Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gifted Children Misdiagnosed with ADHD

Dear Parents,

There is often great pressure from schools, health-care providers, and others to get a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There is associated pressure to then place your child on medication. Over the years, I have noticed that careful and comprehensive evaluations for ADHD are often not conducted. I have seen many children who are "misdiagnosed" in that they do not have ADHD. Instead, they may be depressed, anxious, or even gifted intellectually. In the local community in which I live (Bainbridge Island, WA), I frequently see very smart, talented, but "very active" children being called ADHD when in fact they are extremely smart. I have talked about this many times to parents and others. Often, only the idea of ADHD sticks in the minds of others which makes me very sad. The gifted part of the child is often neglected and the child's overall enthusiasm for learning begins to fade away.

I am extremely excited that the American Academy of Pediatrics is now beginning to recognize that giftedness is an issue that should be considered in the diagnosis of ADHD. Recentely, the (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) has embarked on an international campaign to educate pediatricians about the possible misdiagnosis of ADHD in gifted children. If you would like to read more, please click on the following link:

My advice to you is this: If you have an active child who appears to be quite bright, do not settle for a quick evaluation and subsequent medication. Medication can be extremely helpful with the right child. But, it is important to first be accurate in an assessment so that any subsequent treatment is the right pathway to take. Take the time to get a thorough evaluation by both a pediatrician and a child clinical psychologist. Make sure that your child's talents are taken into consideration before any treatment plan is implemented. If you have any questions about this, please let me know. Further information about ADHD and giftedness, and contact information, may be found on the link above.


Steve Curtis, PhD, NCSP
Licensed Child Clinical Psychologist
Nationally Certified School Psychologist