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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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1.12 Girls with ADHD

  • Girls with ADHD often go undiagnosed and untreated because they frequently do not have the typical hyperactive and disruptive symptoms seen in boys that signal a problem and lead to a referral.
  • Girls tend to be teacher pleasers and often put a lot of effort into trying to hide their problems, which is another reason their ADHD is often undetected.
  • Many girls are labeled and written off as being “space cadets, “ditzy,” or “scattered.”
  • The unrecognized struggles of girls with ADHD and their need for proper diagnosis and treatment places them at high risk for a number of serious negative outcomes (academic and learning problems; social, behavioral, and emotional problems; demoralization; low self-esteem; and more).
  • Many girls don't receive an evaluation for ADHD because parents, teachers, and physicians are often unaware that ADHD symptoms manifest differently in girls than boys. When they are evaluated (often in their preteens and teen years), girls may be misdiagnosed or a coexisting condition (commonly anxiety disorder or depression) may be identified, missing the primary disorder of ADHD that existed first.
  • Girls being evaluated for ADHD also may have been undiagnosed because the DSM criteria until very recently required that significant symptoms be evident by age seven. We now know that symptoms may emerge later, particularly in girls. Fortunately, the new DSM-5 criteria has acknowledged this later onset of symptoms and changed the criteria so that now symptoms ...

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