Parents with teens who are struggling with emotional and behavioral issues could be dealing with a child with undiagnosed ADHD. While there are some common beliefs about how these symptoms manifest, it is not possible to diagnose the condition or rule it out without medical testing completed by a medical doctor or psychologist. There are different types of ADHD will varying symptoms and accompanying treatments so it is vital to have an accurate diagnosis one way or the other.
It can be difficult to meet the needs of a teen with this condition without professional assistance. Issues with impulse control and focus affecting hoe and school life are signals that testing is needed. The best thing that parents can do for their child is to have them tested to confirm what is causing the behavioral issues in order to assess the most appropriate form of treatment.
ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It generally affects a teen’s ability to focus or concentrate resulting in a short attention span. They are often frustrated and may act out with behaviors which are driven by their emotions. Some teens may have a lack of self-control and may fail to thrive in academic settings due to an inability to focus. Compensatory actions are often used to hide embarrassment and inner turmoil and these may come across as being disrespectful, angry or as showing other exaggerated emotions.
There are three types of ADHD and each is distinguished by a particular set of symptoms. Accurate diagnosis of the subtype is important because the treatements differ in accordance wth the type.
1. Inattentive ADHD
The symptoms for inattentive type ADHD are:
-lack of organization
-avoiding tasks that call for mental focus
-trouble following instructions
-lack of listening skills
-carelessness, increased errors in task performance and difficulty paying attention to details
-frequently losing or misplacing possessions
2. Hyperactive impulse type
The symptoms of this type are:
-increased physical activity, e.g. climbing and running
-difficulty staying in one place such as seated or lying down
-restlessness and fidgeting
-trouble remaining quiet during work or play
-interrupting others while talking
-outbursts and excessive talking
-inability to remain physically calm for long periods
-intrusive of the space of others
-trouble taking turns or waiting in line
3. Combined type
The most common type of ADHD in children and teens is the combined type. Teens with this type have a combination of symptoms from each of the other two and their symptoms may vary greatly from one individual to another. According to the guidelines established by the American Psychiatric Association, a person who exhibits six or more symptoms listed is diagnosed with ADHD of one type or another.
Research into the causes of ADHD have identified several potential causes. The statistics show that use of alcohol and tobacco products during pregnancy increase the risks of having a child with ADHD by 2.4 percent.
Data also suggests that risks are increased with exposure to pesticides, exposure to lead and food additives such as preservatives and coloring, excesses of refined sugars, fats and sodium. Deficiencies of Omega 3 fatty acids may also increase the chance of developing the disorder as they are necessary for proper brain development and function.
Genetics and Heredity
There is compelling evidence that links heredity with the development of ADHD in children and teens. When one or both parents have this condition, the odds that the children will also have it are four times higher than those whose parents do not. This disorder is believed to run in families Studies found differences in gene sequencing in children with ADHD in the form of duplicated or missing segments.
In addition to the symptoms which are used in diagnosing and differentiating among the types, a child may feel sad or angry and respond to their feelings with behaviors that lash out at others. Mood swings can cause issues with task completion at home and in school and grades may suffer as a result. They may have times when they are full of energy and then lie down in an exhausted state. It is common for teens with ADHD to have red eyes or dark circles and a feeling of tiredness.
They may also have issues with appetite. Some teens show excessive hunger and insist on frequent snacking while others may have a lack of appetite and a tendency towards stomach aches, headaches and nausea. Stress levels and nervousness may also be more pronounced along with disruptions in sleep patterns. Certain foods may increase hyperactivity levels including some preservatives and dyes, while Caffeinated products may cause calmness or sleepiness.
Parents are faced with a range of choices for treating ADHD in their teens. These options include prescription medication through healthcare providers, cognitive and behavioral therapies, interactions and strategies with teachers, coaches and members of the family.
This approach is administered by a licensed mental health professional who works with the family to educate them about ADHD so everyone involved will understand the diagnosis and the treatment process. Behavior therapy is used to address issues of inattention and disruptive behaviors. It helps to reduce the incidences and help the teen make behavior changes which are needed as they learn how to deal with their condition. Teens learn how to replace old behaviors with new ones which are more appropriate.
Medication of the simulant class of drugs are the most effective prescription treatments for ADHD. The medications are fast acting and aid in reducing the symptoms quickly. Non stimulant drugs do not act as quickly but they have a longer duration. Each teen may respond differently to a medication and not every drug is effective for every teen. Physicians monitor the results and may change dosages, timing or the type of drug altogether until the best option is found. In some cases, genetic testing may be ordered to help find the most effective prescription solution more quickly.
Most often, a combination of cognitive behavior therapy, counseling and medication is the most effective approach to treating ADHD. Primary inpatient care is also recommended for teens who are experiencing extreme difficulties or behaviors which are difficult to manage on an outpatient basis.
Parents who are concerned about the impacts that ADHD on their teen and the family as a whole may benefit from enrolling the child in Turning Winds (TWAI). Our therapeutic boarding school is a premiere provider and highly recommended choice for parents of troubled teens who are looking for the best options for therapeutic and transformational academics.
TWAI staff offers professional and caring services for boys and girls between the ages of 13-18 in an environment that stimulates learning while addressing emotional and behavioral issues that interfere with academics, relationships and other aspects of the teen’s life.
Positive change is the goal for students enrolled in TWAI with a focus upon raising self worth, addressing poor academic performance, behavioral issues and disorders such as dpression, addiction, attahment disorders, spectrum disorders and ADD/ADHD. The average stay at TWAI is 12 months.
Parents of children with ADHD can be a challenging task and often, professional help is the key to achieving greater success for the child as well as for the family. Those interested in learning how TWAI can help get their teens on the right track with academics, relationships with family and friends and all other aspects of their lives can learn more by visiting with us. Call us at 800-845-1380