Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behaviors that can be found in both children and adults. Traditionally, ADHD has been associated as occurring more frequently in boys than in girls. In truth, boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
What accounts for the higher male to female ratio? Boys with ADHD are more likely to be diagnosed because they have the combined type of ADHD (hyperactive impulsive behaviors and inattentive behaviors). This type of ADHD tends to trigger noticeable disruptive behavior that often leads to a quick response by educators and mental health therapists.
In contrast, a recent study found that girls with ADHD have less noticeable problems than boys, such as being inattentive or feeling depressed. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with the predominately inattentive type of ADHD, which can lead to difficulty in focusing rather than outwardly disruptive behavior, making it more likely that their symptoms will remain undiagnosed.
Anita Gurian, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, has written extensively about girls and ADHD. She believes that girls with ADHD are often less likely to be noticed because they “don’t disrupt the rest of the class,” thus taking it longer for educators and mental health therapists to notice that there is a problem.
Dr. Gurian also notes that most research for ADHD has been done with boys, researchers speculate that as many as 50 to 75% of girls with ADHD are missed. Girls who are identified with ADHD symptoms are diagnosed on an average of five years later than boys (boys generally diagnosed at age 7 and girls at age 12).
What can parents do to help ensure that their daughter’s diagnosis is not overlooked? Help identify early symptoms by actively looking for these typical ADHD characteristics.
Inattentive ADHD Symptoms in Girls:
• Your daughter appears not to listen or “zones out.”
• Difficulty focusing on work and play activities at home and at school.
• Exhibits difficulty maintaining her focus.
• She becomes easily distracted.
• Seems disorganized or messy.
• She is forgetful.
• Difficulty completing tasks and beginning new ones.
• Daydreams and seemingly “disconnected.” It may even appear that your daughter isn’t hearing you.
• She’s often late to activities and exhibits poor time management.
If you suspect your daughter has ADHD, make an appointment with your family doctor or a mental health professional immediately. You may also choose to speak to her school psychologist and educators to bring the problem to their attention. If ADHD is diagnosed early, your daughter stands a much better chance of having a healthy, happy childhood and a successful academic future.
- Use Caution With ADHD Diagnosis in Children
- How to Help Your Daughter Succeed in School
- Five Parenting Tips for Raising Girls
- Teaching Girls to be Girls
- How to Interview Your Daughter's Therapist