Monday, 15 August 2016

What Educators and Parents Need to Know about ADHD in Girls

ADHD can seriously hamper a child's ability to achieve their potential. In fact, research shows that 60% of children with ADHD who do not receive support or diagnosis will struggle or underachieve in school. This statistic is troubling for all the obvious reasons, but one of the most troubling reasons for this statistic is that it only refers to boys.

What about girls?

Girls, up until very recently, have had their ADHD chronically undiagnosed and this lack of diagnosis has often profound implications upon a girl's life for young women tend to internalize their struggles and it is this internalization that often results in significant problems with their mental health, their self-esteem, and their ability to lead productive adult lives. 

However, girls with ADHD, just like boys, have enormous potential and latent LearnAbilities so what can their parents and teachers do to help them out once a diagnosis has been made?

1. Educate yourself about ADHD and Girls.  Not always, but generally speaking, symptoms manifest themselves differently than with boys. 

2. Seek out treatment. There are so many options and medication is only part of the range of therapies that are helpful. 

3. Empowerment. Girls and young women need to know about what ADHD is, what it's effects are, and what they can do about it. 

4. Work towards removing the gender bias that often clouds diagnosis. 

5. Address the incredibly powerful (and often negative) role that societal pressures play in girl's lives. These pressures are even tougher to deal with when a young girl or woman is struggling with ADHD and all of it's possible comorbidities. 

6. Help girls and young women realize that while ADHD is often considered a medical condition, disability on a whole is simply a social construct predicated on a narrow and confining definition of "normalcy". There is no such thing as being normal and helping girls understand this truth will only enable them to be stronger and more accepting of their own version of uniqueness. 

7. Let them read about and listen to women like themselves who live and work with ADHD. A great example, especially for young women is Jessica McCade, a YouTuber, who has a great channel dedicated to ADHD.  

Here is McCade's video specifically for girls: 

And here is a TED-Ed Lesson to go with the video: ADHD in Girls: How to recognize the symptoms.

Please feel free to use the lesson, share it and/or customize it to suit your own needs.

Finally, there is a real need for parents, teachers and girls themselves to dig deeper into their own brains and get to know their neurological profile.  The following video, Ask the Expert: Understanding Girls with ADHD, is detailed and full of rich information.  Take your time, break it up, re-watch the parts that you need and skip over the parts you don't, but it will really help you have a better understanding of girls and young women with ADHD:

Finally, maybe the best way to help a young woman come to terms with her ADHD diagnosis is to simply be supportive, understanding and proactive. By working together to create actionable solutions, parents, teachers, girls and young women can fulfill the potential of every girl's  LearnAbilities.