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Girls and ADHD: Why the Disorder Looks so Different in Girls and Boys

November 25th, 2013

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is often associated with behavioral problems such as acting impulsively or disruptively. It is also diagnosed in boys three times more frequently than in girls. While the disorder does affect girls, symptoms may be harder to identify.

According to experts, the symptoms of ADHD are actually identical for boys and girls, but they often manifest differently. The symptoms include issues with concentration, attention and focus. The difference is that girls are more likely to attempt to hide their difficulties. While a boy with ADHD may be hyperactive, a girl with ADHD may be withdrawn. Girls with ADHD may try to avoid letting anyone know that they are distracted or not paying attention. Such behavior is often interpreted simply as shyness and is not readily associated with ADHD.

For girls, ADHD is also often connected to self-esteem issues. A girl who has trouble paying attention in school may say she is not as smart as the other children or that she does not like going to school. While her difficulties with concentration may be reflected in her school performance, ADHD is often not suspected simply because the girl is not disruptive but is instead withdrawn.

Another type of behavior that may be connected to ADHD is perfectionism. Girls with attention issues may try to hide their symptoms and control their world by engaging in the type of over-organization behavior more commonly associated with obsessive compulsive disorder.

If a parent suspects a daughter may have ADHD, a good first step is to talk to her teachers about how she compares to other girls her age. Further insight can be gained by talking with a school psychologist, school nurse, or pediatrician.


Funding Helps Inclusion Education For Special Needs Students

October 11th, 2012

As part of the overhaul process of special education in New York City public schools, one of the goals is increased student inclusion, both in individual schools and system-wide. Though inclusive classroom placement for students with disabilities has been the national education policy for some ten years, in New York City public schools, of the approximately 165,000 students with disabilities, some 40 percent of them currently spend all or most of their school day in separate classes from students without disabilities.

According to numerous studies, children with disabilities who are educated with their peers without disabilities in inclusive classrooms show a variety of academic gains, including mastery of  IEP goals, improved standardized test performance, increased motivation, and better on-task behaviors. [1]  In contrast, students with disabilities who are educated in separate classes show a graduation rate of 5 percent, which is far below the citywide overall graduation rate of 65 percent.

Now, as part of the overhaul process, New York City schools will begin incorporating students into inclusive classrooms for grades kindergarten, sixth and ninth. Administrators, including principals, teachers and aids, have been training to work with all levels of learners, their families, and individualized education plans (I.E.P.s), and teachers with special needs students in their classrooms. [2]

Prior to 2012, rather than have every school able to accommodate every student,  New York City students with special needs would often be transferred from their neighborhood school, or even their district school, to attend a school with special needs services in place. These reform plans are one part of a push to comply with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 for all 1,700 New York public schools. And while advocates and parents have been working for a broader acceptance of students with special needs in the public school system, some have voiced concern that mainstream educators do not have the necessary resources and training to meet students’ needs effectively, and that some special needs students will be placed in inclusive classrooms when they would be better served working with education specialists. [3]

This past May, The Panel for Education Policy voted to alter New York city’s financing formula to help restructure the city’s special education program by allotting money to the students rather than to special education classes. [4]

For more information, visit our website at www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

  1. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.incls.rsrch.whitbread.htm
  2. http://schoolbook.org/2012/05/24/city-panel-approves-special-education-inclusion-plan
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/08/09/special-ed-reform-brings-city-more-in-line-with-national-trend/
  4. http://eservices.nysed.gov/sepubrep/
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