Identifying Adolescent ADHD Symptoms

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Tim, 12, is just an average American teenager.  In under a minute, you’ll hear him say “like” maybe ten times.  He spends around 20 hours a week watching TV, sends and receives lots of text messages, spends his evenings playing video games, and worries a lot about his looks.  None of these activities are adolescent ADHD symptoms. There are things Tim does, however, that are not typical.

One adolescent ADHD symptom that Tim displays is his extremely short attention span. Every morning, for instance, the daily regimen of getting up and preparing for school — a fairly easy and regular task for the average American teen–is a struggle for Tim and a chore for his mom. She has to frequently check on Tim every morning; yes, every morning.  That’s because Tim’s easily sidetracked, another adolescent ADHD symptom, often by things that don’t matter to an average person.  A bug climbing up the tiled wall of the bathroom is definitely not an earth-shaking presence that’d interest anybody, but to Tim it is.

One day, Tim’s mom placed a dab of toothpaste on his toothbrush, telling him to go brush his teeth as the school bus would be coming any minute.  Tim did, but as he was brushing his teeth, he spotted a bug climbing up a wall.  How a bug could crawl up such a slippery surface so completely fascinated Tim that he didn’t hear the bus pull up, nor his mother repeatedly calling his name.

He’s always doing that, forgetting what he’s supposed to be doing, and getting preoccupied with whatever he’s not supposed to do. One time at school, he got up to post something on the board, but got distracted, and spent the next fifteen minutes watching a couple of birds doing their mating dance. Make him memorize the table of elements, he can’t; but ask him, and he’ll describe to you the circumstances behind every one of Babe Ruth’s home runs.

Tim’s not dumb, far from it, although that’s what a cursory reading of his report card would suggest.  His mom swears Tim would often floor her with his fantastic ideas.  One that Tim’s mom couldn’t forget is his idea of how large amounts of water could be manually transported by hand even across long distances.  Tim’s mom laughed it off as just another one of Tim’s fantastic ideas, until she saw on TV the Q-drum used in Kenya.

Tim exhibits another adolescent ADHD symptom that has brought him into trouble quite a number of times:  impulsiveness.  He’s always fidgeting with his fingers, and can’t seem to sit still, annoying his teachers and classmates alike.  Often he’ll blurt out the answer to his class instructor’s question before the instructor is done asking it.  Tim also has this tendency to butt in on things when he’s not supposed to.  Dissecting a frog fascinates him, and, much to the annoyance of his classmates, he went around from table to table teaching everyone else how to do it.

Tim simply can’t wait for his turn in line, be it at the cafeteria, at the library, or even with just traversing the short distance from the classroom to the lockers.  This got him into trouble quite a number of times with other teenagers put off by his rude behavior.  “Immature,”  “egocentric,” and “jerk” are some of the more palatable things other teenagers would say about Tim.

This impulsiveness is what probably caused Tim’s grades to tank. One time during one exam, Tim launched into a brilliant discussion of Gothic architecture, and promptly got an “F.”  The essay question asked for a discussion of stained glass in Gothic cathedrals.  Tim, at the mere sight of the word “Gothic” launched into his masterpiece, not bothering to read the rest of the question.

Does your teenager exhibit any of these ADHD behaviors? If so, find an ADHD doctor or therapist in your area to determine if your child has ADHD.