• Jamie Racine

ADHD Symptoms in Girls

In keeping with the theme of Women’s History Month, I wanted to take the time to review they symptoms of ADHD in our girls. ADHD does not discriminate between boys and girls, however the way it shows up can be vastly different between the two--and unfortunately leave many girls undiagnosed and at an increased risk of long term negative consequences.

According to research, about 75-90% of girls who have ADHD actually go undiagnosed. This is because girls' symptoms tend to be more subtle than their male counterparts. There are three categories of ADHD (which I will get into with more detail in a later blog post). Those three types are: inattentive, hyperactive, and combined type (inattentive & hyperactive). Most boys tend to fall into the category of hyperactive or combined, which makes their symptoms so much more visible to the everyday person.

Girls tend to have more inattentive type--which is more along the lines of the “daydreamer.” They don’t tend to cause a raucous, they don’t have angry outbursts, they don’t bounce in or fall out of their seats, and so on. However, they suffer from the struggles of ADHD just like those who do demonstrate those more obvious symptoms. Left undiagnosed, girls with ADHD are at much higher risk of long term consequences such as lack of accommodations in the classroom, low self-esteem and self worth, and persistent feelings of failure and self blame. Gone untreated, all of this has a high likelihood of impacting mental health well into adolescence and adulthood, including battling depression, anxiety, self-hard, suicidal ideation, as well as things such as difficulty keeping a job, maintaining relationships and keeping bills paid on time.

Below I have listed several symptoms that you might witness in a girl who has ADHD:

  • Appears withdrawn

  • Cries easily

  • Daydreaming and in her own world

  • Difficulty maintaining focus/easily distracted

  • But can then laser focus on certain areas of interest

  • Disorganized and messy

  • Doesn’t appear to be trying

  • Doesn’t seem motivated

  • Forgetful

  • Highly sensitive to noise, fabrics, emotions

  • Extremely talkative--always has a lot to say but doesn’t do well listening

  • Exaggerated emotional responses--feels things BIG (sometimes described as EXTRA

  • Makes what appear to be “careless” mistakes

  • Might slam doors

  • Poor time management

  • Difficulty completing tasks

  • Appears shy

  • Seems to get easily upset

  • Shifting focus from one activity to another

  • Takes time to process information and directions; seems like she doesn’t hear you

  • Verbally impulsive--blurts out and interrupts others

  • Seems to “perform well under pressure”

  • Very smart, but underperforms in school and on tests

If you recognize any of these symptoms in a girl in your life, it might be time to consider getting an evaluation. There are many treatment options available, and with proper guidance and support, your lady ADHD’er can absolutely thrive. I absolutely believe that ADHD can be a total superpower--but can only reach its true potential if it is managed properly. That means understanding the symptoms, shifting the way the symptoms are perceived and responded to, and making sure that the kiddo experiencing these symptoms learns about her brain and how it functions. Children with ADHD are amazing, and capable of so much, but we as a society need to learn to work with them where they are at.

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