ADHD in Girls
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. In medical terms it is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity interfering with normal functioning or development. Though it affects children and teens but can continue into adulthood as well. It affects around 1.5% children, affecting boys 5 times more often than girls.
However it is a misconception that girls generally don’t suffer from this disorder. The reason is, when you picture a child with ADHD, a few images may come to mind: A kid who doesn’t ever seem to sit still, who is perpetually moving, fidgeting & squirming, has an impulsive behavior, trouble waiting for his turn etc. Though these symptoms are easy to spot but at the same time they are also much less common for girls.
But it doesn’t mean that this disorder affects them less. In fact girls with ADHD have a harder time than boys in some ways. Since girls are less rebellious, less defiant, generally less “difficult” than boys so they lose out due to their good behavior.So they are often left to drift along from one school year to the next, never working up to their potential.
Therefore it is important to look out for the following behaviors, occurring frequently and in various combinations, in girls.
- ‘Tomboys’ – Hyperactive girls are often tomboys. They are physically active, drawn to more physical/risk taking activities such as soccer, swimming or tree climbing but are less attracted to more girlish activities. Their handwriting may be messy, they are often disorganized, and they may rush out the door for their next activity leaving their room a huge mess.
- ‘Daydreamers’ – Girls of the inattentive variety are often shy daydreamers. They don’t pay attention to their teacher instead do things like looking out the window while twirling their hair or picking at their cuticles often.They are also forgetful and disorganized in completing their school work and when sent to their room to complete homework they may quietly daydream at their desk unless they are kept on track by a parent sitting beside them. They may seem easily overwhelmed and operate at a slower pace than other girls.
- ‘Chatty Kathy’ – The third type of girl with ADD (ADHD) is a combination of hyperactive and inattentive. They are in fact hyper-talkative rather than hyperactive. They are “silly”, excitable and overemotional.They chatter constantly in class and have trouble staying quiet even when they are disciplined for talking, interrupting others frequently and jumping from topic to topic in a conversation.
- ‘Gifted Girls’ – However the most difficult to spot are the highly intelligent girls with ADD (ADHD). They seem to cope up very well in the initial years of their school but as their school life becomes more demanding and complicated, their problems with concentration, organization and follow-through are more likely to reveal themselves.
Though their is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and symptoms could be hard to untangle from “normal” childhood behavior but in case of any doubt it is better to talk to the child’s pediatrician, who may give a reference to a mental health specialist, like a child psychiatrist or psychologist. The key is the earliest diagnosis of this disorder because later the diagnosis higher is the price the girls have to pay in the form of anxiety, depression as well as low self-esteem.