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Twice exceptional (2e): Gifted with ADD/ADHD

November 16, 2012

Last month, the New York Times published an article on schools who were using prescription medications, regularly proscribed for ADD students, for non-ADD students in an effort to increase performance “[when] it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment.  So we have to modify the kid.”  (click here for the entire article).

misdiagnosisWhat if doctors prescribed medication  to curtailing the quirks of gifted children?  In some cases, that might be happening.  Dr. James Webb, in his book Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, And Other Disorders, explains that the symptoms of giftedness often mirror the symptoms of ADD.  “[The] behaviors of a child with ADD/ADHD are often similar to traits typically attributed to creativity or giftedness, or to overexcitabilities,” according to Webb.  That is not to say that gifted children cannot have ADD/ADHD, Webb asserts that it simply means that the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD “is supposed to be a diagnosis of last resort, to be made by exclusion only after ruling out other possible disorders or problems such as depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, preoccupation with personal problems, unrealistic expectations, situational difficulties, boredom due to mismatch of abilities and expectations, auditory processing deficits, concussion or mild traumatic brain injury, ill health, substance abuse, fatigue from sleep disorders, lack of energy from [food issues], and even cognitive slowing caused by current medications.”  This kind of evaluation takes time and expertise.

What are some similarities between giftedness and ADD/ADHD?  Some symptoms might include: restlessness, inattention, impulsivity, high activity level, day dreaming.

The Davidson Institute, dedicated to meeting the needs of highly gifted children, published a check list pointing out the subtle differences between ADD/ADHD symptoms and giftedness.  Some of the examples are below.  Click here for the complete article by Sharon Lind.

GIFTED? ADD/ADHD?
 Contact with intellectual peers diminishes inappropriate behavior  Contact with intellectual peers has no positive effect on behavior
 Appropriate academic placement diminishes inappropriate behavior  Appropriate academic placement has no positive effect on behavior
 Curricular modifications diminish inappropriate behaviors  Curricular modifications have no effect on behavior
 The child has logical (to the child) explanations for inappropriate behavior  Child cannot explain inappropriate behavior

Click here to see the complete checklist.

If you’re concerned about whether your child may merit a dual diagnosis, read Dr. Webb’s book, Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, And Other Disorders.   And give a copy to your pediatrician.

Do you have a 2e child?  Watch our website for more information on twice-exceptionality, or attend the upcoming TAGT parenting conference (which has a series of sessions dedicated to 2e).

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