Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a brain disorder that affects an estimated 8%-10% of all school-age children, boys and girls included. There is, however, some dissimilarity in the way ADHD tends to affect boys and girls. To illustrate this, in the following article we will discuss ADHD in a bit more detail, and outline 3 of the major differences between ADHD in boys and girls.
ADHD Symptoms and Prevalence: The Differences between ADHD in Boys and Girls
The first major difference between boys and girls with regard to ADHD is the prevalence in which the disorder occurs. According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD is much more likely to occur in boys than girls. In fact, boys are about three times more likely to develop the disorder than girls in a similar age group.
While these statistics are very significant, they may not tell the whole story. We say this because one of the questions researchers often asks: “Is ADHD more prevalent in boys or is it just diagnosed more frequently because the symptoms in boys tend to be more overt?” This remains to be seen, but it does bring us to the second difference between ADHD in boys and girls.
ADHD in Boys and Girls: Difference Number Two
ADHD can cause a number of symptoms, some more overt than others. Experts on the disorder say that ADHD can bring about symptoms that basically fall into three general categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Inattention in children can lead to daydreaming, disorganization and forgetfulness—three behaviors common in children in general, but much more prevalent in the ADHD affected child.
Hyperactivity can lead to excess talking, fidgeting and squirming in seats and getting up and down frequently when it is generally inappropriate to do so. Children coping with hyperactivity symptoms seem to be forever on the go, running and climbing to excess.
Impulsivity in children with ADHD is characterized by impulsive and often inappropriate behavior. Impulsive children tend to interrupt other people’s conversations, intrude on adults and children alike and may blurt out answers to questions in school before being called upon to do so by the teacher.
When children are diagnosed with ADHD by doctors and psychiatrists they are placed into one of three general categories—categories that indicate which symptom(s) are predominant in their specific case. These categories are:
ADHD with Hyperactivity/Impulsivity
ADHD with Inattention
ADHD Combined—showing characteristics of both hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention
Most boys who are diagnosed with ADHD fall under category number one, hyperactive/impulsive, or category number three, combined. Girls, on the other hand, tend to fall under category number two, inattentive. This information is quite significant to researchers, because the symptoms and behaviors associated with hyperactivity/impulsivity tend to be more noticeable than the symptoms of inattention. This is why many experts believe there are many girls who will go undiagnosed, which may account for at least some of the discrepancy in the number of ADHD cases in boys as compared to girls.
ADHD in Boys and Girls: Difference Number Three
The third and final difference between ADHD in boys and girls is the severity and frequency of symptoms. According to the American Society of Pediatrics, ADHD symptoms in boys tend to be more severe than they do in girls. This can lead to difficulties in school and at home that present major obstacles to a child’s success. Additionally, the frequency with which symptoms seem to manifest also tends to be higher in boys, which is another reason why parents of boys may be quick to seek a medical diagnosis from a qualified physician.
While ADHD does affect boys and girls alike, it does appear that boys suffer more and differently than do girls, leading to more diagnoses and a popular opinion that ADHD continues to be a more male-centered disorder.