Talking to Pre-Teens About the ADHD Diagnosis


"My 11-year-old daughter refuses any help, academic or otherwise. It’s as if she doesn’t want to admit she has ADHD. She’s bright, but I know she would do much better if she’d just accept a little support. Help!"


During the preteen years, it’s common for children, with or without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), to resist labels and any interventions they feel draw attention to their differences.

Blossoming teens want to be just like everybody else, so you may want to back off from the ADHD acceptance issue. For now, it’s better to focus on addressing her academic problems.

Meet with her teachers. Together, develop strategies that allow her to shine in her strengths and manage the difficulties. It’s important that accommodations and interventions seem natural, not “special.”

Your daughter will do better with teachers who are genuinely supportive of all students and their unique needs, and who implement accommodations in a matter-of-fact manner.

Writer, educator and advocate Mary Fowler is author of Maybe You Know My Child and Maybe You Know My Teen.
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