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ADD in Boys vs. Girls

By Dr. Velkoff

As a parent, understanding your child’s behavior can be one of the most confusing and difficult tasks to undertake, especially when it comes to ADD and ADHD.

For most individuals, when they think of an ADHD child, they probably imagine a child that is constantly “bouncing off the walls” and disrupting the classroom with spontaneous interruptions.

However, children afflicted with these disorders don’t always exhibit the same symptoms; in fact, there is quite a large range of symptoms associated with ADD and ADHD, and they can often present differently in boys and girls.

For many years at the Drake Institute, we have observed these differences in symptom manifestation, and in this article, we aim to educate parents and readers on these differences so that they can have a better idea of what is driving their child’s behavioral and/or task completion problems.

ADHD in Boys

Boys with ADHD are more prone to exhibiting symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, which often leads to more disruptions in the classroom and to their disorder being more visible or recognizable.

For these reasons, ADHD boys may get diagnosed and helped sooner than ADHD girls, since ADHD girls are not as likely to be disruptive in class and bring negative attention to themselves.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls.

Below are some of the more common characteristics of ADHD in boys:

ADHD in Girls

ADHD/ADD girls typically come into the Drake Institute presenting focusing problems, struggling academically, and experiencing difficulty with executive functioning, such as planning, organizing, or time management (particularly in middle school and high school).

They also may have more of what is called "internalizing behaviors" such as being anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or having somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches, tired, etc.).

Normally though, ADHD girls are much less likely to be hyperactive than boys and they’re also more frequently diagnosed with the "Inattentive subtype" of ADHD.

Below are some of the more common characteristics of girls suffering from ADHD:

It is important to note that while the above lists are representative of common ADHD symptoms in boys and girls, ADHD boys typically have inattentive symptoms as well, and infrequently girls may experience hyperactive symptoms.

Taking a Closer Look at the Brain

Research published in the scientific journal, NeuroImage: Clinical, helps explain these differences in ADHD boys and girls—differences that we have observed for many years.

Through the use of MRI brain scans, researchers have discovered that there are anatomical differences in brain frontal lobe abnormalities when examining ADD in boys and girls that help us understand these different manifestations of symptoms.

The symptoms of ADHD in boys correlated with a reduction in the total surface area of the "premotor cortex" of the frontal lobe. Since the premotor cortex is involved in motor function, this suggests that they would have a reduction or lack of motor inhibition leading to hyperactivity and impulsivity.

On the other hand, the ADHD girls were found to have a reduction in the total surface area of the "prefrontal cortex" of the frontal lobe that can be correlated with impairment in executive functioning, focusing, and emotional regulation, explaining more of the inattentive symptoms and "internalizing behaviors" of girls.

Understanding the Origin of the Disorder

When determining the root cause of ADD and ADHD, our findings always lead back to the brain.

For example, when we have had girls with ADHD come to the Drake Institute for help and they have the hyperactivity symptom, frequently there will be a medical history of "fetal distress" during childbirth. The umbilical cord may have been wrapped around the infant's neck, resulting in their heart rate slowing down during contractions. This can result in oxygen deprivation to the fetus that may cause injury to the developing brain networks, including regions affecting motor control. Also, if the infant suffered a traumatic delivery with the infant’s head being swollen or bruised afterwards, there could have been an injury to the brain.

These are just two examples of the types of issues individuals may have experienced that could promote the development of an attentional disorder; however, there are a wide variety of neurological and genetic reasons for brain dysregulation and pinpointing the exact reason is often extremely difficult.

The Drake Institute Can Help

Ultimately, it does not matter what the causes of the ADHD symptoms are in order to help the child.

All that matters when it comes to treating ADD and ADHD is determining which regions or networks of the brain are dysregulated that are linked to symptoms.

For three decades, the Drake Institute has been using the most advanced qEEG brain mapping technologies along with neurofeedback to develop individualized treatment plans for the successful treatment of ADD or ADHD.

Our brain map-guided neurofeedback protocols at the Drake Institute are specifically designed to help the brain improve from a dysregulated state to a more normalized, regulated state whereby executive functioning and focus are significantly strengthened.

Our ADD treatment programs are also drug-free and non-invasive. The treatments can enable our patients to achieve symptom reduction long-term since we are “re-training” the brain to self-regulate more normally without the dependency on medication to improve symptoms.

With a clinical success rate of approximately 80%, we know that we can help make a positive impact on most ADHD children if they live in a supportive, positively reinforcing environment.

Contact Us Today

Is your son or daughter struggling with the symptoms of ADD and ADHD? If so, please call the Drake Institute to schedule a no-cost screening consultation.

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