Gender Differences In Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Gender difference in boys and girls with AD/HD can be surprising.

John is sent to the principal’s office daily for his disruptive behavior. He disrupts the teacher’s lectures, refuses to sit down, has lousy grades and frequently “forgets” homework. Sarah is quiet, polite and has “A’s” and “B’s.” The teacher says, “Sarah is a pleasure to have in class.” Which child has AD/HD? Surprisingly, both.

AD/HD Types

AD/HD has three subtypes including inattentive, hyperactive-impulse and combined. John is hyperactive-impulse. He is defiant, physically hyper, forgetful and impulsive. Most boys with AD/HD fall in this category. Sarah’s symptoms from inattentive AD/HD aren’t as obvious.

Inattentive Girls

Sarah is never a behavior problem, works hard at her grades and looks as if she is listening. She has to work very hard to focus and achieve those high grades. Her parents are baffled why their well-behaved student comes home and has frequent crying fits and explosive tantrums. While John is “acting out” his frustrations, Sarah is hiding hers and at a very high cost.

Undiagnosed Girls

According to the National Center for Gender Issues and AD/HD, the gender ratio for AD/HD evaluations is one girl to four boys. Girls with AD/HD, all types, appear to be overlooked in the classroom. One study stated teachers were more likely to miss the symptoms of AD/HD in girls even when parents identified AD/HD behavior in the same girls.

Inattentive Boys

Boys with inattentive AD/HD are often dismissed as spacey. Boys showing outward signs of hyperactivity receive help. Kids without hyperactivity are more difficult to identify. Inattentive boys will be slow to start projects (at school or home), may appear lethargic and even depressed. If a parent suspects a child having inattentive AD/HD, a thorough evaluation by a qualified professional is vital.

Hyperactivity in Girls

Some girls are diagnosed with hyperactivity. While boys may act physically hyper, girls talk hyperactively. Other girls may exhibit a combination of inattentive and hyperactive symptoms. The girl who is vigorously defiant on the soccer field may stare into space in math class.