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ADHD: How it may present differently in girls and boys

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can present differently in girls and boys. We have outlined some of these differences from research.

Girls may be more likely to:

  • Experience more internalizing symptoms (e.g., heightened anxiety, hyperactivity which is internalised and can lead to day dreaming)

  • Show less directly observable symptoms

  • Have lower self-esteem

  • Show more inattention

Boys may be more likely to:

  • Experience more externalising symptoms (e.g., hyperactivity, impulsivity)

  • Show more behaviours that are overtly disruptive

  • Be referred for an ADHD assessment by classroom staff because of disruptive behaviours


Skogli, E. W., Teicher, M. H., Andersen, P. N., Hovik, K. T., & Øie, M. (2013). ADHD in girls and boys–gender differences in co-existing symptoms and executive function measures. BMC psychiatry, 13(1), 1-12.

Grskovic, J. A., & Zentall, S. S. (2010). Understanding ADHD in Girls: Identification and Social Characteristics. International journal of special education, 25(1), 171-184.

Mowlem, F., Agnew-Blais, J., Taylor, E., & Asherson, P. (2019). Do different factors influence whether girls versus boys meet ADHD diagnostic criteria? Sex differences among children with high ADHD symptoms. Psychiatry research, 272, 765-773.

Rucklidge, J. J. (2008). Gender differences in ADHD: implications for psychosocial treatments. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 8(4), 643-655.


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