Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

The University of Toronto researchers asked adolescents with and without ADHD about how they perceived themselves, such as whether they felt they were an “okay person” or how they felt they were performing in areas such as academics, athletics or their social lives.

AlexRaths/Getty Images/iStockphoto

When Joshua Poirier was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at 14, tests also showed he had a high IQ. He told a few of his friends, but worked hard to make it seem as though everything was normal.

Still, when he was called into a separate classroom for extra help at school, he felt stigmatized. He had a sense the "doors were closing."

"I wanted people to know, like, 'Oh, I'm ADD, but I've also got a high intelligence. I'm capable of things,' " says Mr. Poirier, who is now 30 and has experience teaching children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as the condition is more frequently called now. He is working on a research project on traumatic brain injury at the University of British Columbia.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Poirier's experience reflects new research showing that adolescents with ADHD – even those with high intelligence and high academic achievements – feel less competent academically and behaviorally than their peers who do not have the disorder. The research, conducted at the University of Toronto, will be presented this week at a conference in Vancouver organized by the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities.

The University of Toronto researchers asked adolescents with and without ADHD about how they perceived themselves, such as whether they felt they were an "okay person" or how they felt they were performing in areas such as academics, athletics or their social lives.

They found that even adolescents with ADHD and high IQ and high academic achievement still felt less competent in academics and less capable of excelling, for example, at part-time work, than those who did not have ADHD.

One of the researchers behind the work, Judith Wiener, said the results were a surprise.

"If you're asking kids, 'How good are you in school,' usually brighter kids feel better about themselves at school than less bright kids," she said.

Prof. Wiener said the findings are unique, in part because ADHD research rarely focuses on adolescents.

"In the past 15 years, there has been a lot of research on little kids, but nothing on adolescents," she said.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's almost as if, with ADHD kids, that when they turn 13, no one bothers with them any more, and they are still very much at risk."

Prof. Wiener said her research has demonstrated that ADHD is tougher to diagnose in adolescents. Teens are evaluated the same way as younger children, by asking parents and teachers, as well as the students themselves, to rate their ADHD tendencies on a scale.

"With teens, they spend less time with their parents. And you ask their teachers for a rating, but the teacher just has them for history and another teacher has them for science, so they aren't as closely in touch with how the kid is," she said.

For Mr. Poirier, an ADHD diagnosis can be a double-edged sword.

"I started working harder for the things that I wanted," he said, remembering university and the challenge of doing a double major.

"In some cases, kids don't, and that's an excuse to get out of things and it almost starts a spiral effect for their future."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies