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The Brain – Adolescents With ADHD

People with ADHD have different brains than non-ADHD brains. No kidding! It has a smaller brain volume. There’s a different structure, function, and chemistry. What else?

The smaller volume of ADHD brains impacts emotional processing. This impacts behavioral control and executive functioning. What does this mean for “our kids” with ADHD?

  • Act on impulse.
  • Get involved in fights.
  • Have more severe accidents.
  • Misreads or misinterpret social cues and emotions.
  • Engage in risky behavior.

Teachers of teens and young adults with ADHD rarely learn about the physical impact of ADHD. Oftentimes they comment about whether they took their meds. Does that make sense? Beides, there hasn’t been definitive research that proves that medication affects behavioral control and executive functioning.

Notorious BIG Saves the Day 

Traveling on the WayBack Machine…

Oh No! I’m teaching English again. I didn’t realize that teenagers couldn’t read. Like that wasn’t enough, there was a 14-year-old in a class of 12-year-olds. I had to ask the department head. “Oh, that’s Maria. She was held back.”

I laughed and walked away. I went to get the real answer…the ladies in the office. “Why was Maria held back?” Silence, then finally… “She failed every class.”

My eyes said “I don’t believe it.” My mouth said, “Does she get in fights? Does she have a disability? She is unmedicated?”

Smiling, one aid, “Yes, yes, yes.

I went to the Germantown Library and learned about ADHD. So started my adventure to academic therapy. In the meantime, I checked out 3 books for Maria. There were 3 biographies: P. Diddy, Selena, and Notorious BIG. Current music artists. She read all of them in a day.

Who knew? The National Institute of Health (NIH).  Students of color want to read about people of color.

The ADHD brain continues to mature and develop into adulthood. Immediate reactions of fear and aggression often decrease with further development with age. Likewise, the adolescents consider consequences of their actions.

The Positive Side 

Does science prove that ADHD is a gift? Believe it or not, there are positives for having an ADHD brain. Teens with ADHD are known to be original, inventive thinkers. They are known as being energetic and spontaneous. 

Creative and artistic, ”our kids” often use hyperfocus as an asset. As unbelievable as it seems, many teens and adults have similar characteristics as famous people. What do these folks have in common with these stars?

  • Justin Timberlake
  • Michael Phelps
  • Richard Branson
  • Paris Hilton
  • Jim Carrey
  • will.i.am
  • Terry Bradshaw
  • Simone Biles
  • Josh Freeman
  • Salvador Dali

Many people are admitting to having ADHD. Unfortunately, they’re not always on a positive viewpoint. Knowing that a teen has ADHD, it’s important to be aware of the differences for the brain. Stakeholders should include parents, teachers, advocates, police, and policy-makers.

Rules of Behavior 

  • Simple
  • Written
  • Easy to read
  • Clear, organized processes
  • System of rewards and consequences

A major way to prevent brain manifestation is to begin in early childhood. Early interventions include programs that are correctional in nature. Evaluate the existence of comorbid illnesses (i.e. Bipolar disorder, PTSD, depression).

Rules of Behavior 

  • Encourage movement.
  • Seek support.
  • Keep  things in perspective.
  • Follow a routine.
  • Provide “buffer time” before bed (1 hour).

Teens and young adult with ADHD should be held responsible for  their behavior. To do it, they must know and understand their disability.

  • Be aware of triggers.
  • Encourage a quiet voice while indoors.
  • Use Google Keep Notes/sticky notes. Jot down, remember.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Use Google Calendar to schedule due dates.
  • Get teachers/supervisors on board. 

Ongoing research shows that teens and young adults with ADHD have significant differences in their brains. Early interventions can stave off deficiencies, can decrease chronic side effects. Knowing about differences often help with outcomes.

Question: What would you do to learn about specific differences about our child’s brain? 


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