Friday, March 20, 2009

ADHD: Boys vs. Girls

konnie asked an interesting question after my last post. She'd heard that boys are 3 times more likely than girls to have ADHD and asked if that was true.

So I did a little digging. And discovered that it's not a simple question with a simple answer.

True: Boys are diagnosed with ADHD 3 times as often as girls. But some researchers believe that this is because teachers and parents are more likely to see ADHD as a "boys' problem."

Gender differences play a role as well. Girls with ADHD simply don't behave the same way as boys with ADHD. Teachers and parents, accustomed to the typical boys behaviors (inability to sit still in the classroom, acting out, obvious disorganization), may miss the more subtle manifestations of ADHD in girls. Girls with ADHD, it seems, are more likely to labeled as "daydreamers" than "troublemakers."

ADD -- attention deficit disorder -- comes in a couple different manifestations. One is ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This manifestation is the one we think of most frequently, the kid who can't sit still or concentrate. And as it turns out, attention deficit manifested in hyperactivity IS more common in boys.

Girls are more likely to have the inattentive version of ADD. Instead of acting out in ways that attract and demand attention, they're more likely to be quietly disorganized and overwhelmed. The theory is that many girls with ADD therefore fly under the radar, undiagnosed and struggling in school and in life.

Not to get all preachy on you, but to me, this underscores yet again the importance of understanding gender differences. Boys and girls ARE different, and if we want to effectively parent and guide our children, we need to know what's normal for them.


  1. This is so true ! In one of the classrooms I visited this teacher treated every boy as a annoyance...they would do the tiniest thing and she would sigh " BOYS!" When the girls were so chit chatty she never said anything really just " Oh little girls are so talkative" But definitely wasn't annoyed with it the way she was when boys acted up...

  2. I have a dd who would be diagnosed with ADD if she were in ps. I attribute it to dreaming and thinking. So when I teach her, I have to have things for her to look at or I lose her attention. I think boys just naturally have more energy(not all) and therefore just can't sit still. So why make them, help them to learn while they're being silly or noisy. :) Sorry, this is just a sore spot with me since most schools tend to medicate rather than let the child be wiggly.

  3. I hear you, Karie, Yet another reason I'm happy to be homeschooling!

  4. Whew! I thought for sure I had offended you, so I came back to apologize. But then I see you agree, so whew! Yes, thank goodness for homeschooling. :)

  5. Karie,
    I'm pretty hard to offend. And I want this blog to be a free exchange of opinions and ideas, so even if I don't personally agree with you, I want to hear what you think and why. After all, that's how we learn, right? :)

  6. Many girls & women with ADHD get diagnosed w/ depression/dysthymia/anxiety when root cause is undignosed & untreated ADHD. And it's not just stereotypes. Females with ADHD do have statistically higher rates of depression & anxiety than males with ADHD.

    Also, some stats: About 90% of women & 10% of men have inattentive ADHD. 90% of men, 10% of women have hyperactive/impulsive/inattentive ADHD.

    Pete Quily

  7. Yes, boys/men will have adhd 90% of the time and girls/females will have add 10%. The reason for this is males deal more thru emotion-reaction and females have different copping skills. I'm going to be 50 in May this year and I'm one of the few females that I know of that has adhd, besides having two sons 20 & 23 years old both with adhd/learning disabilities & other developmenatal disabilities. They both have issue with behavior and anger.