Category: ADHD - Child

Symposium

Behavioral Treatment for the Interpersonal Difficulties of Girls With ADHD

Saturday, November 18
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Aqua Salon C & D, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: ADHD - Child / Adolescent | Treatment Development | Gender
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background:Although Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has long been considered a male disorder, diagnosed more frequently in boys than in girls, it is now clear that a substantial number of girls meet criteria for the disorder and experience considerable academic and social impairments related to the disorder (Babinski & Waschbusch, 2015; CDC, 2015).  While these impairments are generally similar to those reported among boys with ADHD, mounting evidence suggests that girls may manifest more severe social impairment than boys with the disorder (Becker et al., 2013; Mikami & Lorenzi, 2011; Owens et al., 2009; Pelham & Bender, 1982).  In addition to being more disliked and rejected by peers, girls with ADHD also demonstrate higher rates of relational aggression, depression, low self-esteem, and body image problems, compared to boys with ADHD.  These problems are all related to a range of additional maladaptive outcomes, including academic underachievement, delinquency, and substance use (Greene et al., 2001; Blackman, Ostrander & Herman, 2005).  Thus, treatment addressing the social impairments of girls with ADHD is greatly needed.


Methods and Results:Two pilot studies of psychosocial intervention for girls with ADHD will be presented.  The first trial examines an eight week social skills intervention for girls ages 7-11 (n = 23) with concurrent parent management training.  The second trial examines a twelve week adolescent-directed group intervention for girls with ADHD (n = 22) that included three additional parent-adolescent meetings focused on interpersonal functioning at home.  Reductions in interpersonal impairment were demonstrated in both trials. Additional improvement in mood and anxiety symptoms, self-esteem, and borderline personality features were also demonstrated, although the magnitude of improvement was greater in the child versus adolescent treatment trial. 


Conclusions:These findings show that treatment for girls with ADHD is associated with improvements that are similar to those previously studied in predominantly male samples.  However, these studies of girls with ADHD also point to additional, potentially gender-specific, interpersonal difficulties that merit continued study with girls and boys with ADHD.  

Dara E. Babinski

Assistant Professor
Penn State College of Medicine

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