When asked to describe a typical child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), most people would describe a young boy who climbs on things, is impatient and does not do what he is told.
Few people would describe a bubbly young girl with lots of friends, who works hard to get good grades.
It may be, however, that the girl does experience ADHD symptoms that interfere with her daily life — and that these symptoms are overlooked by the adults around her.
Undiagnosed ADHD has long-term consequences including an increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours — such as unprotected sex and substance use — as well as academic underachievement and low self-esteem.
Perhaps most alarmingly, girls who struggle with ADHD for a long period of time can suffer from mental health problems.
As a psychologist in clinical practice, I used to see many older girls and adult women with ADHD who had already been prescribed medication to treat anxiety and depression. Early diagnosis then is vital.
Assessment scales use data from boys.
Individuals with ADHD exhibit three main clusters of symptoms: hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
Although three times as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD in childhood than girls, the diagnostic rates in adults are more equally divided between males and females.