This week, our Bellyitch Bumpwatch alum and veteran journalist Lisa Ling revealed that she was recently diagnosed with having Attention Deficit Disorder at age 40.
While working on an investigative piece for her OWN channel show Our America with Lisa Ling, the former The View co-host got tested herself and learned that her focus issues since a child were in fact caused by the condition that went undiagnosed/
Her revelelation provides a unique opportunity for us to share PsychCentral.com‘s listing of common myths associated with ADD, one of them being that girls don’t get it considering that boys are usually diagnosed with ADD and ADHD (Attention Deficity Hyperactive Disorder):
Ling and her husband Dr. Paul Song welcomed a daughter, their first child, Jett last May.
Myths about girls with ADHD abound. Here are three more myths followed by the facts.
1. Myth: If girls do have ADHD, they only have the inattentive type.
Fact: The inattentive type of ADHD does seem to be more common in girls with ADHD. But, as Matlen said, “they are out there!” “They might instead be considered “tomboys,” as they cartwheel their way to school and climb trees after school,” she said.
Socialization may explain why girls don’t exhibit hyperactivity in the classroom, according to Sarkis. “It is thought that one reason girls exhibit less hyperactivity in class may not have to do with the disorder itself – rather, girls may have been socially conditioned to speak out less in class and be less ‘disruptive,’” she said. Matlen agreed. “Society allows for girls to be passive and quiet,” she said.
It’s also important to note that “[inattentive] girls suffer as much as hyperactive boys who, with their external behaviors, are picked up more quickly by school staff and parents,” she added.
2. Myth: Girls with the inattentive type of ADHD don’t need stimulants.
Fact: Many medical professionals think that stimulants only treat hyperactivity, Matlen said. However, stimulants can help with symptoms of inattention and distractibility, she said. Treating any disorder with medication requires careful consideration. But it’s important for parents and practitioners to know that stimulants can successfully treat these very disruptive symptoms of ADHD.
3. Myth: Girls are less likely to have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) than boys.
Fact: According to Sarkis, there is actually a 50 percent rate of co-occurrence between ODD and ADHD. And “that rate is the same regardless of gender,” she said. For instance, she cited this study, which found no gender differences for ODD – and no differences for general anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, dysthymia and separation anxiety disorder.
Warning Signs in Girls with ADHD
Because ADHD can manifest differently in girls, Matlen shared several warning signs that a girl might have the disorder.
At school, girls might excessively daydream; have poor grades even though they’re capable of better work; and forget or not finish up assignments, especially projects that have many parts. Hyperactive girls might exhibit “Chatty Cathy” behaviors, such as “non-stop talking and bossiness.”
Girls might also have few friends and be described as “loners.” They might easily tune out and be “spacey,” she said. They might have a messy bedroom and experience more emotional outbursts than kids their age. They’re also more likely to “feel overwhelmed and internalize that into anxiety [and] fears,” Matlen said.
While there’s been much progress in understanding and treating girls with ADHD, there’s still more work to be done. Whether you’re a teacher, parent or mental health professional, getting educated on how ADHD manifests in girls can help you provide truly helpful support.