ADHD in girls is more prevalent than many people might think. In fact, many educators and parents mistakenly assume that ADHD is primarily diagnosed in boys. Research disputes that assumption.
Characteristics of ADHD in Girls
Part of the confusion regarding diagnosing ADHD revolves around the various behavior problems that are found in girls. ADHD doesn't just manifest itself in a specific behavior. Girls can display a variety of behaviors-all very different from each other-but still be diagnosed with the broad label of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Characteristics can include the following:
A hypersocial girl appears to be in constant motion. She may never meet a stranger, and she always has something to talk about. She may be referred to as bubbly, chatty, and even fun. All of these are great traits to have, but a girl who is struggling with ADHD and seems extremely happy, excited about life, and energetic, may also have a hard time calming down when the situation calls for a more sedate type of behavior. This is when problems occur at home, at school, and in other areas of her life. Her extreme craving for extra attention may drive her to interrupt others, blurt out answers, make untoward comments, and generally disrupt the world around her. Because of this, although she may attract people to her initially, she may have difficulty forming lasting relationships.
Webster's gives the definition of dysphoric as "a state of feeling unwell or unhappy", and this certainly applies to some symptoms of ADHD in girls. These girls are moody and dissatisfied. A girl who is diagnosed with ADHD may become overly emotional over insignificant events. Nothing will please her, and she is easily frustrated. The glass is half empty for a girl with this type of behavior personality.
The opposite of hypersocial, some girls who are diagnosed with ADHD are antisocial. They are actually shy, quiet, and withdrawn. They keep to themselves but for different reasons than someone who simply shies away from the limelight. This type of behavior focuses around a girl's inattention to others, to details, and even to her surroundings. She may spend a good part of her day daydreaming-focusing on her thoughts and retreating from the world around her. Stressful situations send her to a corner of the room.
Typical ADHD Behavior
The most easily diagnosed are those girls who exhibit the classic ADHD symptoms. These girls are impulsive and hyperactive. They are physically intimidating in their actions. They seek out dangerous situations and find it difficult to remain quiet and still. They are constantly on the move.
You and your doctor should create a behavior management plan for treating ADHD in your daughter. Your daughter's caregivers and teachers should take an active role in the plan as well. In many cases, standard treatments, such as medication, behavior modification, and positive reinforcement will work well. The following tips may give you more insight into treating ADHD in girls.
- Help your girl with time management. This may involved creating an organizational system that works well for her. You'll have to help her establish a pattern for becoming organized, but hopefully, habits will take hold and help her succeed.
- Build up her self-esteem. It's no secret that many girls have self-esteem issues. This can be especially true for girls diagnosed with ADHD. Look for ways to build your daughter's self-esteem every day.
- Help her establish good relationships. Friendships are important, especially for kids. You can help your daughter make good choices in the friends she chooses, and you can encourage her to maintain those friendships.
- Be an advocate for your girl. This is especially essential at school. You must advocate for your child's education. Keep in contact with her teachers, and help her form good relationships with them as well.