Girls and ADHD

Dr. Chris Cooper, consultant and clinical director of the Institute’s Comprehensive Individualized Assessment Program, notes that many things can cause girls to be distracted and have difficulty focusing. It can be ADHD. It can also be anxiety or depression or a reaction to bullying or other traumatic experience. That said, some studies estimate that as many as 50% to 75% of girls with ADHD are not diagnosed. In addition, girls with ADHD are diagnosed on average five years later than boys—boys at age 7, girls at age 12. An assessment specialist at the Institute says that one reason for this is that girls’ symptoms simply don’t look the same as boys’ symptoms. Girls are less likely to appear hyperactive or impulsive. Girls may appear unfocused, “spacey,” and disorganized. And, their style of distractibility causes fewer problems in the classroom so they often are not referred for testing. An important first step is getting that Comprehensive Assessment that includes recommendations, says Dr. Cooper. The recommendations provide guidance and tools to parents, teachers, therapists and the girls themselves so that positive steps can be taken by all to help girls thrive.

By Dr. Melissa Johnson, Psychologist, Founder and CEO of the Institute

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