Stop the Cycle of Shame for Girls with ADHD

The stigma of unrecognized ADHD can lead to years of low self-confidence, depression, and psychological damage. Here's why ADHD is so frequently missed or misdiagnosed in girls and women, and how we can help the next generation.

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ADD/ADHD Symptoms Checklist for Girls

Psychologist Kathleen Nadeau has devised a symptoms checklist for girls suspected of having ADD/ADHD. It should be filled out by girls themselves, not parents and teachers, because girls experience ADD/ADHD more internally than boys, who get attention with unruly behavior.

Many of Nadeau’s questions apply to boys, since they pertain to problems with productivity, general distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and sleep problems. The excerpts that follow, however, are particularly oriented toward girls:

Anxiety and depression

  • I often feel like I want to cry.
  • I get a lot of stomachaches or headaches.
  • I worry a lot.
  • I feel sad, and sometimes I don’t even know why.

School anxiety

  • I dread being called on by the teacher because, often, I haven’t been listening carefully.
  • I feel embarrassed in class when I don’t know what the teacher told us to do.
  • Even when I have something to say, I don’t raise my hand and volunteer in class.

Social-skill deficits

  • Sometimes, other girls don’t like me, but I don’t know why.
  • I have arguments with my friends.
  • When I want to join a group of girls, I don’t know how to approach them, or what to say.
  • I often feel left out.

Emotional over-reactivity

  • I get my feelings hurt more than most girls.
  • My feelings change a lot.
  • I get upset and angry more than other girls.

Parents & Teachers: Does This Sound Like a Girl You Know?

Five telltale signs that your daughter or student may have ADD/ADHD — according to Kathleen Nadeau:

  • Is her room always messy — even 15 minutes after you clean it up?
  • Does she often feel anxious about getting school assignments in on time?
  • Does she talk excessively?
  • Does she behave well at school, and come home and explode at the end of the day? Can she be pushed over the edge by trivial provocation?

More on ADD/ADHD in Women and Girls

ADD/ADHD Women: Female Leaders With Adult ADD/ADHD
Women and ADHD: How Attention Deficit Disorder Affects Women at Every Stage of Life
Guide to ADD/ADHD and Women
ADD/ADHD Women: Why Girls and Moms Go Undiagnosed


Could Your Child Have ADHD?
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TAGS: Adult ADD: Late Diagnosis, Diagnosing Children with ADHD, ADHD, Women, and Hormones, ADHD Symptoms, ADHD Treatment

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