Act your age! Immature? You bet, and there’s science to back it up.
It takes longer for people with ADHD to mature. This nonlinear process causes a back-and-forth that stifles long-term development. Children can be more than 3 years behind. It takes adults until their late 30s to reach maturity levels of 21-year-olds.
The decreased volume of brain mass leads to infrastructural immaturity. Obstructed neuropathways result in impulsivity and difficulties in regulating behavior. These irregular patterns are difficult to manage. Others need to realize and modify expectations.
One of the most obvious manifestations of ADHD and immaturity is demonstrated in social skills. Whether at school, work, or home, being able to interact with others is a critical ability for teens and adults. Using improvement strategies is an important step to future success.
- Allow/provide friends of all ages.
- Share interests with others who are non-judgemental.
- Take on leadership roles.
- Interact with non-competitive peers who are well matched.
- Support development through role-play of social and professional situations.
Families are challenged by questions from others. They especially focus on what is considered to be age-appropriate. It is helpful to establish responses on physical, emotional, and social maturity to prepare for events. Also incorporate awareness to understand and psychological behaviors.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to perceive, assess, and manage feelings in self and others. Using feelings in the decision-making process is key to interacting with others. With adequate EI skills, people with ADHD are better able to manage the toxic effects of anxiety, depression, and anger.
They are not born with EI skills, but they can be learned. Getting feedback from family, friends. and trusted colleagues provides multiple perspectives. Regulatory management uses emotions to set goals, create plans, and delay gratification. This provides the awareness to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses (introspection).
Immaturity in the classroom greatly impacts teens and young adults with ADHD. Their distractibility can lead to gaps in understanding. Strategies that ground them with instruction provides a foundation for learning to begin.
- Take on the role of mentor/coach.
- Put extroversion to good use.
- Introduce strategies for staying on task.
- Provide high school/college/workplace transitional planning.
- Divide large tasks into smaller pieces (scaffold).
Slow maturity results from slow brain development due to the effects of ADHD, especially the impact on the frontal lobe. Tapping into creativity to foster new ideas is an innovative tool to use in work environments. With adequate organizational skills, the same is true for high school and college students.
Challenges can become gifts, with the right supports.