Special Education

Research Report: Special Education

October 16, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Girls and ADHD

Teachers may never suspect that those quiet girls who appear to be sitting attentively in their classes may really have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The image of a student with the disorder has typically been a rambunctious boy who disrupts class and can’t stay still. But a new study shows there may be more girls with ADHD than teachers and parents realize.

Statistics show boys are more likely to have the disorder by a ratio of 3-to-1. But girls may be underdiagnosed, according to the study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

In what was one of the largest studies ever done on girls with ADHD, researchers examined 228 girls, including 140 diagnosed with the disorder. The girls with ADHD went off their medication for the study so researchers could monitor their behavior. All of the girls in the study attended six-week summer camps together in the San Francisco Bay area for three years in a row, starting in 1997.

Both sets of girls were recruited through newspaper ads offering “summer enrichment programs.” Some ads said the programs were for girls with attention problems. Health-care providers recommended some of the girls for the study.

At camp, the girls participated in art, drama, and outdoor activities, but their “counselors” had notebooks and pencils. The camp staff, without knowing which girls had the diagnosis, took down extensive notes on their behavior.

Past research has shown both girls and boys with the disorder have difficulty focusing on tasks, meeting goals, and staying organized. But this study found that girls with ADHD have a harder time making friends than their male counterparts do.

Girls with ADHD may stand out from other girls because they are more likely to tease peers and act aggressively, the authors say.

Girls, they say, are more likely to have the “inattentive” type of the disorder. A student with that type of ADHD has disorganized, unfocused performance, rather than impulsive behavior.

Teachers and parents aren’t as likely to recognize the “inattentive” type of ADHD, said Stephen Hinshaw, the lead author of the study and a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Our hope,” Mr. Hinshaw said in a statement, “is that these efforts will spur the field towards theoretically rigorous attempts to understand ... ADHD in both boys and girls.”

—Lisa Fine Goldstein


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Q&A Schools Should Boost Inclusion of Students With Disabilities, Special Olympics Leader Says
Schools have work to do to ensure students with intellectual and developmental disabilities feel a sense of belonging, Tim Shriver said.
6 min read
Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver greets a child at one of the organization’s events.
Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver greets a child at one of the organization’s events.
Courtesy of Special Olympics
Special Education Spotlight Spotlight on the Science of Reading for Students with Disabilities
This Spotlight will empower you with strategies to apply the science of reading to support students with learning differences and more.
Special Education Video A Student Wrote a Book About Her Learning Disability. Now, She Has Advice for Teachers
Zoe Kozina, 17, is the author of Your Beautiful Mind, a children’s book published this year.
Special Education Disability or 'Superpower'? The Push to Change Mindsets About Students With Learning Differences
Advocates are calling for a paradigm shift in how adults perceive, and educate, students with learning differences.
5 min read
Conceptual artwork, imagination dream and hope concept, Superhero boy
Jorm Sangsorn/iStock/Getty