ADHD is often missed in girls, but why?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is routinely missed in girls, with young boys often the focus of diagnosis, but why?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has three types – hyperactive, inattentive and a combination of the two.

Those with an inattentive diagnosis may be easily distracted, struggle to get organised and forget things, while hyperactivity can cause people to interrupt people, struggle to stay still and have a propensity to fidget.

ADHD is usually diagnosed as a child, but if it is undiagnosed it can cause problems as many people are unaware of the cause of certain behaviours.

A study by the University of Washington showed that boys tended to have more extreme symptoms, as well as a larger distribution of symptoms, than girls.

Anne Arnett, Clinical Child Psychologist at the University of Washington, said: “It’s an actual neurobiological difference that we’re seeing.”

Different reports have suggested that the ratio of boys to girls that are diagnosed with ADHD is anywhere between 2:1 and 10:1.

A study of almost 20,000 twins in Sweden last year found that girls were more likely to be diagnosed if they suffered from behavioural problems or hyperactivity.

The study also concluded that it may be that girls are better at hiding their symptoms, as similar studies have found in girls with autism.

Helen Read, a Consultant Psychiatrist and ADHD Lead at a London NHS Trust, said: “Girls are far less likely to bounce around the classroom, fighting with the teachers and their colleagues.

“A girl who did that would be so criticised by peers and other people that it is just far harder for girls to behave in that way.”