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ADHD in Girls

Tired of feeling like I'm labeled a bad parent

I recently learned that my 9-year old daughter has ADHD.  She gets mostly Bs and Cs in school and has to put in much more effort than other kids her age to sustain her grades at that level.  She’s also recently had trouble falling asleep and maintaining friendships because all the girls in her class are cliquey and care a lot about who’s “smart”/honor roll and who’s “not smart” and they are dividing up along those lines. I’m finding while ADD/ADHD is fairly common/accepted in boys (I think my 6yo son has it too), I’m finding having a girl with impulsiveness, disorganization, hyperactivity, inattention issues is really difficult.  I often feel like other parents and her teachers are judging both her and me.  Having the diagnosis helps because before we had no idea what was going on.  I’m wondering if anyone has any strategies to teach schools/teachers/other kids and parents about this condition so that we may all live in a more supportive community and not always feel like the “bad parent” when we’re walking down the hallways in our kids’ schools and so our kids’s self esteems don’t suffer for something they have no control over?


I feel for you, I really do.  But forgive me mama when I say you are gonna have to just get over it.  This is your issue around what other people think about you and you have no time, and I doubt will not have the energy, to worry about other people’s judgments.  You have work to do to make yourself ready to help your child, and especially if your son also has the disorder. 

You can start learning more about the condition and about what is and isn’t happening inside your child’s brain.  Then the explanations will come.  It is not your job though to get people on board and hold their hands although you may have to do some of that.  You need to ask for the accommodations your daughter needs to feel supported and if it doesn’t work, move on to another teacher, another school if you have to.  And just ignore the other parents.  Who are they anyway to you?

Watch this video - it is long but make yourself a cup of coffee of tea and settle in, because this is the fastest best way to find out about what ADHD really is.  Then you can get some books and do some research.  I had studied about ADHD (both my daughter and my husband have the disorder) for years and all the information gelled after watching Dr. Barkley’s lecture.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:05am

@YellaRyan Thank you for sharing the video and for your response.  I too am a parent of an 11 year old child with ADHD who is currently hospitalized.  I remind myself daily that it is not about ANYONE else but about how I best prepare myself to help HER.

Posted by Jeanette66 on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:13am

Thanks YellaRyan.  You’re absolutely right.  My highest priority is learning more about this condition and how best to help my kids.  I don’t want to care about what other people think but the community I live in can feel claustrophobic and overly judgmental at times.  I look forward to watching the video and to learning more about what other parents do to keep their spirits buoyed through the tough times.  Truth is, my kids rock.  They’re goofy, funny, smart, insightful, athletic.  I do need to get over what others’ think.  Frankly, I have no choice.

Posted by Mama-Tan on Jun 19, 2014 at 5:33am

Hi Mama-Tan!

There’s a learning curve to parenting a child with ADHD. Learning to not care about the judgement of others and to not be embarrassed by your child’s behavior in public takes time. You’ll grow an armor of sorts over time.

I have a very bad issue with worrying about what others think of me, have my entire life. It was insanely tough at first, but I had to learn to block that out and remind myself that my son and his needs are what really matter in that moment.

As for the cliques, they are tough for all girls, not just those who have unique differences. My daughter and my niece are both neurotypical, and both had an insanely hard time in 4th grade (same age you are dealing with). Girls are mean to each other and they start at a young age. This is unfortunately something all our girls have to learn to deal with. My niece ended up seeing a therapist because she was left out so much that she began to stop eating and refuse to go to school. She is a straight A student and the sweetest little thing you’ll ever meet. There are some fantastic American Girl books on these different issues, including some about friendships. My daughter and niece have both read them and learned some valuable tips, including that being left out often isn’t really about them.

As well, Dr. Patricia Quinn is an expert on ADHD in girls and has written a few books about it that you will find insightful.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jun 19, 2014 at 5:36pm

Many thanks, Penny—for the reassurance and the resources to check out.  I’m glad I signed up for this group list.  Not feeling so alone is a great help.

All the best to your sweet daughter and niece!

Posted by Mama-Tan on Jun 20, 2014 at 1:26am

Hi Mama-Tan

Here is a terrifically in-depth look at why girls are so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and how ADHD sometimes looks different in women:

I also wanted to recommend this article all about middle-school cliques:

I hope they help with some tactical strategies!

Posted by Anni Rodgers on Jun 20, 2014 at 3:26pm

Thank you Anni!

Posted by Mama-Tan on Jun 20, 2014 at 8:16pm

Hi Mama-Tan,

I am in a similar position with my 9 year old daughter just recently diagnosed as ADHD. She can be initially very social and able to make friends (especially slightly younger children) quickly and easily but has trouble keeping them. I think perhaps other girls are perplexed by her.

She tends to gravitate to calm and quiet boys and has developed interests more commonly found with boys. In this way she has avoided some of the clique-ness, although not all.

Sadly, people do tend to judge especially when it comes to parenting. I’m well beyond caring what others think and over time have become confident that I am well-informed and will do my best to respond to my child with love and patience as I try to teach her the coping skills she needs.

Best wishes!


Posted by SusanneM on Jul 04, 2014 at 7:25pm

I found going to school and talking with all of their teachers… 

You can offer your email for open communications….  Most teachers are happy to work with you…  We checked in every week on our most hyper child…  in person… 

I print up a sheet with my phone number, email, and cell phone…  for every teacher and explain the ADHD to all of them…  I include the impulse interruptions…  How to correct (the best ways for each one of my kids, because they react differently)...  One child, you can tap on the desk…  to get them to refocus…  the other one, you have to literally tell her to hold her comments or to write them down…  One has to walk or stand in class…  The other one needs a wiggle seat (a plastic disk with air in it)... 

Every child is different and it takes experimenting to see what you child will need…  You can not worry about what everyone is thinking…  or you will drive yourself crazy… 

Support groups help too….  There are counselors for coaching social behaviors too… 

Our oldest child…  lacked friends in school, and no one would baby sit for her more than once…  but she is a social butterfly now….  She introduces herself….  as I have ADHD… (I can explain it if you have not heard of it before) so if I talk too much or too fast for you….  just let me know and I will try to slow down or shut up….  SMILE!!!!  She has the most beautiful smile and many friends…  She is very outgoing as a young adult….  SHE EMBRACES WHO SHE IS….  She has high confidence level….  but it took a lot longer to get there…  She did mature slower than her peers.

Keep talking to people, you will find a solution….  That will work with your child…

Posted by ADHD-3in home on Jul 06, 2014 at 10:43am

I’m right there with you and I understand both your feelings of isolation as well as how difficult it is for your daughter.  As I understand it, elementary aged girls diagnosed with ADHD are few and far between and are certainly outnumbered by boys. Even Patricia Quinn’s book on girls with ADHD spends a lot of time talking about girls with Inattentive Type and describes those with Hyperactive or Combined Type as less common. 

My 8-year old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD (Combined Type) a few months ago during second grade. The school year was very difficult – she was the only girl in her class ever to be sent to the office (actually she made several visits), as well as the only girl to ever move off green on the classroom’s Red/Yellow/Green behavior management system. As a result, my daughter identified herself as “different from the other girls” and said she “just wanted to be normal”.

Our 2nd grade teacher had experience with students with ADHD, but most of her experience was with boys. I found the article “The Secret Lives of Girls With ADHD” by Ellen Littman (just Google it) to be powerful and shared it with our teacher.  Stephen Hinshaw, MD also does a lot of research on girls with ADHD and his web-site is useful too.
For us, having the diagnosis made a huge difference. I met with the classroom teacher who was willing and able to adjust her approach (to include backing off on the Red/Yellow/Green system which was causing more problems than it solved). We also got an IEP which includes use of the wiggle cushion, a positive behavior plan, a daily communication journal, and accommodations related to class work and standardized testing. If you are able to get an IEP or a 504 plan, this can be very helpful in working with the school. 

My daughter is also able to make friends easily (she is bright, full of energy and very articulate) but has difficulty maintaining friendships, especially with girls. We have worked with a therapist and my daughter participated in a social skills program (although she was again the only girl in the group). She gets along well with boys, who seem more accepting of her. So for right now, that’s good enough…

All of this is still a work in progress for us, but I now
feel that I know what the issues are and what to watch for. As a result, I feel more empowered to seek out the necessary supports and work with the school and therapists on a more pro-active basis. Knowledge really is power…

Posted by slpc-mom on Jul 07, 2014 at 6:08pm

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