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Identifying and Managing ADHD in Teen Girls

ADHD is slightly less common in girls than boys, 12.9% of boys are diagnosed with ADHD compared to 5.6% of girls.1 However, part of this discrepancy may be that girls are often mis-diagnosed or diagnosed later than boys.2 Part of the reason is gender bias, ADHD is more associated with boys than girls. Also, symptoms may show up differently in girls than boys. If your teen daughter is showing some of the symptoms listed below, and they’re impacting her school, home, and/or social life, you might consider reaching out to a professional who can help.

1. Symptoms of ADHD in Teen Girls

While ADHD is not something you grow out of, how the symptoms present themselves can look different as you get older. Additionally, ADHD symptoms in girls are more likely to show up later, particularly during times of social or educational transition and are often less obvious or severe as symptoms in boys.2

Symptoms of ADHD that can affect teen girls include:2,3

  • Easily distracted, tasks can take longer than necessary. 
  • Disorganized, loses things easily.
  • Easily overwhelmed, avoids tasks that require a lot of effort. 
  • Seems to lack motivation or effort, makes “careless” mistakes.
  • Difficulty listening, can appear ‘spacey’. 
  • Starts projects but doesn’t seem to finish them. 
  • Difficulty with emotion regulation, has mood swings.

2. How to Help Teen Girls with ADHD 

If your teen daughter has signs of ADHD, but hasn’t been diagnosed, reach out to a trusted professional, like her primary care doctor or her school counselor. They can refer you to a psychologist who can complete testing to diagnose ADHD, or help determine if there is something else she can use support with. They can also connect you with related professionals, like a counselor, psychiatrist, or speech language pathologist who can help manage her ADHD symptoms.

Wondering what you can do at home? Helping her get organized with a consistent, easy to use system is important. Encourage her to use her phone’s calendar and reminders, and either a paper or online planner to keep track of school assignments. To help reduce distractions during school assignments, consider using LightSail. LightSail’s personalized reader allows you to shade out extraneous text, allowing her to focus on what she is currently reading. Their enormous library includes high school classics like ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and the entire World Book Encyclopedia for research assignments. Additionally, LightSail allows you to input and assign reading and writing assignments, so your daughter can keep track of and complete assignments on her student dashboard. 

It is not uncommon for girls to be diagnosed with ADHD when they are teens, especially as the demands of school and social lives increase. If you notice signs of ADHD in your teen daughter, don’t wait to bring it up to a trusted professional! And you can get started supporting her at home too! Using resources like calendars for planning and LightSail for school assignments can help her feel empowered and successful! 

References

1.Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Ghandour RM, Holbrook JR, Kogan MD, Blumberg SJ. Prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis and associated treatment among U.S. children and adolescents, 2016. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. 2018, 47:2, 199-212.

2. Young S, Adamo N, Ásgeirsdóttir BB, et al. Females with ADHD: An expert consensus statement taking a lifespan approach providing guidance for the identification and treatment of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder in girls and women. BMC Psychiatry. 2020;20(1):404. Published 2020 Aug 12. doi:10.1186/s12888-020-02707-9

3. Polaris Teen Center. ADD in Teenage Girls. 2018. https://polaristeen.com/articles/add-in-teen-girls/

Posted on 9.Sep.21 in ADHD

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