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ADHD Symptoms: How ADHD Differs in Boys & Girls

Experts look at gender differences in the three types of ADHD.

Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD continued...

This constant level of activity not only causes trouble in the classroom. It can also present problems any time the child needs to sit for a period of time -- say, on a long car ride or during a religious service. He may get out of his seat, move about the car, cry, and complain.

Children with the hyperactivity-impulsivity form of ADHD are not high on patience. They may blurt out answers in the classroom without raising their hands or push in front of other kids to get in line, and they tend to interrupt while others are talking. They seek instant gratification. A promise of a pizza party at the end of the week if everyone completes homework does nothing to motivate a child with this condition, Montague tells WebMD.

Impulsive children often act without considering how their actions will affect others. "If someone has a cool eraser on their desk, he might take it without thinking how it would upset somebody else," says Carol Stevenson, a mother in San Clarita Valley, Calif. Her son, Jacob, was diagnosed with ADHD after his first-grade teacher called and recommended that he be evaluated. "If he wanted another child's attention, he might grab the hood of their jacket, not thinking how the child might feel," Stevenson adds.

Children with this form of ADHD may appear more aggressive than their peers early on. One of the first things Stevenson noticed about Jacob was that he hit other children a lot. "We attributed that to the fact that he didn't speak until he was almost 3 years old. I learned later on that late speech is not uncommon for ADHD children."

Inattention ADHD

Kids with the inattention form of the disorder have difficulty sustaining attention. They struggle with following directions and following through on them. They are not able to pay close attention to details, make careless errors, and are likely to have difficulty with organizational skills.

"I always joke that their backpacks, desk and notebook look like bombs went off in them," says Hertzberg. "When I go through them, I preface it with, 'Is there anything in here that is going to bite me, eat me, sting me, or in some other way hurt me as I open it up?'"

Children with this type of ADHD are more likely to be girls than boys, and teachers are likely to describe them as spacey, says Walt Karniski, MD, a developmental pediatrician and executive director at Tampa Day School, another school specializing in providing educational services for children with ADHD.

One of the key school problems for children with inattention ADHD may be turning in homework because of the many steps involved -- writing down and remembering what the homework is, remembering to bring home the necessary books and supplies to do the homework, remembering to do the homework, remembering to take the homework back to school, and then remembering to turn it in once they get there. Any process with multiple steps can be difficult for an inattentive child. 

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What symptoms of ADHD does your child have?