the ratio at five boys for every girl with ADHD or even 10 to one, but Hinshaw believes the number is closer to two to one.
“ADHD can and does exist in girls,” he says. “But many girls are diagnosed as having anxiety or depression, or their diagnosis is missed altogether.”
Part of the problem in diagnosing girls is that their ADHD symptoms are often subtler, as in Nadeau’s case. Many boys with ADHD, though not all, are hyperactive. They are defiant and disruptive in classrooms, which brings them to the attention of teachers and parents quickly.
Some girls with ADHD show symptoms of hyperactivity and aggressiveness. However, many more girls have what’s known as “inattentive type” ADHD, Hinshaw says.
They are bright but have to work very hard to keep up in school. They can’t follow their teachers’ or parents’ directions. They are often dismissed as “scatterbrained” or “flighty.”
“Boys are clearly more aggressive and disruptive than girls in a physical sense, so they are the ones that get referred,” Hinshaw says. “The ‘inattentive type’ is a less visible type because you’re not disrupting a class, you’re not running round. You are in some ways suffering in silence because you’re not processing information, you’re not focusing attention on parents’ demands or teachers’ directions.”
And it doesn’t mean girls aren’t