ADHD is a disorder that is typically present before the age of 6, but for many students, an official diagnosis may not come till much later in life. While medication is the most effective treatment for improving attention, focus, and concentration, there are many other issues that older students often have that medication may not address.
Many students who have struggled with undiagnosed ADHD have not developed effective study skills. They are typically the students who procrastinate and wait till the very last minute to cram for a test. They are also the students who may take advantage of all the “retest” policies available now and just take the test to see how they do without studying then only study the material that they missed on the first try. While this may (or may not) be working for them, it is likely that it wont continue into high school and definitely into college. Starting medication will not magically infuse their brains with amazing study skills, but it will allow them the focus to learn from a teacher or coach the best ways to prepare for a test and manage study time.
In addition, many of the students who have been dealing with undiagnosed ADHD have been dealing with a lot of failures. While they believe that their methods should be working, they are not. They typically feel like no matter how hard they try, they just cannot succeed in school. Many middle and high school students that we see complain of feelings of depression, anxiety, and a sense of inadequacy in addition to the attention and focus issues they have. Continued struggles in school can take a toll on a students self-esteem and begin to make them feel like there is really no hope for them. Again, while medication will help with the attention and focus, it is important to address these feelings through counseling or coaching. They need to understand that they are capable of success and that the anxiety and depression are natural reactions to what they have been experiencing. As they begin to see some of that success in school, the negative feelings should begin to subside, but they are still important to address.