A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living Well with ADHD by Sonia AliBack
A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living Well with ADHD
By Sonia Ali, Whitefield Academy Trust Professional Development Services
Statistically, girls with ADHD experience higher rates of anxiety and depression than boys with ADHD or girls without ADHD. Whilst by no means true in every case, girls with ADHD also tend to have lower self-esteem. Why?
It is still the case that boys with ADHD are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed before the age of 12. This may be because ADHD is commonly associated with young boys who are visibly hyperactive whilst many girls do not fit this template. Girls with ADHD may be less obviously hyperactive to those around them and instead, may be chatty or daydream in class. Often, girls with ADHD describe an internalised hyperactivity – a mind that is constantly restless, busy and noisy. This presentation may be less obvious in the classroom and instead girls with ADHD will be told to ‘try harder’ or ‘focus’. Girls often try harder to meet external expectations in school and many girls with ADHD become overwhelmed trying to do this.
A delay in diagnosis means that many girls with ADHD do not receive the right support as they grow up and deal with all the challenges being a teenager presents. Through my work as an advisory teacher for SENDsuccess, Whitefield Academy Trust, I noticed that more girls with a profile of ADHD were being referred for advisory support. Whilst the right input in school from staff and teachers can make a huge difference, I also wanted to be able to signpost girls to resources which would improve their self-confidence and sense of worth.
Not many published resources seemed to address the experience of teen girls with ADHD, so during Lockdown, I set to work on writing A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living Well with ADHD. Drawing on my experiences as a SEND teacher, the book seeks to be a self-affirming guide that will increase a teenage girl’s knowledge about ADHD and empower her in daily life. The chapters are full of tips and tricks to help girls better manage their time, harness their creativity, energy and enthusiasm and make more time for things they enjoy. I’ve also included a number of reflection activities and quizzes designed to help girls understand themselves better and learn strategies on how to manage the intense emotions of rejection sensitivity.
So far, the feedback I have received from both girls and their parents has been very positive. Girls have been able to relate to the book and pick up practical tips and approaches that will help them develop greater self knowledge and skills to navigate their way through adolescence and into adult life. Successful adult lives are built on emotional well being and good self-acceptance for which the foundations of both are laid during our teenage years. It is therefore vital that girls with ADHD are given the tools to understand and celebrate who they are.
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, The Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living Well with ADHD is available in all good bookshops.