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By Shashank V. Joshi, M.D.,FAAP
There are data from scientific research to indicate that teens with AD/HD are more likely to get into car accidents, to have lower self-esteem, and to have more negative risk-taking behaviors (including substance abuse, especially if they go untreated) than their peers without the disorder. This makes it especially important that kids be assessed and treated as early as possible.
It's very important for a teen to feel that he's the "captain of the ship" regarding his treatment, and that his parents and other adults (e.g., teachers) are in more of a supporting role. This is especially true of taking medication, which can have deep psychological meaning for a teen. Selected research assessing teens' perceptions of stimulant medications showed that the two most important factors influencing whether or not they would take the medication are: 1) the perception that taking medication makes them feel as if there's something wrong with them, and 2) feelings of embarrassment about receiving the medication publicly.6 Many doctors believe teens should retain "veto power" over most, if not all, decisions regarding medication.4, 8 However, a system of checks and balances also means that parents can restrict certain privileges if the teen elects not to follow the treatment plan. For example, for safety reasons, parents may withhold driving privileges from a teen who refuses to take his medication for AD/HD.4, 8
As discussed earlier in this article, realize that it's natural for most teens to want individuation from their parents; this is a normal developmental task of adolescence. Although teens with AD/HD feel they should have exactly the same rules and privileges as their non-affected peers, parents of teens with AD/HD have good reason to be extra-vigilant. Barkley (1995) and Robin (1998) offer these supervision tips for parents of teens with AD/HD4, 9:
While Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is the official term and acronym used by today's mental health care professionals, it is sometimes referred to by other names and abbreviations. For example, it is sometimes called:
ADHD (without the "slash" in the middle)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
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