Thursday, May 18, 2006

Some More Thoughts about ADD and the Gifted

A couple excellent articles I've found (on Hoagies) in recent days:

I've talked to many parents who insist that all or at least most children who have been identified as ADD are actually gifted. This is somewhat of an urban myth, according to Felice Kaufmann, et al. in Attention Deficit Disorders and Gifted Students: What Do We Really Know?

"In recent years, several authors (Baum, Olenchak, & Owen, 1998; Cramond, 1995; Freed & Parsons, 1997; Lind, 1993; Tucker & Hafenstein, 1997; Webb & Latimer, 1993) have expressed concern that giftedness is often misconstrued as ADHD and that the diagnosis of ADHD among the gifted population has run amok. We acknowledge for the purposes of this discussion that there are cases of mistaken diagnosis, although as of this writing, we have found no empirical data in the medical, educational, or psychological literature to substantiate the extent of this concern.

The lack of scientific data heightens our dismay over the wave of skepticism that appears to prevail about the existence of ADHD in gifted children. Specifically, we are concerned that the question "ADHD or gifted?" dismisses the possibility that the two conditions may coexist. Prudent attempts to avoid over-diagnosis must be balanced against a child's need for evaluation and treatment in the context of inevitable uncertainty when medical diagnoses are invoked."

ADD does share characteristics with what I'll call the Gifted and Bored Syndrome (high IQ 6yo can't sit still in first grade because he already knows the material) and with visual-spatial thinkers. (Scroll down to the list of characteristics) Maybe it's more likely to occur with these left-brainers. But it is its own entity and can seriously interfere with a gifted child's ability to cope with school, as we found out when Klaus was in 6th grade and just couldn't compensate for his ADD anymore.

There's a fabulous article called Blinks: A Phenomenon of Distractibility in Attention Deficit Disorder by James Reisinger, who lists his credentials as "MBA, CLU, CFP, ADD." He writes:

"A blink occurs as the ADDers attention involuntarily shifts focus from what is relevant to something irrelevant. This shift from a 'local" situation (such as talking, reading, or working) to some other internal mental content (e.g., a thought, picture memory, or plan) blocks the local information. ...

These gaps in the intake of local information are often erroneously mistaken as memory problems. Teachers are taught that material gets lost between the instruction and the doing, or between the brain and the pencil. True for a defect, but not for a deficit (attention type). It does not get lost, it gets missed or absorbed. The material may get worked into the thoughts in the "blink" and consumed there. After leaping back to the current event, the ADDer may have a moment of disorientation. Many times a thought about the "local" situation that triggered the blink was carried away and "used" in the blink and is unavailable upon return."

Blinks offers an excellent look inside the mind of someone with ADD and explains what the attention blips look like and how they affect people with this syndrome. And it certainly resonates with a lot of frustrations I had during my time in school!

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