What images come into your mind when you hear the word ADHD?
You might probably picture a child in the church who can’t sit still and finish the whole ceremony. Or perhaps a kid in the class that always goofs off and interrupts his teacher. Or maybe a kid who can’t seem finish a single homework assignment.
Though these are the common symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), girls with this type of disorder don’t show much signs or symptoms. It’s no wonder their parents, teachers and others are having a hard time diagnosing it. If you have a daughter and you suspect that she has ADHD, you may need to pay more attention to specific signs for early diagnosis and treatment.
What Are the ADHD Symptoms in Girls?
The ADHD symptoms in boys and girls present differently. For the boys, it’s often characterized by the effect of behavioral problems among other people while with girls, it’s more on how the disorder is affecting themselves.
Below are the symptoms of this disorder in girls:
- Frequent daydreaming in class quietly
- Staring blankly at the window while twirling her hair
- Feeling sad and anxious
- Always picking at her cuticles
- Appearing to be a show-off, silly or boy-crazy
- Talking in a hyperactive or incessant manner
- Having trouble establishing and keeping friendships
- Acting inattentive and shy
- Trying hard to be hyperfocus as a compensation for inattentiveness
- Talking constantly and all the time, even when asked to stop by parent or teachers
- Frequently interrupting activities and conversations that include other kids
- Over-sensitivity, crying all the time even for small failures and disappointments
- Problem with focusing
- Having a messy desk, bedroom or backpack
- Difficulty in completing assigned task
- Taking longer time to finish homework than it should
- Having a weak reading comprehension
- Becoming inefficient in studying
- Becoming forgetful of the things she needs (e.g, ballpen, soccer cleats or dancing shoes)
- Regularly misplacing her things
- Though she has lots of friends, she tends to be indecisive and anxious when organizing activities.
- Being late constantly or does not seem to be ready when she needs to be.
- She could be chatty in class and helps around the room.
- Trouble learning from consequences.
- Becoming hyperactive and join many curricular activities such as school clubs, swimming and soccer.
- Constant mood swings.
- Other ADHD symptoms in girls also include stress, depression, low self-esteem and anxiety.
What If You Miss These Signs and Symptoms?
According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, there are more girls with ADHD that are unnoticed and undiagnosed. Since girls are more likely to show fewer symptoms and suffer silently, parents and teachers are having a hard time recognizing the symptoms of the disorders in girls.
What happens if you miss these signs and symptoms? Another finding from Harris survey shows that girls may suffer more negative effects from ADHD compared to their male counterparts.
In a school setting, a teacher may suggest an ADHD evaluation when she sees a boy student that is struggling, this resulst to early diagnosis and proper treatment. Girls, on the other hand, are asked to repeat a grade if she’s showing a disorganized behavior.
Girls with ADHD may have their self-esteem more impaired than that of the boys. They tend to have more anxiety, mood disorders and problems with self-esteem which will affect their overall emotional health and general well-being.
Other girls also develop strategies to mask their ADHD as compensation. One typical example of this strategy is perfectionism. She may spend countless hours on certain homework to assure a good grade or she becomes obsessive-compulsive.
How to Diagnose ADHD
In many cases, ADHD symptoms in girls are often first noticed in the classroom. When a teacher thinks that a certain girl student displays symptoms of this condition, she brings this up to the parents of the concerned student. She gathers data on how a student interacts with her classmates and peers in the classroom and even on the playground. The teacher or school councilor will then invite the student’s parents to have a meeting and discuss the next steps.
A closer observation of the child’s behavior is one of the first steps in diagnosing the condition. Special testing may also be performed by your child’s counselor. The counselor will run through several medical exams and checklists of symptoms to rule out any other possible cause of these symptoms. His aim is to gather the following information:
- How severe the symptoms are?
- When did all these symptoms start?
- Where was your child when these symptoms happened, e.g at home or at school?
This gathered information will help determine the next steps that you should take to help your child. Aside from all these concerns, your child’s doctor may need to perform an exam to provide accurate diagnosis and create a treatment plan. He may refer your child to a child psychologist that specializes in ADHD symptoms in girls.
How to Help Girls with ADHD
It’s very fortunate that many professionals have spent hours on researches and studies to create effective ways to manage girls with ADHD. The follow will do help.
- Conduct group counseling with other girls who have the same disorder. Each session aims to provide the needed support for the girls and learn from each other’s personal experiences. It’s also an effective way of improving their social skills within a peer group.
- Have a coach or mentor to train the girl on how to cope within the family and improve relationship with family members and friends.
- Mothers play a huge role in the development of girls with ADHD. She should have a clear understanding of how ADHD impacts her daughter. She should show not just understanding but more importantly, support and patiently steer them towards success.
It is important that we pay more attention to the needs of girls diagnosed with ADHD, this way we can be an aid to a more effective treatment of this disorder.