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Girls with Attention Deficit Disorder
Do you know a girl who consistently under-achieves? Who is anxious? Does this girl's teachers tell her that she could and should do better. if she would just try? Maybe this girl has Attention Deficit Disorder. The negative symptoms of ADD often look a lot different when you compare girls and boys.
It's hard to miss a boy who has the impulsivity and hyperactivity that can result from Attention Deficit Disorder. His behaviors can disrupt a class. Everybody, including the boy, wants to see him be able to calm down. What about girls? Some girls with Attention Deficit Disorder do chat a lot and can disturb peers and adults in a classroom setting. However, for most girls this is not the case. They suffer in silence, and their symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder are not recognized.
Here are some of the symptoms of ADD that girls show. Every child with Attention Deficit Disorder is unique, and symptoms do vary from girl to girl.
*Anxiety-especially in peer relationships and areas of her life where she needs to perform to a standard.
*Messiness-looks like a paper explosion at a desk in elementary school and a bulging backpack filled with wrinkled papers at the middle school and high school levels. These girls' rooms know no boundaries!
*Peer relationship problems-where the girls with ADD do not seem to understand the unstated rules of friendships.
*Losing and misplacing items-the importance doesn't matter. Keys, phones, papers, and assignments all go down the rabbit hole into another dimension.
*Underachieving at school-being told constantly that she should try harder and she could do "it" (whatever the "it" of the moment is), if she would just put her mind to it.
*Looking lazy and unconcerned-a defense mechanism for girls who have tried for as long and as hard as they can and still can't make the grade.
*Spacey and daydreaming-staring out of the window during class or doodling. These girls need to have their attention focused and refocused to be able to attend to tasks. Schoolwork and homework are often unfinished or not turned in.
*Difficulty with time and task management-getting the paper done at the last possible moment. A girl with ADD might have problems getting to events on time.
*Moodiness-trouble regulating moods. When she gets angry, the girl with ADD may become furious in a way that is completely out of proportion to the context of the event.
*Overly talkative-chatting and not being able to stop herself.
If a boy showed some or all of these symptoms, people in his life would at least start to suspect Attention Deficit Disorder. Why does it take an average of five more years for girls to get a diagnosis of ADD? There are many possibilities. Girls, especially in the past, have been socialized to be more compliant. They hold problems inside of them. A girl could see these ADD symptoms as character flaws, and feel like nothing can be done about them. "It's just the way that I am," is a common theme. A bright girl with Attention Deficit Disorder can usually function well enough in elementary school to stay off of the adult radar. Middle and high school, or sometimes college is where her life starts breaking down in a big way. There is too much to do that is unstructured. Tasks and assignments have multiple parts and deadlines that stretch far into the distance. At this point, people start to notice the struggles.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a girl who has Attention Deficit Disorder and treat this neurological difference at a young age. This is true even if she doesn't seem to have a lot of problems and isn't in trouble at school. Girls with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder have difficulty developing a sense of competency. The struggles that they endure shape the way that they see themselves. These difficulties impact self-esteem. Are there other reasons to get a diagnosis?
In 2012, a 10-year study from the University of California at Berkeley reported that girls with Attention Deficit Disorder had more self-harming behaviors. At the time I reported, "In the study, about 51 percent of girls with the combined type of ADD reported that they had tried harming themselves. This was more than twice the rate of girls without ADD/ADHD. These types of self-harm practiced by girls included cutting, burning, scratching or hitting themselves. Girls with the inattentive type of ADD had a rate of 29 percent of self-harming behaviors, which is significantly less than girls with the combined type." The results of this study should be troubling for any adult who knows a girl with ADD.
If you suspect that a girl has Attention Deficit Disorder, what should you do? Take her to a medical professional who has experience working with girls who have ADD. Get a complete evaluation. The best results usually come from a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. Some girls with Attention Deficit Disorder have this neurological difference for life. The earlier that it is treated, the better the outcomes for that girl.
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