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ADHD in Children Health Center

Are Children With ADHD Gifted?

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Gifted or Not, Children With ADHD Suffer continued...

Abramowitz doesn't agree that ADHD kids are specially gifted, or that being told they have ADHD necessarily harms their self-esteem. But she does agree that it's important to build on whatever special strengths a child with ADHD may have.

That approach makes sense to Elza Vasconcellos, MD, a pediatric neurologist at Miami Children's Hospital. Vasconcellos treats children with ADHD -- and is the mother of a child who has ADHD.

"ADHD kids have a lot of gifts and a lot of good things about them," she says. "Many are very artistic with music, with art. They are talkative, able to multitask, and social. When I talk to parents, I try to encourage those gifts."

On the other hand, Vasconcellos says, ADHD often makes it hard for children to use their gifts.

"With drawing, for example, some of these children cannot even focus long enough to draw a straight line," she says. "And while they may tend to be more social, some are so impulsive other kids have trouble being around them."

Gifted ADHD Children Less Impaired?

There's a lot to like about the Honos-Webb approach, says behavioral-developmental pediatrician Lawrence Diller, MD, author of Remembering Ritalin.

Like Honos-Webb, Diller sees ADHD "more as personality- and temperament-based rather than a mental disorder or a chemical imbalance."

"Impulsivity can be seen as spontaneity, and hyperactivity could be vitality -- but. There is a big 'but,'" he says. "The 'but' is that her work applies only to children with mild qualities of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Once you go beyond the mild, ADHD is the flip side of something positive. The children's struggles with family, schools, and peers diminish the positiveness of it."

Honos-Webb doesn't make this distinction. Her view is that ADHD is not something a child has, but a set of behaviors a child does. By working to understand why their child behaves in those ways, she feels parents can find ways to motivate the child to change those behaviors.

"Many parents actually buy into the idea their child cannot succeed, and many more are fearful their children will fail," she says. "If they find a child's gifts, it is like a jet stream. They get to where they want to go with less pushing."

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