Experts have noted that ADHD can look different in girls.[1] This can make it difficult for a girl with ADHD to get diagnosed, and can result in her going without the support she needs. Recognizing how ADHD presents in girls is important for diagnosis and receiving support.
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This article is primarily aimed at recognizing ADHD in children or teen girls. If you're looking for identifying ADHD in adult women, check out How to Diagnose ADHD in Women or How to Identify Adult ADHD.
[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Noticing Signs

  1. Look for signs of inattention. When compared to boys, girls with ADHD tend to be less hyperactive and impulsive, and more disorganized, scattered, forgetful, and introverted.[2] They are often easily distracted.[3] [IMG]https://www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/b/b5/A***ual-Girl-Thinks-About-Cat.png/728px-A***ual-Girl-Thinks-About-Cat.png[/IMG]

    • Consider whether she daydreams a lot, doesn't appear to listen when spoken to, or struggles to focus on one thing. These are common signs of inattentiveness.[4]
    • She may have trouble concentrating if there's other stimulus around or be easily drawn away from activities (like getting up and following the dog when she's supposed to be doing homework).[5]
    • A common trait of inattentiveness is making mistakes that can seem careless. She may not seem to pay much attention to detail and do things like misspell a word even though she knows how to spell it, or leave things in the wrong places.[6]
    • They can often come across as being shy, withdrawn, and daydreamy.[7][8] She might be referred to as quirky, spacey, or as having an overactive imagination.

  2. Consider differences in hyperactivity. While inattention is more common in girls, girls with ADHD can also be hyperactive - it just looks different than with boys. Girls with ADHD are less likely to "bounce off the walls" or climb on things, and are more likely to fidget a lot and be extremely chatty.[9][10][11]

    • Girls with ADHD can be hypertalkative, and talk so much that others can't get a word in. They may frequently interrupt or blurt things out, and have trouble sticking to one topic.
    • Stimming and fidgeting is common for hyperactivity. She may squirm in her chair a lot, play with her hair, swing her legs back and forth, pick at things with her nails, chew or tap on things, tap her foot, or shake her leg. (Some girls with ADHD also engage in repetitive movement, like hand-flapping.)
    • She may refocus her need for movement into helping out around the classroom, or joining multiple sports or extracurricular activities.[12]
    • Trouble falling asleep and waking up in the morning is common for ADHD. She might be too restless to settle down, or have lots of thoughts running through her brain that keep her awake.[13]
    • Some girls do fit the stereotype of running around during class and knocking over furniture at home, but it's less common.

  3. Note impulsivity. Like hyperactivity, impulsivity also tends to look different in girls. Physical impulsivity (like jumping off the playground tower) is less common, but she might be verbally impulsive and do or say things without thinking them through.[14] Impulsive behaviors include:[15][16]

    • Saying what comes to mind, without filtering or considering if it's appropriate
    • Reacting to situations without thinking it through
    • Beginning something new right away (and sometimes dropping it just as quickly)
    • Spending money on impulse
    • Starting and ending relationships in the heat of the moment (more common in older girls)
    • Getting scolded or punished frequently for her behavior ("what were you thinking?!")

  4. Identify hyperfocus. Regardless of whether a girl seems hyperactive, inattentive, or both, she may channel her focus onto something she likes - a state called hyperfocus. People with ADHD may become extremely focused on something that captures their interest, to the point that they no longer notice things happening around them and forget to do other things.[17]

    • If someone with ADHD is hyperfocused, others may have difficulty getting her to "snap out of it". If they succeed, she'll likely be frustrated and need more time to transition to the next activity.
    • Hyperfocus is often interest-driven rather than priority-driven.[18] That being said, if a girl with ADHD has a deadline approaching quickly, she may hyperfocus on getting the task done instead.
    • Some girls may use hyperfocus to their advantage to try and compensate for their struggles. For example, she might work hard on a history project because she likes history, but struggle with her other classes.[19]

  5. Pay attention to difficulty staying organized. Girls with ADHD may seem to be "chronically disorganized", and need extra help to stay clean or not lose things. Organization problems may show up as:[20][21]

    • Losing things often, even if they're important
    • Forgetting things
    • Having a messy room, desk, backpack, etc.
    • Not cleaning up after herself, or only cleaning up halfway
    • Struggling to prioritize

  6. Consider time management. Girls with ADHD may struggle with timeliness and moving from activity to activity. Problems with time management can look like:[22]

    • Being late all the time
    • Misjudging how long something will take
    • Losing track of time
    • Procrastinating, particularly if the task is monotonous or requires lots of focus
    • Taking a long time to complete things (she might turn in schoolwork late)
    • Having trouble transitioning between activities (and getting frustrated if she's not ready to move on)

  7. Note differences in emotional regulation. Boys with ADHD are more easily irritated, while girls tend to come across as overly emotional and sensitive.[23][24] A girl with ADHD may cry easily, slam doors when frustrated, and deal with overwhelming emotions.

    • Mood swings are a common component of ADHD. She might feel a variety of moods in a single day, and these moods can change abruptly based on events around her. At times, it may seem like one incident can impact her mood for the rest of the day.[25]
    • She may seem to throw tantrums more easily or have emotional blowups that are unusual (or even immature) for her age.[26] Aggression may become a problem in some girls, particularly as she reaches puberty.[27]
    • Girls with ADHD may feel positive emotions very intensely, too - she may be prone to overexcitement and may get overwhelmed with joy at times, or laugh at something for longer than others. If she gets crushes, her crushes might be very intense.
    • If she is unable to regulate her reactions, intense emotions can cause social problems. Her peers may be annoyed by or frightened of her reactions, or think she's overreacting or dramatic. Impulsive emotional reactions (like hitting a friend she's upset with) often hurt her relationships.

  8. Consider her social behavior. ADHD may affect how a girl behaves in social situations, which can be positive or negative. She might be a social ****erfly, extremely shy, or somewhere in between.[28] A girl with ADHD might have behaviors like:[29][30]

    • Being chatty or verbally impulsive
    • Seeking positive attention, like by goofing around, telling jokes, or even showing off
    • Needing constant excitement in her social circle
    • Seeming shy and not joining social activities
    • Struggling to make decisions about social activities[31]

  9. Look at struggles in social life. People with ADHD often struggle with making and keeping friends. This can be especially challenging for girls, since the social scene can be very complex for them.[32] A girl with ADHD may struggle with things like...[33]

    • Spacing out during conversations
    • Overlooking social cues
    • Having trouble joining groups or social activities
    • Interrupting other people and/or having trouble listening attentively
    • Following through on texts or plans
    • Being labeled as immature, sensitive, silly, or a "drama queen"[34]
    • Being told she's annoying, rude, insensitive, or is oversharing
    • Being rejected or made fun of by her peers
    • Recognizing that she's not like her peers, but not knowing why

  10. Consider how often she asks for help. Compared to boys, girls with ADHD are more likely to try and compensate for their behavior, which includes asking for help more often. (The requests will usually be more subtle, rather than directly asking for help staying on task or organized.) Consider whether she frequently makes requests along the lines of...[35][36]

    • "Can you help me with my homework?"
    • "I'm having trouble cleaning my room. Can you help?"
    • "Sorry, I didn't catch that. Can you repeat it?"
    • "This assignment is taking me awhile. Could I stay up later to finish it?"
    • "I can't find the paper you gave us. Do you have another one?"
    • "Could I copy your notes/homework? I didn't finish mine."
    • "Can we share your textbook? I left mine at home."

  11. Check for sensory or auditory issues. While it's not a guarantee, many people with ADHD also have problems with managing sensory or auditory input. Consider whether she...[37]

    • Needs extra time to process speech
    • Struggles to "tune out" other noises and focus on one thing
    • Is extremely uncomfortable or distressed by certain textures (like clothing)
    • Seems over- or under-sensitive to the way something tastes or smells
    • Is easily overwhelmed by sensory-intensive situations (e.g. restaurants or loud parties)

  12. Notice signs that she is internalizing her issues. While boys with ADHD are more likely to act out in frustration, girls with ADHD may internalize when they're struggling. In addition, boys are more likely to blame outside sources for their problems while girls are more inclined to blame themselves.[38]

    • While boys have behavioral issues more often, girls usually suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.[39] During teen years, they are at increased risk for self-injury and suicidal thoughts or intent.[40]
    • Girls with ADHD often suffer from perfectionism.[41] They try to appear competent, but it's a constant struggle.[42]
    • A girl with ADHD may say things like "I'm stupid", "I never do anything right", "Something is wrong with me", or "Why am I the only one who can't do this?".[43]



[Edit]Seeking Diagnosis

  1. Consider the possibility of other disorders and conditions. It's possible that the person has something else instead of ADHD, or that she has something in addition to ADHD. Conditions that can resemble or come alongside ADHD include...[44]


  2. Consider whether past behavior lines up with ADHD. Think about whether her quirks, struggles, and overall behavior makes more sense when viewed as a result of ADHD. For example, maybe her messiness and habit of constantly shouting things out doesn't make sense for a neurotypical child, but makes more sense for a child with ADHD.
  3. Have a discussion with her teachers and caregivers. If you suspect your daughter might have ADHD, talking with other adults who are around her frequently can paint a clearer picture as to her behavior. Find time to talk with her teacher(s), coach(es), and/or other caregivers, such as babysitters, and ask about her behavior. They may have some information about how she behaves away from home.

    • Ask teachers and coaches about whether she stays on task and completes things as expected, or if she needs to be refocused frequently and prompted to do what she's supposed to.
    • In school, it's common for girls with ADHD to get comments like "She's a good student, but she needs to try harder", "She needs to slow down and pay more attention to her work", or "She needs to learn when it's appropriate to share her thoughts in class".
    • Take particular note of comments about inattention, fidgetiness, impulsive behavior, and trouble with social s****s.

  4. Talk to a specialist. Make an appointment with someone who specializes in ADHD and related conditions, or ask your doctor for a referral. While your general doctor may be able to do a basic screening, a psychologist or other specialist has more tools available and can get a more accurate assessment.



[Edit]Tips

  • Consider whether there is a family history of ADHD; ADHD is often passed down genetically, so if a girl has a relative with ADHD, she's more likely to have it, too.[45]
  • Girls with ADHD may struggle a lot in school, especially once they start college and no longer have their parents to help them stay organized.[46] However, not every girl with ADHD will get bad grades.

[Edit]Warnings

  • ADHD is a very complex condition that can't be diagnosed after just reading a few pages about it. Talk to a specialist if you have concerns.

[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]References