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ADHD in Girls.  They Have it Too…A Lot!

ADHD girl
ADHD girl

Count it out.  50% to 75% of girls with ADHD are missed.  It doesn’t manifest in the same way for boys and girls.  Keep your eyes open when trying to diagnose different genders.

Girls with ADHD have unique needs and characteristics.  It is more likely for 13.2% of boys to be diagnosed as having ADHD.  In contrast, only 5.6% of girls are so.

Up to 50% of female teens with ADHD have never been diagnosed.  This results due to guidelines used for evaluations have typically focused on males.  Additionally, the majority of research is done on male children.

The symptoms of ADHD in girls can manifest at home first.  Parents should be aware of the differences that gender provides.  Listen for indicators.

  • “Sometimes I feel like I’m not good at anything.”
  • “You’re just a daydreamer.”
  • “It’s not my fault.  I get upset easily.”
  • “You’re not working hard enough.”
  • “I’m different from other girls.”

More than 80% of teachers believe that ADHD is more prevalent in boys.  These are symptoms that are more likely to be seen in the classroom.  Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and conduct disorders are more likely to be equated with disruption.

Gender differences are typically more dynamic in boys.  Fewer than 25% of teachers claim that they had difficulty recognizes symptoms in girls.  Some research finds that girls are equally likely to suffer ADHD, but they are less likely to show obvious problems.

Female teens with ADHD are more likely to be inattentive, internalizing many of their symptoms.  The public perception is that these girls are quiet and reserved and thereby suffer silently.  As a result of this difference, diagnosis should be 50-50 between boys and girls.

  • Looking out the window.
  • Picking at cuticles.
  • Appearing to be silly/flirting with boys.
  • Fading into the background.
  • Maintaining relationships is difficult.

DSM-V outlines the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.  The symptoms are more characterized with male-type symptoms.  In contrast, a different psychiatric diagnosis is often comorbid for girls with ADHD.  They suffer both from anxiety and depression.

The price that undiagnosed girls with ADHD pay is significant.  They are more likely to have poor school performance.   Wandering thoughts result in lower understanding, increasing the likelihood to repeat a grade.

There is a significant difference between genders in the classroom.  Girls are not seen as posing problems, compared to rambunctious boys.  Descriptive comments include being  “spacey,” “daydreamer,” and “lazy.”

Strategies for teachers to identify ADHD in girls focus on individual nuances.  They expose limited potential, socially, academically, and interpersonally.  Characteristics include shyness, being undisciplined, slower paced, and over-emotional.

  • Provide one-on-one academic support (tutors).
  • Encourage conversations about assignments they struggle on.
  • Consider special education placement.
  • Engage peers in socially safe activities.
  • Monitor promiscuous behavior.

ADHD in girls depicts distinct symptom presentation.  They often internalize, are inattentive, and display coping strategies.  It is common for them to have lower self-esteem, experience anxiety, and have somatic complaints.

Boys with ADHD are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.  In contrast, women are equally likely to be diagnosed as men.  Research says that having women self-rate is the key.  Screen out underperforming girls having difficulty in class.  They might have ADHD too.

2 comments

  • Marc Joly
    / Reply

    With Adhd, it is very difficult to read comprehensively.re-reading several times without comprehension sort of like multitasking between the reading and ones thinking but without control. It’s is like getting Interested in a TV program while someone keeps changing stations.this is all I can text right now….It took me 10min to write this down..

    • Edie Brown
      / Reply

      Reading comprehension is a real challenge, from children to adults with ADHD. Have you tried audiobooks? They’re a great option.

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