You may not feel much like celebrating if you are discouraged and frustrated with ADHD. Negative thinking, constantly focusing on what is wrong, and denying or ignoring what is good and right is characteristic of people with ADHD.
People with ADHD have tremendous vitality and enthusiasm. They are creative and fun to be with when they are in an environment which supports them. Get a job which thrills you and a partner who believes in you to find the sparkle and passion of life.
An ADHD diagnosis is far more common in males than females. However, many girls are often undiagnosed in childhood and only later in life realize that they, too, fit the diagnostic criteria. This lack of timely diagnosis and treatment has the potential to create far-reaching consequences academically, psychologically and socially, particularly in teenage girls. Why aren’t girls diagnosed with the same frequency as boys? The answer is that ADHD has a tendency to look very different in girls.
ADHD in females is often far more subtle and doesn’t fit neatly into the common stereotypes because girls tend to be less hyperactive and more compliant than boys, making ADHD more difficult to spot. Girls are far more likely to drift along in elementary school and struggle less than boys academically while, at the same time, falling far short of their potential and flying under the radar for referrals. By the middle and high school years, teenage girls often experience more apparent academic and social problems due to the increased demands and pressure to succeed.
What does a teenage girl with ADHD look like? The answer is; it depends on the girl. Some girls with ADHD may, in fact, be hyperactive and drawn to activities that are typically thought of as boyish. They tend to be disorganized, messy, rushers and risk takers, and tend to be viewed as undisciplined and unmotivated academically. Others fit into the daydreamer category. They are often shy and overlooked. Also, although they may appear to being paying attention, their minds are often elsewhere. The diagnosis of ADHD/Inattentive is an easy one to miss. These girls are quiet and not really bothering anyone, although they may be struggling tremendously internally. They tend to be anxious, self-critical and often appear depressed. Another form of ADHD seen in girls is a combination of both the hyperactive and inattentive types of ADHD, although these girls are often more hyper-talkative than hyperactive. Girls with a combined type diagnosis may present as active, excitable and emotional, have difficulty staying quiet in the classroom, interrupt others frequently and jump from topic to topic due to difficulty with organization of their thoughts. They tend to be risk-takers and often fall short of their potential academically.
Interestingly, teenage boys with ADHD tend to externalize their symptoms. They blame others for their poor grades, blame the stupid test they didn’t do well on, they act out and they act up. Boys with AHDH are usually difficult to ignore and are far more likely than girls to get the academic services and accommodations they need to succeed. Teenage girls, however, tend to be internalizers. They are more likely to blame themselves and turn their anger, frustration and pain inward. Without proper diagnosis, an understanding of how their unique brains work and without support for their skill deficits, every failure becomes evidence of their inadequacy. Girls often harbor feelings that they don’t belong, believe they are not smart enough, and view themselves quite simply as not being good enough. The price teenage girls with ADHD pay is far too often that of poor self-esteem, chronic stress, depression, anxiety and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. These feelings arise from the very nature of the disorder itself; disorganization, poor time management, chronic lateness, difficulty sustaining attention, weak emotional control, distractibility and generally poor executive skills. What do teenage girls with ADHD need to thrive? Knowledge and support. Knowledge becomes power as the true nature of the ADHD diagnosis is revealed and its power to impact all life areas is uncovered. This self-knowledge sets the stage for change and self-advocacy. Support is essential to the successful management of ADHD. Skills need to be developed and turned into habits. Negative mindsets need to be reset. Structure must be created to develop routines. A sense of resiliency and mindfulness must form. And, compassion and understanding must prevail within the self and within the environment. ADHD is different for girls, but while it may be more subtle and not fit the common male stereotype of ADHD, it is no less debilitating and much more emotionally devastating in females.
Parents, Silence your inner critics by Dianne Dempster
Gremlins – we all have them. What are they and why do they make or lives so miserable?
No, I’m not talking about our kids (though I’m sure we all have choice names for them at times.) Gremlins are those voices in our head that tell us, in one way or another, that we aren’t good enough. Some people refer to them as the inner-critic, or negative self-talk. No matter what you call them, they are troublesome at best, and for many people down-right paralyzing!
We tend to take on so much, and play so many roles. It’s hard to be a successful parent, partner, employee, boss, and friend. It’s even harder to play those roles well with a little voice in our heads that notices everything that doesn’t go as planned and tells us that things probably won’t work out anyway.
So where do these voices come from, and how do we get rid of them? (Or, do we?) Our gremlins (yes we typically have more than one!) usually come from some real or perceived threat we experienced in the past. Perhaps you wanted to be accepted to a group as a teen and found you had to behave in a certain way for inclusion. Or maybe you experienced a very embarrassing situation. Your gremlins are “trying to” protect you from future rejection and discomfort. The threat seems so real that the voices tend to over-generalize. They get involved in aspects of our lives where they aren’t needed.
So what can you do to keep gremlins from getting in the way?
1) Notice it:
Pay attention to situations when the voices show up.Is it with particular people? Are you trying something new? Is it when you are being particularly brave? What threat is the voice trying to protect you from? What message is it sending?
2) Name it:
Call it what it is. Say to yourself, “that’s my perfectionist gremlin” or “that’s the voice in my head that doesn’t want me to be embarrassed.” You might even choose to name it. (Mine is named “Roz,” and Elaine’s is named “Prudence.”)
3) Own it:
Acknowledge that sometimes there is real value in having an intuitive voice making sure that you are safe. You might even take a moment to be grateful.
Figure out if the voice is helping or hurting the current situation. Make a choice as to whether or not to listen. We have all had friends and family give us unsolicited or unwelcome advice that we have chosen to ignore. If the gremlin’s words are NOT helpful, don’t heed them. If you need to shut them up, try telling them, “ Thanks so much for sharing, but I’ve got this one covered!” Note: this may not make them go away, but typically can give us enough room to move forward and begin to regain momentum.
You may want to teach some of this “gremlin-talk” to your kids, too. Gremlins start creeping in at pretty young ages. Your kids are starting to create defenses that are valuable but can get in the way of forward progress and success. Remember these voices are a normal part of being human, and can definitely be helpful avoiding real threats. It’s just a matter of being aware enough to know when to listen, and when to tell them to “mind their own business.”