Possible signs of ADHD in secondary aged students

The signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will mostly likely have been apparent in your child’s primary years of education and a diagnosis will have been given. If this is the case many children will continue to have the symptoms of ADHD in their teens.


From your observations at home or teacher comments the signs will be much the same as those observed in the primary years. These are likely to be:

  • High levels of distractibility
  • They will lack or have poor concentration skills
  • They will be hyperactive and have a tendency to constantly fidget and move around
  • Their decision making processes may be impulsive
  • The teen may present as irritable, more than normal for this age group
  • The teen may have a poor self-image and may have difficulty making and maintaining friendships

The teenage years for all students can be a challenge. Hormone changes affect everyone differently and each teens’ capacity to manage this will be different. For the teen with ADHD the symptoms listed above may in fact become more of a challenge during secondary school.

Some of the signs that the teen with ADHD is not managing school and home are:

  • They can become further disorganised and seem unable to manage school and homework tasks
  • They can become bored and frustrated with school because of their inability to manage the demands
  • Previous academic achievements may begin to slip away
  • The teacher may report that the teen is always fidgeting, interrupting the teacher and disturbing classmates
  • The teen could talk excessively in class or become inattentive
  • They may become focused on a personal interest which may affect social relationships with peers and family members
  • They can have immature judgment and engage in thrill seeking behaviours putting them at higher levels of risk than their same age peers

It is important to address the signs of ADHD to avoid the following:

  • Behaviours considered to be delinquent
  • Academic failure
  • Struggles with self-esteem and social isolation
  • Risk taking behaviour leading to accidents and injury

If the teenager has not been previously diagnosed with ADHD but is showing many of the above indicators over a period of time, you may wish to seek advice about having a consultation regarding the symptoms observed.

If your teen is showing signs of an associated learning disability such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) or Intellectual Disability(ID) you may wish to investigate this further to better understand what strategies can be put in place to assist them.

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