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What everyone can learn from adolescents with ADHD

Adolescents often cop a bad rap, no doubt about it. They're known for their sulking, obsession with social media, and love for those long sleep-ins. So, when I first

realised that adolescents with ADHD could really benefit from coaching, I was wary. I had so many questions. Would they engage in the coaching process? Would they want to be coached by someone their parents' age? But since I've started working with adolescents, I've not only thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’ve also been truly blown away by them. I've realised that there's a lot to learn from adolescents and even more to celebrate. They're engaged, open to suggestions, and seeking guidance while also trying to carve their own path forward.

Here are five things to celebrate about adolescents with ADHD:

1. Self-Aware: Adolescents with ADHD are self-aware. They're highly attuned to their strengths and what hinders their progress. This enables them to clarify their values, thoughts, feelings, behaviours, strengths, and weaknesses. It helps them to communicate with greater intention and clarity.

2. Flexible about the future: These adolescents are visionaries who embrace flexibility. They often have clear ideas about their desired future accomplishments, while simultaneously remaining open to the possibilities and potential changes that could transform their lives. Rather than fixating on a specific outcome, young people with ADHD welcome alternative paths.

3. Well-equipped for coaching: Adolescents with ADHD make exceptional candidates for coaching. They comprehend the actions that hinder their progress and actively seek empowerment to initiate changes. They demonstrate curiosity, introspection, and a willingness to seek advice or guidance when faced with challenges. Uncertain of which strategies will prove effective, they remain open-minded.

4. Recognise unhelpful thinking patterns: Adolescents with ADHD possess remarkable insights into thinking patterns that can impede their progress. These patterns may encompass thoughts such as "I'm bored," "This task is overwhelming," or "I don't know where to start." Their awareness of these unhelpful thinking patterns enables them to start building strategies that aim to overcome the mental obstacles they encounter.

5. Curiosity about ADHD management strategies: Adolescents with ADHD display a strong desire to understand how they can effectively manage their executive function difficulties. They are curious about ADHD and its impact on their task completion, goals, and ability to accomplish tasks. They seek to expand their knowledge about ADHD and appreciate that other young people face similar challenges, which helps them realise that their difficulties can be overcome.

Of course, every adolescent with ADHD is unique, and these observations may not apply to every individual. However, by recognising and appreciating these qualities in young people with ADHD, we can foster understanding and provide tailored support to meet their individual needs.

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