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ADHD Can Be a Misdiagnosis

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What you consider a curse could actually be a blessing in disguise.

adhd misdiagnosis

Michelle Kemper Brownlow: Imagine you're at your parent-teacher conferences and the teacher hands you this bulleted list outlining your child's behavior:

• Cannot stay focused
• Is restless and fidgets
• Is opinionated, sometimes to the point of being rebellious
• Has way too much energy
• Singles himself out as strange and/or different

At first glance you would probably be disappointed and feel helpless. You might feel responsible or defeated. And in most cases you can bet that teacher is going to mention those four letters you hoped you'd never hear: ADHD. Your next course of action? Ritalin?

Before you make that leap down the crevasse of child behavior medication, let me help you understand that these five bullets can be a blessing that opens many doors for your child. What your child's teacher is calling "symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder" the National Foundation for Gifted and Creative Children calls Characteristics of the Gifted Child.

At the request of a parent or teacher, children can be tested by a guidance counselor or gifted teacher using a standard IQ test. Because gifted children fall under the "special needs" bracket (huh, makes you look at those words in a new way, doesn't it?), the school district will administer the test free of charge. The best time to test a child for their gifted aptitude is between the ages of 4 and 8.

If your child's score is between a 115 and 145, he falls into the "gifted" range, and a whole new world of opportunities open up. He is then eligible for special camps and programs only offered to those children in the top percentage of peers his age.

The best news, though, is being able to reward your gifted child with these new opportunities instead of trying to fix what ain't broke!

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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Roxanne November 23, 2009, 3:44 AM

Being the mum of an extremely hypo-reactive three year old, this is very reassuring to read =)

PlumbLucky November 23, 2009, 4:32 AM

This was me at age 6. Mom simply refused to put me on Ritalin, but worked with the school to actually (gasp) challenge me. Suddenly I calmed down and did very well.

JD In Van November 23, 2009, 7:02 AM

Your child can be gifted AND have attention deficit. As the mother of a 9 year old who has been recently been diagnosed with ADD (Inattentive), my daughter has none of the hyperactivity but all the inattention. I took three years to screen for everything else before I put my daughter on medication and the moment we did there was a huge change in her behavior and demeanor and her ability to act on her above average IQ.

What’s important is that children are screened for autism, depression, visual problems and learning disabilities before being given an ADD diaganosis which a good pediatrician will do.

#1 Teach November 23, 2009, 7:09 AM

“Cannot stay focused
• Is restless and fidgets
• Is opinionated, sometimes to the point of being rebellious
• Has way too much energy
• Singles himself out as strange and/or different”

This is the description of EVERY child from age 2 to age 8. As a former teacher it makes me sad how fashionable ADHD is and SO many kids who don’t need to be on drugs are. Lazy parents, lazy teachers, they just want kids who sit and zone out and are easy and managable. It’s really depressing, that’s why I had to get out of the field.

Dr. Leah@ November 23, 2009, 8:12 AM

A guidance counselor or “gifted” teacher cannot administer an individual IQ test. Such tests require extensive graduate school training and specific credentials.

If you’re concerned about teacher reports of your child’s behavior, speak with the school psychologist or a psychologist in private practice. It is possible to have ADHD and an IQ within “gifted” range. An IQ score is a beginning—not necessarily the definitive explanation or solution to the problems your child may be experiencing.

Anonymous November 23, 2009, 8:27 AM

nutty kids

Christina November 23, 2009, 11:59 AM

I have to say, when I saw that list, my first thought was “bored kid” not ADHD. That was pretty much my behavior until someone got the bright idea to put me in accelerated classes. Pretty much took care of that list.

Jenny November 23, 2009, 2:21 PM

I’m wondering where you got the gifted range from? My daughters IQ was 118 when they tested but I was told that was highly intelligent not gifted.

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