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ADHD and the Teenage Tightrope of Sustained Attention.

Updated: Nov 29, 2023



Sustained Attention sign
One of the critical executive functioning skills affected by ADHD is sustained attention—the ability to stay focused on a task for an extended period.

Navigating adolescence is challenging enough, but for teens with ADHD, the journey can be particularly daunting. One of the critical executive functioning skills affected by ADHD is sustained attention—the ability to stay focused on a task for an extended period. In this blog, we'll delve into the impact of ADHD on sustained attention in teens, explore the hurdles they face, and arm parents and educators with strategies to help them conquer this challenge.


Understanding Sustained Attention in Teens with ADHD:

Sustained attention is like a spotlight that allows us to concentrate on a specific task without being easily distracted. For teens with ADHD, this spotlight can flicker and waver, making it difficult to sustain focus over time. The constant influx of stimuli in the modern world only exacerbates this challenge.


Teenager studying
Teens with ADHD often find it challenging to stick with tasks that require prolonged concentration, such as studying for exams or completing homework assignments.

Teens with ADHD often find it challenging to stick with tasks that require prolonged concentration, such as studying for exams or completing homework assignments. This can lead to frustration, decreased academic performance, and strained relationships with peers and Educators.


Impact on Academic Performance:

The classroom is a breeding ground for sustained attention challenges in teens with ADHD. The traditional educational setting demands extended periods of focus, making it a minefield for those grappling with attention difficulties. As academic tasks become more complex, sustaining attention becomes an even more significant challenge, hindering their academic progress.


Teenaged slumped at a desk
As academic tasks become more complex, sustaining attention becomes an even more significant challenge, hindering their academic progress.

Strategies to Assist Teens with ADHD:


Structured Routine:

Establishing a predictable daily routine can provide a framework for teens with ADHD. Consistency helps them know what to expect, reducing anxiety and making it easier to transition between tasks.


Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks:

Large tasks can be overwhelming for teens with ADHD. Breaking them into smaller, more manageable chunks makes the workload seem less intimidating and allows for more frequent rewards, motivating sustained effort.


Incorporate Visual Aids:

Visual aids, such as charts, calendars, and timers, can be powerful tools. They provide a visual representation of time and help teens better understand the passage of it, aiding in task planning and time management.


Dr Ned Hallowell smiling
Dr. Ned Hallowell once said, "Everyone has these gifts—attention is like a muscle. It requires training and practice. If you don't exercise it, you'll lose it."

Ned Hallowell's Insight:

Renowned psychiatrist and ADHD expert Dr. Ned Hallowell once said, "Everyone has these gifts— sustained attention is like a muscle. It requires training and practice. If you don't exercise it, you'll lose it." This powerful statement emphasises the trainable nature of attention and underscores the importance of implementing strategies and interventions to nurture this essential skill in teens with ADHD.


Teenager looking out window
Teens with ADHD face unique challenges when it comes to sustained attention, but with understanding, support, and practical strategies, they can navigate these hurdles successfully.

Teens with ADHD face unique challenges when it comes to sustained attention, but with understanding, support, and practical strategies, they can navigate these hurdles successfully. By incorporating these approaches into daily life, parents and educators can empower teens with ADHD to develop their executive functioning skills and thrive in both academic and personal spheres. At REACH ADHD Coaching and Consultancy, we work with our teens to empower them with skills and strategies to enable them to sustain attention for extended periods.

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