ADHD and Girls

By: Danielle Banks
By: Danielle Banks

Experts say most of the ADHD research to date has been conducted on boys. Recently, the first national survey to highlight the gender differences was released to the public. And it had some surprising results.

The ADHD study suggested girls with the disorder are more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression than boys.

Dr. Steve Evans is an associate professor of psychology at JMU. He has experience working with children with ADHD. He says, "The boys tend to be the most disruptive of those with ADHD than girls with ADHD, and so the boys are much more likely, especially if they are demonstrating disruptive behavior, to be identified."

The girls are often less rebellious and less defiant than boys who have the disorder, so it can sometimes be difficult to classify. Dr. Evans says, "It can get confusing when you are looking at a girl who is presenting these problems. Whether these problems are related to depression or whether these problems are related to ADHD."

Evans also said the classroom is where the most noticeable or hyperactive signs of the disorder are usually picked up. He adds, "It expects them to be able to sit and pay attention and complete work independently and to get along with a group of people and these are areas that these kids have a lot of trouble with and so teachers often first notice why these children are having problems and get them referred and evaluated."

But researchers say hyperactive girls are often seen as "tomboys" or "daydreamers", not necessarily as "troublemakers." Making ADHD easily undetected into adulthood. Dr. Evans continues, "It's not just a disorder of childhood. As children with ADHD get older, they continue to have these problems and impairment through adulthood."

If you think your child may be suffering from ADHD, contact a physician.

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ADD Facts

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are the same thing.

Who Has ADHD?

  • ADHD usually persists throughout a person's lifetime.

  • It is NOT limited to children.

  • Approximately one-half to two-thirds of children with ADHD will continue to have significant problems with ADHD symptoms and behaviors as adults, which impacts their lives on the job, within the family, and in social relationships.

What is ADHD?

  • ADHD is a diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common core features include:
    • 1. Distractibility (poor sustained attention to tasks)
    • 2. Impulsivity (impaired impulse control and delay of gratification)
    • 3. Hyperactivity (excessive activity and physical restlessness)

  • In order to meet diagnostic criteria these behaviors must be excessive, long-term, and pervasive.

  • The behaviors must appear before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months.

  • A crucial consideration is that the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person's life, such as school, home, work, or social settings.

Common Symptoms

  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention to tasks
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often fails to follow instructions carefully and completely
  • Losing or forgetting important things
  • Feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming
  • Often talks excessively
  • Often blurts out answers before hearing the whole question
  • Often has difficulty awaiting turn

Treatment

  • Clinical experience has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD is a combination of medication (when necessary), therapy or counseling to learn coping skills and adaptive behaviors, and ADD coaching for adults.

  • Medication is often used to help normalize brain activity, as prescribed by a physician.

  • Behavior therapy and cognitive therapy is often helpful to modify certain behaviors and to deal with the emotional effects of ADHD.

Source: www.add.org (Attention Deficit Disorder Association Web site) contributed to this report.


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