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Gender Differences

ADHD Presentation

Evidence suggests that boys with ADHD usually show ‘externalised’ symptoms, such as physical hyperactivity and impassivity, where-as girls with ADHD, tend to show ‘internalised symptoms’. These symptoms include inattentiveness (appearing not to listen, day dreaming, trouble focusing)  and low self-esteem  and have more difficulties in regulating their emotions.

Boys tend to be more physically aggressive, while girls tend to be more verbally aggressive.

This can mean that girls are overlooked and under-referred for assessment.

ADHD in girls: how to recognise the symptoms

ASD Presentation

More commonly known as the ‘female profile’, the internalised profile of ASD is based on evidence that has demonstrated that ‘girls’ are more aware of social expectations, can be more socially motivated, have a desire for friendships, alongside having more active imaginations and more socially acceptable interests.

In short they can appear more socially competent as they can mirror, copy or imitate the skills of peers.

This ‘social camouflage’ however takes a significant effort (on ‘social energy’) and whilst they can often ‘mask’ their differences (and difficulties) within school (and sometimes when in the community) they then can have what parents describe as angry outbursts, meltdowns, shutdowns at home.

Put simply ‘Social Energy’ is the amount of energy a person has to focus, be social, manage and respond to demands in the environment.

For Further Information

Alis Rowe – ‘The girl with the Curly Hair’ (The visual guide to Social Energy 2)

Scottish Autism is an organisation dedicated to enabling autistic people to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. Visit their website for more information about girls on the spectrum.

Scottish Autism

The National Autistic Society is the UK’s largest provider of specialist autism services where you can also find more information.

The National Autistic Society

Recommended Reading

We have had a number of parents and clinicians who have shared and recommended books that can be read by parents and children.

Understanding Girls with ADHDAttention GirlsI am AspienGirlWomen and Girls with Autism Spectrum DisorderCan You See Me?Odd Girl Out Education and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

Book Loan Scheme

Parent and Professional Consultation – You told us how beneficial it has been to read books related to ASD and ADHD with your child, siblings and other family members. We listened and have introduced a book loan scheme to support families who are unable to purchase or locate, ask your CAMHS worker for more information.