As a girl, I was bright, enthusiastic, and deeply empathetic. In middle school, I was a daydreamer and unorganized, but my grades were good. With friends, I could be silly, excited, perhaps moody, and chatty. But, because I was not hyper and disruptive, no one saw any problems with me other than with my focus, procrastination, and organization.
This is the story of many girls.
ADHD boys more often present as hyper and disruptive and get professional attention because the adults in their lives are desperate for help. Skills training can be available for the parents and child and offer studying and organization techniques. Meditation or yoga and diet changes might be employed. Perhaps medication can be made available to help their focus and increase grades.
Did you know that medicine engages the prefrontal cortex for performing executive functions, i.e., a lot of what these children are unable to access with organization and discipline without meds? Brain scans have shown the difference of this region of the brain. Without medicine, this regions under performs next to neuro-typical brains. And, on medication, the brain is more engaged! Studies also are beginning to reveal that some intervention like meditation, yoga, or medication can keep many boys from self-medicating, which often turns into addictions later in high school and college.
What happens to the girls? We are passed over and sometimes judged for not performing up to our potential. We are susceptible to addictions as well. Caffeine helps focus and employ the executive functioning skills that are needed to better do dishes, taxes, organize a room, or do homework. I drank TAB to push my brain to engage.
As girls age, school organization becomes more unmanageable, grades might slip, and may begin to believe we aren’t smart. Depression, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy build within the disorder of their lives. Often, we feel like outsiders and are called tomboys.
These girls are often being overlooked, and we slip through the cracks of society. Why? Because we are most often smart, well behaved, and cause no real problems to anyone.
Internally, we see that our work was well graded but messy and while we didn’t follow directions precisely, we may have taken twice as long on our homework as others did. We are judged for missing the mark on directions including politeness societal demands for girls, and we begin to feel increasingly like outsiders.
In hindsight, I realize how angry I would be had my parents been able to give me professional help with work management, and medication (I’m not promoting, but this is my story) and refused. But, medicine was unavailable then, and no one knew what ADD was.
Also, people assume you have to be unfocused to be Attention different. However, hyper focus is common on what we love! And, some of us love to learn.
So, please don’t give up on your Attention different girls. I now have two Masters degrees and a lot to offer society. Where might your girls go? And, where are you now as women? Give us a chance and let us know you believe in us! We are an awesome tribe!