The Truth About Girls & ADHD

Even today, boys are far more likely to be evaluated for and diagnosed with attention deficit disorder than are their female counterparts. Why is that? And what impact does it have?

A Harris Interactive poll of 3,234 people conducted by Patricia Quinn, M.D., director of the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD, and Sharon Wigal, Ph.D., associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California at Irvine, shines some light on the gender inequality around ADHD. Here are some of their findings...

  • Four out of 10 teachers report more difficulty in recognizing ADHD symptoms in girls than in boys, who they believe are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems.

  • Girls are more likely than boys to be asked to repeat a grade due to poor school performance rather than undergo an evaluation for ADHD or LD (and then seek diagnosis and treatment). “A year later, the girl is no better off because she still hasn’t figured out the source of her problems,” says Dr. Quinn.
  • Girls with ADHD tend to have more mood disorders, anxiety, and self-esteem problems than non-ADHD girls. And girls were three times more likely than boys to report taking antidepressants prior to being diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Due to social pressures and cultural expectations, girls seem more compelled than boys to get their schoolwork done. Generally speaking, they want to please more than boys, and they’re expected to do well in school. Therefore, ADHD symptoms may not become overly apparent until middle or high school, when the work requirements increase dramatically.

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