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Girls Vs. Boys: ADHD, Puberty, and Drama

My daughter’s inattentive ADHD is escalating her emotions and drama during puberty.

I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my son’s psychiatrist (who treats his ADHD) a few years ago. I asked him what he thought about Holden’s impulsivity; I specifically wondered if he’d be as impulsive at 25 as he had been at 8.

Easing my worries, the doctor suggested that adolescence, specifically puberty, could have a calming effect on those impulsive behaviors. Not necessarily the perfect antidote, but he has seen it help. He cautioned, however, that this was not necessarily true for girls with ADHD. “Just as one calms down, the other will become more work” are the words he said that haunt me now as it’s all coming true.

While Holden was always a child on the go, Quinn was my breath of calm air. As a toddler and preschooler, she’d entertain herself for hours playing Barbies or drawing pictures. She was never one to climb the furniture or pull down the curtains. She sat and listened, attentively, as I read stories. But when she was in first grade, her teacher showed us some of her work. When the children were asked to draw and label a simple diagram, Quinn created a masterpiece, drawing her people complete with eyelashes, earrings, and smile lines. While her imagination was amazing, she would frequently get lost in it, paying no attention to her teacher.

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have Inattentive ADHD?]

She would hyperfocus on one thing, and not pull herself out from that activity. The result, her reading level was very low, and she was falling behind in school.

After a consult with an ADHD specialist, we finally made the decision to begin treating Quinn for ADHD and saw, almost instantly, an improvement. Her reading level soared within months. She was able to get work done in class. The way she describes how she feels now, “I can feel myself starting to imagine, and if it’s not an appropriate time, I snap myself back.”

However, what the doctor said, about her becoming moodier as she ages is becoming true. Kids with ADHD tend to have a harder time regulating their mood, and when you couple that with the hormonal changes of adolescent girls, you wind up with some really challenging times. Sometimes I think that her moods are far more hyperactive than Holden’s body ever was. I’m just thankful I was warned ahead of time!

[Boys vs. Girls: How Puberty Affects ADHD Symptoms]