The Female/'Internalised' Presentation of ADHD


    How Gender Impacts ADHD Traits

    ADHD symptoms in girls are often thought of as characters of a girl’s personality rather than ADHD, which is why they are often overlooked or explained away.

    It's much easier to identify a child who is physically active and defiant as someone that would benefit from an ADHD evaluation than someone who seems distant or distracted.

    Girls are more likely to have inattentive ADHD, in which daydreaming and shyness are common, whereas it is more typical for boys to have hyperactive-impulsive ADHD or combined presentation.

    The more subtle presentation of ADHD in girls/females results in referral bias and is miss-diagnosed or missed-diagnosed.

    A Word on Gender

    It's important for me to acknowledge that I am and will be using gendered terminology and references in the identification of ADHD in Girls/Women/Females. I do so knowing that not everyone identifies themselves in these 'traditional' ways and it's important for me to make this known as I don't ever want to offend, alienate, invalidate or minimise anyone, especially when the matter is something that is at the core of their, or your, identity.

    It's important for me to explain ADHD (and all neurological differences) in gendered ways as this is my lived experience and the experience of so many women I know that have received an ADHD diagnosis as adults.

    Women have long been overlooked, misdiagnosed and literally misgendered not fitting into the 'male' model, presentations, traits and stereotypes of most neurological differences. I separate the gender distinctions knowing that the conversation needs to be had, no matter how a person identifies themselves as.

    We've waited far too long for our traits and presentations to be recognised, categorised and acknowledged, for them to be ignored or dismissed because of the way some people identify.
    I say this with all the respect in the world.

    Female Traits of ADHD

    How Girls/Females Mask Their ADHD Traits

    Girls can compensate her inattention by hyperfocus on something she likes or is good at. She will put time, effort and concentration that can easily dismiss the possibility of ADHD.

    If a girl is hyperactive, she might appear to be always in motion or be described as a 'tomboy' because she likes physical activity and doesn’t seem to enjoy the 'typical things' girls her age do. Her motion and movement may present in less obvious ways, like doodling constantly or shifting in her chair when sitting.

    Girls that display impulsivity, or lack of impulse control, can be hyper-talkative and verbally impulsive, interrupting others, talking excessively, or constantly changing topics during conversations. She might also blurt out words without thinking about their impact on others. However, despite these social challenges, girls can also be overly sensitive, described as overemotional and easily excitable.

    See more infographics the presentation of ADHD in women/girls here.