Many children who are diagnosed as having ADHD also share some of the characteristics of children who are considered gifted. Frequently, bright children are referred to a specialist because they exhibit certain behaviors, such as restlessness, boredom, inattention, impulsivity, and daydreaming that children with ADHD have.
Almost all of these behaviors are found at one time or another in bright, creative, talented and gifted children, as well as in “normal” kids. Recently there has been insufficient attention given to the similarities and differences between these two groups of children. This, therefore, raises the possibility for misidentification in children who are ADHD or who are gifted.
It is important that the parent and the pediatrician embark on a rigorous work-up of the child who possibly has ADHD, and the child who might be gifted. A determination of when a child’s behaviors are problematic is important. He may have trouble with one teacher and not with another. There may be other components that are contributing to misbehaviors. In contrast, a child with ADHD generally exhibits his behaviors in many settings, including at home, in the community and at school.
In school, a gifted child might appear to be distracted and inattentive, but actually may be bored. Such children often respond to a slow moving or non-challenging classroom by engaging in off-task activities, such as daydreaming, disruptions or other attempts to entertain himself.
A child with these ADHD-types of behaviors or concerns and who may be gifted needs a thorough evaluation and psycho educational testing. These are frequently done by the child’s school district, to evaluate intelligence, achievement, and personality style. Rating scales by the teacher and parents that evaluate ADHD and continuous performance tests are also frequently used. It is imperative that an expert in evaluating ADHD and giftedness appraise the child so that he or she can be placed in an educational setting that will maximize his or her talents and potential.