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ADHD Teens and Young Adults

Mom to Teen Girl with ADHD Looking to Understand

I am mom to a wonderful teen who happens to have ADHD.  I try, really try to understand ADHD, but not having dealt with this before, and having difficulty doing so.

Any teens with ADHD able to put into words how ADHD makes you feel, how your mind works, what helps you deal, what doesn’t help you deal, what makes things worse, etc?  I try to discuss this with my daughter, but she isn’t able to explain it in words to me.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.


I am not a teen and was finally diagnosed with ADHD just after I turned 50. I sort of remember what it was like as a teen but I can let you know that as an adult with ADHD I find it hard to discuss pretty much anything. It isn’t that I don’t want to- it is that my thoughts will ramble well ahead of what I can verbally spew from my mouth. This has caused me great frustration at times as I know what I want to say but by the time I can try to speak those particular thoughts others have gone flying past and I forget what it was I wanted to say. The frustration with that happening to many appears that I am angry or upset with them- and it’s only been recently that I’ve figured out I’ve been angry and upset with myself.

As a teen I was told I was lazy, could do better if I just concentrated. Was asked why I could excel in specific things but not be balanced in my learning. I didn’t know how to answer those questions. OK, I knew how to answer them, tried to but the words didn’t flow in a way that made any sense to my parents teachers or many friends so I learned to keep my mouth shut. Not a good lesson I might add.

I was fortunate enough that one professional I went to was also a hypnotist. He tried several times to put me under but there was no way he could; instead he very thoughtfully taught me self-hypnosis. I can accept that this stroke of luck and genius saved me from dropping out of school and who knows what path. he taught me how to deal with the anger of not being able to say what I wanted to - without my brain switching tracks. He may not have realized exactly what he was letting me do but he knew that there would be a benefit for me.

I also was into sports which allowed me to work off my energy- to a point. I was the guy that ran the extra few miles- put in more time at the weights and was still left with tons of energy. Getting involved in sports helped me. Getting involved in martial arts and the meditation that goes with it helped me.

You asked how the ADHD mind works. Best description I’ve heard yet is that it is like driving a Lamborghini at top speed all the time. One that can turn corners on a speck of dust and the thoughts change that fast too. It is being easily distracted by the tiniest of things and not remembering what it was you were doing so you move on to the next thing or the thing two or three after that… we can also super-focus and talk too much at times- mine is within my writing… I can go one for a long time- writing and rewriting a sentence, paragraph or page.

The best advise I can give you is what I asked of my own parents when I was an undiagnosed teen with “behaviour issues”; Just love me for who I am, I am me- I have my quirks. I doubt I’ll live up to your expectation but please have some for me because if you don’t have any then you’ve given up on me and that is the worst thing that can happen.  I can’t always explain what is going on in my mind because I’ve already witnessed how people will attack you if you have to explain how you get from the question to the answer in math and other aspects in life. They want you to explain the steps it takes to get to the answer but I couldn’t slow my mind down enough to get the steps right. The answer was right but the steps or missing steps were what caused me to fail in math… and a few other subjects. I remember doing math tests where I’d have 100% of the answers right- and fail the test because I must have cheated. I must have cheated because I could not explain the steps that everyone else was taking to get close to the right answer.

The best advise I can give you from an adult with ADHD is to read a lot about it- watch video’s. Do not think that ADHD comes in one identifiable or explainable form. We have some traits that may be common but we all handle and deal with them differently. Educated yourself not by by asking your daughter to but by reading watching learning. Look at other sites- website. They have some great and educational free videos. There are fantastic ones here too.

OK, I’ve verbosed enough. It should have and probably could have been shorter- less technical but my mind at my age still finds it difficult if not impossible to do. Oh yes- and did I mention stimuli of just about any kind takes us away from what our original thoughts were. This took me a couple of hours to do- write-read-rewrite-read again and repeat… seriously- I wish I were joking.

Posted by Benevolence on Jan 03, 2014 at 10:24am

Hi jleigh!

It is awesome that you are seeking to truly understand what life is like for your daughter. Your requested brought a particular book in mind, a memoir by a man with ADHD called, “ADHD and Me: What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table,” by Blake E. S. Taylor. I have not read this book personally but many people have told me it’s great and that he chronicles what it’s like to have ADHD as a child and as an adolescent. It’s available on

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 03, 2014 at 7:16pm

Hi. My name is Cat and I am a sixteen year old girl who is currently diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD, ODD, psychosis NOS, depression, severe anxiety, and learning disabilities. I know what ADHD is like for teens from first hand experience. Our minds have a problem where when we make mistakes, we don’t always learn from them. I myself always make the same mistakes over and over again and it drives my mom and dad nuts. It makes things worse when my mom says “I told you not to do that before, what are you…..stupid” To be perfectly honest it just makes me feel dumb and makes my depression worse. I wish that there was a way for me not to feel depressed. I also have trouble focusing and so when people tell me to concentrate and that I am a bad student because I am unfocused it makes me feel bad inside. Try to build up you teen’s self esteem. People with ADHD have it rough and we often receive nothing but criticism from people around us because of our quirky behaviour and inattention.

Posted by Catemily on Jan 04, 2014 at 12:08am

Thank you, all of you for your self descriptions.  I have just joined this group because my 13 year old daughter has always been so oppositional.  It is nice to get so feedback as to what her thoughts might be. I could never understand why she will barely talk..  I have learned a lot of what not to do by your stories.  smile

Posted by fedup on Jan 08, 2014 at 4:14pm

I know this is super late but I just joined the forum so if you still want my input… Also I apologize in advance for jumping around(ADHD clutter mind sorry)

I’m a 17 year old girl with ADHD. It’s hard to really start where to begin. Many great analogies I’ve heard are that it’s like walking around life with one of those tv’s that play like 3,000 channels and they’re all playing at once simultaneously, but you’re told to only watch one of them.  It can be extremely frustrating at times, especially in regards to school work because no matter how much you try to focus it can be hard. It can get to the point where youre focused on trying to focus so much that you aren’t paying attention. It also can be frustrating because it often takes us longer to do homework or work especially if we aren’t incredibly interested in a subject.  Careless errors also always seem to be there no matter how much I check my work. It’s not that we’re dumb, but sometimes people think we’re less intelligent because we see things differently. We see more and get distracted by things we find more interesting. One advantage of ADHD is the hyperfocus ability to focus on something we find interesting.  Sometimes I can help initiate this through caffeine or trying to bring out interesting elements to assignments.  I’m not sure about your daughter, but I like many ADHDer’s am a fidgeter. Yes, it actually does annoy us as much as it annoys you. We can’t help it. We’re just trying to spill over energy so we can focus. I really need to keep my hands moving to focus, whether it be notetaking, doodling, tapping etc. Some teachers have thought that I’m not paying attention to them because of it, but I find it easier to listen this way.
It may seem backwards but I have found that limiting time or increasing distractions can help. Many ADHDers find a crowded coffee shop or library or listening to music can actually help them focus. I often listen to a white noise soundtrack at the same time as music when doing homework. I also play water polo and swim and I have felt that getting stress and extra energy out through exercise can really help.
Overall just have patience and support.  Teachers and other people can be judgmental and not understand. We really are trying.  We don’t like to be thought of as a burden or stupid. We just see the world differently.  Tasks might take longer, please just have patience. We will say things we don’t mean. Most of us have bad tempers that root from the impulsivity.
I’m currently a junior in high school and for the most part have A’s with a few B’s.  It’s possible to get through it.

Posted by kcjingoes on May 22, 2014 at 2:03am

Hey! My name is Sidney and I am 18. ADHD often makes me feel confused and lost. I can be wanting to go do something and by the time I get ready to do it, I’ve already forgotten what I was going to do. Sometimes I’ll just be talking to someone and out of no where I’ll randomly blurt out something which sometimes ends up being rather inappropriate. I get angry easily, but I try to hold it in, which makes my mind feel like it is going everywhere and is going to explode. Sometimes I am really sensitive, but I also try to hide that, especially at work. When I am driving, I will often try to hurry and turn out in front of a car, even when I know I shouldn’t. That’s about all I can think of right now. Feel free to inbox me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you have any questions or you can just ask me on here.

Posted by sidneydog on Jul 15, 2014 at 3:11am

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