Frankie was a daydreamer, so much so that he continually frustrated teachers
when he just couldn't concentrate on what they said. Both Sam and Virginia were
considered "problem" kids as well, talking so incessantly in school
they frequently disrupted the class.
Little Tommy had so much energy he was often asked to actually leave the
room, while Nicky gave both his teachers and his parents cause for great
concern with impulsive, oftentimes dangerous behaviors.
When teens with ADHD take reckless risks, their parents are understandably upset. But grounding the teen or yanking his driver's license can backfire.
"The challenge is not to prevent a kid with ADD from doing anything else that any other adolescent would do," says UCLA pyschiatry professor Mark DeAntonio, MD.
Instead, the parents' task is to keep their teen safe, without nipping their development in the bud.
"You don't want to make the person a child," says Harold Robert Meyer, founder and executive...
In many circles, these children would likely be diagnosed with ADHD --
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a neurologically based diagnosis
hallmarked by a lack of attention, an abundance of misused energy and random,
impulsive behavior, all of which can severely limit a child's ability to
But that diagnosis might be a big mistake. The reason: The childhood
behaviors described above were exhibited by some of the brightest, most
creative minds of our time: architect Frank Lloyd Wright, writers Samuel Taylor
Coleridge and Virginia Woolf, and inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
Indeed, while many experts automatically link overexcited, impulsive, and
even disruptive behavior to ADHD, there are some who believe this same conduct
may simply be the earmarks of profound creativity looking for a way to
"People who don't understand intelligence and giftedness and creativity
think that if you're smart you ought to know how to behave, and if you don't
behave you're not smart -- or you have something wrong with you -- but that
couldn't be further from the truth," says Minnesota child psychologist
Deborah Ruf, PhD, National Gifted Children's Coordinator for American Mensa and
author of the book Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind.
Ruf tells WebMD that as a result, an alarming number of children who are
simply creative, gifted individuals are mistakenly being diagnosed with
"The numbers are just astounding -- you have to assume that something is
amiss here," says Ruf.
Clearly, creativity and ADHD are not the same, but they do have some
behaviors in common, derived mostly from what San Diego child development
expert Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD, calls a "common shared pathway," or
similar neurological chemistry, within the brain itself.