She didn’t bounce off the walls. She didn’t act out. She didn’t do those things that kids with ADHD do. That contributed to my reluctance to believe she was or had ADHD. (That’s a story for another day: does she have ADHD? Is she ADHD? How do we describe these things without the extra weight of a label? I have no wisdom on that.)
Instead, she fit this description:
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.
Partly, the studies about ADHD are being conducted mostly on boys. In part, girls live under a different set of strictures. Even if at home they are not expected to be princesses, as at my house, the world outside our doors still demands girls look and act a certain way. (I suppose the same can be said of boys.) Girls must be pretty, and interested in girl things, and communicative of their feelings. Girls must giggle and cloy.
My girl? Not so much. Here’s the cool part about girls with ADHD. All those things that others might think are weird actually combine to display their innate intelligence and creativity. High intelligence and creativity are common trait in ADHD kids. But more than that, at least in my girl, is this incredible sense of pride about who she is.
If I tell her she did a great job on something, she says, “I know.” She had a strong and consistent sense that she is more than capable.
And yet, she still won’t turn in her math homework. And this is the frustrating thing. Amazing self awareness and smarts, coupled with a lack of awareness about the details they find stupid.
Girls fall through. They slip through the ADHD cracks. Teachers may not identify their struggles as related to this “disorder.” Parents may refuse to acknowledge the problems, because it op doesn’t look like what we think it’s supposed to look like.
As with all things related to our children I am a strong proponent of pushing for answers. Of course I believe that doctors know their stuff. But I also know that doctors are fallible humans. So if a parent doesn’t get answers that help the family move forward, we need to keep looking for answers. Second and third opinions are valuable tools.
We can’t let the girls fall through.