The symptoms of ADHD (ADD) are often missed in girls, which is why women in their thirties, forties or above are getting diagnosed later in life. I know because I’m one of them at age 44! Because ADHD presents differently in boys to girls, ADHD is often missed in girls and that’s definitely the case for me. There are also 3 types of ADHD.
TYPES OF ADHD
- Inattentive – You won’t see signs like hyperactivity or impulsiveness with this type which is why girls are missed if they have the inattentive ADHD trait. Traits include being easily distracted, unable to focus and finish tasks or retain information.
- Impulsive – This is the least common type and mainly displays in signs of fidgeting, unable to sit still and hyperactive behaviour.
- Combined – This is the most comment type as many people display both impulsive/hyperactive behaviour, as well as being inattentive and unable to focus.
Boys are more likely to have ADHD than girls, which is why it can be missed in girls. Most people associate ADHD with hyperactive boys bouncing off the walls of the classroom.
WHAT IS ADHD AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as (ADD).
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition characterized by an inability to control one’s attention span so as to effectively complete one activity or cognitive process before proceeding to another. This leads to impulsive decision-making and actions, and typically a hyperkinetic mode of life.Dr Liji Thomas, MD
Basically the condition affects how the brain functions and can impact mood, memory, initiation, emotions, information and sensory processing and as a consequence can impact how an individual sees themselves. Read How does ADHD Affect the Brain? (news-medical.net)
Where does ADHD come from?
The exact cause is unknown. The factors known to trigger the condition include:
- Genes: It’s thought that ADHD could be hereditary, and studies show genetics might play a role in ADHD developing in future generations.
- Our Environment: Certain environmental factors such as exposure to lead as a child, for example a healthy diet and avoiding drugs and alchohol during pregnancy could help prevent ADHD from occuring in the first place.
- Problems during development: Problems with the central nervous system at certain times of development through the childs early years. Complications during pregnancy are associated with ADHD in some cases.
From my perspective growing up in the eighties, dyslexia was only just being understood and talked about, but disorders like autism or ADHD still weren’t commonly talked about and were associated with hyperactive boys throwing things in the classroom and distrupting everyone else. Hyperactive boys more likely to be labelled ‘naughty boys’ and edcation was more ‘damage control’ than understanding how the child’s needs might be different.
Terms such as ‘neurodiversity’, ‘cognitive diversity’ or ‘executive functioning’ just weren’t in our vocabularly. In my experience, underachieving girls like me were just written off, put in the bottom set and left to languish. All I knew is I had so much to give, but just couldn’t concentrate for long enough to get it out of my head. I know now it’s procrastination caused by executive dysfunction, but which school kids knows about that? That’s my story anyway.
POSITIVE TRAITS OF GIRLS WITH ADHD
It’s so important to recognise that an ADHD diagnosis isn’t all bad news. As with most things there’s two sides to this ADHD coin. There are many positive traits associated with ADHD, in fact it’s imperative we have ADHD minds in the world and encouraging ADHD as a superpower can have an uplifting effect on young girls and women growing up with ADHD. There are so many great role models of people with ADHD. If I’d had the support I needed growing up, I may have gone to university and had a completely different career. Who knows where I’d be now.
There are so many positive things to having ADHD, that doesn’t mean the symptoms don’t need managing and/or medication though. The key here is to help the child to fulfill their potential. Read on for ADHD traits that might betray the diagnosis beneath the surface of our girls. Because these symptoms are holding our girls back from achieving their full potential, often resulting in low self esteem, low confidence, low mood, and toxic relationships with others and themselves.
20 SYMPTOMS AND WARNING SIGNS YOUR DAUGHTER MAY HAVE ADHD
- Often seems distracted
- Seem like they’re not listening even when spoken to directly.
- Sometimes answers after a delay while processing the question.
- Seem to be disorganised and chaotic.
- Erratic behaviour. Bursts into tears easily.
- Loses things easily.
- Hyperfocused one day, not interested the next.
- Picks up multiple hobbies but can’t stick to them consistently.
- Unable to focus or concentrate in class.
- Can’t see tasks through to the end.
- Dislikes mundane tasks, such as getting dressed, brushing teeth etc.
- Seems withdrawn and unhappy.
- Interupts people while they’re speaking.
- Struggles to retain information, even information they’ve just been taught.
- Has a few friends.
- Struggles to take turns in games.
- Underachieving for their intelligence levels when on top of their game. Inconsistent achiever.
- Out of the box thinking.
WHEN DOES ADHD START?
Symptoms of ADHD can develop from a young age, with some being diagnosed before school age. Typically children are diagnosed during the school years when the behaviours become more apparent. The most comment age range for diagnosis is age 6-12 according to NHS.com with girls being more able to mask symptoms due to presenting differently to boys. Read signs of ADHD of women and girls for more information.
DOES ADHD GET BETTER WITH AGE?
Sometimes ADHD does improve with age, but it can still make life difficult especially if a childs self esteem has been affected over the years. Some will take ADHD into adulthood. And without help and assistance this can hinder future relationships and job prospects. If in doubt consult your GP now.
WHAT NEGATIVE OUTCOMES CAN ADHD HAVE ON WOMEN AND GIRLS?
If undiagnosed and untreated for a prolonged period, it may lead to:
- Poor school or work performance
- Trouble with the law
- Alcohol or other substance abuse
- Frequent car accidents or other accidents
- Unstable relationships
- Poor physical and mental health
- Poor self-image
- Suicide attempts
FAMOUS PEOPLE WITH ADHD
People with ADHD can be hugely successful so don’t delay getting your daugher referred for diagnosis, here’s a list of famous people with ADHD who’ve overcome their struggles to have fulfilling careers:
- Emma Watson
- Solange Knowles
- Zooey Deschanel
- Simone Biles
- Lisa Ling
- Jessica McCabe
- Jamie Oliver
- Adam Levine
- Justin Timberlake
DO YOU RECOGNISE THESE SYMPTOMS IN YOURSELF OR YOUR DAUGHTER?
If you recognise any of these traits you can take a free online test which will confirm whether you need to contact your GP and/or talk to your school SENCO about referral. Diagnosis will open up a world of support, possible medication, understanding and extra help.
If you enjoyed this you might also like ADDitude, an amazing online resource for parenting, blogs and interesting medical information.