Neuropsychological functioning in ADHD: Are girls different from boys?
Rates of ADHD Among Girls
Just boys have ADHD, right? Wrong. ADHD can affect girls, with recent estimates of ratios ranging from 2:1 to 6:1. Staller and Faraone  estimated that 32 million females worldwide have ADHD based on current information on prevalence and sex ratios, making the diagnosis of ADHD in females a major public health concern. This gender difference in prevalence, along with the likelihood of a referral bias that continues to under identify ADHD in females, has resulted in a much slower growing body of literature on the female ADHD profile. For a long time we largely didn’t know if the significant and global deficits that have been documented in boys with ADHD, such as having a hard time processing information, holding information on line, estimating time, and stopping a behavior once started [2-6], could be extrapolated to girls.
ADHD Symptoms in Girls
Along with the belief that ADHD doesn’t happen in girls came some studies suggesting that even if girls had ADHD, they weren’t as impaired as boys with ADHD . These findings have since been disconfirmed and evidence is building that we can no longer ignore. Studies over the last decade consistently show that females struggle in similar ways to boys – forgetting things they need for school, having problems with speech and language, solving complex problems, having a hard time putting on the brakes, losing track of time, making more errors in their work and struggling academically [8-10]. This overall lack of gender differences in cognitive functioning has also been documented in an adult sample .
Some even find that girls with ADHD are more compromised in their intellectual functioning and may have poorer knowledge of vocabulary [12,13]. Lower scores on Block Design, a measure of perceptual and visual spatial reasoning, have been noted in ADHD girls compared to ADHD boys with performance on all other measure of cognitive functioning falling similarly across gender . However other studies show that in some areas, boys may have more problems. For example, research on a New Zealand population found that although adolescent girls and boys with ADHD were struggling similarly cognitively , there was one noted difference: ADHD males showed evidence of greater inhibition than ADHD females – in other words, boys with ADHD may struggle more with stopping themselves once they have started. Newcorn and his colleagues  found the same thing: their sample of girls with ADHD made fewer impulsivity errors (commission errors) than the ADHD boys.
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