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Will my child outgrow ADHD?

Dr. Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Practitioner

While it used to be thought that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) outgrew this disorder during adolescence, we now realize that is not true. In fact, comprehensive findings show 70 percent to 80 percent of kids with ADHD have inattentiveness and hyperactivity well into the teenage years and young adulthood. Along with these behaviors, they may experience failure, coexisting mental health disorders, and isolation from peers.

 

It has long been accepted that combined therapy with medication and behavioral modification enables children to control or extinguish behaviors which interfere with the ability to achieve success in an adult world. For example, by teaching the child methods to optimize academic performance and build relationships, their chances for an adulthood unaffected by ADHD is optimized. Unfortunately, recent studies have called this long accepted theory into question, suggesting that despite medical, behavioral, or combined therapy for as long as 6-8 years, children with ADHD still have significant impairment compared with their peers.

Maybe. Only about one in three kids with ADHD really outgrows it. And the 33 percent of kids who do outgrow it don’t have comorbidities like anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, or conduct disorder. So helping your child cope with ADHD when he’s young may give him skills to help manage any symptoms better when he grows up.

Some young people experience a reduction in many symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as they enter their teen years. This doesn't necessarily mean that they have outgrown the disorder. Rather, many young people experience a natural decrease in hyperactive behavior as they get older. About one in three children will outgrow ADHD completely by the time they reach adulthood. Another third will have some symptoms, but they won't be as severe as they were in childhood. The final third will have significant ADHD symptoms as adults.

Mmany symptoms of ADHD, like acting impulsively and having trouble paying attention, often persist, even into adulthood. As your child grows, have him maintain regular visits with his doctor. Discuss your child's social behavior and academic progress with teachers and other adults in his life. Your child may need less medication as he gets older, or he may need to increase his medicine dose as school becomes more challenging and afterschool activities become more demanding.

Whatever the situation, effective ADHD treatments exist. You can help your child now. Early diagnosis and treatment often provide the best results for those living with ADHD.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.