From personal experience I can tell you the many difficulties a gifted child can face. One of the worst is being misdiagnosed as either ADD or ADHD. The problem lies not in the diagnosis itself but rather the subsequent treatment, both medical as well as societal, of the child following such a diagnosis. It seems today that the rate of attention deficit diagnosis is rising exponentially in children of this country. The question is, is this because there are so many children with these disorders; or is it because medicating so called problem children, becomes a quick and easy fix?
Teachers these days seem to be overloaded with larger and larger classroom sizes and smaller and smaller budgets. Could this be one of the reasons that so many children are being misdiagnosed? Teachers just don’t seem to have the time they once did to address children who stand out. This can lead to teachers not understanding why it is that these children are having a hard time adjusting to a curriculum that is designed for the average student. It seems that this problem has been compounded by such programs as G.W. Bushes’ No Child Left Behind.
An example in my own childhood comes to mind. When I was in first grade my teacher would write the assignment for the day on the chalkboard in the morning. By lunch time I would have everyone of my assignments for the day completed. This led to problems in the afternoon because I would have nothing to do after lunch. I can tell you that it is extremely difficult for a child of six or seven years old to be expected to sit quietly, at their desk, for the remainder of the day. This led to me being labeled as a problem child and even questions of me possibly having a hyper activity disorder. It turned out, after further testing at Nova University in Florida, that I had an IQ of 133, which is considered gifted.
The Growing Problem:
These sorts of scenarios seem to be becoming more common as more children are being diagnosed as having some form of attention deficit disorder. However researchers are finding that many of these children aren’t deficient but rather gifted children who are having difficulties adjusting to today’s quick fix society. No one seems to have the time or the resources to really delve into what it is that may be causing the problem. Teachers tell parents that their child seems to have an attention problem. These parents then go to their doctors, who then ask the child a few questions, and write a prescription. However, it’s not so easy as that. Researchers are finding that many of the ‘symptoms’ that are inherit in gifted children, can be confused with those of ADD or ADHD. This type of misdiagnosis leads to even more problems for these gifted children, such as; side effects of these medications, and dealing with the stigma of being a ‘problem child’.
There is hope however, for those who take the time to really investigate why it is that their children maybe having problems adjusting. The first thing I would recommend is consulting an expert in the field. Don’t rely on teachers and general practitioners, who are themselves overwhelmed, to make a serious diagnosis. There are excellent resources on the web such as SENG, or Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, for gifted children, and other sites like the American Academy of Pediatrics or the National Association for Gifted Children where you can find information on dealing with gifted children, as well as the proper diagnosis of attention deficit disorders.