According to Sarah D. Sparks on edweek.org, researchers are exploring ways to better identify students with attention deficit disorer who are not necessarily disruptive in class.
Evolving research on attention deficit disorders is going beyond the typical hyperactive, disruptive child to find ways to better identify the quietly drifting student, as new screening tools and cognitive therapies seek to help both types of students.
Children with attention deficit disorders are impulsive, and often exhibit developmental delays in balance, motor control, emotional regulation, and behavior. They frequently show difficulty concentrating, sitting still in class, and otherwise acting in age-appropriate ways.
Known formally as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, the condition affects 5 percent to 8 percent of American children of both sexes, making it one of the most common childhood disorders. So why are boys diagnosed three times as often as girls? The answer, in part, is that experts find girls with attention deficits are more likely to be considered inattentive rather than hyperactive, leading to fewer of the classroom disruptions that can trigger a teacher referral.
Studies show students with inattentive, but not necessarily hyperactive, ADD tend to be older when they are diagnosed, yet girls in particular can develop more cognitive difficulties later on, even in areas of ability typically considered strong for girls.
One 2010 study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that of the 5,000 Minnesota students ages 19 and younger studied, 51 percent of boys and 46.7 percent of girls with ADHD had reading disabilities, compared with only 14.5 percent of boys and 7.7 percent of girls who were typically developing. That finding was of particular concern because girls tend to have lower instances of reading problems overall.
In addition, separate studies have shown girls with attention deficits are at higher risk of eating disorders, self-cutting, substance abuse, and suicide than typically developing girls or even boys with ADHD.