Suffering in silence is too common an experience for girls with ADHD

A girl with ADHD daydreaming in class.
Suffering in silence is far too common for girls with ADHD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, boys are diagnosed with ADHD at a rate of 13%, compared to just 6% for girls. These figures suggest a significant underdiagnosis and undertreatment of ADHD in girls.”
One major reason for this disparity lies in a misunderstanding about the role of hyperactivity in diagnosis. The original diagnostic criteria for ADHD were based on observations of hyperactive boys.
As a result, the distractible girl in class or meetings—who struggles with organization, forgets homework, or misses deadlines—often goes unnoticed and without the necessary support because she doesn’t cause disruptions that draw attention.
In school, if she isn’t disruptive to the teacher, she likely won’t get noticed and receive help—though this is not always the case, it is quite common to slip through the cracks.
We can do better by:
  • taking responsibility to be inclusive of girls with ADHD.
  • learning what ADHD means for each girl you meet, as the manifestation can vary significantly from one person to another.
  • creating an environment that encourages the safe expression of mistakes and learning from them.
I couldn’t accomplish much without the organizational templates my wife and others have created for me—because I ASKED for HELP. So, you could offer one of your templates or strategies to them “in case it might be useful.” If they accept it with gratitude, you could offer to customize it for them.
Many of my clients don’t know how to chunk things down, calm themselves down, or write things down. Imagine how many others succumb to the consequences of not knowing why they face these challenges or how to ask for help.
Understand that when you see a girl who can’t seem to pay attention to anything for long, and both her car and home are messy, you may well be observing signs of ADHD.
Perhaps you could start with, “I understand,” and take it from there.
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