Attention must be paid to girls

ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is supposed to be primarily a boy’s thing, but girls with ADHD have significant problems, concludes the first major study on the subject.

A major long-term study of girls diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary school has found they are at greater risk for substance abuse, emotional problems and academic difficulties in adolescence than their peers who don’t have the common neurobehavioral condition. The results, experts say, should help dispel the myth that the disorder, which affects an estimated 4.4 million American children, poses less of a risk to girls than to boys, on whom most research has focused.

Berkeley researchers followed girls, who started at ages 60 to 12, for five years. Some had been diagnosed with the disorder “characterized by pervasive inattention and impulsivity,” while others had not.

In nearly a dozen areas examined by researchers — including academic performance, prevalence of eating disorders, relationships with peers and teachers, and organizational skills — the girls with ADHD were significantly more likely to have problems than those in a matched control group who did not have the disorder.

The gap in reading and math ability had widened in five years and new concerns had emerged: About 30 percent of the girls with ADHD were at least mildly depressed, compared with 10 percent of the control group, Hinshaw said. The same percentages were seen in substance abuse.

Like boys, girls became less hyperactive as they grew older. They also responded in the same way to drugs and behavioral treatments.

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Comments

  1. Indigo Warrior says:

    It’s bad enough to draft anyone into school, but for children with “ADHD” and other atypical personalities, regimented school life can be hell. No surprise that the best non-coercive, non-drug programs for neuroatypical youth are free-form and personal in nature.

  2. Unfortunately, ADHD is particularly thorny since it displays in so many different ways and at different levels of intensity. Diagnosis is very much a matter of skill and judgement rather then of a definitive test.

    It’s also unfortunate that the drugs used to treat ADHD, in children, produce a very convenient sedating effect. Good for order in the classroom but ethically bankrupt when used for any other purpose then treating the condition.

    Not that that’s much of a barrier to misuse of the drug if no one’s keeping an eye on those that benefit from its promiscuous dispensation.

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    allen:
    Unfortunately, ADHD is particularly thorny since it displays in so many different ways and at different levels of intensity. Diagnosis is very much a matter of skill and judgement rather then of a definitive test.

    Exactly. There are no objective tests for ADHD, or its two cousins, Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette’s Syndrome. And only in the last 10-15 years has the psychologic and psychiatric professions developed anything remotely resembling a scientific method. Which means, of course, that psychology/iatry still has some of its old baggage of political oppression and pointless sadism.

  4. Cut the psychology/iatry community some slack. Laboring under the legacy of Freud, what would any reasonable person expect but schools of thought rather then disprovable theories? The shamans, lobbyists, snake-oil salesmen and accolytes that populated the fields are slowly giving way to succesful empiricists. The technology to turn the field into something approximating physical medicine is working its way out of the laboratories.

  5. Indigo Warrior says:

    Laboring under the legacy of Freud, what would any reasonable person expect but schools of thought rather then disprovable theories?

    That pretty well describes psychology before Freud, as well. “Schools of thought”, I have no problems with, as long as they treat patients with respect, dignity, and mercy. It does help if these schools actually work, too.

    The technology to turn the field into something approximating physical medicine is working its way out of the laboratories.

    The neuroscience of the last 15 years, for example, is a good thing.

    What is not good was the profession’s shameful history of war against childhood masturbation, sexual repression in general, concentration camp-like mental institutions, psychosurgery (such as lobotomies), shock treatment, repressed memory syndrome – even the overprescription of drugs that still goes on.