ADHD Independence is About Self-Determination

Making things happen in another person’s life?  Instead, have others do things for themselves.  It’s independence.  ADHD independence.  Know what they want and how to get it.  Make your own destiny.

Self-determination is a characteristic of a person, making their own choices and decisions.  The trait is based on preferences and interests.  It’s less common for teens with ADHD as teachers and parents are more likely to monitor and regulate their actions, 24/7.

  • Less motivated than peers.
  • Interpersonal problems.
  • Negative attitudes.
  • Predictive of under-achievement.
  • Feelings of value.

Families provide an important gateway to self-determination for teens with ADHD.  It is important to identify supports such as friends, family members, and teachers.  Keep the dialogue open, both positives and negatives.

Practice makes perfect.  Teens with ADHD should be allowed to make decisions on an incremental basis.  Use strategies that appear to be less controlling.  Dialogue is key.

Challenges of reliance on others create difficulties in comparison of peers.  Goal-setting, problem solving, and decision-making are skills that develop with direct instruction and time.  Older students with ADHD must set goals for themselves, possibly with the influence of others.  The final decision, however, must be theirs.

There’s one major trick.  What about defiance?  Robert J. Mackenzie calls it the “dance of misbehavior.”  One step forward, one step back.  Two steps forward…smash back.  Avoid aggression as calm decision-making goes out the window.  This is especially important as teens with ADHD are chock full of behavior challenges.

As children with ADHD age, their lives become more goal-oriented and self-directed.  This is based on both opportunities and their everyday environment.  These experienceshelp to increase self-development skills.

  • Create a vision of the future.
  • Know how to use resources and technology.
  • Foster positive attitudes.
  • Learn to effectively solve problems with support.
  • Encourage creativity and pride.

Teens with ADHD often struggle with social skills.  Teacher critiques may help, but behavior changes must come from within.  They will need to participate in and contribute to their communities, in a variety of environments.

Self-advocation is important for students with ADHD in the transition process from high school to college/work.  They will be expected to exercise control over supports and other assistance.  It is critical to exert authority to control resources and obtain needed services.  As adults, they are expected to manage independently.

  • Co-lead annual review and help to develop IEP goals.
  • Communicate academic strategies that work best for him/her.
  • Demonstrate appropriate skills in knowing when or how to ask for help.
  • Identify one or two emotional needs.
  • Describe personal strengths accurately.

Self-determination skills improve when students with ADHD validate their perspective.  Positive relationships provide courageous decision-making.  Supportive teachers can provide autonomy, starting with smaller tasks.  Through open discussion, mentors and role models give opportunities to share experiences and strategies for work and school.  Reaching out is the goal.

Older students with ADHD need opportunities to make choices and decisions.  While it is important to make sure that they receive adequate services, they play an important role in the process.  Encourage a positive perspective of home1, work, and the classroom.  Validate their perspective, while avoiding controlling language.  Let everyone learn.

What is your best strategy in encouraging independence?





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.