Within the last few days, I’ve become connected with Beth of Smart Girls with ADHD.

And let me say… I LOVE THIS.

People with ADHD are usually creative, idea generators, outside-the-box thinkers, and… yes, SMART!

The hard part is, often, we don’t feel like we’re smart. I sometimes feel like all of the awesome associated with having ADHD has been overshadowed by the struggles I experience because of ADHD. I’ve said it many times: I am relieved I can explain some of my quirks through disclosing my ADHD… but, in no way do I wish to become defined by it—nor do I want to use it as an excuse. ADHD is a part of me—I’m okay with talking about it, self advocating: I say it frequently on #LDchat: put it in terms people understand, in context. Situation + adaptation.

“I have ADHD[/learning issues], and [in x situation], I may need [y adaptation].”

I have ADHD and learning issues, and when learning a new skill, I may need the steps written down.

I have ADHD, and in a long lecture, I may need to quietly slip out to go do a few flights of stairs.

I have ADHD, and it helps me to study with earphones in so I can block out the external noise and focus on only one source of sound—yes, seriously.

I have learning issues, so if you can provide visual information to me in words, this works a lot better for me.

I have ADHD, and I sometimes get overwhelmed in large group conversations. I may need to ask for clarification. I have processing speed issues, so sometimes I need to jump back a few bullet points to catch up.

I have learning issues affecting my visual memory—this makes me terrible at names, so please remind me of yours and I’ll keep trying!

I will keep trying.

Another real life story:
A few weeks ago, I went into work, and was told we didn’t have a paper schedule for the tennis matches for the day. I usually use my paper schedule to write down court numbers and check in players so all the information is right in front of me, but I figured it was a good learning opportunity to try to be efficient using the computer. I did okay but struggled a bit. The next day, I opted to print my own schedule of the matches (to alter!) to help keep me organized—except, I failed to cross-check with the computer, and told a doubles team to come at the wrong time as based on my paper schedule. Let’s say their opponents weren’t impressed, but thankfully didn’t ream me out!

That’s when it’s hard: when I try my hardest to be smart. To work with it. To work with what I know is a challenge for me, and then I still mess up.

Yet, being diagnosed with ADHD was what taught me I am not stupid. As a girl with ADHD, I don’t present the same way as boys do: I’m not necessarily hyper—or not hyper in the same ways; I’m not loud when I’m not supposed to be; I can often sit for long periods of time—sometimes I can be lucky enough to hyperfocus when it’s opportune. But just because it doesn’t look like what people perceive ADHD as, doesn’t mean I don’t have it. Just because people see me as smart, just because I seem to be doing well, just because, because, BECAUSE… doesn’t mean anything. I compensate to make things work—sometimes I don’t even think about it—but I put more effort into a LOT of things than people would ever guess to make it look like I’ve got it together.

It took my ADHD diagnosis to realize I’m not stupid.

To phrase that again:

Being diagnosed with ADHD taught me I am smart.

And I will keep trying.


Thanks to Beth for making me an admin of the Smart Girls with ADHD Facebook group. If you’re a woman with ADHD, I hope you’ll join us!

2 thoughts on “smart girls with adhd (and a story)

  1. Hi Kerri. Nice to read this. I am glad to read that girls present differently than boys, but I wonder about this. My son diagnosed in the 90s with ADHD Without Hyperactivity, nearly certain he fell through the cracks, but I refused to let him. He is a college grad now with two degrees, and never ceases to amaze me. Having worked in the schools as an OT, I never see girls with ADHD on my caseload. I have looked for them too. It seems the girls on the autism spectrum or sensory issues show up, but never pure ADHD like the boys do. I am heartened to hear your strong voice and persona come through to advocate for the girls with ADHD! You keep doing what you do!

    1. It’s all of us non hyper people who fall through, I think! Girls are just much more likely to manifest as non-hyperactive ADHDers. I hope that soon the perception of who needs to be assessed for ADHD changes, and that kids [and adults] are assessed more thoroughly before just being thrown on medication. Meds have been amazing for me, BUT, as an adult, it is my choice–plus being unable to afford therapy and not having insurance, it’s a partial solution for now! 🙂

      I’m working with a middle-years autism camp for a week this summer, and we only have one girl on our camper list–I am guessing that girls are less likely to have autism than boys, but I’m curious now if they are just likely to manifest differently and not be identified, or be identified later? Curious.

      Great to hear your feedback, as always :). <3

Leave a Reply