If you are the parent of a gifted child, chances are good that you have either been asked whether your child has ADHD or have simply been told he has it. While some gifted children may have ADHD, most of them do not. This is actually a very common misdiagnosis of gifted kids.
I was told several times that my son had ADHD – even though he had been screened for it and found to be ADHD free. One educator insisted to me that my son had ADHD even though I told her that the psychologist who worked with my son determined that he didn’t have it. Her response? “I don’t know how he could say that when all the signs are there.”
The educator who made that statement saw my son for a total of 5 minutes before coming to that conclusion. The psychologist had tested my son over the course o several days and had spoken with him on other occasions as well. “All the signs” consisted of my son not wanting to focus on what the educator was saying, but wanted to know what the children in the other room were doing. He could see them through a window and it looked to him as though they were enjoying themselves.
I know I’m not the only one who has had this kind of experience. Whenever a gifted child doesn’t excel as expected or isn’t interested in doing what others think he or she ought to be doing, someone is going to say “Has he been tested for ADHD?”
It doesn’t matter how old the gifted child is either. It could be someone’s adult child, who had been considered gifted as a youngster. Take the case of “Billy,” a married man with three children who, along with his family, lives with his parents. A concerned family member wrote a “Dear Annie” letter asking for advice. Annie’s first response? “Has Billy been tested for attention deficit disorder?”
This response shows a profound misunderstanding of giftedness and of ADHD. There is no test for ADHD. It’s not that simple. People must be screened for it and it is a complicated process. What’s worse is that unless the screener is also familiar with giftedness, that person can mistake behaviors we see in bored and frustrated gifted children for symptoms of ADHD (Compare Characteristics of Gifted Students Who Are Bored with Characteristics of Students with ADHD).
What has your experience been? Have you ever been told your child has ADHD? Share your experiences!
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