3 Special Challenges ADHD Women and Girls Face
A while back I wrote a blog on the sad lack of ADHD awareness both around the world and even here in the U.S. The lack of awareness obviously makes things worse for ADD sufferers and those around them. But I failed to capture in that blog a major segment of society that gets a triple-whammy from low awareness: girls and women. Let me explain why it’s a three-fer…
Whammy #1: General Lack of Awareness and Diagnosis
We are – or should be – aware of the many costs of general ADHD ignorance. Higher medical costs, criminal system costs (ADHD women AND men are very disproportionately represented among prison populations, which I blogged about last March), lost business productivity, etc. Not to mention the personal misery and underachievement that accompany un-diagnosed and un-treated ADD/ADHD. That’s a whammy for both genders. But…
Whammy #2: The Under-Diagnosis of Girls vs Boys
Even in advanced Western nations where we’re supposedly enlightened about ADHD, the stereotype of the ADD kid as a bouncing-off-the-walls boy is the dominant perception. Girls, less likely to be of the hyperactive type, are more likely to fall through the cracks in their critical school years. It’s also surmised that girls try harder at school and may have better grades, further masking their condition.
As a result, boys are diagnosed between three and nine times as much as girls. Some research suggests that even when teachers recognize symptoms of ADHD in girls, it doesn’t get reported as much as for boys. So as awful as under-diagnosis is for everyone, it’s whacking our daughters and sisters harder.
Whammy #3: The Uniquely Ugly Outcomes for Girls and Women
Being a male who just barely avoided major bodily harm, dodged the long arm of the law on many occasions and probably cheated death once or twice, I know first hand the uglier possibilites of undiagnosed ADD. For everyone, it’s associated with lower levels of education, slower career advancement, more smoking and alcohol/substance abuse, etc. But here comes the icing on the triple-whammy cake (if you can call it icing): ADHD women and girls face some uniquely ugly statistics that men don’t face…
- Unplanned pregnancy: Impulsive ADHD women are seven times more likely to become pregnant
- A high incidence of eating disorders and obesity
- With a higher divorce rate among ADHD adults, women usually end up on the shorter end of the economic stick when that happens – and typically maintain single-parent care of the affected kids.
It’s Getting (a Little) Better, Thanks to Some Champions
ADD writer/blogger Zoë Kessler has done a great service to her gender by often blogging and vlogging on this issue (and I thank her for some of the stats reported above). But one woman, Dr. Patricia Quinn, has made a laser-focused mission of helping girls and women – with a range of websites, books and support organizations I encourage you to explore by Googling her name. Or, to quickly learn more about girls’/women’s issues, a great primer is her archived interview on Attention Talk Radio back in December 2011. Give it a listen, and give some thought to how we can help undo this triple injustice to our mothers, sisters and daughters…and all AHDH women.
PS – and speaking of women, wanted to share this nice endorsement from a prominent coach who helps a lot of ADHD women…”Alan Brown’s ADD Crusher videos are comprised of practical strategies to overcome the day-to-day impairments of ADHD that get in the way of success. He speaks from the heart and experience since he, too, has ADHD. Do you need another way to compete with your ADHD symptoms? Go to his site and try his videos!” – Karen K Lowry, RN, MSN, ADHD Coach, AAC
P.P.S. If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab