Ask anyone who is more likely to get ADHD, a boy or a girl, and about 90 percent of people will tell you the boy.
Some statistics have stated that boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, but recent studies have found that, actually, ADHD occurs at about the same rate in boys and girls.
According to the recent studies, girls are far less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD for one of two reasons:
- Girls are often more ADD than ADHD, meaning the girls are less disruptive and “bouncy.”
- Girls with ADHD are more likely to hide the symptoms of ADHD in girls, likely due to the extra social pressure placed on girls to “behave.”
However, as a person with ADHD myself, raising at least one (and most likely, two) ADHD girls, the condition is alive and kicking in the female populace.
Teaching a girl with ADHD looks a lot different than teaching a neurotypical girl (or boy).
The first step to learning practical strategies for teaching and helping a girl with ADHD is to find out if your daughter actually has ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD in Girls
One of the tricky things about a daughter with ADHD is that you might not know you have one.
Unless your girls are blatantly hyperactive, you may not even realize they have a learning difference. It took years for us to identify Monkey’s ADHD because:
1. she has always been home with us so there was no teacher complaints,
2. she is our eldest, so we had no one to compare her to.
It was only after I taught other elementary children that I realized she was drastically different.
If you already have a son with ADHD, a husband with ADHD, or a brother with ADHD, there is a high chance your daughters (and you!) also have the condition.
These symptoms of ADHD in girls will help you decide if a formal diagnosis may be necessary. If you see any of these signs in your daughter(s) for more than six months after the age of 5-6, you might have a girl with ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD in Girls
- She is constantly talking
- She daydreams
- You’ve called her “spacey” or said she is often “in her own world”
- She jumps from one topic of conversation to another without warning
- She loses her place in her sentences
- She has messy handwriting
- She has trouble with reading comprehension
- She spends hours doing her favorite activity without a break
- She interrupts
- She constantly fidgets, picks at clothing or skin, twilrs hair, or doodles
- She has trouble keeping things organized and clean
- She has trouble paying attention to spoken instruction
- She gets upset easily
- She has sudden swings in mood (unrelated to hormones, or not entirely related)
- She has trouble completing tasks
- She jumps from one interest to another
- She makes careless mistakes
- She is often in a “silly” mood
- She may be extra anxious, self-critical, or have low self-esteem
- She may be shy
- She is forgetful
- She procrastinates to her detriment
Not all symptoms of ADHD in girls are disadvantages. On the flip side, many girls with ADHD are more creative, musical, empathetic, and are able to multi-task.
Right now, my friend Dayna has a free Behaviors Workshop, all about getting to the bottom of difficult emotions in the classroom and what those kids need. If you teach any child with ADHD or special needs, you won’t want to miss this incredible workshopbased on over 12 years of classroom and personal experience working with kids struggling with emotion control.
Undiagnosed ADHD in Girls Can be Dangerous
The biggest disadvantage to letting a girl with ADHD go undiagnosed is that she is more likely to self-harm, enter into depression, or become anorexic.
The girl (and this definitely happened to me) doesn’t have an explanation for why she is different, so she starts to believe she is the problem.
That there is something “wrong” with her that prevents here from living a normal life.
In the end, she feels like a failure because she is unable to live like other girls without an enormous struggle.
Giving ADHD girls a label for why their brains are different is a huge relief.
Once your ADHD daughter (and you), know the “why” behind her brain differences, it becomes easier to come up with a way to meet the needs of her brain differences.
Teaching a Girl with ADHD is Different
In our homeschool journey, I’ve run into two main problems when teaching a girl with ADHD. Use these tips to iron out these two common difficulties.
- Emotion overload.
How to Prevent Distractions when Teaching a Girl with ADHD
Helping a child with ADHD focus on school is an essential part of teaching. You can’t teach a child properly unless she is completely focused and willing to learn. We use these steps to prevent distractions for our ADHD girls:
How to Prevent Emotion Overload
The impulsive side of ADHD means a girl with ADHD will be susceptible to mood swings. She will instantly feel completely happy, sad, angry, outraged, or silly- sometimes all within the same day. Use these tips for regulating your own emotions and setting the stage for emotion control.
Check out the complete no-nonsense guide to teaching ADHD!