Culture encourages girls and women to exhibit both traditional “feminine” qualities, such as being empathic, good with relationships, nice, obedient, good mothers, and home-organizers, as well as traditional “masculine” qualities, such as being assertive, competitive, academically driven, and career-focused. However, when girls display disruptive, hyperactive, impulsive, or disorganized behavior, they are at risk of harsher social judgment compared to their male counterparts because they violate the feminine societal norms. For starters, ADHD and resulting Executive Dysfunction in girls and women can turn their lives upside down and in an attempt to avoid social sanctions, many of them spend excessive amounts of energy trying to hide their challenges, which in turn go unnoticed and hence untreated.
On this episode, psychotherapist, consultant and author, Sari Solden, discusses why girls and women with ADHD get diagnosed much later than a typical child with ADHD and how best to help alleviate their personal shame and struggles with the unrelenting societal pressure of needing to “prove it to the world” that they are worthy to be given opportunities. An essential component of improving Executive Function skills is building self-knowledge and constructing a personal narrative of a wholesome self that recognizes the common humanity in all of our experiences. Instead of framing self-work or self-change as “fixing something that is broken”, the best therapeutic way to empower girls and women with ADHD is to help them invest in their own future-self.