A woman has opened up about being diagnosed with ADHD after writing a book about a teenage girl with the same condition. Neurodiversity education expert and author Marina Magdalena says she was shocked by her health revelation after publishing her book, Antigone Kingsley: About Last Summer.

The mother first created her book to help her own neurodiverse daughter feel seen and heard in the literature of her time. It was only then that she discovered in the process that she also had ADHD.

Marina's first book in her series, About Last Summer, was published in April 2023. The next instalment, Don't Judge Me, will be released this May.

"I wrote About Last Summer and Don't Judge Me, because I wanted my neurodiverse daughter to have a relatable female role model in fiction," Marina said. "Growing up, she struggled with book characters like Hermione Granger, who were super organised and had it all together: she just felt so far removed from them.

"I wanted to give her a character with all the brilliance, innovation and originality that so often comes with conditions like ADHD, but who also struggled with emotional regulation and organisation. As I wrote, I realised how much I also related to the main character of the book, Tig, who has ADHD – especially when recalling my teenage moments - and that I probably had the condition myself.

Antigone Kingsley: About Last Summer
Antigone Kingsley: About Last Summer

"It turned out I did, and I was officially diagnosed in 2024." She added: "When we create amazing, fun characters who happen to have ADHD and celebrate them for their innovation, quirkiness and originality, we’re giving neurodiverse girls a pass to be themselves."

Marina, who is the founder of an academy that facilitates neurodiverse children to learn creatively and innovatively, says there are many generations of literature where girls fit into 'tidy little boxes', such as 'the geek girl', 'the pretty girl', 'the bossy girl' and 'the cheerleader girl'.

"But in my experience, so many girls and women with ADHD just can’t fit into any kind of box because if your moods and emotions and executive function are constantly impacted," Marina argued. "You can’t show up and be the same person each day.

"And so, in my book, I wanted to create these characters that were bold, brilliant, creative and quirky exactly because of their neurodiversity, but who also made impulsive decisions, struggled with attention and time management. I firmly believe that when children recognise themselves in these characters, they will become more self-accepting."

According to studies, ADHD is diagnosed and treated more often in males than in females. "Boys are three times more likely to get diagnosed," Marina explains.

"This is because girls tend to display ‘less disruptive’ symptoms of daydreaming or forgetfulness, compared to boys’ more noticeable hyperactivity." According to Dr Patricia Quinn, director of the National Centre for Gender Issues and ADHD, such gender stereotypes "give leeway for boys to be messy and chaotic".

However, when it comes to girls, there is an assumption they "have the capacity to be organised, neat and emotionally regulated". The expert claims this can lead to a greater prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety and self-esteem issues in girls with ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD in adults

According to the NHS, in adults, the symptoms of ADHD are more difficult to define. This is largely due to a lack of research into adults with ADHD.

As ADHD is a developmental disorder, it's believed it cannot develop in adults without it first appearing during childhood. But symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers often continue into adulthood.

The way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affect adults can be very different from the way they affect children. For example, hyperactivity tends to decrease in adults, while inattentiveness tends to remain as the pressures of adult life increase.

Adult symptoms of ADHD also tend to be far more subtle than childhood symptoms. Some specialists have suggested the following as a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organisational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritise
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously