A different type of ADHD
- 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.
- It’s estimated that as many as 50 to 75 percent of cases of ADHD in girls are missed.
- 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.
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 Girls become withdrawn and may develop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.
Three types of behavior can identify a child
with classic ADHD symptoms:
Symptoms of inattentive ADHD
Girls most often have the “inattentive” form of ADHD. Symptoms include:
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
- She is easily distracted.
- She makes careless mistakes.
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
A pattern involving the following behaviors could
- getting organized
- avoiding tasks
- losing items
- becoming distracted
Risks if not diagnosed
Girls with untreated ADHD may develop issues
- low self-esteem
- teen pregnancy
Girls also may struggle with written language
and poor decision making. They may begin to self-medicate with:
In severe cases, they may inflict injury on
Girls may benefit from a combination of:
- positive reinforcement
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.
Both behavioral skills counseling and talk
therapy are often helpful to children with ADHD. And a counselor can recommend
ways of dealing with obstacles.
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.