Misdiagnosis in gifted kids?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Misdiagnosis in gifted kids?
Thu, 10-18-2012 - 1:28pm

This is something that's been coming up among my IRL circle lately.  It seems like the intensity, focus, asynchrony and quirkiness common in gifted kids can be difficult to distinguish from situations where there is really a problem.  You get kids who compensate so well that ADHD or spectrum issues are missed, or others who are pushed to a diagnosis that isn't really there.  Has anybody run into this?  I'd particularly be interested in hearing from folks in public school, since I hear so much about stampedes to label/medicate kids who are difficult or require more attention.


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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Sun, 10-21-2012 - 9:00pm

Mom ladybug, have you seen a pediatrician who specializes in behavior and development?   It's a fairly new specialty that's evolved over the last 15 years or so with its own board and certification.  I'm pretty familiar with it because I have a family member who has been at the forefront of the specialty and is a leader in it.    Regular pediatrics, until very, very recently had almost no training at all in behavior and development and parents have gotten some pretty appalling advice.  I don't know how old your DS is but seeing a developmental pediatrician is something to consider.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Sun, 10-21-2012 - 9:43pm

Oh, thank you.  DS is 5 (6 next month).  The ped office we finally ended up with has a dev. ped on staff although we have never seen him specifically.  I am not sure what else he could add.  We have an autism center as our central point, one of the top ped neuro who does  a whole body perspective, speech therapist, OT, social therapist who also does ABA, and now developmental vision optometrist. 

We think that DS is responding really well to all the therapy he's had to date.  But to be honest, we tackle the biggest issue and then see what's next on the plate.  I am terrified of this big brain development that is supposed to happen around 7-8!  Any ideas on anything we don't have covered?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2001
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 10:50am

While I agree that if you take the wait and see approach you can miss a critical time for therapy.  Which is why our youngest was probably the only kid in the school's history to go from "extra-help reading" to the highly gifted program (his older brother had some reading/writing issues so everyone was quick to help when this kid wasn't reading as early as expected).  OTOH, there can be harm in labeling a kid with autism or ADD or a learning difference that is simply part of their personality.   For some kids, the attempts to fix can be very difficult and can have somewhat negative outcomes.  Your son sounds like he is doing great and may not need further supports.  It can be very scary to take those away, but he may well soar.

For schools, the difficulty is cost and also not always seeing the benefit.  Does every quirky, introverted, socially awkward kid need the intervention of an autism specialist?  Will every kid even marginally on the specturm require ABA?  If the money is used for "borderline" cases, how does the rest of the school population suffer from reduced funding and resources?  While as parents we want to err on the side of getting services and in some situations (including some with my IRL friends) services are improperly denied, school districts have to keep an eye on the bottom line.

I hope your son continues to do great. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Mon, 10-22-2012 - 11:16am

" It's interesting that a school's academic level can be less important to the well being of a gifted child than the flexibility and support provided by the school. "

It is, indeed. I'm trying to graciously impart the lessons we've learned to a friend whose gifted daughter is miserable in her super-competitive public high school (the same one where my daughter was unhappy). She's a senior and wants to apply to some lower-key Christian and second-tier liberal arts colleges rather than the Ivies where her dad is insisting she apply. As my daughter puts it, "I'll be smart and successful wherever I am happy."

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2012
Sun, 10-28-2012 - 10:46am

Both gifted kids and children with learning disabilities need different kinds of attention. Since both are different cases, certain therapy applies and unique approach to learning is needed. It is our responsibility as parents and educators to understand their situation and give them the needed support and understanding as much as we can.