Inattentive ADHD or Gifted

We have been exploring some of the other diagnosis that can sometimes be confused with Inattentive ADHD.  There are scores of web pages that insist that ADHD is not a 'true' diagnosis and that kids with ADHD are gifted.  These web pages explain that misguided commoners such as teachers, coaches, and school counselors are simply blind to the 'gifts' of these children.

I think that all people are unique and that we each come to this earth with unique gifts but I do not believe that all kids with ADHD are especially gifted.  I do not believe that my kids are gifted.  My mother disagrees with me. When I told her that my oldest son needed treatment for Inattentive ADHD, she said, "he doesn't have ADHD, he's gifted".  You gotta love grandmothers for their undying commitment to their prize grandkids but I think that she is wrong on this one.  He has many gifts but I do not believe that he is gifted.  Let me explain.

There are many characteristics of gifted children that I believe a great many individuals with Primarily Inattentive ADHD possess.  My son has these characteristics but lacks some other key characteristics that I believe must be present in order to put him in the gifted camp.  The characteristics that he and many of his inattentive peers possess are as follows:

Extremely curious, excellent reasoning skills, excellent powers of abstraction, excellent conceptualization skills, fluent and flexible thinking, excellent problem solving skills, elaborate and original thinking, learns quickly, vivid and/or unusual imagination, well developed sense of humor, interest in philosophy and justice issues, sensitive, extensive vocabulary, reads early, reads widely, enjoys learning, prefers books and magazine meant for older kids, excellent critical or skeptical thinking skills, and displays intellectual playfulness.

The critical gifted characteristics that he lacks are; long attention span, excellent memory skills, perfectionist, and intrinsically motivated.  The first list as you can see involve thinking and reasoning which many Primarily Inattentive Individuals can excel at.  The second skill set mostly involves action and primarily inattentive individuals lack these characteristics.

In my opinion being gifted involves both excellent thinking and excellent follow through. There must be actions as a product of the highly evolved reasoning and imagination skills in order to be considered gifted.   Perhaps the treatment goals of individuals with Primarily Inattentive ADHD who are gifted except for these 'action' traits is to provide appropriate medication and skill training for memory, attention, and motivation.  When these issues are addressed, these 'almost gifted' individuals with Primarily Inattentive ADHD can rightfully take their place among the gifted.


  1. Interesting analysis. I guess it all depends on the definition of "gifted," as you illustrate well. I think many people assume gift just refers to basic intellectual prowess. Tying that ability in higher cognitive thinking to behavior befitting such gift (or providing evidence of it) is an interesting link, and one I hadn't thought of before.

  2. I really believe that to be gifted you have to both think and do. Without the 'doing' part, the thinking is an abstract notion, untied to anything of real consequence...

  3. Thomas Edison's "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration" says it, although, having supposedly tested 10,000 variations on the light bulb theme before he got it right, we might suspect that he's biased the numbers a tad towards perspiration. ;-)

    But the principle is there. Giftedness and genius is best proven by production. Being "potentially gifted" isn't bad, though, if you can find a way to break through the inaction barrier.

  4. I agree with you! With Inattentive ADHD the real struggle is not with inspirtation. It is the perspiration and motivation skills that must be developed.

    Thank you for reading!

  5. A child can be gifted AND have an inattention disorder. He would meet all the criteria on your gifted listed as well as your inattentive list. Other symptoms include hyperfocus - that's when a kid can concentrate intently for long periods on a project, getting "lost in his work," but lacks a normal child's awareness of what's going on around him, including the passage of time or someone calling his name. There's also an extreme tendency forget simple things, notebooks, lunch, etc., but an exceptional academic memory. Think "absent minded professor." They can really struggle with the simple, routine parts of being a student like time management and organization. These kids appear much more gifted when they are challenged and their brains are stimulated, but much more ADD when they are bored and find their work tedius. So it's VERY important that teachers understand how to handle them.

  6. Thanks for your comment. My son can be thinking about something academic and get lost in the "thinking". He is not bored he is just thinking more than doing. There are many kids with Inattentive ADD who are gifted. It is helfpul to be gifted if you have ADD but everyone with ADD is not bored or gifted, IMHO.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.