ADHD Communication tips for parents of teenagers

Counseling isn't helping

Try a therapist that has experience in mindfulness. If your teen has not tried medication, now may be the time to start. Studies have shown that medication and counseling yield the best outcomes for children with #ADHD. There are many new medications that are not stimulants, but it is best to consult with a physician for the best recommendations.

The middle/high school is not supportive

Educate your child's team on ADHD and the educational impact of the disorder. If your child is receiving accommodations and they are not preventing late homework and your child is not learning constructive ways to plan and organize their day, request an IDEA evaluation. Problems at school become more pronounced by middle school because the rigor of homework and teacher expectations increase. It's never too late to develop good habits and generally, skills cannot be accommodated away. Ask the school to measure progress with measurable goals in an IEP.

Is this just ADHD, or something else: Anxiety, a Specific Learning Disability?

Your child may have an ADHD diagnosis, but your gut tells you that it doesn't explain everything you are observing on a daily basis. Don't rely on school evaluations solely to tease out the details and differences. School test selection is often limited by budget concerns so find a reputable and skilled Licensed Psychologist to identify the sources of skills deficits. In girls, #depression and anxiety are likely to be diagnosed before ADHD and may mask other learning differences like Dyslexia.

Use positive behavior supports at home

Parents are only human and can become frustrated with the challenges of having a teenager with ADHD. This situation can feel like a double whammy in the patience department! Utilize rewards and clear expectations at home. Communicate and/or work with your child to create schedules and time-limited expectations. Ask them to verbalize instructions and steps to you. Persevere with positive supports and remember that your child has impaired "mind's brakes."

Create a judgment-free zone with a coach

If you find yourself becoming increasingly negative and confrontational, consider hiring a coach who will provide a trial and error space where your teenager can try (and fail) without serious consequences. Consult with your teenager on developing small action steps, that can be easier to complete successfully. If your child can develop a sense of achievement, then he/she can build #resilience. Be aware that in terms of brain development your teenager is much younger- up to 3 years younger. Remind yourself that there is a developmental delay that you cannot see.

Understand long-term goals

Your child may not have a sense of where they are headed in life. Perhaps you are in disagreement for what's supposed to happen after graduation. Ask them to take career readiness assessment tools and write out what they should do prior to graduation. Academic strengths are only part of the picture for college readiness and may not intersect with interests. If there is 'something in it for them', you will be able to avoid a power struggle. Transferable core curriculum programs may be available in your state for the undecided college-bound students.

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