ADHD and the Transition to Adulthood




As children leave school to embark on their young adult lives they enter a period of great transition. New environments require new skill sets. Some support systems and structures, such as those found in the school environment, are no longer present. In addition, they are required to make the transition to adult medical services, leaving the ‘safety’ of a paediatrician they may have known for some time. There are many things that parents can do however, to prevent their child from becoming ‘lost in transition’.

Our speakers highlight the challenges associated with your child’s transition to adulthood and provide valuable strategies aimed at making the transition smoother.


Preparing your teenager for the transition to Adulthood – Dr Helen Frearson, Paediatrician

This presentation will discuss how children can be empowered to look after their own needs, with ADHD as a central issue. Dr Frearson recommends starting that process at about 10 years of age, involving children first in the conversation and then the decision making about their medication. If this is not undertaken early on in their ADHD journey, teenagers who have always been a “passenger in the system” tend to struggle with the accommodations they are required to make as they transition to adult life. Her aim is to have the young people self-sufficient in caring for their ADHD by the time they see an adult practitioner, and she will share tips on how to achieve this.

Risks associated with the transition to adulthood – Dr Ken Whiting, Paediatrician

This presentation will discuss a high-risk period for those with ADHD – the transition from childhood to adulthood. As early as 1975 long term studies initiated by Prof Russell Barkley and others clearly demonstrated the susceptibility to disadvantage in adult life for many with ADHD. That generation was also handicapped further by erroneous messages with regard to the cause and proper management of ADHD – some of which still persist today! As a result, doubt and misbelief were planted in the minds of many parents and teenagers leading to unnecessary suffering and concern. This presentation will discuss the known risks during the transition to adulthood and how they can be minimised.

Successful Transition to University – Dr Michele Toner, ADHD Coach

First, information concerning alternative paths to university will be presented, as up to 70% of uni entrants qualify via a pathway other than an ATAR score . The move from school to university means students transition from a highly structured to a relatively unstructured environment. Whilst this can be liberating at first, the novelty soon wears off as the work builds up. Students often become overwhelmed and can feel tempted to withdraw. But there is much that can be done to make university ADHD-friendly and keep them studying successfully. Michele will outline the kinds of support available for students with ADHD and discuss strategies to address the most common challenges she sees in her student-clients.