Attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, is often associated with hyperactive young boys. Boys do, according to most estimates, make up a majority of those diagnosed with ADHD, helping to create this impression that it is both more common in boys and young men, and that the symptoms these boys display are the most commonly associated ADHD symptoms.
Most researchers do not believe this to be the case.
In fact, the ratio of ADHD in boys to girls is believed to be 1:1. Boys and girls tend to have ADHD at the same rates. The primary issue, and the reason for the gender discrepancy, is in how the symptoms of ADHD manifest and also how they are noticed and addressed by those in positions of authority.
ADHD in Boys
Boys tend to exhibit external and visually noticeable ADHD symptoms. They are more likely to be physically active and restless. They are more likely to verbalize their attention deficits, with issues such as class disruptions. When they have ADHD symptoms, they are often interpreted as “atypical” for boys of their age, and so they are referred to specialists. The disruptive symptoms may also be more likely to be deemed problematic and worth treating.
ADHD in Girls
Girls, on the other hand, tend to manifest their ADHD more internally. Rather than exhibit physical restlessness, they may have thoughts that jump from topic to topic quietly and solely within their mind. They may be distracted, but that distraction may be interpreted through a misogynistic lens as “typical” for girls of their age (for example, losing track of things and having it be attributed to being “ditzy,” a popular slur almost always directed at girls and young women).
ADHD in girls, because so much of it is internal, can also be less disruptive and thus less likely to generate referrals from authority figures. Many will not notice issues like forgetfulness as a sign of ADHD, nor will they see it as something that requires intervention.
Why Parents and Caregivers Should Pay Attention to All ADHD Symptoms
Disruption and hyperactivity may receive a lot of attention. But it’s very important to pay attention to all ADHD symptoms, not only the ones that are visibly noticeable, and then be willing to seek out treatments when necessary. Paying attention to all symptoms of ADHD, allowing for early intervention and better support:
- Girls and young women may miss out on important learning opportunities as a result of their ADHD. They may have struggles that persist as they get older.
- While symptoms often manifest differently in boys and girls, many boys struggle with these internal ADHD symptoms as well. Those boys may also be missed or ignored, due to parents and caregivers looking for more disruptive symptoms.
- Symptoms may get worse before they get better. Paying attention to symptoms allows for early intervention, and less distress for all parties involved.
Treating ADHD early gives children a better chance at long term success. But treating it early requires paying attention to ADHD symptoms, including those you cannot see. If your daughter has been showing these types of internal *or* external symptoms, consider having them tested for ADHD.