Smart Girls with ADHD

ADHD isn't one-size-fits-all

Think Before You Speak: What Does That Even Mean?

Guest BlogsNikki Schwartz, LPC4 Comments

Growing up I was uber excited on the first day of school. The year this was taken, I had made friends with at least 10 people in my 5th grade class on the first day of school. Everyone seemed to like me. I was funny. I made them laugh. I had cool ideas.

Fast forward, two weeks. I found myself outcast by most of the kids in my class. The boy who liked me on that first day, now made fun of me mercilessly. The girls didn’t seem interested in being my friends any longer.

By mid-year I had a small group of friends, mostly outside of my class, but was definitely not well-liked by the cool kids. And it continued that way through high school and most of college.

When I was growing up, girls didn’t really get diagnosed with ADHD.  Everyone just thought I was talkative and liked to be the center of attention. Which wasn’t not true. Later, though, I learned from a brain scan, that talking appeared to be how my brain activated my prefrontal cortex. In normal-people terms, that means talking helped me focus.

Looking back, I think I was the girl who talked a little (or a lot) too much, a little too loudly.


Years later, in college, I read a study about girls with ADHD in a summer program. I went on to read many studies authored by Stephen Hinshaw. He found that girls with ADHD were universally rejected by their peers, especially by their female peers. He also noted that aggressive, depressed or anxious behavior seemed to have the worst effect on these interactions (Mikami & Hinshaw, 2003).

Ahhh… now that made sense. You remember the confused baby from the top of the post? That sentence, “Think before you speak”, was often said to me. I promise you, I did not even understand what that meant until I was almost 20.  But… even then, I still didn’t know how to do it.



In grad school (no, unfortunately, I still hadn’t completely learned how to think before I spoke), I realized something grand. Something totally great. All of the class clowns, the fun kids, the ones who were not nice to me… they had either grown up or dropped out of academia all together.

This left a humongous vacuum waiting to be filled by, you guessed it, Miss Can’t Think Before She Speaks. I realized that I could make the class (and usually the professor) laugh. I could crack jokes and people actually thought I was funny, except the ones who thought I was annoying.

You know, people who realize they are paying $1800 a class and feel very strongly they need to get their money’s worth? Yeah… they didn’t think I was funny.

I was finally diagnosed during my first year of grad school and the world started to make a little more sense.  I have learned now, most of the time, to speak before I listen.  Err, I mean think before I speak.


But more importantly, this girl has learned, that she is pretty funny. I’ll just try to make sure I’m only as funny as the rest of you can tolerate, there is a line you know. Back there somewhere.  I’m pretty sure I crossed it, which means you’re probably not reading this post any longer. So, um, I’ll sign off.  ;)

Nikki Schwartz is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Oaktree Counseling. Nikki helps children with ADHD, Autism, and Asperger’s in Virginia Beach live, work, and play to build happier lives.