girls and adhd

ADHD symptoms can make focusing in school extremely difficult for your daughter. As a parent, you want your daughter to have academic success and perform to her fullest potential. While medication does play an important role in reducing ADHD symptoms, research reveals many non-medication methods that are beneficial to combating ADHD symptoms. 

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD symptoms can manifest very differently in each child. You may have a boy who has been diagnosed with ADHD, but never considered that your daughter who is having trouble in school might also have it too because her issues seem so different from his. Girls are more likely to have inattentive ADHD, in which daydreaming and shyness are common, whereas it is more typical for boys to have hyperactive-impulsive ADHD or combined presentation. Some signs and symptoms of ADHD in girls may include:

  • Constant motion. If your daughter is hyperactive, she may prefer to do physical things than quiet, focused activities. This can even present as an inability to sit still in a chair. You may notice that when working on homework, she is in her chair one minute, kneeling on the floor the next minute, and laying over the table the next. 
  • Compensation for inattention. Girls tend to compensate for their ADHD symptoms in a different way than boys. For example, if is having trouble focusing and her attention drifts away during a lesson, she may try to be extra focused when she comes to an activity she does enjoy. 
  • Lack of impulse control. This can present in a number of ways, from making “silly” mistakes because she is not taking a moment to think about what she is doing, to constantly interrupting or blurting out when she wants to say. 
  • Disorganized and messy (in her appearance and physical space). A messy room seems to be the hallmark of a teenager, but girls with ADHD tend to be disorganized because their brain struggles to create habits and structure that will keep her physical space organized. A disregard for her physical appearance, or lack of good hygiene, may stem from the inability to establish those habits as well. Instead of brushing her teeth in the morning, she gets distracted by everything else she needs to do before school and runs out the door without taking care of those personal grooming basics. 
  • Being constantly forgetful. Forgetting things is a fairly common experience for most people. Being chronically forgetful may actually be a symptom of ADHD in girls. If you find that you have to walk your daughter through the same instructions multiple times, but it feels like she can’t hold that information in her mind, it could be that she is struggling with concentration. It can feel frustrating for parents when it seems like she’s just not paying attention, but for a girl with ADHD, a flash of light outside the window or a quick thought about what is for dinner can take her mind completely away from what you are saying. Because she can’t concentrate enough to hear everything that you are saying, she is unable to remember the details of the conversation.
  • Takes time to process information and directions. Some girls with ADHD simply need extra time to process. It is not that she is not hearing your directions, but she needs the time for her brain to categorize and store that information. Girls with ADHD may become frustrated in a classroom setting where teachers quickly move from one topic to the next. This can be especially frustrating for girls who are highly intelligent, but struggling with ADHD. 

If your daughter is exhibiting these symptoms, it may be time to seek out a clinical diagnosis. Without a formal diagnosis, girls with ADHD may believe that they are not just good at school or that they are constantly doing the wrong thing. This can be incredibly detrimental to their self esteem and will create a negative association with their teachers and school work. A diagnosis can help your daughter see that there is not anything wrong with her, but rather, there are ways that you as a family and her school can support her in new ways. 

ADHD in an Academic Setting

With the proper interventions, girls with ADHD can be just as successful in school as their neurotypical peers. Here are some methods that are proven to help contribute to success in the learning environment:

In a typical classroom environment, your daughter is surrounded by peers. Each person in the classroom provides a new source of distraction. It could be the classmate next to them humming to themselves or the classmate in front of them spinning their pencil. For girls with ADHD, having someone for one-on-one support can help them refocus when these classroom distractions occur. This can be in the form of verbal reminders or teaching them strategies to use when they feel themselves losing focus. 

Self-regulation is a concept that children with ADHD often struggle with. However, that does not mean that it is impossible for them to get a grasp on things. Self-regulation is something that can be taught and learned. In this process, your daughter should be encouraged to identify her feelings, triggers, and how to cope with these things effectively. The best approach to this is by doing so in a one-on-one setting, away from distractions of peers. It is important that we recognize that there is no “one size fits all” approach. ADHD affects individuals differently. To best support your daughter, you should note what her triggers are, her strengths, and her weaknesses. Communicating these things with her teachers is very important as well. 

Other easy ways you can help set your daughter up for academic success includes the following:

  • Set up a normal homework routine: Routines and schedules may be challenging for girls with ADHD to implement on their own, but with your help, a homework routine can be very beneficial. By sitting down at the same table, with materials organized and already in place, they do not have to worry about setting up their space or finding the materials they need. This can help your daughter by removing the stress of finding a place to work and figuring out where everything they need is located. The area should be clear and organized in a comfortable area with no distractions. A homework routine can also include the amount of time she spends working on her homework and what time of day that may be. If you notice your daughter is exhausted right after school, chances are that fatigue will make concentration even more difficult for her. Maybe what she needs instead, is an hour to decompress and do an activity she enjoys. Once she has released some of that school pressure that builds up for the day, she will likely feel more able to focus on homework. You can also create time for her to take a break during homework. Little five or ten minute breaks built into her homework routine can help her work off physical energy and lessen the mental work of trying to concentrate for long periods of time. 
  • Work with their school: It is important to communicate with your daughter’s teachers and school so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to creating strategies for success. Her classroom teacher may find that placing her in the front of the room during instruction is helpful. Support staff can communicate with you what is working and what is not working as your daughter progresses through her school year. At the same time, be sure that you are communicating with her teachers about what is working at home, or what she may need more help with in the future.
  • Help her keep a calendar to work on time management. For many girls with ADHD, hearing an instruction, such as a project due date, goes in one ear and out the other. She may struggle to stay on top of deadlines and personal goals in school. This is why having a visual aid can be helpful. Some girls may benefit from a personal planner, a digital calendar with alerts, a monthly calendar, or a combination of all three. Having those important dates or goals physically written down in multiple places can help her remember, but they are also resources where she can always go back and have that information available. 
  • Daily Report Cards: Implementing daily report cards for your child is a great way to teach them responsibility and accountability. Sitting down with them and creating goals or target points to reach that day will help them to zero in and focus on accomplishing tasks on hand. Of course, there should be some type of reward at the end of reaching targets. The great thing about the report card system is that you can tailor it to meet your child’s needs and focus on areas that they need to improve on.

Asheville Academy for Girls Can Help

Asheville Academy for Girls offers the highest quality of academic programming to our students. This helps students achieve grade level goals, and most importantly, feel empowered to succeed in future school settings. Our team of highly qualified teachers deliver curriculum aligned with national standards in a classroom setting that meets the diverse needs of our student body. We deliver year-round academic programming for grades 4 through 10. All core curriculum is aligned with national standards, ensuring that students are achieving at grade level and are able to transition smoothly into traditional settings upon graduation.

Asheville Academy for Girls is a therapeutic boarding school for girls and assigned female at birth ages 10-14 who struggle with learning, behavioral, and emotional diagnoses. This program is social, emotional, and academically focused in order to empower girls to move forward and transition smoothly back into their home and school life. Students gain a greater sense of confidence, ability to manage emotions, and the skills to communicate effectively. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 800-264-8709.