ADHD Symptoms: How ADHD Differs in Boys & Girls
Experts look at gender differences in the three types of ADHD.
Inattention ADHD continued...
These children may also be forgetful in school. "You can tell them something
and it's like they never heard it," says Herzberg, a former special education
At home, a child with inattention may be forgetful, lose toys, keep a messy
room, and have difficulty concentrating on games and activities. One exception
to this is when he is engaged in video games. Video games are a unique stimulus
for kids with ADHD because they offer constant distraction, says Karniski.
"When the kid is sitting in class, the kid is not being put on the spot
every second, so their mind can wander easily," Karniski says. When playing a
video game, however, every hand movement results in an accommodating move on
the screen. "If his hand moves to the right, the characters move to the right
or the gun moves to the right. If he pushes a button, sparks or bullets fly out
of something. Everything he does results in a response on the screen. So if he
is distracted, between the split second he makes the physical response and sees
the response on the screen, he will be redistracted back to the video
"When ADHD kids are playing video games, they are constantly being
distracted by what's going on the video screen, because what is going on the
video screen is always more stimulating than what is going on in their
environment," Karniski tells WebMD. So when a mother tells her child it's time
to do his homework, he is momentarily distracted from the game. But before she
even finishes the sentence, something happens on the screen and he doesn't even
hear the rest of it, according to Karniski.
The third type of ADHD is a combination of the first two. For children with
this form, ADHD is characterized by symptoms of both the
hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention forms of the condition.
ADHD Treatment: Recognition Is the First Step
Once parents begin to suspect their child has ADHD, they can often recall
early symptoms such as such as awkwardness, clumsiness, poor balance, and
delayed skills development -- which Melillo attributes to deficits in
communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. Such deficits are at
the heart of ADHD, he says.
For Melillo's son, problems with concentration showed up on the soccer
field. "He had a difficult time with sports and coordinating things
together, following multiple steps," Melillo says. "On the soccer field, he
just didn't get the game."
Regardless of when a diagnosis is made, it helps parents understand the
reasons for their child's behavior and what can be done to help. And there
is help for ADHD, says Melillo. That can include ADHD
medications, therapy, and changes at school and at home. With medication,
behavior modification, and an individualized program he devised to help his son
develop skills, Melillo says his once-inattentive second-grader is now a
successful college freshman.