Girls with ADD and Behavior Concerns

Girls with ADD and Behavior Concerns
When it comes to Attention Deficit Disorder, the focus is definitely on the boys. People don't believe that girls can have Attention Deficit Disorder. Often, girls with ADD are not diagnosed at an early age. Their treatment is inadequate or non-existent. This can cause many problems in their lives, other than just a lack of focus or having hyperactivity.

Several years ago, a study came out discussing one of the problems that girls with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder can have. This study was a ten-year-long study from the University of California at Berkley (U. C. Berkley). The results horrified me, and I wrote, "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."

A new study has come out discussing other problems that girls with Attention Deficit Disorder can have. The study was done by psychologists from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). They published their findings in the journal Pediatrics. This study compared girls with Attention Deficit Disorder to girls without ADD/ADHD by using an analysis of 18 studies that had 1997 girls between the ages of 8-13 as their subjects. Of these girls, 796, or about 40 percent had Attention Deficit Disorder.

They found that girls with Attention Deficit Disorder were about three times more likely to have depression (10.3 percent of girls with ADHD) and an anxiety disorder (37.7 percent of girls with ADHD) than their peers without Attention Deficit Disorder. Of even more concern were the numbers for Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD).

Left untreated, Attention Deficit Disorder can wreak havoc with some children's behavior. The severity of the untreated ADD/ADHD, environmental factors, including home and school life, and whether the child has been able to build supportive positive relationships all play into whether the Attention Deficit Disorder is a precursor for the more damaging Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder. These disorders can exist as a continuum of severe behavioral problems.

A girl with Attention Deficit Disorder can have her negative symptoms be overlooked. This happens since ADD in girls can look like poor focus, flighty behavior, inattention, underachieving in school, messy surroundings, anxious behavior, and constant chattiness. Boys with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder can leave a wide trail of chaos throughout their days. Girls, not so much. It takes a lot longer for many girls to get a diagnosis and treatment. Their behavior can get to be extreme, before that happens. Girls without an Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis have Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder at much lower rates than girls with ADD. For ODD, the rate for girls without ADD was 5 percent. Girls with ADD had a 42 percent rate of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The rates for Conduct Disorder were lower, since this is more serious and extreme behavior. Girls with ADD had a 12.8 percent rate of Conduct Disorders, while the girls without Attention Deficit Disorder had less than 1 percent. It is important to remember that the study was not done with older teens; the researchers studied girls between 8 and 13. Why does this information about Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder matter?

Both Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder have huge implications for the types of behaviors that the person will engage in later in life. Kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are often angry and hostile. They will not do what they are asked to do. They defy people that interact with them in all settings. Conduct Disorder is more extreme and can include harming animals and younger children and setting fires. A child with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder does not necessarily progress to ODD or CD. That is important to remember. However, a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder often has untreated ADD/ADHD. As adults with these behavioral problems, they are more likely to engage in risky sexual and substance abusive behaviors.

What can parents and caregivers do to improve the lives of these girls with Attention Deficit Disorder? First, get them help at an early age. Keep seeking help until you get them the help that improves the child's life. This can include therapy and pharmaceutical interventions. Research has shown that the two methods, used together, have the most powerful effect on the negative symptoms of ADD. Be a strong advocate for your child's needs. Provide structure in the child's home life. Reward their efforts. Find meaningful rewards that they desire. For kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, it is far better to reward than to punish them. Help your child have the kind of life that keeps them away from drugs and seeking negative attention. Give them positive things to do. Know who their friends are. Keep them out of negative associations with those people who would pull them down.

The information presented in this article is not meant to alarm a parent or caregiver, although it is a daunting group of statistics. There is power in knowing about possible problems and how to deal with them. With early intervention, positive life experiences, and opportunities to learn how to structure their lives, girls with Attention Deficit Disorder do not have to jump down the rabbit hole of destructive behaviors. They can live fulfilling and creative lives.

University of California - Los Angeles. (2016, October 4). ADHD diagnosis puts girls at much higher risk for other mental health problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2016 from

For more information about girls with Attention Deficit Disorder, please visit the articles listed below in the Related Links.

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