Parents and teachers are often familiar with the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
You may associate this common neurodevelopmental disorder with little boys running around a classroom, unable to sit still and focus on their schoolwork. But, when girls have ADHD, the symptoms can appear different – and are often overlooked or misdiagnosed. This condition typically lasts into adulthood but is often diagnosed during childhood.
What should parents be aware of when it comes to attention deficit and their daughters?
“Inattention without hyperactivity occurs more commonly in girls,” said Eugene R. Hershorin, M.D., who specializes in pediatric developmental and behavior at the University of Miami Health System.
Instead of being impulsive, defiant, and full of uncontrollable energy, girls with ADHD may have difficulty focusing on verbal instructions and completing tasks.
They may be shy daydreamers instead of class clowns. These girls are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. “In these cases, the girls’ behavior isn’t always the problem,” Dr. Hershorin said. “If they’re bright and getting reasonable grades, their attention-deficit may not come to the attention of their teachers, parents, and coaches because it doesn’t overtly cause a problem.”
While it may not seem like a problem, girls may still be struggling.
Undiagnosed attention deficit may make them start to blame themselves if it takes them longer than expected to finish schoolwork, tests, and other focus-oriented tasks. Children experiencing these symptoms can become frustrated with themselves. You may find your child putting excessive pressure on herself to finish homework or practice playing an instrument, for instance. These situations and feelings can lead to poor self-image, anxiety, and dreading going to school.
If you notice these signs in your child, speak with your pediatrician. They will recommend a physician with special training and experience diagnosing and treating children with behavioral or developmental problems.
“ADHD is the single most studied disorder, with more research publications than any other disorder in childhood,” said Dr. Hershorin. “As a profession, we have 75 years of experience to know how to treat ADHD effectively. When treated appropriately and consistently, parents can expect their children to grow up to be happy, healthy, successful adults capable of reaching their potential.”
Dana Kantrowitz is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.
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