Researchers have determined that ADHD in girls manifests differently than it does for boys, and often requires a different treatment approach as well. Despite the media assertions that ADHD is over-diagnosed in the United States, it is a real disorder that can disrupt your family’s life.
Treatment options are broad and flexible, and have proven to be highly effective for those girls who require intervention. Unfortunately, because this is typically regarded as a boy’s disorder, as many as 75 percent of girls who suffer from it go undiagnosed. Read on for information on how this disorder is most likely to manifest in your daughter.
What is ADD or ADHD?
Originally known as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD, the official diagnosis was changed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD in 1994. This change came about when scientists discovered that the disorder can manifest in three distinct forms.
Children can exhibit symptoms that are primarily indicative of inattention, of hyperactivity or impulsivity, or a combination of the two. ADHD presents with a very broad set of symptoms that can only be properly evaluated and diagnosed by a professional. Nevertheless, parents can watch for certain patterns of behavior that potentially indicate the need for further attention.
How this Disorder Manifests in Girls
Most people associate ADHD with extremely hyperactive boys who are virtually uncontrollable in the classroom and social situations. For girls, however, these hyperactive and impulsive behaviors don’t typically manifest. In fact, most symptoms are brushed off or ignored in girls. Unfortunately, ADHD affects girls in virtually equal numbers as it does boys, although boys are diagnosed about three times as often. If you characterize your daughter as ditzy, flighty or forgetful, or if she daydreams instead of doing her homework, this may be an indication.
If she’s forgetful, disorganized or anxious when assignments are due, especially if she does poorly in school, it may be time to talk to a professional. This disorder can also manifest as a girl who appears hyper-talkative, excitable, silly or overly emotional. If she simply can’t keep quiet in school, this may be a warning sign as well.
Treating ADHD in Girls
Girls who go undiagnosed suffer a great emotional toll. They may eventually abandon hobbies and interests, and develop social challenges that can leave them without friends. Many effective treatment modalities don’t involve pharmaceutical intervention, although today’s drug treatments are safe and highly effective for most kids. If your daughter or another young woman in your care is diagnosed with ADHD, a counselor or other treatment professional can provide strategies for helping her overcome this challenge. Helping her develop stress management techniques and providing her with the right home environment can help her excel.
Havenwood Academy offers residential treatment programs for girls that can provide the structure and coping skills they need to succeed. Contact Havenwood Academy to learn more about treatment options for ADHD in girls.