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Secondary education

Adolescence for hyperactive children is difficult and it is very important to anticipate this by predicting specific difficulties related to their disorder. It is also a time when the school system changes to become less controlling. Many children jump into secondary school, with less oversight in general than in primary schools. High school students begin to have more teachers, one for each subject, sometimes even changing their classroom, and this is systematic when adolescents begin to make choices in their academic curriculum. Hyperactive children may have a hard time adapting to the peculiarities of this phase of education. Adolescents are given more and more autonomy. There is not so much control over their organization or on completing their homework. This moment can call into crisis their limited capacities of self-control and they are lost with so many changes.

High school is when more drop outs occur. A hyperactive child that arrives at this stage without having improved his/her symptoms, without having learned to organize him/herself or to consider prioritizing, will probably not be motivated to study long term. At this time many kids verbalize it as "I’m not meant for school" or "As soon as possible, I’m going to work." The effort they have to make to achieve, many times, disheartening results makes them think about other ways to organize their future, other than studying. The child reaches this stage knowing his or her abilities. With parents and teachers also being aware of their abilities it is important for them to give proper advice regarding the decisions that must be made about the subjects that they want to study further. The child is going to do more and more what he or she wants and less what their parents want, and the motivation and self-esteem (or self-value) are two keys for finishing any activity well.

The onset of adolescence is the result of childhood. But then there are many external influences, like classmates or the exposure to risks/ temptations of social transgression (absenteeism, drugs, etc.) that can also reverse the development of a child who is not well grounded with a clear, strong, confident identity. These personality characteristics are more difficult to acquire by children with learning and behavior issues like hyperactivity. That is why they are more vulnerable to “adolescent” problems, in addition to the problems of hyperactivity / inattention / impulsivity.

Teenagers in general increase their impulsivity (those with hyperactivity the most), defy the rules, they need find themselves, and mentally separate themselves from their parents. These are difficult tasks for insecure or not very capable children. Hyperactive adolescents are particularly vulnerable to being tempted by drugs or by gangs (because it hard for them to analyze consequences in the medium and long term).

Besides the difficulties related to the adolescent age, academic content is more complex, more abstract. Part of learning in primary school is learning tools (such as reading, writing, arithmetic). In high school, they learn content, which requires the mastery of learning tools and having enough ability to concentrate and to study. When these fail, the effort to learn is much more, and the teen loses interest in studying.

Access to learning by reading, a tool that is based in great part on teaching is less effective for hyperactive children, who learn so much better in a visual, interactive way. The system used in education is, therefore, the key for these teens to learn.

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