Disconnect between Young Women with ADHD and Education

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Nowadays it’s easier for a young woman to get her driver’s license than it is to be diagnosed with ADHD. In a story for Women’s eNews, Caitlin Morgante, a student struggling with ADHD, reports on the endless complications regarding misdiagnosis and a successful education. It is estimated that approximately four million women are currently living with this undiagnosed illness and find themselves struggling academically. Unfortunately, many think “only little boys have ADHD,” which creates a societal limitation on the outlook for females who are undiagnosed, yet suffering. This limitation is expressed through Morgante’s experiences, with misunderstandings about ADHD and the role it’s played in her education.

Throughout the US, women are limited in everyday tasks, specifically in the classroom. These limitations are a result of the preconceived notion that women are viewed to be organized, neat, and put together, even though they “often present symptoms of ADHD much later than their male counterparts,” according to Morgante. Consequently as girls progress in school, low test scores may be misconstrued as a result of laziness, when in reality they could be an indicator of ADHD. These discriminations increase the risk of restricting women from receiving the treatment they need and a conducive learning environment. Society tells women, “You can’t have ADHD, you’re smart,” even though young women such as Morgante are secretly suffering and feel isolated from their peers. This stereotypical environment makes women insecure as it leads to girls to question one’s self and grapple with how to handle the increasing pressure of the education system. Recognition of the symptoms and severity of this disease in young women will project a broader understanding hopefully equally the intellectual playing field for both men and women.

Thus, doctors will be able to prescribe students with ADHD with medication that will be “the most effective treatment for symptoms of ADHD.” Society neglects to distinguish between what is considered normal behavior and what could be indicators of ADHD. Mainstream news has deemed this issue irrelevant based on the premise that men are the primary ones affected by ADHD. Women should be held to the same standards as men; however, due to the stigma surrounding young women and the way they learn this is not the case. Acknowledging and understanding this disease has the potential of equalizing the way students learn in our society.

Source:  Caitlin Morgante, “What ADHD Looks Like, and What It Doesn’t,” Women’s eNews, October 2, 2017, http://womensenews.org/2017/10/what-adhd-looks-like -and-what-it-doesnt/.

Student Researchers: Eryn Adler, Brianna Ardila, Rachel Damian and Mackenzie Shibel (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)