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ADD/ADHD

How Can I Help My Child With ADHD Make the Adjustment to Middle School?

By Roy Boorady

My child was recently identified as having ADHD. He’s starting middle school this year, and I’m worried about the challenges he’ll face. What can we expect—and how can we help?

Roy Boorady

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Child Mind Institute

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 ADHD, the adjustment can be particularly difficult. At this age, academic challenges become greater—but so do social challenges.

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, however, 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, and take a longer view of it.

Kids in middle school tend to still be open to guidance from their parents. And they’re often open to treatment options, including medication. (If your child isn’t taking medication, you may want to consider it as he enters middle school.)

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 him through this transition. Here are some things to keep in mind as you do.

  • Your child may be more aware of what having ADHD means. But he needs to know that he doesn’t have to tell other kids about his ADHD until he’s ready.
  • You may want to shield him, but your child should be aware of the challenges of middle school. He should know he’ll need to be more organized and independent in middle school, and that you’ll help him.
  • Your child may need help coming up with systems to organize and keep track of his work and his materials. (An organizational coach can help with this.)
  • It’s important to for to look for signs of anxiety and of depression. Kids with ADHD can experience more rejection and feel isolated in middle school.
  • With more homework and activities after school and in the evening, you may want to ask your child’s doctor about booster medication to give him longer coverage.
  • It’s important to keep an open dialogue with your child. Check in regularly. Ask him how things are going at school—both academically and socially.
  • Keep the communication positive. Your ongoing support and involvement will help build his self-esteem!

Learn more about academic challenges and changes to routine in middle school. And if your child is having trouble socially, take a look at tips to help him connect with other kids.

About the Author

Portrait of Roy Boorady

Roy Boorady is a psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, where he is senior director of the psychopharmacology service.

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