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Gifted and Also ADD?

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My nine-year-old son is a lively, active, funny child. His last year's teacher thinks he might have ADD. He is about a year behind in reading. He is easily distracted when the activity is not acceptable to him. My son, however, excels in math and science. He can figure out problems easily and can tell a person how to solve a problem. His memory is also excellent, and he gets high scores on spelling. I think my child is bored - not ADD. Could being a gifted child be misrepresented by ADD?

A: Boredom is not your son's main problem. Why did no one follow up and evaluate your son after last year's teacher told you he might have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)? Problems don't usually go away the next school year unless some form of intervention has occurred.

Gifted children can also be ADD. There is no single set of criteria that will help you identify giftedness. Some gifted children excel in all their academic subjects while others only excel in a specific area. Some traits of gifted students are:

  • Have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
  • Catch on quickly to concepts the first time they are presented.
  • Are creative thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Are very observant of everything going on around them at all times.
  • Retain a large volume of knowledge.
  • Enjoy challenging tasks that would often discourage their peers.
  • Become so engrossed in their work everything else is blocked out.
  • Never want to make a mistake - striving always for perfection.
  • Enjoy playing thinking games.
  • Use a large speaking vocabulary.
  • Do work well above grade level.
  • Get bored when the work is too easy.

Does your son possess many of these traits? We know he gets bored; however, he will need to have many of the other traits to be considered gifted. Have you ever asked his teachers if they believe he is gifted? You can learn more about identifying and helping gifted children at the National Association for Gifted Children website.

More creative assignments can be devised to stop your child from being bored at school. However, first you need to find out why your son is a year behind in reading. Reading is essential to academic success. He may now excel in math and science, but continuing success in both of these subjects will depend greatly on his reading skills. Talk to his teacher and find out what he or she believes must be done to improve your child's reading skills. Testing for learning disabilities may be appropriate.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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