Since 1990, we have seen the increase of girls vs. boys diagnosed with ADHD increase from a ratio of 1 in 8 to 1 in 3, reported by front line clinical therapists.
However, is this because the number of girls with ADHD is increasing or is it because they have been left undiagnosed?
Experts including psychologist Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D., head of a major longitudinal study of girls with ADHD, and psychologist and author Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D. have been studying the increases of diagnosis in girls as well as women. Dr. Hinshaw explains that because boys tend to demonstrate more hyperactivity and impulsivity that girls; boys with ADHD get noticed and helped. Whereas, girls are diagnosed with being inattentive with a day-dreamy type of disorder. Girls turn their frustration inside which leads to low self-confidence and psychological damage.
Dr. Hinshaw’s continues to explain in the article, Stop the Cycle of Shame for Girls with ADHD, in Additude, that the ratio of diagnosed women to men is currently 1 to 1. He believes this is because women are facing amplified symptoms as they age in the ability to pay attention as well as issues with Executive Function, especially organization and planning. However, the reason he believes the diagnosed ratio is 1 to 1 is women are more likely to seek help for themselves compared to men.
“Girls with ADHD are in deep trouble in a lot of ways,” says Hinshaw. Along with his team, they analyzed 10-year interview follow ups of 140 girls who were ages 7-12 when first surveyed and the data showed that girls with ADHD are at a significant risk of problems such as:
- Low academic achievement
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Mood disorders
- Suicide attempts
For many young women, the anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem that comes with ADHD feels intolerable by early adulthood. The structure of school is gone, a positive for boys but a loss for girls, who fare better with rules and routines, according to Hinshaw.
So, without the hyperactivity and impulsivity how do we know that girls may suffer from undiagnosed ADHD?
Psychologist Kathleen Nadeau created a list of five telltale signs that your daughter or student may have ADHD:
- Does she often lose personal items, her keys, or her backpack?
- Is her room always messy — even 15 minutes after you clean it up?
- Does she often feel anxious about getting school assignments in on time?
- Does she talk excessively?
- Does she behave well at school, and come home and explode at the end of the day? Can she be pushed over the edge by trivial provocation?
If you answered “yes” to any or all these questions, Play Attention can help.
Play Attention provides integrated feedback technology, cognitive training and behavior shaping to increase Executive Function in individuals whether they are diagnosed with ADHD or not. A customized program is created to help each specific individual through the FOCUS Assessment. The FOCUS Assessment is a norm-based computerized test of attention that you can take at home. It looks at different constructs of attention including performance, consistency, impulsivity, and ability to deal with auditory and visual distractions. Once the test is completed, a Play Attention Executive Functions Coach will provide a review of a detailed report that shows us your child’s attentional controls compared to that of his or her peers. The great thing about FOCUS is that it provides a baseline of their current attentional control and allows us to customize your Play Attention program even further. We use this information to pinpoint the executive functions that may be weakest for your child and can be addressed within Play Attention.