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Daydream Believers: ADHD in Girls

A different type of ADHD

Highlights

  1. Hyperactivity, fidgeting, and an inability to sit still are typical behaviors for boys dealing with the disorder. This isn’t always the case for girls with ADHD, though.
  2. It’s estimated that as many as 50 to 75 percent of cases of ADHD in girls are missed.
  3. If ADHD remains undiagnosed, young girls may find it difficult to function in everyday situations.

The high-energy boy who doesn’t focus in
class and can’t sit still has been the subject of research for decades.
However, it wasn’t until recent years that researchers started to focus on attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in girls.

In part, that’s because girls may manifest
ADHD symptoms differently. For example, girls are more likely to be staring out
the window during class than jumping out of their seats.

The numbers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three times more males than females are diagnosed with ADHD. The
CDC points out that this higher rate of diagnosis among boys may be because
their symptoms are more overt than those of girls. Boys tend toward running,
hitting, and other aggressive behaviors. Girls become withdrawn and may develop
anxiety or low self-esteem.  

Symptoms

Three types of behavior can identify a child
with classic ADHD symptoms:

  • inattention
  • hyperactivity
  • impulsiveness

Symptoms of inattentive ADHD
Girls most often have the “inattentive” form of ADHD. Symptoms include:

  • daydreaming
  • disorganization
  • forgetfulness
  • If your daughter exhibits the following
    behaviors, she could just be bored, or she may need further evaluation.

    • She often doesn’t seem to be
      listening.
    • She is easily distracted.
    • She makes careless mistakes.

    Diagnosis

    A teacher may suggest testing your daughter
    for ADHD if her concerning behavior seems more obvious at school than at home.
    To make a diagnosis, a doctor will perform a medical exam to rule out other
    possible causes for her symptoms. Then they’ll evaluate your daughter’s personal
    and family medical history because ADHD has a genetic component.

    The doctor may ask the following people to
    complete questionnaires about your daughter’s behavior:

    • family members
    • babysitters
    • coaches

    A pattern involving the following behaviors could
    indicate ADHD:

    • getting organized
    • avoiding tasks
    • losing items
    • becoming distracted

    Risks if not diagnosed

    Girls with untreated ADHD may develop issues
    that include:

    • low self-esteem
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • teen pregnancy

    Girls also may struggle with written language
    and poor decision making. They may begin to self-medicate with:

    • drugs
    • alcohol
    • overeating

    In severe cases, they may inflict injury on
    themselves.

    Treatment

    Girls may benefit from a combination of:

    • drugs
    • therapy
    • positive reinforcement

    Drugs

    Well-known drugs for ADHD include stimulants
    such as Ritalin and Adderall, and antidepressants such as Wellbutrin.

    Monitor your daughter closely to make sure
    she takes the correct dosage of medication.

    Therapy

    Both behavioral skills counseling and talk
    therapy are often helpful to children with ADHD. And a counselor can recommend
    ways of dealing with obstacles.

    Positive reinforcement

    Many girls struggle with ADHD. You can help
    your daughter by focusing on her good qualities and praising behavior that
    you’d like to see more often. Be sure to phrase feedback in a positive manner.
    For example, ask your daughter to walk, rather than scold her for running.

    The plus side

    A diagnosis of ADHD can bring your daughter
    relief when her symptoms are affecting daily life. In her book “Daredevils and
    Daydreamers,” Barbara Ingersoll, a clinical child psychologist, suggests that
    children with ADHD have traits that are similar to hunters, warriors,
    adventurers, and explorers of earlier days.

    Your daughter may take solace in knowing that
    there’s not necessarily something “wrong” with her. Her challenge is to find a
    way to use her skills in the modern world.

    Posted by: Dr.Health

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