Gifted Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (page 3)

By — Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Division of Learning Disabilities (DLD)
Updated on Nov 12, 2009


There has been some concern that problems with inattention or hyperactivity that are better attributed to a mismatch with the curriculum (Baum, Olenchak, & Owen, 1998; Webb, 2001) or to characteristics of high creative ability (Cramond, 1995) are wrongly attributed to ADHD. Although there are good reasons to believe that misidentifications occur, there are yet no hard data on the frequency with which gifted children are over- (or under-) diagnosed or over- (or under-) medicated. Until systematic studies are conducted, we should be cautious about rejecting ADHD diagnosis in gifted children out of hand because there are serious, long-term negative consequences for undertreating the disorder (Barkley, 1998). The available research on ADHD children indicates that nationally, there is a good deal of undertreatment as well as some overtreatment of ADHD children.

It is a challenge to arrange a good fit in school for gifted ADHD children. They must have an appropriate level of intellectual challenge with supports and interventions to address their social and emotional immaturity. Placement in the gifted program may or may not be appropriate, depending on the nature of the program, the social milieu of the gifted classroom, and the coping ability of the child, but a coherent plan for addressing the student's intellectual, social, and behavioral needs is nevertheless imperative.


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Moon, S.M., Zentall, S.S., Grskovic, J.A., Hall, A. & Stormont, M. (2001). Emotional, social, and family characteristics of boys with AD/HD and giftedness: A comparative case study. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 24, 207-247.

Moon, S. (2002). Gifted children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In M. Neihart, S. Reis, N. Robinson, S. Moon (Eds.). The social and emotional development of gifted children: What do we know? (pp. 193-204). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

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Olenchak, R., & Reis, S. (2002). Gifted children with learning disabilities. In M. Neihart, S. Reis, N. Robinson, & S. Moon (Eds.), The social and emotional development of gifted children: What do we know? (pp. 177-192). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

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Webb. J.T. (2001). Mis-diagnosis and dual diagnosis of gifted children: Gifted and LD, ADHD, OCD, oppositional defiant disorder. N. Hafenstein & F. Rainey (Eds.), Perspectives in gifted education: Twice exceptional children (pp. 23-31). Denver: Ricks Center for Gifted Children, University of Denver.

Zentall, S.S., Moon, S.M., Hall, A.M., & Grskovic, J.A. (2001). Learning and motivational characteristics of boys with AD/HD and/or giftedness. Exceptional Children, 67, 499-519.

Maureen Neihart, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical child psychologist in Billings, MT.

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