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One does not outgrow ADD, though a person can learn to master strategies to effectively compensate. It is now understood that ADD is a lifespan disability.

The child who has hyperactivity may begin to look like he is out-growing the ADD because the symptoms of hyperactivity can diminish at puberty. The symptoms of ADD seem to change at this age. They appear to become more internalized, or "socialized." This does not mean that the struggle of coping with the ADD has disappeared, or that the person doesn't need accommodations or should discontinue treatment.

About half of the children who are diagnosed with ADD do develop a large enough inventory of effective skills that they are able to compensate quite well as adults without medication. About half of the children who are diagnosed with ADD do continue to require medication, work that is stimulating, a structured environment, and workplace accommodations to work at full potential when adults.

Even though most people don't outgrow ADHD, people do learn to adapt and live fulfilling lives. With effective combinations of medicine, new skills, and emotional support, people with ADHD can develop ways to control their attention and minimize their disruptive behaviors. They may find that by structuring tasks and controlling their environment, they can achieve personal goals. They may learn to channel their excess energy into sports and other high energy activities. They can identify career options that build on their strengths and abilities. As they grow up, with appropriate help from parents and clinicians, children with ADHD become better able to suppress their hyperactivity and to channel it into more socially acceptable behaviors, like physical exercise or fidgeting. And although we know that half of all children with ADHD will still show signs of the problem into adulthood, we also know that the medications and therapy that help children also work for adults.

All people with ADHD have natural talents and abilities that they can draw on to create fine lives and careers for themselves. In fact, many people with ADHD even feel that their patterns of behavior give them unique, often unrecognized, advantages. People with ADHD tend to be outgoing and ready for action. Because of their drive for excitement and stimulation, many become successful in business, sports, construction, and public speaking. Because of their ability to think about many things at once, many have won acclaim as artists and inventors. Many choose work that gives them freedom to move around and release excess energy. But some find ways to be effective in quieter, more sedentary careers. Sally, a computer programmer, found that she thinks best when she wears headphones to reduce distracting noises. Some people strive to increase their organizational skills. Others who own their own business find it useful to hire support staff to provide day-to-day management.

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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12