top of page

Thriving in school and the workplace: ADHD support for girls and women.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neuro-developmental condition that affects people of all ages and genders. However, the manifestation and impact of ADHD can be significantly different in girls and young women. Traditionally, ADHD has been underdiagnosed in females, often because their symptoms differ from the stereotypical hyperactive behavior commonly associated with the disorder. Recognizing and addressing these differences is crucial in helping girls and young women with ADHD not just to cope but to thrive in school and the workplace.


Two school girls walking down stairs smiling

Understanding ADHD Support for Girls and Women

The first step in supporting girls and young women with ADHD is recognizing that their symptoms often present differently than in males. They might exhibit more inattentiveness, internalized symptoms like daydreaming, and less of the disruptive behavior typically seen in boys. This can lead to their struggles being overlooked or misinterpreted as a lack of effort or motivation.



In supporting girls and women with ADHD, several aspects should be addressed, including providing psychological empowerment, skills training, implementing educational strategies and workplace strategies, and knowing your work and educational rights.


Strategies for School and Home

  1. Structured and Organized Environment: A predictable routine and a well-organized classroom can help reduce distractions and provide stability.

  2. Social Skills Training: Girls with ADHD may struggle with social interactions. Providing social skills training and opportunities to practice these skills in a safe environment can be beneficial.

  3. Counseling and Support Services: Access to counseling services can help girls with ADHD deal with emotional and social challenges. This might include individual therapy, group therapy, or family therapy.

  4. Parent and Teacher Education: Educating parents and teachers about ADHD, particularly how it presents in girls, can lead to better support and understanding. Workshops, informational materials, and regular communication between school and home are essential.

  5. Academic Support: Tutoring, study skills training, and homework support can help address academic difficulties. Breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable parts can also be helpful.

  6. Incorporation of Interests and Strengths: Utilizing a girl's interests and strengths in the learning process can increase engagement and motivation.

  7. Physical Activity and Breaks: Regular physical activity and scheduled breaks can help manage energy levels and improve concentration.

  8. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques: Teaching mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and stress management can be beneficial in helping girls with ADHD to regulate their emotions and focus.

  9. Use of Technology and Assistive Tools: Technology like laptops, tablets, or specific software can aid in organization, note-taking, and learning.

  10. Peer Support and Mentoring: Connecting girls with ADHD to peers or mentors who understand their challenges can provide valuable support and encouragement.

  11. Modifying Teaching Styles: Teachers can adopt teaching styles that are more interactive and engaging, with a mix of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities to cater to different learning preferences.

  12. Regular Monitoring and Adjustments: Regularly monitoring the progress of students and being open to adjusting strategies as needed is important for ongoing support.


Workplace Strategies

  1. Work Environment Adjustments: In the workplace, it’s helpful to have a structured environment with clear expectations and minimal distractions. Open communication with supervisors about ADHD and its challenges can lead to beneficial adjustments.

  2. Time Management Skills: Learning to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively is crucial. This might include using digital tools for reminders or breaking down projects into smaller, manageable parts.

  3. Building a Support Network: Networking with others who have ADHD can provide valuable support and strategies. Mentorship programs can also be beneficial in navigating career development.


Embracing Strengths

Girls and young women with ADHD often have unique strengths, such as creativity, empathy, and the ability to think outside the box. Encouraging these strengths and interests can lead to individuals excelling in areas they are passionate about, both academically and professionally. Psychotherapy can help individuals to identify the strengths that they see within themselves, or recognise the unique and incredible attributes that may be harder see when experiencing low self-esteem.


A school girl leaning on her book and looking thoughtfully away


Knowing Your Rights

In Australia, individuals with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are protected under various laws and regulations that ensure their educational and work rights. These rights are primarily centered around non-discrimination, reasonable adjustments, and support to help individuals thrive in educational and work environments. Here's an overview:


Educational Rights

  1. Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth): This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their disability in various areas of public life, including education. Schools, universities, and other educational institutions must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate students with ADHD.

  2. Education Standards under the Disability Discrimination Act: These standards require educational institutions to ensure that students with disabilities, including ADHD, have the same rights and opportunities as other students. This includes adjustments in teaching methods, assessment procedures, and providing extra support where needed.

  3. Individualized Support Plans: Many educational institutions develop personalized learning and support plans for students with ADHD. These plans often include strategies tailored to the student's specific needs, such as additional time for tests, breaks during classes, or the provision of assistive technology.


Work Rights

  1. Fair Work Act 2009: This Act includes provisions to protect employees with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate employees with ADHD, as long as these adjustments do not cause unjustifiable hardship to the business.

  2. Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace: These can include flexible working hours, changes to work environment or job duties, provision of specialized equipment or software, and allowing for additional breaks if needed.

  3. Support and Advocacy: There are various organizations and services in Australia that offer support, advice, and advocacy for people with ADHD in the workplace. This can include helping with understanding rights, negotiating adjustments with employers, and providing career advice.

  4. JobAccess: This is a government service that provides advice and financial support for people with disability, including ADHD, in the workplace. It offers help with getting a job, as well as support for employers to make workplaces more accessible.


Key Points to Remember

  • The focus is on providing equal opportunities and access to education and employment for people with ADHD.

  • Reasonable adjustments are a cornerstone of these rights, ensuring that individuals with ADHD can participate fully in education and work.

  • Awareness and understanding of ADHD in both educational and workplace settings are crucial for effective implementation of these rights.


It's important for individuals with ADHD, their families, and employers/educators to be aware of these rights and how they can be applied. Additionally, staying informed about any changes or updates to legislation and policies is beneficial.


Conclusion

Understanding and support are key in helping girls and young women with ADHD. With the right strategies and accommodations, neurodiverse individuals can not only cope but thrive in school and the workplace. It’s about changing the narrative from focusing on limitations to building self-esteem, celebrating strengths and nurturing potential. Remember, ADHD does not define a person; it’s just a part of the diverse tapestry that makes up an individual's unique and wonderful self.


Where to from here?

At Sentient Professional Wellbeing, some of our experienced and dedicated therapists are well-versed in supporting individuals experiencing issues related to ADHD. Our specialised professionals are committed to providing support and guidance to navigate the challenges associated with ADHD, and will work with you to uncover your goals and build your strengths. With our respectful and empathetic approach, we aim to help liberate individuals from self-blame, empowering them to embark on a journey towards lives that are more fulfilling and satisfying.


For more information, or to book an appointment with a specialised therapist for ADHD and neurodivergence support, please click below and visit our therapist's profiles:


bronwyn andersen, a general psychologist





                   



Rhiannon Derrig, a psychosexual therapist






Comments


bottom of page