Recognizing ADHD Throughout the Gender Spectrum

Recognizing ADHD Throughout the Gender Spectrum

April 26, 2017

Recognizing ADHD Throughout the Gender Spectrum

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that approximately 5% of children in the U.S. have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports double that number. The CDC reported that as of 2011, 11% of children aged four to 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD.

Spotting this attention disorder may seem simple, but as the numbers dispute above reveals, there is clearly more to ADHD than the traditionally accepted symptoms. So how does ADHD manifest differently from person to person? Here's a quick look at some of the unique ways ADHD can manifest across the gender spectrum.

Recognizing Childhood ADHD in Females
Dr. Ellen Littman, author of Understanding Girls with ADHD, estimates that there are approximately 4 million women with undiagnosed cases of ADHD. Littman attributes this misunderstanding to early clinical studies of the disorder, which largely used young white boys as a baseline.

"As a result, those criteria over-represent the symptoms you see in young boys, making it difficult for girls to be diagnosed unless they behave like hyperactive boys," Littman said.

The truth is ADHD manifests differently in young women and typically intensifies after puberty, unlike in young men, where the disorder tends to fade with age. Common symptoms of ADHD in young girls include:

  • anxiety
  • inattentiveness or a tendency to daydream
  • trouble focusing
  • appearing not to listen
  • verbal aggression
  • withdrawn attitude


Recognizing Childhood ADHD in Males
Because most of the early clinical research on ADHD used young boys as a baseline, it is recognized much sooner and much more accurately. However, that's not to say there aren't any missed cases. From a young age, we're taught that boys are more energetic and impulsive than girls. As a result, some common symptoms of ADHD get overlooked.

That being said, ADHD is much more frequently diagnosed in young boys. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • impulsivity
  • hyperactivity
  • inability to sit still
  • physical aggression
  • excessive talking
  • frequently interrupting conversations and activities

How can children with ADHD be helped?
The first step in helping a child with ADHD is correctly diagnosing the disorder. After that, medication and therapy can both help children live and learn with their disorder. Visiting a child therapist can open different avenues to your child, such as child therapy games. Some commonly used child therapy games include sand play items, therapy card games, and other play therapy toys.

Using this knowledge of ADHD symptoms and how they can manifest in different ways can help you and your child in the future. Don't let ADHD go overlooked.

For more child therapy games and tools for treating children with ADHD, visit ChildTherapyToys.com.