Failing Our Girls; Girls with ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a hidden disorder in girls. It is often diagnosed and seen as a boy disorder because of the hyperactivity it’s symptoms can cause. But there is another side to the disorder that gets ignored, inattention. This is the type of ADHD that often presents itself in girls. Because of this, many girls are left undiagnosed as the symptoms they show are not seen as the “classic” ADHD symptoms. And if a girl does present the classic ADHD symptoms she is told, “you’re smart, why are you not applying yourself?” Girls, both younger and older, will be greatly impacted by their teachers and caretakers assumptions that they should be able to handle it all which results in their self esteem plummeting. When a child has low self esteem their mood and mental health suffers, the good news is that this is preventable with diagnosis, treatment and awareness!

For every 3 boys diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, only 1 girl is diagnosed. This doesn’t mean that the actual prevalence of the disorder is 1:3, it means that our girls are going undiagnosed. This is more than likely because of the differences in the symptoms between boys and girls. The symptoms of ADHD can be:


Fidgeting, squirming in a chair, talking a lot, having a difficult time staying quiet or sitting still. Impulsivity can be identified in children by an inability to take turns, interrupting others, or being accident prone due to reckless behavior. These are all externalized behaviors that a teacher or caregiver would likely see, intervene, and suggest the parents talk to a professional.


Daydreaming, making frequent mistakes, forgetting/losing things, distractible, or avoidance of activities which require attention. As you can imagine these internalized symptoms are more subtle and may be harder to spot for teachers and caregivers.