My child, who is starting middle school this year, was recently identified as having ADHD. I’m worried about the challenges ahead. What can we expect — and how can we help?
The middle school years can be hard for many kids. It’s a big transition. There are a lot of changes at school. And kids are going through developmental changes as well.
For some kids with , the switch to middle school can be particularly difficult. At this age, academic challenges become greater. Social challenges come into play as well.
On the academic front, kids are working on more complex concepts. The workload increases, and kids are expected to juggle more demands at once.
On the social side, things are also more complex. Peers can get more annoyed by ADHD behavior. They may look at kids with ADHD as less mature.
For all its challenges, middle school is also a time of growth and greater self-awareness. Kids are often able to understand their issues in a way they couldn’t before. In many cases, they take a longer view of ADHD now.
Middle-schoolers tend to still be open to suggestions from the adults in their lives. They’re also often open to treatment options. This may include medication. If your child doesn’t take medication, you may want to consider it as middle school approaches.
In short, this is a great time for you to revisit discussions with your child about ADHD. There are many ways you can support and help your child through this transition. Here are some things to keep in mind as you do.
Kids this age may be more aware of what having ADHD means. But they need to know that they don’t have to tell other kids about their ADHD until they’re ready.
You may want to shield them, but kids with ADHD should be aware of the challenges of middle school. They should know they’ll need to be more organized and independent in middle school, and that you’re there to help.
Middle-schoolers with ADHD may need help coming up with systems to organize and keep track of their work and materials. (An organizational coach can help with this.)
It’s important to look for for signs of anxiety and of depression. Kids with ADHD can experience more rejection and feel isolated in middle school.
Middle school brings more homework and activities. The after-school and evening hours are busier. You may want to ask your child’s doctor about booster medication that provides longer coverage.
It’s important to keep an open dialogue with your child. Check in regularly. Ask about how things are going at school — both academically and socially.
Keep the communication positive and stay involved. Your support will help build your child’s self-esteem!
Learn more about academic challenges and changes to routine in middle school. Is your child facing social challenges? If so, take a look at tips to help with connecting with other kids.
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About the author
About the author
Roy Boorady, MD is a psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, where he is senior director of the psychopharmacology service.