Are Learning and Thinking Differences More Common in Boys Than in Girls?

By Bob Cunningham, EdM
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Q

It seems like boys have learning and thinking differences more often than girls do. Why is that?

A

It seems that way because boys are diagnosed with them more often than girls. And not by just a little bit.

Around two-thirds of kids with a specific learning disability (as defined by special education law) are boys. And boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

The fact that boys are identified or diagnosed more often than girls is one thing. It doesn’t mean boys actually have learning and thinking differences more often than girls do.

So why does this happen?

One reason might be differences in how boys and girls behave. Boys tend to draw more negative attention in school. One report showed that boys make up around 85 percent of all recorded discipline issues. Another showed that 22 percent of boys had been formally disciplined, versus 8 percent of girls.

We also know that boys with ADHD are usually more hyperactive, impulsive, and aggressive than girls with ADHD. That behavior makes them stand out.

In other words, boys with ADHD are more noticeable than girls with ADHD. And that may be why they get diagnosed more often than girls.

Learning and thinking differences are probably just as common in girls as in boys. But if girls fly under the radar, it means that many aren’t getting the support they need.

That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your child’s behaviors and take notes. If you have concerns, you can request a free school evaluation at any time.

About the Author

About the Author

Bob Cunningham, EdM 

serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.

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