Will My Child Ever Out-grow His Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder then at some point you will be asking the question, "Will my child ever outgrow it?"

Well, there is good news, and not so good news, when it comes to the answer. Studies indicate that about half of those with ADHD will outgrow many of the symptoms of the disorder by the time he or she is in their 20's. However, even for these fortunate ones, some of the symptoms will remain. The old school of thinking was that once a child with ADHD reached puberty he no longer needed any help for his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but this is simply not true.

But parents, hang on! There is one final growth spurt of the brain, particularly in the frontal lobes, at about 19 or 20 years old. It is not much, but for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder it just might make a big difference. Once this growth takes place it seems that the young adult becomes more mature, better able to focus, and may improve in school. Hyperactivity may diminish at this time, and may look more like restlessness or fidgetiness. Chances are this young adult will become more socially appropriate as well.

However, symptoms of impulsivity tend to remain. This is often the biggest complaint of adults with the disorder. It causes a variety of problems from often interrupting others in conversations to quitting jobs for little reason and without other employment already lined up.

Problems staying focused may also persist into adulthood. It is often described as a constant "brain-fog" which makes tasks such as balancing check books and doing taxes very difficult. As with children, there is little problem doing interesting or exciting tasks. In fact someone with ADHD may enjoy some tasks so much that it seems everything else in the world is blocked out, for hours! But when it comes to routine or boring tasks, it is hard to focus for even a minute. Learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the ADHD Information Library.

We should also acknowledge that for many ADHD will turn out to be the ticket for disaster in their lives. About half of all individuals with ADD will also develop problems with society, with authority, with the rules of life. These individuals will average about two felony arrests before the age of 20 unless they are properly treated as a child.

One study suggests that about half of all men in prison in the state of California carried the diagnoses of ADHD and Conduct Disorder as children, but went untreated, either because the families denied that there was a problem, or didn't have the financial resources for treatment, or because they just didn't know what to do about the problem. It is extremely important that all children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, whether the inattentive space-cadets or the impulsive hyperactive ADHD children, it's important that all children with ADHD receive the help that they need. These children need to tools to help them be successful.

Gladly, most young adults with ADHD can find jobs where their strengths can shine, and can be successful. Depending on skills and preferences, we have seen many with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder shine working with computers and computer programming, art work, sales positions, and even trucking. Look around and find a profession that is rewarding and stimulating, and pursue it.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

In The News:

Parenting Kids in the Age of Screens, Social Media and Digital Devices  Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project
The Real Work of Parenting a Rare Girl  The Wall Street Journal
Parenting during a pandemic  Huron Daily Tribune
Are You Overpraising Your Child?  The New York Times
‘They Go to Mommy First’  The New York Times

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