Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giftedness and Misdiagnosis

I am again recommending Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults by James Webb et al (Great Potential Press, 2004).

Presently I am re-reading portions of this book as it pertains directly to a situation in my family.

Here is a long article with a fair amount of information to give you a sense for what this book is about.

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children

The article opens with this introduction:

"Many gifted and talented children (and adults) are being mis-diagnosed by psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and other health care professionals. The most common mis-diagnoses are: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (OD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Mood Disorders such as Cyclothymic Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Depression, and Bi-Polar Disorder. These common mis-diagnoses stem from an ignorance among professionals about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children which are then mistakenly assumed by these professionals to be signs of pathology.

In some situations where gifted children have received a correct diagnosis, giftedness is still a factor that must be considered in treatment, and should really generate a dual diagnosis. For example, existential depression or learning disability, when present in gifted children or adults, requires a different approach because new dimensions are added by the giftedness component. Yet the giftedness component typically is overlooked due to the lack of training and understanding by health care professionals (Webb & Kleine, 1993).

Despite prevalent myths to the contrary, gifted children and adults are at particular psychological risk due to both internal characteristics and situational factors. These internal and situational factors can lead to interpersonal and psychological difficulties for gifted children, and subsequently to mis-diagnoses and inadequate treatment."

One a few more things:

Gifted kids are often perfectionists. Perfectionists often procrastinate out of fear of failure. That often leads to missing deadlines, lack of studying and failure.

Gifted kids often have asynchronous development. Being expert in one area and struggling in another does not always yield high scores across all subjects in standardized testing. Some gifted kids are not good test takers in general. Schools often require high scores on testing to admit students to gifted programs. Some schools use the gifted testing scores as tickets to higher academic tracks and/or AP class admittance and/or extracurricular programs i.e. Science Olympiad and FIRST Robotics. Thus asynchronous gifted kids may be kept out of the very programs that they would thrive in. Also the very fact that they struggle in. Some areas makes them feel stupid and gives low self-esteem which can lead to sadness and depression or fear that builds to anxiety

Gifted people can suffer from learning disabilities. Perhaps some learning disabilities actually cause the giftedness in other areas of ability? (I will verify my source for that and will blog it in a separate post.)

PS if you are interested in this boom but have not read the first one you also should read and buy so you have it for handy reference, the other book Webb et al. The focus is on the emotional life of a gifted person and living with the intensities of the gifted.


llasblog said...

"Perfectionists often procrastinate out of fear of failure.
...Perhaps some learning disabilities actually cause the giftedness in other areas of ability?"

Oh, absolutely to both of those! Or at least, I don't know the scientific basis for the latter, but it makes perfect sense.

Xa Lynn said...

I definitely need to get my hands on that book. Thanks, Christine!

Deborah said...

"Perhaps some learning disabilities actually cause the giftedness in other areas of ability?"

I don't think the disability causes the giftedness, but I'm guessing could be related to the "wiring" difference that is related to the giftedness. One of my kids is 2E - not globally gifted but with specific off the charts abilities, and also dyslexic.