At Focused Education we often see our students taking risks. Sometimes taking a risk can be a good thing…however our young learners often make poor decisions from risk taking behaviour. Our staff understand how children with ADHD think and learn. Our ADHD tutor team can often turn risk-taking into a positive skill rather than a negative one.
ADHD and Risky Behaviour
Adolescence is often associated with independence, but it is also a time when risky behaviours begin to manifest; this holds true more so with teens that have attention or learning disorders such as ADHD, Dyslexia or Autism. It is often noted by academic studies that teens with attentions and learning difficulties are more prone to risky behaviours. Primarily because of their immature thinking and low self-esteem. ADHD is now considered to primarily be a disorder of inhibition. That is, the ADHD brain does not inhibit or stop a child with ADHD doing or saying socially inappropriate things. These risky behaviours can result in expulsion or problems with the law, which is why it is vital to identify telltale signs early on.
Sometimes teens are wrongly adjudged as simply misbehaving to be difficult. It is important to understand that although some teens may resort to these tactics to attract attention, those with attention or learning issues like Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for example may just be the victims of immature thinking, lack of impulse control, and poor judgment among other things. At times, taking risks may be a way for these teens to cope with peer pressure and the need to fit in with those in their age group.
Teens that have learning and attention issues have difficulty regulating their behaviour unlike those not experiencing such conditions. Those that have ADHD and other learning difficulties often find themselves struggling with planning and making good choices making them unwilling risk-takers.
Common Risky Behaviours
There are research works that uncovered links between risky behaviours and learning issues including ADHD among others. However, it is unacceptable to generalize that all teens with learning and attention difficulties are prone to risky behaviours. Identifying signs of common risky behaviours will allow early, timely, and effective intervention to be implemented for those at-risk.
- Smoking – teens with ADHD normally have thought processes that are too fast for them to control, which results in impulsive behaviour. With smoking becoming one of the most common problems with teens, it is not far-fetched for those with poor judgment or low self-esteem to be easily swayed by their peers to begin this dangerous habit. Clarifying the dangers of smoking and positive reinforcement will help prevent this risky behaviour.
- Drugs and Alcohol –higher rate of alcohol and substance abuse can also be one of the problems encountered by teens with ADHD and similar issues. Being impulsive can lead to substance dependence because rarely do these teens think about the consequences of their actions. For some, the abuse can be a way to improve attention span, cope with frustrations, or self-medication. Supervising teens and taking medication properly can be one of the best ways to circumvent this risky behaviour. Anxiety, depression, and being frequently upset are early signs that parents can easily address by getting immediate treatment for the teen and spending more quality time with them.
- Driving –teens with learning and attention issues can break more traffic laws and be involved in accidents due to the possibility of being easily distracted. Driving too fast because of poor impulse control and being prone to daydream can spell danger on the road. Taking more time to teach teens with these issues and delaying their driving age can yield positive results. Parents must take full control when teens are allowed behind the wheel and must be trained to avoid distractions to help them become safer drivers and avoid reckless driving.
- Sexual Activity – the possibility of having unprotected and unsafe sex is higher in teens with learning and attention issues. In teen girls, the rates for unwanted pregnancies are likewise higher. Teens with ADHD and similar issues tend to have sex earlier and with more partners than usual. To prevent this behaviour, parents must be constantly aware where their teens are all the time and minimize unsupervised free time. Encouraging open communication and focusing on extracurricular activities can help tone down the risks of unwanted sexual activity among these teens.
- Dealing with Authorities in Perth – it may be in West Australian schools or the law, some teens with learning and attention issues commonly exhibit disruptive behaviours. These can lead to actions like shoplifting, damaging property, or worse criminal actions putting them in juvenile courts or getting them expelled from school. Normally, poor impulse control, traumatic experiences, or substance abuse are commonly pinpointed as culprits. These behavioural problems can be averted by taking time to explain to teens with ADHD and similar issues the role authority plays in their lives and how it can help them.
The risky behaviour associated with common learning disabilities can be avoided as long as parents become aware of the symptoms and choose to be actively involved in the life of their teens.
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