exercise, and not taking time for breaks are common problems for children and adults with ADHD. We don’t make time to rejuvenate, to refresh our mind and bodies.
ADHD isn’t easy, but if you take it step by step, you CAN get a handle on it. Our natural inclination is to rush in and try “Fix” everything at once, but we have a lifetime of poor habits and emotional fallout to deal with first.
We MUST Eat, Sleep, Move, and Rest, but so often these don’t make it onto our daily to-do list. (If we even have such a list.) But ignoring these needs exacts a heavy toll on out physical and mental health. In The Best Advice Ever, Katherine McGaver addresses this topic. “If you have ADHD,” she writes, “you need to be in your best possible shape every day to manage this powerful, free-spirited brain.” “Because if you don’t manage an ADHD brain, it will manage you. For people who have ADHD, proper eating, exercise, and sleep are mandatory. They provide the energy, strength, clarity, and staying power that is needed hour by hour, day by day, every day, to stay in charge.”
At work, home and in school, we still struggle with getting things done. So often we focus on what we HAVEN’T done and don’t reward ourselves for those things that we HAVE accomplished. Rest, Self-Expression and Connection are perfect ways to be refreshed and get ready to tackle the day again. To help keep balance in your life, see this article, Self-care Activities you Actually Have Time For by Meagan of Page Flutter. She also created a Printable of Self-care and rewards to help you create balance in your life.
Of course what’s probably driving you crazy is your messy house or desk at work. You don’t have to ignore these but approach them gradually. Start with Simple Steps to Staying Organized, an article with a Free Printable from Andrea Dekker. By taking them one step at a time, each task takes just a minute or two. If you attend to them every day, big jobs become manageable.
I’m lucky to have two lovely articles on dealing with ADHD in the family. Keeping our relationships vital, loving, and supportive can make all the difference for yourself and other family members.
The first is On ADHD: Parent to Parent. It’s an overview of three articles that offer down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.
Duane and Linda Walker
We also have How I Fixed my ADHD Husband. Coach Linda Walker writes, “I think of us as a family with ADHD. We could only solve this problem working together, and so this was as much my journey as theirs.”
“I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering in the family. I know Duane had it worse than me – he was living it 24/7. “
But IS ADHD REALLY 24/7? Dr. Charles Parker maintains that it is NOT. He claims that ADHD is situational. It only shows sometimes in certain contexts. As he says, “One of the hallmarks of ADHD is cognitive abundance, not a cognitive deficiency.” Too many thoughts mean too many choices and too many options to handle well. According to Dr. Parker, “ADHD symptoms flourish when there are too many variables, a lack of structure and an absence of focus.”
“Limiting the variables within a defined platform is the answer to getting things done.” Being interested in the process, involved with the outcome, or working to a deadline also helps. Watch Dr. Parker’s video ADHD Medication Rule 2- Reality Denied.
My symptoms disappear when I’m working on Pinterest or Facebook. Those social sites are tailor-made for my natural inclinations collecting and sharing information with the aim of encouraging people to get help for ADHD. Writing about ADHD is a different animal that requires strategic thinking to make it possible. When I’m struggling with a task like getting out this newsletter, I make it more manageable by breaking it down, defining its scope, and getting inspired or making it a challenge. I call it “putting a box around it.” I love to share the “treasures” I’ve found but I have way too much information! This time I limited myself to three outside sources, 2 articles from my website and a video or two. They had to be personal favorites, cover basic information, be encouraging and easy to understand. I set a July 1st deadline and committed to working on it every day for at least fifteen minutes. I also participated in a Body-doubling session with my coaching group to keep me on track for the final push. This gave me both a time-limit AND provided accountability.
Finally, I have something for the kids to watch – a 2-minute clip that brings research interviews with children to (animated) life. ADHD: What it’s Like to Have ADHD Find the film ADHD and Me, the research results, and more short clips on ADHD Voices. It’s about time we asked Kids how they experience ADHD in their lives.
Don’t forget, for solid information on ADHD and the many ways it impacts lives, check out Laurie Dupar’s FREE “Succeed with ADHD Telesummit, “ July 17th to the 24th – 20 one-half hour presentations with 24 hours to listen to replays. http://succeedwithadhdtelesummit.com/Sign up now.
By Joan Jager – Founder of ADD freeSources
ADHD Life – “Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net”
Welcome. Thanks for inviting me into your inbox. I’m new to having more than a few subscribers, so please bear with me as I try to figure out what you might be most interested in.
If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, I have a collection of online articles, websites, activities, and videos that your kids might like. It’s been popular in Parent groups on Facebook this week. See my Kids ADHD Page – Things to read, do and watch.
I like Why I Chose to Medicate my Child by Dianne Dempster about how a family that eats organic and prefers holistic treatments for illness came to the decision to try ADHD medication for their son. “I knew that I could always have my son stop taking the medication; but, if he never tried it, I wouldn’t really know if it would help him or not…Ultimately everything comes back to my son.” If you’re considering a stopping medication over the summer break, ADDitude magazine has an article weighing the pros and cons of medication holidays.
For myself, as an adult with bipolar disorder and ADHD, one of my biggest challenges with the greatest reward has been coming to believe and trust in myself. “For many of us, with ADHD or not, there’s an underlying feeling of not being good enough, wanting to be better, wanting to be in better shape or better at things.” Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits addresses that pain, helping to repair that feeling of being unworthy.
Getting the word out on feeling better about having ADHD, Kari Hogan of ADDing to the Mayhem shared 16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem with ADHD that details many non-medical treatments that will improve your daily functioning and make you feel more confident in yourself and more in control of your life.. (These ideas work for kids and teens as well.)
“Your first step is STRUCTURE.
By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities…”
I have the feeling that this is just TOO much information but hope you will find something that meets your needs.
Statistics indicate that roughly two-thirds of all children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are taking some sort of medication. For some families, medication is a godsend: kids are better able to focus, to manage their emotions and moods, to stay on task. In fact, family life is so transformed that one of the most common challenges we hear from those parents is what to do when the medication isn’t working! This frequently comes up either at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day once the medication has worn off.
Pharmaceutical companies have tried to address this over the years, with long-acting medications, extended doses, and patches you can put on before your child wakes up in the morning. For many of us, those solutions fall short. We want our kids to have some time during the day free from the common side effects of stimulant medication, like sleeplessness & reduced appetite. So what do you do when you can’t rely on medication?
Start by checking with your child’s prescribing medical practitioner. Be sure that your child’s prescription is providing the right level of support. As kids grow and mature, their dosage may need to be adjusted. After that, there are three areas I’d recommend you focus some effort:
Activate the brain: While stimulant medications can be very effective in helping the ADHD brain to focus, they aren’t the only solution. Many parents have found other solutions that are helpful, particularly in filling in the “gap” periods.
Take care of yourself: We often refer to mornings and afternoons as “the witching hours” because they tend to be more difficult times of day for parents. They are tough, not just because our kids’ medication is wearing off (or hasn’t started), but also because they are challenging times for us. You may not be a morning person, or you may put in long hours and be tired and hungry at the end of a day. What can you do?
Plan ahead: Pay attention, or even keep a log, to determine when the problem times are for your child – and for you. Plan accordingly.
Exercise: Have your child go for a run or play for a while before starting homework. Take a break from homework every 20 minutes and do some jumping jacks or have a tickle fight. In the morning before school, take a walk to get the brain up and going quicker.
Nutrition: Making sure that the brain has enough water and nutrients as your child goes through the day. Have your kids eat protein at every meal, and put out healthy snacks to tie them over through homework until dinner. Manage sugar ups & downs if your kid is sensitive, and explore other supplements that support brain health.
Sleep: Easy for me to say, but try to make sure your child has enough sleep each night. That goes for you as well!
Other “brain” stuff: There is a lot of information out there about other brain supports, like meditation, brain training, and neuro-feedback. Be sure to do your research to find solutions that are safe and well-tested.
Twelve-step programs have a tool to help you remember to: H. A. L. T. Avoid intense parenting moments whenYOU areHungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
Know what your triggers are, take a time out when you get triggered or stressed out in helping your child, and try to make sure you are well-rested and well-fed.
It may make sense to work on a big project first thing on Saturday, when the brain is fresh (and the medication is active), rather than doing it after school.
Many teachers will be willing to give you a full week’s worth of assignments in advance, particularly if your child has a 504/IEP in place.
Get yourself ready before you wake your kids to make the mornings go a little smoother.
Divide chores into chunks and do a few at a time, rather than trying to fit the all into a Saturday.
The reality is that for many of us, medication can be a huge support, but it isn’t designed to be a panacea. Conscious parenting requires that we understand the limits and put supports in place, both for our kids and for ourselves. No matter how helpful medication can be, there are going to be times and situations where our kids need our guidance and support, something medication cannot provide.
One more thing. For those of you who cannot or choose not to medicate your child for ADHD, thanks for sticking with this article. These ideas may be even more helpful for you. After all, you might consider the whole day “the witching hour!”
By Dianne Dempster – Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™– Source
“Photo courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood brain disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). These symptoms can make it difficult for a child with ADHD to succeed in school, get along with other children or adults, or finish tasks at home.
Brain imaging studies have revealed that, in youth with ADHD, the brain matures in a normal pattern but is delayed, on average, by about 3 years.1 The delay is most pronounced in brain regions involved in thinking, paying attention, and planning. More recent studies have found that the outermost layer of the brain, the cortex, shows delayed maturation overall,2 and a brain structure important for proper communications between the two halves of the brain shows an abnormal growth pattern.3 These delays and abnormalities may underlie the hallmark symptoms of ADHD and help to explain how the disorder may develop.
Treatments can relieve many symptoms of ADHD, but there is currently no cure for the disorder. With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives. Researchers are developing more effective treatments and interventions, and using new tools such as brain imaging, to better understand ADHD and to find more effective ways to treat and prevent it.
(Note: I’ve also posted this article as a series of shorter posts. See those here.
Symptoms of ADHD
Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive sometimes, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often. To be diagnosed with the disorder, a child must have symptoms for 6 or more months and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.
Children who have symptoms of inattention may:
Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
Have difficulty focusing on one thing
Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
Not seem to listen when spoken to
Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
Struggle to follow instructions.
Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:
Fidget and squirm in their seats
Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
Be constantly in motion
Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:
Be very impatient
Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.
ADHD Can Be Mistaken for Other Problems
Parents and teachers can miss the fact that children with symptoms of inattention have ADHD because they are often quiet and less likely to act out. They may sit quietly, seeming to work, but they are often not paying attention to what they are doing. They may get along well with other children, whereas children who have more symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity tend to have social problems. But children with the inattentive kind of ADHD are not the only ones whose disorders can be missed. For example, adults may think that children with the hyperactive and impulsive symptoms just have disciplinary problems.
Based on the types of symptoms, three kinds (presentations) of ADHD can occur:
Combined Presentation: if enough symptoms of both criteria inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past 6 months
Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: if enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: if enough symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not inattention were present for the past six months.
Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.
What causes ADHD?
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD.
Genes. Inherited from our parents, genes are the “blueprints” for who we are. Results from several international studies of twins show that ADHD often runs in families. Researchers are looking at several genes that may make people more likely to develop the disorder.4,5 Knowing the genes involved may one day help researchers prevent the disorder before symptoms develop. Learning about specific genes could also lead to better treatments.
A study of children with ADHD found that those who carry a particular version of a certain gene have thinner brain tissue in the areas of the brain associated with attention. This research showed that the difference was not permanent, however, and as children with this gene grew up, the brain developed to a normal level of thickness. Their ADHD symptoms also improved.6
Researchers are also studying genetic variations that may or may not be inherited, such as duplications or deletions of a segment of DNA. These “copy number variations” (CNVs) can include many genes. Some CNVs occur more frequently among people with ADHD than in unaffected people, suggesting a possible role in the development of the disorder.7,8
Environmental factors. Studies suggest a potential link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy and ADHD in children.9,10 In addition, preschoolers who are exposed to high levels of lead, which can sometimes be found in plumbing fixtures or paint in old buildings, have a higher risk of developing ADHD.11
Brain injuries. Children who have suffered a brain injury may show some behaviors similar to those of ADHD. However, only a small percentage of children with ADHD have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Sugar. The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular, but more research discounts this theory than supports it.12 In one study, researchers gave children foods containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The children who received sugar showed no different behavior or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute.13 Another study in which children were given higher than average amounts of sugar or sugar substitutes showed similar results.14
In another study, children who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the children got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their children were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their children had gotten sugar rated them as more hyperactive than the other children and were more critical of their behavior, compared to mothers whothought their children received aspartame.15
Food additives. There is currently no research showing that artificial food coloring causes ADHD. However, a small number of children with ADHD may be sensitive to food dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other food additives. They may experience fewer ADHD symptoms on a diet without additives, but such diets are often difficult to maintain.12,16
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Children mature at different rates and have different personalities, temperaments, and energy levels. Most children get distracted, act impulsively, and struggle to concentrate at one time or another. Sometimes, these normal factors may be mistaken for ADHD. ADHD symptoms usually appear early in life, often between the ages of 3 and 6, and because symptoms vary from person to person, the disorder can be hard to diagnose. Parents may first notice that their child loses interest in things sooner than other children or seems constantly “unfocused” or “out of control.” Often, teachers notice the symptoms first, when a child has trouble following rules, or frequently “spaces out” in the classroom or on the playground.
No single test can diagnose a child as having ADHD. Instead, a licensed health professional needs to gather information about the child, and his or her behavior and environment. A family may want to first talk with the child’s pediatrician. Some pediatricians can assess the child themselves, but many will refer the family to a mental health specialist with experience in childhood brain disorders such as ADHD. The pediatrician or mental health specialist will first try to rule out other possibilities for the symptoms. For example, certain situations, events, or health conditions may cause temporary behaviors in a child that seem like ADHD.
Between them, the referring pediatrician and specialist will determine if a child:
Is experiencing undetected seizures that could be associated with other medical conditions
Has a middle ear infection that is causing hearing problems
Has any undetected hearing or vision problems
Has any medical problems that affect thinking and behavior
Has any learning disabilities
Has anxiety or depression, or other psychiatric problems that might cause ADHD-like symptoms
Has been affected by a significant and sudden change, such as the death of a family member, a divorce, or parent’s job loss.
A specialist will also check school and medical records for clues, to see if the child’s home or school settings appear unusually stressful or disrupted, and gather information from the child’s parents and teachers. Coaches, babysitters, and other adults who know the child well also may be consulted.
The specialist also will ask:
Are the behaviors excessive, and do they affect all aspects of the child’s life?
Do they happen more often in this child compared with the child’s peers?
Are the behaviors a continuous problem or a response to a temporary situation?
Do the behaviors occur in several settings or only in one place, such as the playground, classroom, or home?
The specialist pays close attention to the child’s behavior during different situations. Some situations are highly structured, some have less structure. Others would require the child to keep paying attention. Most children with ADHD are better able to control their behaviors in situations where they are getting individual attention and when they are free to focus on enjoyable activities. These types of situations are less important in the assessment. A child also may be evaluated to see how he or she acts in social situations and may be given tests of intellectual ability and academic achievement to see if he or she has a learning disability.
Finally, after gathering all this information, if the child meets the criteria for ADHD, he or she will be diagnosed with the disorder.
How is ADHD treated?
Currently available treatments aim at reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education and training, or a combination of treatments.
Stimulants such as methylphenidate and amphetamines are the most common type of medication used for treating ADHD. Although it may seem counterintuitive to treat hyperactivity with a stimulant, these medications actually activate brain circuits that support attention and focused behavior, thus reducing hyperactivity. In addition, a few non-stimulant medications, such as atomoxetine, guanfacine, and clonidine, are also available. For many children, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medications also may improve physical coordination.
However, a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply for all children with ADHD. What works for one child might not work for another. One child might have side effects with a certain medication, while another child may not. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding one that works for a particular child. Any child taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by caregivers and doctors.
Stimulant medications come in different forms, such as a pill, capsule, liquid, or skin patch. Some medications also come in short-acting, long-acting, or extended release varieties. In each of these varieties, the active ingredient is the same, but it is released differently in the body. Long-acting or extended release forms often allow a child to take the medication just once a day before school, so he or she doesn’t have to make a daily trip to the school nurse for another dose. Parents and doctors should decide together which medication is best for the child and whether the child needs medication only for school hours or for evenings and weekends, too.
For more information about stimulants and other medications used for treating mental disorders, see the booklet, Mental Health Medications, on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website has the latest information on medication approvals, warnings, and patient information guides.
What are the side effects of stimulant medications?
The most commonly reported side effects are decreased appetite, sleep problems, anxiety, and irritability. Some children also report mild stomachaches or headaches. Most side effects are minor and disappear over time or if the dosage level is lowered.
Decreased appetite. Be sure your child eats healthy meals. If this side effect does not go away, talk to your child’s doctor. Also talk to the doctor if you have concerns about your child’s growth or weight gain while he or she is taking this medication.
Sleep problems. If a child cannot fall asleep, the doctor may prescribe a lower dose of the medication or a shorter-acting form. The doctor might also suggest giving the medication earlier in the day, or stopping the afternoon or evening dose. Adding a prescription for a low dose of a blood pressure medication called clonidine sometimes helps with sleep problems. A consistent sleep routine that includes relaxing elements like warm milk, soft music, or quiet activities in dim light, may also help.
Less common side effects. A few children develop sudden, repetitive movements or sounds called tics. Changing the medication dosage may make tics go away. Some children also may have a personality change, such as appearing “flat” or without emotion. Talk with your child’s doctor if you see any of these side effects.
Are stimulant medications safe?
Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe. Stimulants do not make children with ADHD feel high, although some kids report feeling slightly different or “funny.”
Preschoolers are more sensitive to the side effects of methylphenidate, and some may experience slower than average growth rates. Very young children should be closely monitored while taking ADHD medications.17,18,19
FDA warning on possible rare side effects
In 2007, the FDA required that all makers of ADHD medications develop Patient Medication Guides that contain information about the risks associated with the medications. The guides must alert patients that the medications may lead to possible cardiovascular (heart and blood) or psychiatric problems. The agency undertook this precaution when a review of data suggested that ADHD patients with existing heart conditions had a slightly higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and/or sudden death when taking the medications. Recently published studies, however, have not found evidence that using stimulants to treat ADHD increases the risk for cardiovascular problems.20,21
The FDA review also found a slight increased risk, about 1 in 1,000, for medication- related psychiatric problems, such as hearing voices, having hallucinations, becoming suspicious for no reason, or becoming manic (an overly high mood), even in patients without a history of psychiatric problems. The FDA recommends that any treatment plan for ADHD include an initial health history, including family history, and examination for existing cardiovascular and psychiatric problems.
One ADHD medication, the non-stimulant atomoxetine (Strattera), carries another warning. Studies show that children and teenagers who take atomoxetine are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than children and teenagers with ADHD who do not take it.22If your child is taking atomoxetine, watch his or her behavior carefully. A child may develop serious symptoms suddenly, so it is important to pay attention to your child’s behavior every day. Ask other people who spend a lot of time with your child to tell you if they notice changes in your child’s behavior. Call a doctor right away if your child shows any unusual behavior. While taking atomoxetine, your child should see a doctor often, especially at the beginning of treatment, and be sure that your child keeps all appointments with his or her doctor.
Do medications cure ADHD?
Current medications do not cure ADHD. Rather, they control the symptoms for as long as they are taken. Medications can help a child pay attention and complete schoolwork. It is not clear, however, whether medications can help children learn better. Adding behavioral therapy, counseling, and practical support can help children with ADHD and their families to better cope with everyday problems. NIMH-funded research has shown that medication works best when treatment is regularly monitored by the prescribing doctor and the dose is adjusted based on the child’s needs.23
Psychotherapy and Parent strategies
Different types of psychotherapy are used for ADHD. Behavioral therapy aims to help a child change his or her behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy also teaches a child how to monitor his or her own behavior. Learning to give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting, is another goal of behavioral therapy. Parents and teachers also can give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviors. In addition, clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines can help a child control his or her behavior.
Therapists may teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.
How can parents help?
Children with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed in school. Before a child is diagnosed, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family. Parents and children may need special help to overcome bad feelings. Mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it impacts a family. They also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
Parenting skills training helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behavior. Parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviors they want to discourage. In some cases, the use of “time-outs” may be used when the child’s behavior gets out of control. In a time-out, the child is removed from the upsetting situation and sits alone for a short time to calm down.
Parents are also encouraged to share a pleasant or relaxing activity with the child, to notice and point out what the child does well, and to praise the child’s strengths and abilities. They may also learn to structure situations in more positive ways. For example, they may restrict the number of playmates to one or two, so that their child does not become overstimulated. Or, if the child has trouble completing tasks, parents can help their child divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Also, parents may benefit from learning stress-management techniques to increase their own ability to deal with frustration, so that they can respond calmly to their child’s behavior.
Sometimes, the whole family may need therapy. Therapists can help family members find better ways to handle disruptive behaviors and to encourage behavior changes. Finally, support groups help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns. Groups typically meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.
Tips to Help Kids Stay Organized and Follow Directions
Schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.
Organize everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.
Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.
Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.
Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it.
What conditions can coexist with ADHD?
Some children with ADHD also have other illnesses or conditions. For example, they may have one or more of the following:
A learning disability. A child in preschool with a learning disability may have difficulty understanding certain sounds or words or have problems expressing himself or herself in words. A school-aged child may struggle with reading, spelling, writing, and math.
Oppositional defiant disorder. Kids with this condition, in which a child is overly stubborn or rebellious, often argue with adults and refuse to obey rules.
Conduct disorder. This condition includes behaviors in which the child may lie, steal, fight, or bully others. He or she may destroy property, break into homes, or carry or use weapons. These children or teens are also at a higher risk of using illegal substances. Kids with conduct disorder are at risk of getting into trouble at school or with the police.
Anxiety and depression. Treating ADHD may help to decrease anxiety or some forms of depression.
Bipolar disorder. Some children with ADHD may also have this condition in which extreme mood swings go from mania (an extremely high elevated mood) to depression in short periods of time.
Tourette syndrome. Very few children have this brain disorder, but, among those who do, many also have ADHD. People with Tourette syndrome have nervous tics, which can be evident as repetitive, involuntary movements, such as eye blinks, facial twitches, or grimacing, and/or as vocalizations, such as throat-clearing, snorting, sniffing, or barking out words inappropriately. These behaviors can be controlled with medication, behavioral interventions, or both.
ADHD also may coexist with a sleep disorder, bed-wetting, substance abuse, or other disorders or illnesses. For more information on these disorders, visit the NIMH website.
Recognizing ADHD symptoms and seeking help early will lead to better outcomes for both affected children and their families.
How can I work with my child’s school?
If you think your child has ADHD, or a teacher raises concerns, you may be able to request that the school conduct an evaluation to determine whether he or she qualifies for special education services.
Start by speaking with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or the school’s student support team, to begin an evaluation. Also, each state has a Parent Training and Information Center and a Protection and Advocacy Agency (link works) that can help you get an evaluation. A team of professionals conducts the evaluation using a variety of tools and measures. It will look at all areas related to the child’s disability.
Once your child has been evaluated, he or she has several options, depending on the specific needs. If special education services are needed and your child is eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the school district must develop an “individualized education program” specifically for your child within 30 days.
If your child is considered not eligible for special education services—and not all children with ADHD are eligible—he or she still can get “free appropriate public education,” available to all public-school children with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.
For more information on Section 504, consult the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces Section 504 in programs and activities that receive Federal education funds.
Transitions can be difficult. Each school year brings a new teacher and new schoolwork, a change that can be especially hard for a child with ADHD who needs routine and structure. Consider telling the teachers that your child has ADHD when he or she starts school or moves to a new class. Additional support will help your child deal with the transition.
Do teens with ADHD have special needs?
Most children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as they enter adolescence. Some children are not diagnosed with ADHD until they reach adolescence. This is more common among children with predominantly inattentive symptoms because they are not necessarily disruptive at home or in school. In these children, the disorder becomes more apparent as academic demands increase and responsibilities mount. For all teens, these years are challenging. But for teens with ADHD, these years may be especially difficult.
Although hyperactivity tends to decrease as a child ages, teens 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. Teens with primarily attention deficits struggle with school and other activities in which they are expected to be more self-reliant.
Teens also become more responsible for their own health decisions. When a child with ADHD is young, parents are more likely to be responsible for ensuring that their child maintains treatment. But when the child reaches adolescence, parents have less control, and those with ADHD may have difficulty sticking with treatment.
To help them stay healthy and provide needed structure, teens 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.
Teens with or without ADHD want to be independent and try new things, and sometimes they will break rules. If your teen breaks rules, your response should be as calm and matter-of-fact as possible. Punishment should be used only rarely. Teens with ADHD often have trouble controlling their impulsivity and tempers can flare. Sometimes, a short time-out can be calming.
If your teen asks for later curfews and use of the car, listen to the request, give reasons for your opinions, and listen to your child’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 teens and driving?
Although many teens 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, teens 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.24
Most states now use a graduated licensing system, in which young drivers, both with and without ADHD, learn about progressively more challenging driving situations.25The licensing system consists of three stages—learner’s permit, during which a licensed adult must always be in the car with the driving teen; intermediate (provisional) license; and full licensure. Parents should make sure that their teens, especially those with ADHD, understand and follow the rules of the road. Repeated driving practice under adult supervision is especially important for teens with ADHD.
Can adults have ADHD?
Some children with ADHD continue to have it as adults. And many adults who have the disorder don’t know it. They may feel that it is impossible to get organized, stick to a job, or remember and keep appointments. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, preparing to leave the house for work, arriving at work on time, and being productive on the job can be especially challenging for adults with ADHD.
These adults may have a history of failure at school, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships. Many have had multiple traffic accidents. Like teens, adults with ADHD may seem restless and may try to do several things at once, most of them unsuccessfully. They also tend to prefer “quick fixes,” rather than taking the steps needed to achieve greater rewards.
How is ADHD diagnosed in adults?
Like children, adults who suspect they have ADHD should be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. But the professional may need to consider a wider range of symptoms when assessing adults for ADHD because their symptoms tend to be more varied and possibly not as clear cut as symptoms seen in children.
To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood.26 Health professionals use certain rating scales to determine if an adult meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. The mental health professional also will look at the person’s history of childhood behavior and school experiences, and will interview spouses or partners, parents, close friends, and other associates. The person will also undergo a physical exam and various psychological tests.
For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Adults who have had the disorder since childhood, but who have not been diagnosed, may have developed negative feelings about themselves over the years. Receiving a diagnosis allows them to understand the reasons for their problems, and treatment will allow them to deal with their problems more effectively.
How is ADHD treated in adults?
Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
Medications. ADHD medications, including extended-release forms, often are prescribed for adults with ADHD.27
Although not FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of ADHD, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD. The antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin), which affects the brain chemical dopamine, showed benefits for adults with ADHD.28 Older antidepressants, called tricyclics, sometimes are used because they, like stimulants or atomoxetine, affect the brain chemical norepinephrine.
Adult prescriptions for stimulants and other medications require special considerations. For example, adults often require other medications for physical problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or for anxiety and depression. Some of these medications may interact badly with stimulants. An adult with ADHD should discuss potential medication options with his or her doctor. These and other issues must be taken into account when a medication is prescribed.
Education and psychotherapy. A professional counselor or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as a large calendar or date book, lists, reminder notes, and by assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork. Large tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, also can help change one’s poor self-image by examining the experiences that produced it. The therapist encourages the adult with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.
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On ADHD: Parent to Parent – Honor your child’s individuality while seeking solutions to challenges you face every day.
ADHD is a complex disorder that affects both individuals and their families greatly. There’s so much to know about ADHD that you might wonder just what it is that your child really needs from you. While there’s no one right way to deal with the problems you may face, you may find ideas that will work for you from other parents who have faced similar situations. These three articles offer down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.
One treasure offers 85 – Yes, ‘85 Important Facts about Raising a Child with ADHD.’ And you’re likely to use every one of them. Why? Because:
“…You will need help Face it: Everything is easier when there are people to help you.
Yes, you will be judged – This is why it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand you and who accept your child as he is.
Several ADHD kids have other problems – Whether we’re talking about learning issues, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, or problems in the autism spectrum, all these things can be tagged to an ADHD diagnostic.”
A healthy life hygiene is of utmost importance
Chips + chocolate at 10PM = catastrophe.
Lower your expectations It won’t hurt as much. No one is perfect.
Yes, having a routine is very, very important If you never liked routine, you’ll learn to love it. Your sanity depends on it…”
By Eloïse Beaulé from “FamilleTDAH,” a French-Canadian blog that talks about the daily life of a family with three children affected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Translated by Lauren Berkley
You think your kids don’t notice when you forget what they’re going through and lose your patience with them? ‘What my Son with ADHD would Like Grownups to Know’ records what Heather LeRoss finally understood what it meant to her son to have ADHD. He had more than a few things to say, but here’s a sample.
“I want people to know I feel like they don’t like how I am. I want Daddy to know I am not stupid and it hurts my feelings when he says, ‘Are you dumb?’ I want you to know I don’t like it when you yell.”
“I just want it to stop. The yelling, comparing me to other kids that are ‘normal.’ How people tense up sometimes when I just walk into the room. I want people to say I am nice and funny and good at drawing. And not follow it with, ‘If only he could focus like that in other areas.’ I just want to feel like it’s OK to be me.”
Dealing with ADHD isn’t easy. But others have gone before and are willing to share their experiences and expertise. You can survive the challenge, but don’t go it alone. If you can, join a support group. Make friends with fellow parents you meet at school or in the Doctor or therapist’s office. If these avenues aren’t possible, follow reputable websites, blogs, social media or join an on-line organization that will keep you informed and offer encouragement. Your goal is to let your child know that they are loved and that they are worthy – That it’s Okay to just be themselves.
If you are a parent of a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and you have big time problems with homework, explore these seven questions with your child to create the best environment for him or her to succeed. Understanding how your child’s brain functions will help you find the strategies that work best.
When we are interested in something and are good at it, such as math, or English, interest stimulates the brain and aids focusing. For people with ADHD, the greater the passion, the easier it is to pay attention. Kids who have an interest may be a walking encyclopedia for their favorite topic, like dinosaurs or basketball, but be hopeless about school. The problems arise with subjects that are not interesting and may be particularly difficult for your child.
New research supports this experiential evidence.
Recent research has identified two separate areas in the brain which are used to focus attention. The parietal cortex reacts to external stimuli; the prefrontal cortex is active when you must choose what to pay attention to.
The prefrontal cortex is the brain part that is used for executive functions like deciding, planning and activating and is under active in ADHD. It is the last part of the brain to reach full maturity (that’s why Hertz and Avis don’t rent cars to people under age 25). Children with ADHD may be two to three years behind their age peers in mental maturity, but they do get there.
How can you use this information to help your child do his homework?
Your job, Mom and Dad, is to provide the environment that works for your child.
You do not want to do it for him or be dogmatic about how, where or when he should do his homework. But you do need to provide more structure and organizational assistance than for other children of his age.
Talk and explore with her to discover what kind of stimulation works best to help her brain stay focused, every child is different. Your goal is to provide an environment which provides the right stimulation for her unique brain.
Seven questions for you to explore.
When does he work best? He probably needs some exercise and a snack after school before settling down to do homework. A snack should include some protein for fuel for the brain.
Where does he work best? Does he work best alone in his room with no distractions or does he work better in an open area with some noise and movement around to provide stimulation? Does background music of his choosing help him stay on task?
Does he need to move often? Let him work in small chunks and take a short break to jump a bit between chunks. Explore using a rocking chair or a rubber ball seat.
Is he an aural or visual learner? Our modern world is expressed mostly through visual media, but some people learn better aurally. If your child is an aural learner have him work out loud recording his lessons on a tape recorder.
Is he a verbal or a graphic learner? Some children work better with pictures than with words. Let him use his creativity to illustrate his lessons with pictures cut from old magazines or his own drawings. Provide colored pens and highlighters to make his notes stimulating to look at.
Does he have a problem with time? Many people with ADHD have an elastic sense of time. Have your child practice measuring the time he needs to do each assignment. Prepare a chart on which he can record estimated time, start time, end time, elapsed time, and the difference from estimated time for each assignment.
Does he have difficulty starting? Some children with ADHD see tasks as one big overwhelming cloud. They need help finding where to begin. Talk with him about the steps he needs to accomplish starting with very simple actions like open your book, read the first problem.
Most important! Enjoy! Have fun! Tell a silly joke before he starts or when he takes a break. This may sound paradoxical, but laughing lowers the stress level for you and your child.
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Once ADD was identified and the great need that coaching filled, she added ADD Coach training to complete her preparation for a new career as ADD Coach. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. the Newfield Network’s graduate coaching program “Mastery in Coaching,” and “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. Sarah Jane coaches in French and English by telephone. (Coaching Key to ADD)
“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
“Understanding Emotions & Motivations in High School and College Students with ADHD/LD” Video webinar presented by Dr. Thomas E. Brown for the 13th Annual Timothy B. and Jane A Burnett Seminar for Academic Achievement (2014) Based on personal stories with professional tips for coping with the roadblocks holding us back from doing our best.
“Intelligent, capable teens and adults often get “stuck” at school, work, and/or in social relationships because of their ADHD. Dr. Brown highlights the often unrecognized role that emotions play in this complex disorder. He explains why even very bright people with ADHD get stuck because they can focus well on some tasks that interest them, but often can’t focus adequately on other important tasks and relationships.”
“Drawing on the latest research findings, the book describes strategies and treatments for getting “unstuck” to move on to a more rewarding and productive life.”
An ADHD diagnosis is far more common in males than females. However, many girls are often undiagnosed in childhood and only later in life realize that they, too, fit the diagnostic criteria. This lack of timely diagnosis and treatment has the potential to create far-reaching consequences academically, psychologically and socially, particularly in teenage girls. Why aren’t girls diagnosed with the same frequency as boys? The answer is that ADHD has a tendency to look very different in girls.
ADHD in females is often far more subtle and doesn’t fit neatly into the common stereotypes because girls tend to be less hyperactive and more compliant than boys, making ADHD more difficult to spot. Girls are far more likely to drift along in elementary school and struggle less than boys academically while, at the same time, falling far short of their potential and flying under the radar for referrals. By the middle and high school years, teenage girls often experience more apparent academic and social problems due to the increased demands and pressure to succeed.
What does a teenage girl with ADHD look like? The answer is; it depends on the girl. Some girls with ADHD may, in fact, be hyperactive and drawn to activities that are typically thought of as boyish. They tend to be disorganized, messy, rushers and risk takers, and tend to be viewed as undisciplined and unmotivated academically. Others fit into the daydreamer category. They are often shy and overlooked. Also, although they may appear to being paying attention, their minds are often elsewhere. The diagnosis of ADHD/Inattentive is an easy one to miss. These girls are quiet and not really bothering anyone, although they may be struggling tremendously internally. They tend to be anxious, self-critical and often appear depressed. Another form of ADHD seen in girls is a combination of both the hyperactive and inattentive types of ADHD, although these girls are often more hyper-talkative than hyperactive. Girls with a combined type diagnosis may present as active, excitable and emotional, have difficulty staying quiet in the classroom, interrupt others frequently and jump from topic to topic due to difficulty with organization of their thoughts. They tend to be risk-takers and often fall short of their potential academically.
Interestingly, teenage boys with ADHD tend to externalize their symptoms. They blame others for their poor grades, blame the stupid test they didn’t do well on, they act out and they act up. Boys with AHDH are usually difficult to ignore and are far more likely than girls to get the academic services and accommodations they need to succeed. Teenage girls, however, tend to be internalizers. They are more likely to blame themselves and turn their anger, frustration and pain inward. Without proper diagnosis, an understanding of how their unique brains work and without support for their skill deficits, every failure becomes evidence of their inadequacy. Girls often harbor feelings that they don’t belong, believe they are not smart enough, and view themselves quite simply as not being good enough. The price teenage girls with ADHD pay is far too often that of poor self-esteem, chronic stress, depression, anxiety and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. These feelings arise from the very nature of the disorder itself; disorganization, poor time management, chronic lateness, difficulty sustaining attention, weak emotional control, distractibility and generally poor executive skills. What do teenage girls with ADHD need to thrive? Knowledge and support. Knowledge becomes power as the true nature of the ADHD diagnosis is revealed and its power to impact all life areas is uncovered. This self-knowledge sets the stage for change and self-advocacy. Support is essential to the successful management of ADHD. Skills need to be developed and turned into habits. Negative mindsets need to be reset. Structure must be created to develop routines. A sense of resiliency and mindfulness must form. And, compassion and understanding must prevail within the self and within the environment. ADHD is different for girls, but while it may be more subtle and not fit the common male stereotype of ADHD, it is no less debilitating and much more emotionally devastating in females.