ADHD: Boys vs. Girls

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konnie asked an interesting question after my last post. She’d heard that boys are 3 times more likely than girls to have ADHD and asked if that was true.

So I did a little digging. And discovered that it’s not a simple question with a simple answer.

True: Boys are diagnosed with ADHD 3 times as often as girls. But some researchers believe that this is because teachers and parents are more likely to see ADHD as a “boys’ problem.”

Gender differences play a role as well. Girls with ADHD simply don’t behave the same way as boys with ADHD. Teachers and parents, accustomed to the typical boys behaviors (inability to sit still in the classroom, acting out, obvious disorganization), may miss the more subtle manifestations of ADHD in girls. Girls with ADHD, it seems, are more likely to labeled as “daydreamers” than “troublemakers.”

ADD — attention deficit disorder — comes in a couple different manifestations. One is ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This manifestation is the one we think of most frequently, the kid who can’t sit still or concentrate. And as it turns out, attention deficit manifested in hyperactivity IS more common in boys.

Girls are more likely to have the inattentive version of ADD. Instead of acting out in ways that attract and demand attention, they’re more likely to be quietly disorganized and overwhelmed. The theory is that many girls with ADD therefore fly under the radar, undiagnosed and struggling in school and in life.

Not to get all preachy on you, but to me, this underscores yet again the importance of understanding gender differences. Boys and girls ARE different, and if we want to effectively parent and guide our children, we need to know what’s normal for them.

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