What is the Connection Between ADHD and Gifted Children?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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While there are some associations between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and gifted children, there is no causal relationship or any particular correlation as of yet established between ADHD and gifted or talented children. The association between these two concepts is typically more focused on the potential for misdiagnosis of one for the other, especially for gifted children to be incorrectly diagnosed as having ADHD. This is because there are a fair number of similar attributes seen in kids who have ADHD and gifted children. Since the mid- to late-1990s and the dramatic increase in awareness and diagnosis of ADHD in children, there has been a great interest in ensuring this disorder is properly diagnosed.

ADHD is a disorder typically associated with children who have problems focusing on tasks, especially in a classroom, and who may need help in learning to concentrate. This lack of focus often manifests itself as disruptive behavior in a classroom that makes learning for other students as well as the child with ADHD more difficult. Gifted children are typically those who are deemed to be especially intelligent and capable of learning materials more quickly than other students. This often puts such children in a position to be bored in a standard classroom and often leads them to act out to amuse themselves.


Even from this cursory examination of behavior, a connection between the behaviors of kids with ADHD and gifted children can be seen. This often leads to potential for misdiagnosis, as a student who acts out or does not seem to focus on a task in a classroom may be considered a likely candidate for ADHD. It is quite likely, however, that such a student could merely already understand what is being taught and find himself or herself bored, therefore failing to remain focused on the task that he or she finds trivial. In order to properly distinguish between children with ADHD and gifted students, other behaviors typically need to be considered.

One of the best ways to ensure a proper diagnosis is to consider the actions of a student in more than one class or in activities outside of school. A child with ADHD will likely have attention issues in multiple classes, in extracurricular activities, and at home. Gifted children, on the other hand, are often more likely to be able to focus on a subject they find interesting, extracurricular work such as music or art, and home activities like reading or discussions with adults. More thorough work prior to a diagnosis can often help allow a proper distinction between kids who may have ADHD and gifted children.


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