ADHD is a condition that affects people of all genders and ages, but women are often not diagnosed with ADHD until later in life or not at all, compared to men. In Australia, 5.5% of children aged 4-17 have received an ADHD diagnosis, but this number may be an underestimate, especially for girls.
So, why are girls with ADHD often not diagnosed in childhood?
Gender Stereotypes and Bias
Gender stereotypes and bias can lead to underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of girls with ADHD, as their symptoms may present differently than boys. For instance, girls may display more inattentive symptoms like forgetfulness, rather than hyperactive or impulsive behaviors, leading to the dismissal or oversight of their symptoms.
Masking and Coping Mechanisms
Girls with ADHD often develop masking and coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms, such as working harder to stay organized. This can make it hard for teachers or parents to identify underlying issues. Furthermore, girls with ADHD may have better social skills than boys with ADHD, which can also conceal their symptoms.
Lack of Awareness and Education
A lack of awareness and education about ADHD in girls in Australia contributes to underdiagnosis. Girls with ADHD may be misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression, or a learning disability, leading to a delay in proper treatment. Additionally, the lack of female representation in ADHD research and clinical trials makes it harder to identify unique symptoms and experiences of girls with ADHD.
In conclusion, gender stereotypes and bias, masking and coping mechanisms, and a lack of awareness and education can lead to under-diagnosis of girls with ADHD in childhood in Australia. Recognizing their unique symptoms and experiences and promoting greater awareness and education is crucial to ensure all individuals receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment they require to thrive.
If you or someone you know would like more information or are questioning the presence of ADHD, contact us for a confidential appointment.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/contents/what-is-adhd
- Women’s and Girls’ Health Victoria. (2016). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Females. Retrieved from https://www.whv.org.au/assets/Uploads/Resources/ADHD-in-Females-WGHV-2016.pdf
- UNSW Sydney. (2020). Girls with ADHD may not be getting the help they need in Australia. Retrieved from https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/girls-adhd-may-not-be-getting-help-they-need-australia