ADHD | Mental Health

21 Subtle Signs Of Undiagnosed ADHD In Girls

Surprising Hidden Symptoms Of ADHD In Girls You Might Miss

Som Dutt ☯
Psychology Simplified
17 min readMay 28, 2024

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21 Subtle Signs Of Undiagnosed ADHD In Girls-by “Som Dutt” on Medium https://medium.com/@somdutt777
Credit: Photo by Ron Lach: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-teenage-girls-laying-on-grass-and-playing-telephone-call-using-paper-cups-on-string-10601908/

When we hear about ADHD, it is more likely we think about a 5–8 year old young boy. According to the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada, 75% of girls with ADHD never get diagnosed. Boys are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.

Most of the research on ADHD is gender biased and focused on boys. Therefore boys get diagnosed with better precision because it was a big misbelief that ADHD is only found in boys.

“Sensitive people usually love deeply and hate deeply. They don’t know any other way to live than by extremes because thier emotional theromastat is broken.”
― Shannon L. Alder

However, girls are usually diagnosed with it at the age of 12 while boys are at the age of 5. ADHD manifests in girls in different ways. Girls do not have all the symptoms of ADHD therefore, ADHD in them becomes difficult to identify.

In many cases, girls often show less “hyperactive” symptoms than boys. They also show less aggression and anger as compared to boys.

In schools, the girls with undiagnosed ADHD are less expressive. They do not show disruptive behaviors like boys. Even if they have undiagnosed ADHD, they will try to remain calm in the class. They try to blame themselves for their uncommon behavior.

If girls remain undiagnosed they are more likely to develop eating disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide attempts.

Because ADHD signs in girls are very subtle therefore it becomes important for us to understand these 21 signs so that we can help them in the early stage and in a better way.

1. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Find It Challenging To Sustain Attention And Focus

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD often encounter multiple thoughts at once. Therefore, they cannot focus on one activity at a time. They quickly move from one activity to another without completing the first one.

“A person with ADHD has the power of a Ferrari engine but with bicycle-strength brakes. It’s the mismatch of engine power to braking capability that causes the problems. Strengthening one’s brakes is the name of the game.”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

For example:

If you give her to do her homework or memorize some notes and leave her alone for 1 hour. She will end up staring at the window after 10-20 minutes of study.

Her thought process makes her not give her full attention to studying.

Photo by Edi Libedinsky on Unsplash

2. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Often Miss Deadlines

They can easily forget important dates and events. If they have to complete an assignment and the deadline is very close, they will think that they still have many days remaining.

“it helps to think of ADHD as a complex set of contradictory or paradoxical tendencies: a lack of focus combined with an ability to superfocus; a lack of direction combined with highly directed entrepreneurialism; a tendency to procrastinate combined with a knack for getting a week’s worth of work done in two hours; impulsive, wrongheaded decision making combined with inventive, out-of-the-blue problem solving; interpersonal cluelessness combined with uncanny intuition and empathy; the list goes on.”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

Her mind deceives and tricks them into delaying the important tasks. When the deadlines are very near, they can stress out and feel overwhelmed. They lose all motivation to do the required work.

3. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Experience Difficulties With Social Interactions

They often lack wisdom on how to become friends with others. Most of the time, they feel left out in social gatherings and group activities.

“People with ADHD — at any age — often possess intellectual effervescence. Unfortunately, this natural sparkle can be snuffed out by years of criticism, reprimands, redirection, lack of appreciation, and repeated disappointments, frustrations, and outright failures.”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

They can become a little annoying during the conversations because they can interrupt others right away without waiting much. They are not very sure how to become a part of the new group. They struggle to fit in.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

4. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Often Fail To Adhere To Instructions

They do not like to follow orders. They might mess up while following instructions. They can miss 2–3 steps while following instructions. Their educators or parents have to put extra effort into reminding them of instructions.

Photo by Tommy van Kessel on Unsplash

They get confused following instructions and ask you again even for simple steps. They are often prone to miss our details.

“No brain is the same. No brain is the best. Each brain finds its own special way. — From a poem written by Edward Hallowell to his five-year-old daughter”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

For example:

She has started doing her homework for different subjects but ends up leaving 1–2 subjects or assignments without realizing it. And think they have finished all homework and assignments.

5. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Commonly Misplace And Forget Items Such As Textbooks, Keys, Or Academic Assignments

They struggle to keep track of their stuff. They lose important stuff like pencils, books, and lunch boxes at home. They can also forget to submit their assignments on time.

Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash

They often forget to do homework at school. They can suddenly remember the important test the very night before it happens.

“Another, less polite way of saying it: People with attention issues tend to have acute bullshit detectors. We hate hypocrisy maybe more than any other human failing, and we can spot it a mile away.”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

6. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Require More Time To Understand Information And Instructions, Appearing As If They Are Not Listening

When you instruct or teach them something important, they look like they are lost or not paying attention to anything but they take longer time to process all the pieces of information.

“We often explain ADHD to children using a very simple analogy that certainly resonates with adults, too: A person with ADHD has the power of a Ferrari engine but with bicycle-strength brakes. It’s the mismatch of engine power to braking capability that causes the problems. Strengthening one’s brakes is the name of the game.”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

You need to repeat the instructions because it do not make sense to them for the first time. They can ask their friends what you are saying or what they are supposed to do.

7. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Are Prone To Making Inattentive Errors In Their Academic Work

They are more prone to make silly mistakes in exams and homework. They think they have finished the math assignment but added numbers wrong because missed the important steps.

Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence on Unsplash

It’s like cooking the food but forgetting to add salt. It’s like solving a puzzle but using the wrong pieces.

“helps to think of ADHD as a complex set of contradictory or paradoxical tendencies: a lack of focus combined with an ability to superfocus; a lack of direction combined with highly directed entrepreneurialism; a tendency to procrastinate combined with a knack for getting a week’s worth of work done in two hours; impulsive, wrongheaded decision making combined with inventive, out-of-the-blue problem solving; interpersonal cluelessness combined with uncanny intuition and empathy; the list goes on.”
― Edward M. Hallowell, ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

For example:

During the exam, she can end up writing the wrong answer because she had read the question wrong.

She can read the full chapter fast but does not remember most of the story because she always misses the details

8. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Are Often Lost In Daydreams, Detached From The Surrounding Reality

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD are habitual of daydreaming. They do it subconsciously. They start imagining things within a few hours. It’s like they are eating dinner but thinking about watching the TV show.

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

They can be easily labeled as careless, lazy, and arrogant but they do not do this on purpose. Their imaginative brains make them more creative. But their mind is also responsible for making daily activities harder.

“If we weren’t so dreamy and curious we could stay on track and never get distracted.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

9. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Exhibit Verbal Impulsivity, Interrupting, And Speaking Out Of Turn Without Consideration

Their conversations with friends are of longer duration because they love to talk a lot. They even do not wait for their turn to talk. They often interrupt others while they are speaking.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

They think impulsively. They do not think much before speaking. They can answer their teacher’s questions even before they finish asking it. They can answer a question aloud without raising their hand.

“ADHD” is a term that describes a way of being in the world. It is neither entirely a disorder nor entirely an asset. It is an array of traits specific to a unique kind of mind. It can become a distinct advantage or an abiding curse, depending on how a person manages it.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

It becomes really hard for them to wait when they want to talk. They are impatient and cannot wait for the right moment. Their brain pushes them to talk right now.

10. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Demonstrate Disorganization And Untidiness In Appearance And Their Environments

They struggle in their self-care routine. They cannot keep things neat. Their clothes can smell bad. Their hair looks disorganized. Things in their bedroom look messy.

Photo by Fahri ramdani on Unsplash

Their books, pens, pencils, and notebooks can be scattered in the room. They can start cleaning their room and organizing stuff but end up doing only half of it and leave the rest in the middle.

“They think along unusual lines and feel a persistent drive to build, develop, or create something, anything, from a business to a boat to a book to a balustrade. It’s like an omnipresent itch to make something. If that itch goes unscratched, we tend to feel listless or depressed, unmotivated and at sea. If we pour our energies into something that is beneath our creative abilities, we tend to lose interest. Remember, boredom = kryptonite. If we find ourselves in a job that doesn’t draw on that creative strength but instead demands a skill set we just don’t have, we will falter — and we’ll feel the crush of that defeat harder than others do.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

11. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Exhibit A Lack Of Apparent Effort

They easily get bored and lose focus in doing tasks. Therefore, they can look like they do not care but their mind does not let them focus on things that require the most attention.

“Most people with ADHD or VAST have low scores in Fact Finder (which does not mean bad; there are no bad scores on a Kolbe test) because their natural talent lies in their ability to cut to the chase and summarize information instead of digging into details.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

They can start any activity with lots of motivation. But they leave them in the middle.

12. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Don’t Seem Motivated

They have to push themselves hard to do any activity as compared to others. They easily get bored doing any activity.

Their lack of interest in things can leave their parents and teachers confused.

“It’s a funny thing about those of us who have ADHD. We want what others avoid. We like problems. We need the difficult. That’s because easy is boring. We need the stimulation of intense challenge. But as we’ve said, a challenge undertaken just for the sake of a challenge can be counterproductive at best, self-defeating at worst.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

Photo by Susie Ho on Unsplash

For example:

A girl is very passionate about learning dance. Her only dream is to become a great dancer. However, because of her ADHD, she cannot focus on practicing dance.

She can have many reasons to become a dancer. However, she is not getting enough courage to show up daily for the practice session. Her biggest challenge is to deal with the hard work of practicing dance moves.

13. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Are Often Forgetful

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD often forget things as compared to typical girls. Their brain is biologically designed to forget things. They do not only forget small things but they also forget big things.

“We also know that ADHD can crop up for the first time in adulthood. This often happens when the demands of life exceed the person’s ability to deal with them. Classic examples are when a woman has her first baby or when a student starts medical school. In both instances the organizational demands of daily life skyrocket and the person shows the symptoms of ADHD that he or she had been able to compensate for in the past. It is then that ADHD can and should be diagnosed. Indeed, adult-onset ADHD is a recognized condition in the big book of psychiatric disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5).”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

They forget where they have placed their important things like homework notebooks and class assignments. They also forget their best friend’s birthday date.

14. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Are Acutely Sensitive To Sensory Inputs Such As Sounds, Textures, Tastes, And Emotional Stimuli

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD are very sensitive to external emotional stimuli. They often react more than others to hearing, touch, taste, smell, texture, and emotional outbursts.

Photo by Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash

They can get upset by hearing and seeing some bad news on the TV or in the newspaper. They can feel bad after watching any emotional scene on the screen or in the theater. They can avoid eating certain foods or meals just because of their textures and smell.

“ADHD” is a term that describes a way of being in the world. It is neither entirely a disorder nor entirely an asset. It is an array of traits specific to a unique kind of mind. It can become a distinct advantage or an abiding curse, depending on how a person manages”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

They can avoid wearing a certain dress because they feel bad about their skin. They are many selective when it comes to emotional stimuli. Their brains process emotional input differently than others.

They also avoid getting into the relationship because of their past heartbreaks.

15. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Often Engage In Excessive Talking, Struggling With Active Listening

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD find it hard to listen to others. Whenever they start talking they can talk for hours nonstop. During the conversations, they can easily jump from one topic to another without completing the first.

“Creating comfortable, positively connected environments is the most important step in helping people of all ages get the most out of life in general; the lack of connection particularly hurts people who have ADHD.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

They may feel bored and distracted while listening to others. They can ask repeatedly about what they have just discussed. That is why they struggle to make friends and people try to avoid them because they are bad listeners. Their mind is very active and can come up with many ideas at once that stops them from listening to others.

People can easily label them rude because they are never listening to other’s stories patiently.

16. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Hyperreactivity (Display Intense Emotional Reactions)

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD always express big and intense emotions. Small problems in their life make them huge. They can even cry over forgetting their lunch box at home or a broken pencil.

Photo by Artem Nedzelskiy on Unsplash

They often encounter strong mood swings. They might be happy and the next minute they might be angry or sad. They cannot tolerate even constructive criticism. They take criticism very seriously and feel it is very harsh.

“perfectly describe how many children with ADHD feel in classrooms and adults with ADHD feel in the adult world. Misunderstood, alienated, left out, on the outside looking in.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

17. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Frequently Switch Their Focus Between Activities Without Completion

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD start every new task with lots of motivation and excitement. They can even start multiple tasks at once with the same energy. But things become boring to them when they actually invest some serious time in them.

“people who act as if they have ADHD but on close inspection turn out not to have the diagnosable condition. These are the people who have ADHD-like symptoms caused by the conditions of modern life. Their “ADHD” is a response to the massive increase in stimuli that now bombard our brains and our world.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

They always end up with many incomplete tasks and projects. It can be half-done artwork and room cleaning. They often lose their interest very fast.

Sometimes they even forget what they were planning to do. It’s not because they are lazy but their minds jump to the next idea and project too fast.

18. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Might Often Slam Their Doors Shut

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD might often process their anger differently therefore they can slam their doors shut when they are upset. At that time, they are not just mad but they do not know how to process and deal with such negative emotions.

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

They are usually overwhelmed by negative emotions therefore, slamming the door is just their way of realizing frustration instantly. They always feel communication struggles to express such emotions therefore they avoid discussing them.

“Those of us with ADHD are usually pretty sensitive, so we begin to put up defenses, and before you know it we’re loners, being teased, put off, or, if we’re adults, not climbing the ladder, and people are wondering why, and not in a helpful way.”
― Edward M. Hallowell,
ADHD 2.0 : New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction — From Childhood Through Adulthood

19. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Experience Difficulties With Punctuality (Poor Time Management)

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD always show bad time management. It is not because they do not value their time and do not care about it. But because they hard to judge time and managing it feels tough for them.

“Procrastination is not Laziness”, I tell him. “It is fear. Call it by its right name, and forgive yourself.”
― Julia Cameron,
The Prosperous Heart

To them, 30 minutes seems like 20 minutes. They cannot accurately feel how slow and fast the time is moving. Most of the time they get late while dressing up.

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

They can forget stuff while dressing up and get lost in the tasks. People think they do it on purpose and they are lazy but in reality, they struggle to do things on time.

20. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Prone To Becoming Easily Distressed

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD process and take negative emotions too seriously. They can become upset and angry more often than you expect. They always feel and express negative emotions differently than typical girls.

Photo by Derek Owens on Unsplash

They can be easily seen crying. Small losses and problems seem huge to them. They are very imaginative and do daydreaming therefore they also become anxious about future negative events.

“The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways”
― Russel Barkley

They suffer more in their imaginations. Their feelings are real.

21. Girls With Undiagnosed ADHD Often Exhibit Introverted And Shy Behavior

Girls with undiagnosed ADHD often seem very quiet. They avoid joining new groups and take longer time to talk with others. They are not sure how to act out among new people.

They also struggle to understand social rules. The good thing about girls with undiagnosed ADHD is they are very imaginative, creative, and introverted which makes them excess in art and creative work.

“Taken together, it’s almost a sure sign. The letters float off the page when you read, right? That’s because your mind is hardwired for ancient Greek. And the ADHD-you’re impulsive, can’t sit still in the classroom. That’s your battlefield reflexes. In a real fight, they’d keep you alive. As for the attention problems, that’s because you see too much, Percy, not too little. Your senses are better than a regular mortal’s.”
― Rick Riordan,
The Lightning Thief

They show huge interest in unique thoughts, ideas, and work. They can get lost in their thoughts for hours. They feel super uncomfortable around new people. They struggle to start conversations with new people. That is why they always have 2–3 close friends not more. They cannot become a part of a big group.

Note: Harlyn Hannah gave me the idea for this post in one of my recent post’s comments. I am very thankful to her.

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Som Dutt ☯
Psychology Simplified

Top writer in Philosophy & Psychology Since 2021. I make people Think, Relate, Feel & Move. For My Detailed Long Essays visit — https://embraceinnerchaos.com