Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often a perplexing issue for teens and their families. On the one hand, those with ADHD often focus intently on one specific thing or task, while excluding all others. However, they may also feel concentration is challenging and sitting still is impossible. Because of this, they go from one thing to the next and are constantly in motion. Many teens with ADHD do grow into creative, energetic, and successful adults, given the proper support and right environment. However, life can also present frustrating challenges for these individuals, contributing to learning disabilities and difficulty “fitting in” to a society that moves at a different pace and expects different behaviors. That’s where an ADHD treatment center for teens, like Red Mountain Colorado, can help.
If you are interested in learning more about how our mindfulness-based program may be a good fit for your teen, this guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most commonly diagnosed issues in children. As it affects attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control, it is often identified in a classroom setting when students begin to struggle with study skills.
ADHD is a learning difference, not a mental health struggle; but it is closely associated with a variety of emotional and behavioral issues. For example, there is a strong link between risk-taking and impulsivity and teens with ADHD, as well as higher rates of depression and anxiety. As a result, many teens with ADHD struggle with problems that extend beyond the classroom and affect their confidence about their future goals.
ADHD can result from a variety of causes, including the brain’s processing speed. For example, some of those with ADHD may process information more slowly than other people, a situation that would explain the tendency for some to shut everything out and focus on one subject, “working it into the ground.”
At our treatment center, we understand the complexities of ADHD and the three different types, which include:
Primarily hyperactive-impulsive type • Fidgety and restless • Has trouble sitting down for an extended period of times • Impulsive • Talks excessively and struggles to stay quiet • Frequently interrupts others and has trouble waiting for their turn
Primarily inattentive type • Diffculty staying focused during class, reading, or play activities • Struggles to finish tasks they’ve started • Makes careless mistakes around attention to details • Difficulty staying organized • Easily distracted • Often forgetful and misplaces things
Primarily combined type ADHD is not black and white. The most common type of ADHD involves a combination of hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. Some teens may switch between categories while others exhibit some signs of both, but not all of them.
The Red Mountain Colorado Response to ADHD
We understand that each individual’s experience with ADHD is unique. Because of this, we approach treatment with an individualized plan for each teenaged student. Many of them feel that they are “wrong” because of how ADHD affects their behavior. This can come across as “dreaminess” or “being hyper.” These negative responses often lead to reduced self-esteem and may increase their anxiety about social situations. We help students understand that they are not “bad” or “troubled” kids and that they can develop skills to work effectively with their ADHD issues in a nurturing environment. The Red Mountain Colorado milieu is designed to be emotionally supportive. Students in our treatment program support one another throughout their journey with us. It is a comforting place for students who have misunderstood in the past.
Holistic Therapies Address Symptoms of ADHD
Using the key Red Mountain Colorado modalities of mindfulness, adventure programming, meditation, yoga and martial arts, our students have increased focus, heightened self-esteem, improved social relationships, physical and emotional health, and higher levels of self-efficacy. Individual and group therapy reinforce the positive impact of these methods.
Teens also address their issues through nutritional education from our full-time nutrition coach, as well as regular exercise, since both exercise and diet are widely considered to be key components of recovery from ADHD.
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Mindfulness Skills Useful for Teens with ADHD
Mindfulness has proven to be especially effective in treating ADHD. When our students see themselves as struggling with motivation and apathy, and label themselves as less intelligent than they are, we point out that these are symptoms associated with processing difficulties. This is an issue that is important for them to understand and appreciate rather than a reason for negative self-statements. Over time, we can help them to modulate the ADHD symptoms and patterns of negative self-talk through our clinical program and mindfulness training.
Introducing mindfulness to teens with ADHD may seem counterintuitive, as concentration and sitting still are hard for them. But, over time, mindfulness can help them retrain their brains by developing a greater ability to focus and self-regulate. Mindfulness involves greater awareness, not necessarily just a single-pointed focus. For some people, focusing on one thing can help them feel more grounded, but for some teens, this can make them feel out of touch with their other senses. Teens with ADHD are often hyperaware of their surroundings and are easily distracted by details in their environment. Through mindfulness, they can learn to embrace this by naming their experience and considering the details as an integral part of the present.
Our goal is to help teens build a mindfulness practice slowly, by offering a Beginner’s and Advanced mindfulness group every morning. For teens who struggle with a structured practice, we also integrate principles of mindfulness into other activities. Some teens find it easier to practice mindfulness when walking, doing yoga, or even journaling. Others appreciate a sitting practice but need music or a guided meditation to keep them focused, as silence makes them feel more restless. We teach teens that there is no “wrong” way of being mindful and encourage them to discover what works for them.
Red Mountain Colorado is a leading residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17, built on the shoulders of some of the most experienced and well-respected individuals in the field of adolescent and young adult treatment.