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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Yes, Girls Get ADHD, Too

Why attention deficit hyperactive disorder is so often overlooked in girls.

ADHD Symptoms in Girls continued...

"Boys who are hyperactive tend to be recognized very early, by kindergarten or first grade," typically because of behavior issues, Gephart says.

Girls, who mostly have the inattentive form of ADHD, often show more subtle symptoms: dreaminess, forgetfulness, or messiness.

Often, an ADHD diagnosis isn't made until middle or high school or even later, when school becomes more demanding and a girl is having trouble completing her homework, or if her undiagnosed ADHD leads to depression.

ADHD or Something Else?

"But then you have to ask, is this ADHD? Or is the child falling behind because of a learning disability or some other psychological issue?" Gephart says. Researchers estimate that 30% of children with ADHD also have a learning disability such as dyslexia or difficulty solving math problems.

Peterson thought he found the key to Kelsey's school difficulties when he had her tested and learned she was dyslexic. But despite moving to a special school, Kelsey continued to struggle.

It wasn't until teachers suggested Peterson have his son Guy tested for ADHD that Kelsey, who was then 14, was tested as well. Both children and their father were diagnosed with ADHD, which can run in families.

"In hindsight, the thing I wish more than anything is that I had discovered [Kelsey's ADHD] way, way earlier," Peterson says, "so we could have dealt with it appropriately all those years."

Could Your Child Have ADHD?

Talk to your doctor if you notice one or more of these signs, says Gephart:

Dreads school. "If your child doesn't like school or is not happy or excited about going, that's a warning sign in any child," Gephart says.

Feels inadequate. Self-critical comments like "I'm dumb" or "I'm not good at reading or math" can indicate low self-esteem that accompanies ADHD, particularly in girls.

Expresses anxiety about school or social situations, such as not making or keeping friends. For girls, that might mean bossy or just socially inappropriate behavior.

Looks to you for significant homework help and needs a lot of one-on-one guidance to stay focused.

Gets reports from teachers that she is not participating in class, requires constant reminders to stay on task , or has trouble completing or forgets to hand in assignments.

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Reviewed on December 03, 2012

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