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Do Boys and Girls Show the Same Signs of ADHD?

By Mark J. Griffin, PhD

Question: Do signs of ADHD look different in boys and girls? Or do they have the same ADHD symptoms?

Answer:

Girls and boys do tend to show different signs of ADHD. It varies from child to child, of course. But boys with ADHD are more likely to be hyperactive and struggle with self-control. They’re more likely to act out in school and behave in ways that are tough for teachers to ignore.

Girls with ADHD, on the other hand, tend to adapt better in school. They’re less likely than boys to blurt things out in class or to shove the kid next to them.

Girls with ADHD might get noticed in school for being a little squirmy or overly chatty. But teachers might chalk this up to girls’ being immature rather than having ADHD. Girls who are hyperactive might get described as overly emotional or “sensitive.” They might also seem more distracted or “ daydreamy.”

All these behaviors are signs of ADHD. But people react to them in different ways, for lots of reasons. Teachers and families may be more accepting of (or less likely to notice) the signs girls often show.

This helps explain why boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls are—and why boys tend to get diagnosed at younger ages than girls.

Girls are diagnosed with ADHD on average five years later than boys—boys at age 7 and girls at age 12. There are also many girls who never get diagnosed. In fact, research indicates that up to 75 percent of girls with attention problems are undiagnosed.

Since girls often show different signs of ADHD than boys, it’s important to know about the different ways kids can act out and which of these behaviors tend to get overlooked. That awareness can help girls with ADHD get the help they need sooner.


Learn more about the different ways ADHD can affect a child’s daily life. And read more about why kids might have trouble focusing.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom