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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD and Your Child's Future Career

By Eric Metcalf, MPH
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Patricia Quinn, MD

All types of workers come to Michele Novotni’s office for help with their job concerns: musicians, teachers, truck drivers, TV reporters, salespeople, and even an opera singer. They all have something in common: ADHD.

Novotni, a psychologist and coach who focuses on ADHD, advises them on how to manage their symptoms at work.

If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD and you're wondering how it will affect their career potential, the possibilities may be broader than you think.

Children with ADHD can grow up to succeed in a variety of careers, Novotni says. You can start them on that path now.

Their First Job

ADHD often includes impulsive behaviors, trouble focusing, and in some people, hyperactivity.

If those symptoms aren't managed well, they may lead to workplace problems even in a young person's first few jobs as a teen, says Frances Prevatt, PhD, coauthor of Succeeding With Adult ADHD.

For example, bosses tend to complain when teens can’t stay organized or finish tasks.

ADHD treatment, including therapy and medications, if needed, may help them focus.

It's important for kids to practice habits that help them succeed in school now, Prevatt says. Those habits include:

Focus on their strengths. Kids with ADHD often dwell on the things they have trouble doing, Novotni says. So encourage your child to spend time on things she does well: Perhaps she's good at art or math. Later, when she’s choosing a career path, the hobbies and activities she enjoys might point her toward a job or field that suits her.

Emphasize organization. From an early age, help your child find tools and habits that he can use later in the workplace, such as:

  • Organizers and checklists
  • Text messages and computer reminders, once he’s old enough to use a cell phone and computer
  • Meditation to help him sit still in quiet surroundings
  • Waiting for pauses in conversations instead of interrupting others

Seek help. Novotni encourages her clients to recruit help, like hiring an assistant for a few hours at a time to handle boring tasks. Make sure your child knows that finding help is a smart move, not a sign of weakness. This may include:

  • Working with a tutor
  • Going to the school’s writing center or using other resources
  • Having sessions with an ADHD coach

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