Most cases of ADD/ADHD are diagnosed when a child is still quite young, most commonly when s/he first enters the education system. Attention deficit (whether with or without hyperactivity) tends to become noticeable when the child is put in a school setting, requiring him to sit still, listen and concentrate. Nonetheless, sometimes ADD/ADHD is only diagnosed when the youngster reaches junior high or high school. The ADD/ADHD has probably been present all along, but the child's native intelligence has carried her through grade school despite the problem, and her inability to focus has been put down to immaturity, laziness or some other outside factor. In the higher levels of school, where much more intensive study is required and there are generally fewer outlets for physical activity and less supervision, the disorder becomes more noticeable.
Typical symptoms of ADD/ADHD behavior are:
- Inability to sit still, fidgeting or jiggling
- Interrupting and answering before the question has been completed
- Making careless mistakes
- Lack of order and neatness
- Excessive talking
- Inability to follow detailed instructions
- Losing or forgetting to bring required materials (books, homework, gym clothes, etc.)
- Jumping from one activity to another
- Leaving work or activities incomplete
- Being easily distracted
Much of this list is common to any teenager some of the time, but when these behaviors are occurring all the time and are affecting the teen's ability to function properly in school, home and other settings, then it's worth speaking to your health provider about getting your child properly tested, so that she can obtain the necessary help. Your teen may need medication, and she will certainly need to learn coping strategies and techniques for easing daily life with the disorder.
Bear in mind that while ADD/ADHD cannot be cured, it can be effectively treated. The skills learned in dealing with ADD/ADHD throughout adolescence can be invaluable in later adult life.