I am absolutely delighted that the BBC today featured a report about failing to diagnose ADHD in young girls and the disastrous consequences.
We know that ADHD is a neurological condition that affects 3% – 5% of children in the UK according to NHS England. Yet too many girls and women are misdiagnosed or struggle on without help and support.
Why do girls get missed?
The most common understanding of ADHD is of little boys jumping up and down, blurting out something inappropriate, interrupting and unable to keep still. That is a great description of Impulsive + Hyperactive (Combined) ADHD type.
However the Inattentive type is now only being understood and spoken about.
Girls are getting missed because there is too little knowledge or understanding of Inattentive ADHD.
Teachers are not trained. Educational Psychologists are not trained. GPs are not trained. Psychiatrists are not trained.
Yes really. 🤦🏽♀️
All these professionals who your daughter may come into contact with, are not trained to recognise Inattentive ADHD. So instead she may be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Or told it’s her hormones or stress. Or she may just be left to flounder on her own.
By the way, boys can also be diagnosed with Inattentive type, it is not exclusive to girls, but for the purpose of this blog I am referring to females who have been missed.
So just to be clear…Not all diagnosed boys are Hyperactive/Impulsive and not all diagnosed girls are Inattentive. No stereotypes here please.
What is Inattentive ADHD?
A girl with Inattentive ADHD may be described as spacey, dreamy, lazy, forgetful, disorganised, unreliable or careless.
How hurtful are these descriptions? No wonder she may end up with feelings of low self-worth.
Some main features are:
- Not paying attention
- Head bursting with thoughts and ideas
- Easily distracted
- Poor organisational skills
- Poor time keeping
- Seems not to listen and zones out of conversations
- Makes mistakes
- Rushes a task
- Gets overwhelmed
- Incomplete projects
- Feeling of not reaching potential
- Relationship difficulties
- Sensitive to rejection
Girls get through school, college, university, work by pretending and acting.
They are so determined to not get into trouble and to ‘do it right’ that they use a disproportionate amount of energy trying to fit in. She may not look hyperactive on the outside, but inside her thoughts are racing.
They become perfectionists and want to make sure things are exactly right. This puts a lot of pressure on a young person. This pressure builds up until they can no longer maintain the act and they crash or explode.
Time for change
It is time for change.
We must train teachers, Educational Psychologists, GPs and psychiatrists.
If there was better understanding, then reasonable adjustments could be put in place to help.
If there was better understanding, our young people would have better life chances.
If there was better understanding, as a society we would benefit from these amazing young people with unique, creative ADHD brains.
- Meet with your child’s SENCO or Head of Year and explain what reasonable adjustments could be put in place
- Contact your MP and request that professionals are trained in all aspects of ADHD
- Educate yourself as much as possible so you can be a powerful advocate for ADHD
- Email Soli for details how to support your child at home firstname.lastname@example.org