Misdiagnosis in gifted kids?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Misdiagnosis in gifted kids?
15
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.

Gwen 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 6:58pm

I've been having login and posting problems myself since the upgrade.  Sorry guys, it's taking a bit to get the kinks out.  If I am slow to respond to posts, it's due to technical difficulties.

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2001
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 1:45pm

Having the same problem with Internet explorer, posting from chrome.  Hopefully, a short-term problem!  I was able to see posts on some threads with IE, but not on others (gave an error).  

As to the initial question, I think the problem goes beyond gifted kids to all kids.  Since so much of behavior is on a continuum, it can be very difficult to decide when a difference is a problem that needs to be fixed.  Is the distracted, messy kid normal or does he have ADD Inattentive?  Is the quirky introvert with few friends OK, or is she on the autism spectrum?  Even if a family decides the problem needs to be fixed, what is the remedy when the problem is minimal?  Put a kid on medication that can have very negative side effects?  Put a kid in a social skills group that may not help anyway?   Get accomodations at school that may feel like punishment?  One answer is to let the kid function at their level, but it can be very difficult to accept that an incredibly gifted kid appears to be a slacker or that your child is sitting home alone every weekend.  We all want our kids to be as successful as they can be.   

There is also the question as to whether a kid with a high score on an IQ test, but with performance that is better than average, but not as good as the IQ score would suggest, has an LD.  Alternatively, are other personality traits (that are within the range of normal) causing the less than stellar performance.  A kid may not be interested in getting all As or may simply decide that playing computer games is more enticing than doing homework.  Is the school responsible for giving a kid accomodations if they are not performing as well as they might or are they just not as good of a student as the kid that may have a lower IQ but work much, much harder?  Or course, the other question is whether the school is testing the right things in assessing kids understanding of material.  

The mis-match between intellectual age and actual age can be more pronounced in gifted kids, because their intellectual age can so far exceed their actual and emotional age.  As parents our job is to meet the needs of both, but it can be very difficult.  A child may need a multi-grade skip to be intellectually challenged, but the content of the material and the maturity of the other students may be too much to handle.  

There are often no easy answers.  I have tended to err on the side of not needing to fix things, but not always sure that is the best path.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 12:47pm
Just a note to let y'all know that ivillage's upgrade has been a serious downgrade on my part...I did manage to get to my preferences and nothing seems awry there. I can only see the first post of any thread. It's been redirecting me to a generic menu when I try to post. I'm using Firefox (a standard browser) to make this post. Internet explorer (another standard browser) doesn't let me log in at all. If these problems persist and ivillage boards remain inaccessible, I will post my aol email for anyone who wants to stay in contact. Deborah
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Fri, 10-19-2012 - 7:54am

My son thrived all thru elementary school and was even elected to student council in 5th grade, but when he got to middle school, everything went downhill because of his undiagnosed Asperger's (very mild, we just thought he was a little quirky). He was unable to read the social cues of  his peers and teachers and completely shut down.

 It took until 8th grade to get a diagnosis, and by then we knew we were taking him out of public school, so we never went through the process to get an IEP. Once we'd figured out what sort of environment he needed, we knew he'd be okay. He's now a sophomore in HS  and thriving because he is in a very small, caring school. He feels emotionally safe there, something he'd been missing for the three miserable years of middle school.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-01-1999
Thu, 10-18-2012 - 4:10pm

No such issues with us. Both mine could be very intense but also had strong focus and impulse control. My youngest has some mild dyslexia/dysgraphia issues and was able to compensate with giftedness but every elementary teacher recognized on their own that what they saw on paper was not representative of his abilities. They did a good deal verbally and with handwriting accomodation in the earlier years, it wasn't an issue. In kindergarten and 1st, his teachers described him as "squirrely" but quickly added that it was to be expected at 4 and 5. They dealt with it by giving him various jobs that had him up and moving. After 1st, didn't come up again (though he continues to be the kid with a job even in middle school.)

I saw the opposite happen with my nephew. Also highly gifted but DID have ADHD. His mother refused to treat it for years thinking it was a gifted thing alone and it was a disastor. She did try meds in middle school and he thrived academically and socially. However, she felt like he wasn't her son on the meds and so she took him off and refused to try other methods. He barely graduated high school and is pretty much homeless (crashes on friend's couches) and steadily unemployed now nearing his 30's.

Certainly, I feel that ADHD is over-diagnosed. I do feel that elementary classrooms are not often well suited for the typical male (gifted or not.) Personally though, with all the gifted kids we know, I think only one was recommended for ADHD screening. His parents homeschooled him until high school instead and he's doing really well (and dating my DD who seems to find his quirky hyperness rather charming lol.)

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