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Gifted or ADD?ADHD? help

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 


How do you tell the difference?


I have looked around the internet and the symptoms are the same. 

I have a 5 year old, her dad was a Mensa member at 11 years old, both his brother are members or Mensa and her sister took her GCSE's 2 years early.  So there is a strong family/genetic history of high IQ and giftedness. My daughter however used to be super advanced when she was younger, talking at 1 and able to hold conversations by 2 as well as counting and knowing all colours and shapes. she then got to around 3-4 years old and her development slowed right down and now is about average in most areas. The difficulty is her attention, she can not hold her attention at all. she never stops still. She also has an issue at school and home where she pretends not to know answers to things when she knows them. for example the other day when I was reading with her she read the word house perfectly and explained you do not say the "e" at the end of the word, then a few words later got stuck of a word "I don't know it" she tells me. The word is... I. Doesn't get more simple really. She was counting in 10's... 10, 20, 30... what's next she is asked... ummm I dunno she replies. "you do" she is assured. " No I don't, There is no 40!" is what she said, showing clearly she knew the answer whilst pretending she didn't. She asks questions all the time she knows the answer to. It looks as tho she does this for attention, although she is not an only child her sister is 17, so with such an age gap at home she gets a lot of attention. It's not like she is trying to get attention at school for lack of it at home, she demands constant attention at home. She is always moving, even when sitting still... she will rock/row on the sofa. she has done this since a baby, and if you tell her to stop she will for a few seconds and start it up again, she says she can't help it. she never stops talking, all day long... sometimes I wish i could gag her lol. She asks questions all the time about everything. I ow all kids go through the "why" stage, but she hit it at about 2 and never left it. she wants to know why everything is everything. I guess this is how she learns but once you have explained everything your doing 50 times already by 10am the reply then becomes... why do you think? then she is not interested any more in why. I have been reading recently about the signs of both gifted and ADD/ADHD and they are identical. She has been refured this week by her school to be tested for ADD?ADHD first and if this does not show the will have her assessed by someone who works with TGA children (talented.gifted, able) The 14 signs of ADD?ADHD they look for I see 13 of at home, and out and about, and I'm pretty sure after talks with the teacher she shows them also at school. If a child shows more than 8 of the 14 for over 6 months there is a good chance they will be ADD?ADHD. I have pretty much all of the adult signs of ADHD, never been tested. If I am, good chance she is. with her dad and other members of the family being gifted, there is a good chance she is. 

I was just wondering if there are any people reading this with gifted children, or with ADD/ADHD children that could give their thoughts on this. Feel free to ask any other questions, of course you can not write everything in one post, I have just put the most relevant things. 


Thanks for any replies or help any of you can add.



post #2 of 22
Some kids are both.
post #3 of 22

I have a gifted son who looks ADHD but is not.  He also has sensory issues and is just busy mentally. 


I am very leery of the methods generally used to diagnose ADD/ADHD.  It's really just a list of descriptions and if you get enough check marks you  get the diagnosis.  But those descriptions/symptoms can be caused by a variety of other issues (including vision issues, anxiety, giftedness, sensory processing disorder).  From what you describe in terms of your DD and the school's process, she'll likely get the diagnosis of ADHD and may not get referred for gifted testing.  It's not an OR, it's a possible AND.  There are actually a number of journal articles written about gifted and ADHD, but not a lot of hard research.  A number of the behavioural manifestations of giftedness can look like ADHD in some individuals.  I would be very careful to ensure that your daughter gets a good evaluation.

post #4 of 22

Have you seen an educational psychologist, OP?  They might be able to assess her well.

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

She was referred last week, so no one has seen her yet. She has been referred to "child and adolescence mental health" to be tested. I do not know what will be done. From what I have been told the teachers will be asked questions, I will be asked questions and my daughter will be observed and questioned. unsure if she will be watched at school and home, but I would assume so as there needs to be "issues" in more than one setting for it to be ADD/ADHD. I would think that it would be some type of psychologist who would do the observation and questioning. Although I am unsure of a lot right now as it's something that has just been put through.  

I will voice my worries about the diagnosis to her teacher, she seems really good. If it turns out from the testing she is ADD/ADHD I will not rule out the possibility of her being ADHD and gifted. From what I have read over the last few days, a large amount of people with ADD/ADHD have above average IQ's. I don't know how much genetics play in IQ or giftedness. My husband is in the top 1% as are most of his family. Myself, I am not gifted, but I do also have an above average IQ.


Does any of you have a child that pretends not to know things? She does this all the time. It frustrates me and her teacher so much. also makes it hard for her teachers to place her in groups at school. It's so hard to tell the difference in things she know and doesn't. things she does know she will either say I don't know or say something she know is wrong. with things she really doesn't know she will guess or say i don't know. working out the answer is not something she wants to do. takes too much attention. It does mean however it's so hard to tell what she does know and what she doesn't. If you have a child that is like that how do you deal with that? I have tried rewards and treats, doesn't work. she seems uninterested in consequences good or bad. It's a good job she isn't a naughty or aggressive child really. 


Thanks for any suggestions or help


post #6 of 22

My 6-yo son has ADHD, and is likely gifted, though he hasn't had his IQ tested.  I think it is great to follow through with testing for your DD, and with time and reflection, things will begin to become more clear.  I will say for my son, there is NO question about his ADHD.  As a family we are pretty dependent on him being medicated for things to run anything close to smoothly and not awful.  I often have to remind myself that his giftedness may contribute to some of our frustrating moments (um, experimentation and not agreeing with some of our rules, knowing better than everyone else about things, etc...), and it is not all necessarily ADHD.  


Hang in there!  You'll get it worked out!



post #7 of 22

Oh, and in response to your question: my 8 yo DD claimed not to be able to add 4+2 the other day in our homeschool work.  She routinely adds large numbers mentally, but was refusing to cooperate. My DS I mentioned above surprised me by knowing how to read a few years ago.  I half expected him to do that, he loved playing on PBS kids and got quite a few questions right for a 4 y-o who "couldn't read", and sure enough, he sat down and read some Dr. Seuss books to me one day.  :)  Good times!  

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that...

I do know what you know about the rules. At school the other day she was working in a small group of children and one teacher. When it came to her turn to she wont read, she says she can't. Then when writing about the book she wont. When told she would have her name written on the board and kept in a break she really didn't care, in fact reminded the teacher to write her name down. The teacher said she would not let her leave the table until she had written her name on her paper, she told her she didn't know how to write her name and refused. After a while she realised she really wasn't going anywhere, she knew she had to write her name. So as not to conform when writing her name, she wrote it backwards. her teacher said it is actually very difficult to write your name backwards for a child her age. so instead of making herself look silly and not able, she actually made herself look smarter. 

She was set on not following the rules, and she didn't. very head strong. 

Today she has written a list of how to use a swing. It was hard to get her to pat attention, but she wanted to do it. It has been done, really well, a few spelling mistakes, and s written backwards twice, but other than that really good. 

I do wish I could gag her sometimes though, she never stops talking. when she was 2 she was able to have a conversation and people used to be shocked. "wow, how?" I would be asked... I used to laugh and say the tick is getting her to shut up! lol 


Is your 6 year old  much like how I have described my 5yr old daughter?


post #9 of 22

No, my 6yo is pretty mellow and doesn't get a kick out of being in control.  However, he simply will not do something if he doesn't want to.  So he may not have done the writing, he'd just get up from the table and have to be put back over and over and then would probably be sent to the principal's office.  Good times! :)

post #10 of 22

Hi there,

  I read your post and wanted to give my two cents.  My daughter looks very much like a child struggling with ADHD.  She is constantly moving, energized, needs little sleep, talks a ton, is easily distracted, and is extremely impulsive.   I know that she looks like an ADHD child, because part of what I do for a living is diagnose children with mental health issues.  (I am a licensed mental health therapist specializing in children)   And let me just state, that another poster (joensally) is correct in that ADHD is generally diagnosed simply based on whether or not someone meets set criteria based in the DSM IV.   ADHD isn't something you can test someone's blood for and get a definitive answer. 

   My daughter has tested as extremely gifted.  She is creative and takes in everything from her environment.  She is distracted because she is interested in lots of things.  She moves because, like many other gifted kids, she struggles with sensory issues and while she can be overcome with feeling everything -she also is in constant need of stimulation and feeling.  (if that makes sense)  When she is bored, she can become recalcitrant. 

   Anyhow, most of my colleagues know absolutely nothing about giftedness and how it looks very similar to an ADHD child.  We simply diagnose based on the criteria discussed previously.  And many times we are wrong.  ADHD looks like a number of things - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder in children, Bipolar disorder, Sensory processing disorder, and now, I know, giftedness.  I would really make sure that whoever you have assess your child has a lot of information around giftedness and how it can manifest itself in and individual.  This is not something that most clinicians are taught in school.  I am constantly advocating for my clients now, based on the information that I have.  I do think that there are those children who are both- but many researchers feel that this is not as common as what we once thought. 

   For my daughter, I have just received a referral to have her vision checked and to start her with an occupational therapist for her sensory processing issues.  I am also investigating a different type of school where the learning is more contextual- hoping that this will engage her and she will be less bored and oppositional! 

Good luck!!!


I couldn't find one of the articles I read about over-identification of ADHD in gifted children, but I did think this was an interesting article.




This article was interesting because it talks a bit about how interventions might be different in an ADHD child who is also gifted.





post #11 of 22

Have you ever heard the term "Active Alert Child"? It might be worth looking into. Your description of your child sounds a bit familiar to me and for us the book "Living with the Active Alert Child" has been a lifesaver! If you do a quick search, you should be able to find a list of traits typical to such children and, if they resonate with you, run don't walk to get this book. 




She is always moving, even when sitting still... she will rock/row on the sofa. she has done this since a baby, and if you tell her to stop she will for a few seconds and start it up again, she says she can't help it.


This in particular hit home. Active alerts NEED to move in order to focus. They concentrate best when doing things that would distract most other people. And your daughter's right, she can't help it. 


Active Alert is not ADHD, however. The main differentiating factor (as I understand, based on the book) is that Active Alerts CAN focus their attention for extended periods of time if they are actually interested in what they're doing (for example, they can get absorbed in a book--although it may involve tapping their pencil the whole time--they can and do focus on what they like, etc.). Something to consider. 



post #12 of 22

EVC, I don't disagree that there is likely a group of children that fit the description of active alert kids above, but I want to good-naturedly point out that the idea that people with ADHD can't focus for extended periods of time on things they like is a myth.  Most of them can and do so.  The problem for ADHDers usually comes when they aren't intently interested in what they are supposed to be doing.  This is actually a classification trait for ADHD--that they can focus on interests to the detriment of other responsibilities, and have difficulty with less-exciting tasks.  My son, who is most definitely ADHD (according to all the specialists we've seen, and in my opinion living with him both with and without meds), can and will focus for long periods of time (multiple hours, even) on books he is interested in--both fiction and nonfiction, LEGOs, video games, movies, building with blocks, digging in dirt, experimenting with math manipulatives, taking things apart, etc...


Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there for the record.  :)

post #13 of 22

Thanks for pointing that out, sleet76! I'm working from memory, which may not be entirely accurate or complete at this point :) (And/or the author's explanation was oversimplified, although I do recall there was a whole section of the book devoted to this issue). The "active alert" category may or may not ultimately seem like a good fit for the OP's child, but it is worth looking into (there are--I think--11 traits, so it is more than just the "active" trait, although the active part is what most parents seem to pick up on first--it is hard to ignore!). If the other traits seem to fit and form a composite picture of her child's personality, however, the book can be extremely helpful. It totally changed the way I view my child and her patterns of behavior. Here's a brief description: http://www.network54.com/Realm/Spirited_Kids/Budd.htm

post #14 of 22

:)  I should read it, too, probably!  It is all to easy to lump any frustration in his ADHD category, when sometimes it is likely giftedness, high energy, or just plain old 6yo boy craziness!  Sometimes other reminders are good!


post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the help...

I have read the links listed, and am now more confused.

how can so many thing's have the same descriptions? How will people be able to tell the difference, because surly you can not treat the children all the same.

I worked with pre school children for 5 years, but this was over 11 years ago, so a lot have chanced, but in my time I never met a child like my daughter, her teacher also said she had not known another one like her in her years of teaching. 

The most frustrating thing is her pretending not to know things, both at school and at home... I have looked around the internet and can't find anything about it. You can find anything on the internet, or so I thought. I don't know how to deal with it. I have tried bribing with stickers, magazines, toys, sweets and trips to parks and play areas. I have asked her to stop pretending not to know things and explained that she needs to show what she does know so people can see the things she doesn't know so they can teach her them. 

She does it in all situations, with things that are simple or more complex, for example one day she might say she doesn't know how to write something as simple as her name the the next day make a book full of writing. I don't know how to deal with the pretending she can not do things. it's really really frustrating. Sometimes she surprises with things she does know, she will come out with something quite amazing, and I'm left thinking how did you know that. which makes me wonder how much she knows and doesn't know and what she is pretending not to know. 

Does anyone have any experience with a child who pretends not to know things, or any ideas on how I can get her to show the things she does???

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 


Just something funny which just happened.
LOL did i mention her power of perswation also...
She had a small bucket of sweets from halloween and when she got home from school she started to tuck into them. Being mean mummy I took them off her and said she had to wait untill after dinner then she could choose one. She opened a pack of magic stars and lined them up on the coffee table, I told her if she eats them that her whole tub of sweet would be put in the bin.
She then says ok what if I have 3 stars now and the rest after dinner. I said nope. Ok 2 stars and the rest after dinner. I replied no, how about you have no stars now and a big kiss, then your dinner and all the stars. No how about I have 1 star now I give you 5 kisses and then have the rest after dinner. LOL I still said nope. To which she picked one up and moved it about in her fingers, "mum, this one is melted a bit, I need to eat it." My answer was still no, put it down and it wont melt.
Then she came over to me and I said have you eatten a star? No she replied. I said open our mouth and let me look then. I looked and said oh that looks like a star down there in your tummy have you eatten one. she gave me that smile (the one you can tell as a parent means yes but i'm going to lie about it) No i haven't and you can't even see into my tmmy there is a bend and the bones going down you can't see my tummy. I said I can. she then says ok I'll give you 177 kisses now and comes to creep so she doesn't get in trouble.
She will make one hell of a good car sales man one day lmao
post #17 of 22



How will people be able to tell the difference, because surly you can not treat the children all the same.


many won't take the time to even bother


I fail to see ADD or ADHA from what you posted or that med would even have an effect on this issues (s) your child is exhibiting - but so many take a blanket approach and don't see beyond the immediate - good luck

post #18 of 22

I posted earlier about my DD and her "pretending" not to know things.  I've decided to have her evaluated for dyslexia after realizing that she fit many of the symptoms.  And she is fitting more of them each year, as her natural intelligence has more trouble covering her trouble spots.  She understands concepts well, and can apply them.  Then, she gets confused in the steps of math problems, or feels overwhelmed and unable to proceed, even though if I talk her through the steps, she can do it just fine.  I think this plus her perfectionism could be the solution to her refusing to answer or pretend to not know. WHo knows!  Hard to say!

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 

Parents of ADD/ADHD children....


How long did it take for your child to be tested once they had been referred She was referred 2 weeks ago.



sleet76, I am dyslexic, only very mild. It was never picked up at school and it held me back. I found out I was dyslexic when I went to college. Once I knew I could work with it. 

Maths I am and have always been good at, it's just there. My english was and is the problem, My spelling is awful and it takes me ages to read things, I can read them but had to read them really slow to process what's been written. At school before I knew I had dyslexia I got an F grade for my english. I retook this at college and got an A and C. 

I don't know if dyslexia can be passed down as I don't know anyone else in my family with it. She doesn't appear to have any issues I have noticed to what I remember in that area, but it could be something that is looked into at a later date if this pretence continues.

Also if your child is dyslexic it is far better to know so they can work with it and understand why when your given 10 mins as a class to read through some work and the class is finished and you are only a few paragraphs in. I know that as a child I felt like I was stupid and it held me back more I think. I know I'm scared about all the testing my daughter is having and what the out come will be, and I'm sure to a degree as a parent you are for your child also. I just wanted to reasure you that it's a good thing to know. once I did I excelled. :)

post #20 of 22

Thanks, Tesbabe.  She and I are both looking forward to her testing.  She actually can't wait, she has been so frustrated lately with writing and spelling.  I look at it from the point of view that whatever is there is already there.  The sooner we learn to work with it the better!  We homeschool, and so it hasn't been as big an issue as it would be at school, but it is starting to get in the way.  Thanks for the support!

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