AD/HD in Girls

Girls with AD/HD often have the primarily inattentive type of this condition, which may make them appear quiet and dreamy, and can sometimes go unnoticed. Even parents who have had a lot of experience with managing the condition in their sons can miss the subtle symptoms that indicate their daughter is likely to have ADHD also. As a result, some research suggests today that ADHD could be under-diagnosed in girls and much more common than previously thought. There are some warning signs to look out for, however, which - if acted upon - could make life easier for girls in this situation.  

Girls with AD/HD:

  • tend to be dreamy, even anxious
  • may doodle a lot in class when teacher is talking, etc.
  • are unable to pay attention fully to what is being said (school, home, friends)
  • usually lack self-confidence/self-belief
  • tend to be perfectionists
  • may need a lot more time to finish homework because of this
  • tend to have dramatic/intense relationships
  • are liable to be overly emotional and prone to tantrums, especially at home
  • tend to become moody and irritable during the teen years
  • struggle with relationships (friends, groups, teachers, etc.)

These girls may be very orderly in the way they record their homework assignments and organize their class files. This can be deceptive to parents who have experienced the disorganized schoolbags and files of their AD/HD sons, which constantly needed to be monitored to make sure that things did not get lost, etc. Let this not fool you! Girls are generally much better at being tidy and organized at this stage in their lives, but this is not evidence that they do not have AD/HD. The AD/HD symptoms in girls are of a different nature than those of boys, but nonetheless just as debilitating in the long run.

If girls have an acompanying learning disability, such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, these conditions will generally be identified and appropriate accommodations given. Some girls with untreated AD/HD suffer also from anxiety and/or depression as adolescents, which is easier to detect and to treat. However, if the underlying AD/HD is not recognized and treated, the other treatment for the co-existing conditions is unlikely to relieve the symptoms and the girl continues to suffer because of the untreated AD/HD symptoms, which get more severe with the onset of puberty. These girls are in real danger of turning their backs on school as soon as this is allowed, even those who are highly intelligent and creative. This is the reason that we see many intelligent women go back to study later in life when they have learned to deal with stress and the hormone inbalances of their teens years have settled down.

It is, however, very important to have the AD/HD treated as early as possible so that girls understand the condition and make life and career choices that complement their talents and dispositions. Those girls who are hyperactive and/or impulsive are usually identified and treated as the symptoms of this form of AD/HD are similar to those experienced by boys - and thus more likely to be detected.

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ADHD Europe asks for better provisions for Teenagers with ADHD who continue to need access to mental health services after they turn 18.
This must be a priority across Europe so please sign the Declaration:

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