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Helping Older Kids Manage ADHD: July 20, 2014

The numbers are enough to make your head spin: approximately 11% of children between 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. That’s more than 6 million kids. Making it the most common neurological condition in children.

“The disorder is marked by the inattention. These children have a lot of difficulty with focusing their attention, they are very distractible and they are very impulsive,” says Dr. Elena Reyes, a clinical psychologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

These traits are usually spotted in early childhood by family members or teachers. While much attention is focused on youngsters, older kids face their own battles.

“Really it starts in middle school. A child who is bright and has ADHD can sometimes manage the elementary school classroom. Once you get into middle school you have six different classes with six different teachers you have lockers, you have to go to one place to another. That all takes a lot of organization to remember and these kids have a lot of hard time with it,” says Dr. Reyes.

It was commonly thought kids would outgrow their inattention and fidgetiness and become better able to control their impulses. But in reality, it could get worse with bigger demands and higher expectations.

“When kids are treated, after being properly diagnosed, they can manage these transitions into middle school, into high school, very well. Ultimately we want them to transition into college,” says Dr. Reyes.

Combinations of behavior training and medical management have been shown to help.  Surveys of adults who grew up with a diagnosis felt intervention made them more successful.

“We are finding students who need help, get the help they need and manage well,” says Dr. Reyes.

Making ADHD a speed bump, not a roadblock, in the continuum of life.