Strategies to Help Girls' ADD

Strategies to Help Girls' ADD
Girls are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in far fewer numbers than boys. Attention Deficit Disorder has a different look in girls than it does in their male counterparts. Many girls have the inattentive variety of ADD. If they have the hyperactive type of ADD, it may look more like excessive chattiness than bouncing off of the walls, as it does in boys. For a girl to be diagnosed in elementary school with the hyperactive type of Attention Deficit Disorder, her hyperactive behavior is usually extreme. One of my colleagues was such a child. Diagnosed in the third grade, Julie's tale can shed light on some effective methods of working with young girls who have the hyperactive type of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Julie's mother was alerted by the school that her daughter might have Attention Deficit Disorder. After getting a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, the doctor prescribed medication. Different medications and dosages were tried until Julie's symptoms were managed. It was decided that she would take medication at school, but not at home. Julie's mother knew that the medication helped to balance Julie's brain chemistry to help her attain and maintain focus. However, she believed that Julie also needed to work on taking charge of her behavior. The medication was one tool that could help Julie reframe her behavior. Recognition of the times when the problematic behaviors were starting was a crucial point in helping Julie to stop the behaviors that were causing her problems.

Julie's mom worked on helping Julie to recognize that her behavior was starting to go out of control. She used a code phrase that they agreed on. When she noticed Julie beginning to get slightly hyperactive, her mom would say, " Julie, you are getting a little bit out there." This would put Julie on alert and allow her to step back, figure out what was happening to trigger the behavior, and to make corrections before the behavior became disruptive. Julie and her mom liked this verbal signal. However, the signal can be any agreed upon phrase or unobtrusive visual signal. These signals allow the child to explore how the body is feeling and what events are happening in a way that is not intrusive or readily perceived by others.

These signals and strategies are as individual as the people who have Attention Deficit Disorder. However, the techniques have some commonalities. First, they are offered in a caring fashion. This attitude shows calmness, not a rough, tough tone of voice or manner. Any sign that is given is a private signal that is just meant for the person with ADD. In no way are these signs meant to embarrass the child or "call them out" in front of their peers..

When trying to change a child's behavior, they need affirmation and support. Julie's mother needed to educate her teachers to gently help bring Julie back from the brink when her behavior was starting to veer out of control. Julie took it upon herself to educate her peers to tell her if her behavior was starting to bother them. The diagnosis and medication helped Julie to be able to use cognitive tools to change her behavior. By assisting Julie's efforts, her mom helped her to avoid some of the pitfalls that ADD can bring to girls who go without treatment.

Lacking treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder, a girl's struggles in school may lead to her having less of a sense of competence in her academic life and difficulties with socializing. The lack of self-esteem may bleed over to other areas of her life. A girl with the combined type (inattention and hyperactivity) of ADD is at far greater risk of harming herself than a girl without ADD. These self-harming behaviors include hitting, cutting, burning, and scratching themselves.

Why is it important to identify and treat girls who have Attention Deficit Disorder? Girls with ADD who do not receive treatment are prone to lower self-esteem, depression, and self-harming behaviors that can impact them for their entire lives. Julie's mother was wise to get a diagnosis and medication. She was wiser still to help Julie with behavioral interventions that medication helped to make successful. Julie has a job, lives on her own, and just finished her bachelor's degree. Now, Julie is enrolled in a graduate level university program. She is doing well.

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You Should Also Read:
Girls with Attention Deficit Disorder
Girls with ADD and Self-Harming Behaviors
Superparenting for ADD Book Review

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