For decades ADHD was seen as a young boy's disorder. New study suggests that it likely affects males and females equally, but that girls are far less likely to be diagnosed.
For years the diagnosis ratio of males to females was 10:1. But recent ratio's tend to be slightly higher ie, 3:1. One reason for the discrepancy is that, in girls, the disorder doesn't always look the way we think it should: fidgety, energetic, distracting.
Dr. Patricia Quinn, said that girls tend to be less disruptive than boys, manifesting their lack of attention in subtler ways -- disorganization, distraction, and difficulty following directions. Even more hyperactive girls are less likely to be noticed.
Instead of bouncing off the walls, "A girl with ADHD may be hypertalkative or hyperreactive (crying a lot or slamming doors) -- behaviors one may not typically think of as being associated with ADHD," she said.
The diagnosis can be tricky as the disorder is likely to be genetic. It can look more like a disciplinary problem than a medical one. Everyone will have these behaviors to some extent and therefore it is very difficult to differentiate.
Dr. Quinn notes that women and girls with ADHD, often undiagnosed and overlooked, are prone to blaming themselves for the negative feedback they get going through life. Without a diagnosis, the disorder's fallout -- bad grades, poor time management, a sense that basic life skills are out of reach.