Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Strategies for Counselors Working with High School Students with Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder. (Practice & Theory)

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Strategies for Counselors Working with High School Students with Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder. (Practice & Theory)

Article excerpt

Wendy is a 37-year-old mother of three who is attempting to complete her associate's degree at the local community college. She is seeking guidance from Vocational Rehabilitation Services because she is having difficulty arriving to class on time and finishing her homework assignments. She has relied on amphetamines and other narcotics in the past to help her concentrate and decrease her anxiety level; however, after an arrest for drug possession she was ordered by the court to enter into a substance abuse program. Wendy admits that she has been addicted to drugs for several years but "speed" helped her sustain attention and remain on task.

She describes her elementary and high school years as "complete chaos." When she was able to concentrate, she would do well in class and successfully complete her assignments. However, she usually fidgeted in her seat, talked excessively during class, bothered other students, and frequently ended the day in the principal's office. Rather than provide her with strategies to help her retain information or develop healthy peer relationships, Wendy's teachers, elementary and high school counselors, and parents dismissed her as a hopeless "space cadet," "day dreamer," and "class clown."

Despite Wendy's inability to sustain attention, she scored in the above-average range on an intelligence test and on a reading, math, and written expression achievement test. Nevertheless, her impulsivity, anxiety, and hyperactivity contributed to the development of a pattern of substance abuse. Wendy has not been able to sustain vocational employment or complete some college courses since she left high school. At present, she is hoping the rehabilitation counselor can provide her with the proper coping strategies to deal with the pressures of postsecondary education, the work environment, and life's daily challenges.

The proceeding case example is just one of many that could be cited in which the individual was not identified early in her or his educational career as having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and thus no interventions were developed to assist her or him in learning successful strategies to cope with the disorder. Counselors, particularly school counselors, have the skills and knowledge to assist in the identification of individuals like Wendy and to help them develop the skills necessary for success in high school and in the transition from high school to postsecondary education or entry into the workforce. The earlier an individual's ADHD is identified and comprehensive intervention plans are developed (which would include parents, teachers, counselors, and the child) the higher the probability that the individual will be successful in school and vocational pursuits.


Obviously, the previous case example illustrates an adult with undiagnosed ADHD who could have lived her life more successfully if she had been properly diagnosed and provided with necessary strategies to make healthy decisions. According to a commonly held perception of an individual with ADHD, people with hyperactivity are young children who are unable to remain seated in their desks. It is also commonly believed that these "restless" children are frequently referred by the parent or classroom teacher for a psychological evaluation, diagnosed with ADHD, and then treated "differently" by elementary school counselors, school psychologists, exceptional children's resource teachers, and parents to help the child "overcome the condition." More important, it is mistakenly believed that when these same children approach adolescence and young adulthood, they will grow out of the hyperactivity and perform well in high school, postsecondary education, social relationships, and the work environment.

Recently, the image of the young child who is too hyperactive to sit still in the classroom has been recast. The following information has begun to circulate throughout the mental health profession: ADHD does not necessarily lessen or disappear upon completion of elementary school, ADHD afflicts girls as well as boys, and ADHD can linger throughout adulthood (Jaffe, 1995). …

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