ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Daydream Believers: ADHD in Girls
A Different Type of ADHD
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.
Click through the slideshow to discover other symptoms of ADHD in girls.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents of boys aged 4 to 17 are more than twice as likely as parents of girls in that age range to report that their child has ADHD (13.2 percent to 5.6 percent).
Boys are also much more likely to receive medication for the disorder than girls are (6.9 to 2.5 percent). The CDC found high rates of ADHD among multiracial children and those on medical assistance.
Three types of behavior can identify a child with classic ADHD symptoms:
However, girls often have the “inattentive” form of ADHD. This type is marked by daydreaming, disorganization, and forgetfulness. If your daughter often doesn’t seem to be listening, is easily distracted, or makes careless mistakes, she could just be bored or going through a phase. Or, she may need further evaluation.
Risks If Not Diagnosed
Girls with untreated ADHD may have problems with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and teen pregnancy.
Girls also may struggle with written language and make poor decisions. They may turn to drugs, alcohol, and overeating to self-medicate. In severe cases, they may inflict injury on themselves.
A teacher may suggest testing your daughter for ADHD if her problems seem 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 family members, babysitters, and coaches to complete questionnaires about behavior. A pattern of difficulty getting organized or avoiding tasks, losing items, and becoming distracted could indicate ADHD.
Girls may benefit from a combination of drugs, talk therapy, and behavioral skills counseling. 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. A counselor can also help her find 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 of.
Be sure to phrase feedback in a positive manner. For example, ask your child to walk rather than scolding her for running.
The Plus Side
A diagnosis of ADHD can bring your daughter relief, as her struggles in daily life will finally make sense. Clinical child psychologist Barbara Ingersoll 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 skills just aren’t as appreciated in a modern world.
- Quinn, P. (2010). 100 Questions & Answers About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Women and Girls. Mississauga, Ontario.: Jones & Bartlett. Retrieved Sept. 23, 2013, from http://books.google.com/books?id=ZkxECNXdWkoC&pg=PT61&dq=ADHD+research+Hinshaw++girls&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q55AUqnLJcXk4AOp_4HYDQ&ved=0CEcQ6AEwAA#v=snippet&q=underdiagnosis%20girls&f=false
- Capaccio, G. (2008). ADD and ADHD. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://books.google.com/books?id=q9Rje9qX9W0C&q=dancing+numbers#v=onepage&q=dance%20eights&f=false
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Increasing Prevalence of Parent-Reported Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children --- United States, 2003 and 2007. [Electronic version]. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 59(44), 1439-1443. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5944a3.htm
- Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (2013) HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/Understanding-ADHD.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token
- Crawford, N. (2003) American Psychological Association “Monitor on Psychology”: ADHD: A Women's Issue. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb03/adhd.aspx
- Yoshimasu, K., et al. (2011). Written-Language Disorder Among Children With and Without ADHD in a Population-Based Birth Cohort. [Electronic version]. Pediatrics, 128(3), e605–e612. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164095/
- Hinshaw, P., et al. (2012). Prospective Follow-Up of Girls With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Into Early Adulthood: Continuing Impairment Includes Elevated Risk for Suicide Attempts and Self-Injury. [Electronic version]. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(6), 1041–1051. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from
- http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/ccp-80-6-1041.pdfAttention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children: Tests and diagnosis. (2013). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children: Treatments and drugs. (2013) Mayo Clinic. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
- ADHD: What Parents Need to Know. (2009). University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/adhd.htm
- Ingersoll, B. (2010). Daredevils and Daydreamers. New York, N.Y.: Random House. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2013, from http://books.google.com/books?id=cj4nXKLws34C&q=farmers#v=onepage&q=hunters%20farmers&f=false