How to Identify ADHD Symptoms in Boys and Girls

April 11, 2019

boy and girl outside

When you think of ADHD, you might picture a rambunctious young boy bouncing off the walls. This image has become the stereotypical face of ADHD. The problem is, it’s a very narrow view of the complex condition. A lot of people may not know that there are actually three categories of ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive, Inattentive, and a combination of the two.

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD tends to get most of the attention, probably because it can sometimes be hard to not notice. Hyperactivity and impulsivity are traits that can turn some heads, but they’re actually only part of the symptoms.

Symptoms of Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD include:

*According to the DSM 5

  • fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
  • leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (at school or during dinnertime)
  • runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless)
  • unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”
  • talks excessively
  • blurts out an answer before a question has been completed
  • has trouble waiting his/her turn
  • interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

Even though that image of a young boy bouncing off the walls may be a stereotype, there are some reasons why this picture might come to mind in the first place.

Diagnosis in Boys and Girls

Boys are about three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and the vast majority of those diagnoses take the Hyperactive-Impulsive form.

Even though girls are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, when they are, they tend to take the Inattentive form. Due to its more under-the-radar appearance though, it can be easier to miss, leaving many women and girls to live with undiagnosed ADHD.

Symptoms of Inattentive ADHD include:

*According to the DSM 5

  • fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities
  • has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities
  • does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked)
  • has trouble organizing tasks and activities
  • avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework)
  • loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones)
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities

Symptoms of Combination ADHD and Complications

Complicating things further, some people have a mixture of both types of symptoms. The Combination form of ADHD is classified as someone with both Hyperactive-Impulsive symptoms, as well as Inattentive symptoms. There’s no doubt that it can be difficult as a parent or teacher to hone into all these possible symptoms, but it’s important to be aware of all the different forms that ADHD can take.

Due to the variables in the way ADHD manifests, children can be misdiagnosed. For example, anxiety sometimes looks like ADHD when you look at a list of symptoms. Another concern is labeling kids as “lazy” or “unmotivated.” Kids with Inattentive ADHD tend to be especially prone to this because they may appear more “daydream-y” or “zoned out” than others.

These missteps can have a severe negative impact on a child – no one wants to be called lazy when you’re trying your hardest or be on a treatment regimen for the wrong condition. It can be a setup for failure, misdiagnosis, the development of coexisting conditions, and other complications.

Since we all want what’s best for our kids, it’s important to stay tuned in to their behaviors. If your child is showing some of the symptoms listed above, pay attention and see if you notice any patterns. This could be the first step to uncovering an underlying cause.

If you’d like to learn more about Neurocore’s med-free ADHD program, give us a call at 800.600.4096 – we’d be happy to chat and see if our program may be a good fit for you or your child.

Boyles, Salynn. (2004, September 15). Study Confirms ADHD Is More Common in Boys; Parental Education Level Also Associated With Risk. Retrieved from
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