Gifted/Talented and ADHD:  The Dynamic Duo

“Our kids” with ADHD are special gifts.  It might be more…they may be gifted.  How can you tell?

Being gifted can be somewhat unclear, especially for students with ADHD.  Confusing and contradictory information can be misconstrued.  Delayed diagnosis further complicates the situation.

The term “gifted and talented” is used when students give evidence of high achievement capability.  This includes intellectual, artistic or leadership skills.  Specific content areas may also be identified.

There is no universal framework to guide decisions as to who is eligible for special services.  Unfortunately, differing definitions to determine and abilities result in premature referrals.  

  • Contact with intellectual peers diminishes inappropriate behavior.
  • Interest in subject matter/project is relevant.
  • Excessive talking/interruptions geared toward a need to share information.
  • Success seems to be a function of the teacher or instructional style.
  • Curricular modifications are meaningful in performance levels.

These characteristics sound a lot like those if ADHD.  Trust your instincts.  Get to know your child better than anyone else.  Being able to trust their abilities is crucial, but temper actions with the impact of their disability.  Don’t forget about gifts to improve challenges.

Classroom difficulties often impact students who are also gifted and talented.  Patterns of variability of performance result in inconsistent performance.  This is seen by a high level one day, with a fall in the same subject days later.

Emotional connections are key for learning outcomes.  They love some teachers, but are indifferent about others.  Be aware that these differences can result in anger and frustration.

Students with ADHD thrive in stimulating, rich environments.  Teachers are the key to ongoing performance.

  • Focus on specific intelligences, talents, or gifts.
  • Encourage active questioning.
  • Provide choices in demonstrating knowledge.
  • Incorporate willful engagement.
  • Don’t ignore their disability/accommodations.

Emotional intensity, power struggles, low tolerance for tasks that seem irrelevant.  How about questioning rules and day-dreaming.  Sound like ADHD?  They can result from being gifted as well.

While a universal definition for gifted/talented is still uncertain, some activities help.  Support divergent thinking that results in rare insights.  Encouraging creative ideas can provide new learning strategies.  Use their energy as a driver toward success.

Do you suspect that your child is gifted?





4 responses to “Gifted/Talented and ADHD:  The Dynamic Duo”

  1. Alice Santos Avatar

    My son has ADHD. He is in 6 grade, likes writing and science, but he got c+ on both!
    There is any Tip to provide me in order to help him improve ?
    Thank you ,
    Alice Santos

    1. Edie Brown Avatar
      Edie Brown

      21st century innovators combine science/technology with creativity. Congratulations for raising a son with such diverse interests.

      Writing skills develop with practice. Journaling is a great idea. No rules! There’s a blog post to help you get started. Use the search button (eyeglass). Type in “journaling.”

      Science is a challenge, based on discipline. Study skills may be the issue, not the content. What is he taking (i.e. Earth sciences, biology, ecology)?

  2. Madison's mommom Avatar
    Madison’s mommom

    I am a 45 year old woman who was given an excessively delayed diagnosis of adult ADHD. This explains my challenges in elementary school. I was also placed in “gifted” classes, excelling in English; particularly spelling. I have been a medical transcription for 30 years, starting at age 16. I don’t agree with the term”disability”. It is more like a “difference” in my opinion.

    1. Edie Brown Avatar
      Edie Brown

      You are brave in joining the ranks of women diagnosing themselves as an adult. More than 50% of girls under 18 suffer in silence.

      I see ADHD as both a gift and a challenge, whatever the term. I’m not sure what to say about the “disability” term. Without it, children and adults with ADHD would not qualify for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. With these, people with ADHD qualify for educational and workplace accommodations. Civil rights are protected by this term as well. “Difference” is not included.

      What have you experienced? Do these laws work for adults?

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