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ADHD in Children Health Center

Understanding ADHD and the Creative Child

Creativity and ADHD share similar traits; now, some experts weigh in on how frequently the two are confused.
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Diagnosing ADHD While Redefining the Creative Spirit continued...

But the problem with that line of thinking, says Palladino, is that those making the diagnosis often don't stop to consider the complexity of the creative child's idea or the skill level necessary to carry it out.

"Very bright, creative kids are the ones who think of very elaborate ideas, so they sometimes have difficulty carrying them through simply because they don't have the learned skills necessary to do so," says Palladino.

By contrast, she says, sometimes the children who can bring their ideas to fruition do so because the idea is relatively simple to begin with.

"You have to ask yourself, which kid is more dysfunctional -- the one who came up with the brilliant idea and couldn't finish it, or the one who came up with the simple idea and did finish it? The answer isn't always so obvious," Palladino tells WebMD.

Complicating matters just a bit further: Being creative and having ADHD are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

"There are kids who are creative that are misdiagnosed with ADHD, there are kids with ADHD whose diagnosis is missed completely, and there is a very large part of this population that falls into what we call dual diagnosis, dual exceptionality, or 'twice blessed' -- we're not talking about 'or' but rather 'and' -- because having ADHD and being creative can coexist in one child," says Palladino.

Not only can they coexist, but some believe that not getting the "dual" part of the diagnosis right is the point at which many treatment plans fail.

"In most instances the goal of ADHD treatment is to remove the stimulation, when in fact, highly creative children actually seek stimulation, and when they don't get it, the behavior problems can escalate," says Cramond.

Conversely, she says, give them stimulating creative activities and "it goes right to the heart of what they need."

Bringing Out Your Child's Creative Best: What Every Parent Can Do

Whether your child is exhibiting a creative streak a mile wide, or they are, as Palladino says, "twice blessed" with a dual diagnosis, experts say one of the most effective ways to bring out their personal best is to stay "strength centered."

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