Managing young people with ADHD – from personal experience

The usual medical focus in articles about ADHD is on how to support the family that is coping with a child with ADHD. Another common focus is about the misdiagnosis of ADHD, and how medication is overprescribed. This article is different. I want to emphasise, from personal experience, the importance of empowering the child or young adult who has ADHD. I also appreciate the chance to explain to others how it feels to have ADHD so they understand the difficulties people like me have.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition,1 the hallmarks of which are trouble concentrating and remembering details (attention deficit), particularly if the person is also hyperactive.2 It is a spectrum, a variation of normal, and each person who has it will present differently. Their behaviour is largely influenced by their family (the degree of tolerance shown, methods of discipline, siblings understanding the condition). A positive and patient family will foster good self-esteem and help the child/young person to understand how to manage their condition optimally (extra tutoring, reassurance, accessing help via the education system, educating teachers). This family understanding and support cannot be overemphasised. The idea of good parenting is to bring out the best in your child, even the irritating ones! Having a child with ADHD is a challenge, not just for those who have it, but also for our parents.

Other environmental factors affecting our current and future behaviour and self-esteem are unfortunately largely outside our control. Young people, especially children, who have ADHD are more often disciplined by their teachers3 and bullied by their peers.4 This leads the person to assume they are not valued for what they can do, but rather are criticised for what they cannot do (typically, concentrate, ...

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