Parents of children with ADHD may worry about their child’s future. Early struggles in school and behavioral problems may create fears that the child will not be successful in school or may have a poor performance in college or employment. Currently, there is some debate about how frequently and severely childhood symptoms of ADHD carry into adulthood. For example, some children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to show significant symptoms as adults, while others may have found ways to work around these issues and become more functional. But how do parents or treatment providers identify which children will continue to struggle and which will be successful? A recent research study sought to answer this question by studying a group of 6- to 12-year-old boys who were diagnosed with ADHD and had behavior problems. The study then held follow-up interviews when the boys were 18, 25, and 41 to examine their functioning.

The study found that:

  • Boys with higher IQs had better overall functioning later in life
  • Boys with conduct problems in childhood had lower overall adult functioning, educational success, and employment success
  • Boys who had clear educational goals in adolescence tended to have better overall functioning in adulthood

These findings suggest that boys with average or lower IQs and those with conduct issues may need greater interventions in childhood. Additionally, goal-setting can help adolescents with ADHD have greater success in the future and may serve as another helpful intervention.