“I never suspected my nine-year-old daughter’s inability to concentrate was due to ADHD,” said Diane, the mother of three girls. “She isn’t ‘hyper’ or noisy—in fact, just the opposite. Kayla is the middle child—she’s quiet and tends to daydream a lot. We were frustrated because she couldn’t ever seem to concentrate or get her schoolwork done…But we were still really surprised when our pediatrician finally diagnosed her with ADHD last year.”
When many people hear the term ADHD, the first thing that usually comes to mind is a young, out-of-control boy running all over the place or having a major meltdown at the mall while his frantic parents try to calm him down. Unless you personally know a girl struggling with this disorder, the “wound-up boy” is the image most associated with ADHD. Of course, one reason for this is the fact that boys with the diagnosis outnumber girls by a whopping 3 to 1. Another reason is that ADHD in girls is more often associated with impaired attention and concentration—girls who are labeled as either “dreamy” or “spacey,” rather than hyperactive and impulsive.
Unfortunately, research has shown that this stereotype often leads parents, teachers, and health professionals to misdiagnose girls with depression or anxiety. Sometimes the significant difficulties they’re experiencing are dismissed altogether. Whether boy or girl, a child who has trouble learning and maintaining healthy peer relationships is more likely to be ignored, while the child exhibiting disruptivebehavior is not only more likely to be noticed, but also more likely to be referred for evaluation and treatment. The sad result is that girls are often under-treated, which results in years of suffering in silence, and subsequently leads to self-doubt and low self-esteem. Recent studies have even shown that women with ADHD suffer from depression much more frequently than men with the same disorder. Continue reading →