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Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders

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Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD, or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and inappropriate counseling as a result. Physicians, psychologists, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD, or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and inappropriate counseling as a result. Physicians, psychologists, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that mimic pathological diagnoses. Six nationally prominent health care professionals describe ways parents and professionals can distinguish between gifted behaviors and pathological behaviors. "These authors have brought to light a widespread and serious problem?the wasting of lives from the misdiagnosis of gifted children and adults and the inappropriate treatment that often follows." Jack G. Wiggins, Ph. D., Former President, American Psychological Association


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Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD, or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and inappropriate counseling as a result. Physicians, psychologists, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD, or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and inappropriate counseling as a result. Physicians, psychologists, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that mimic pathological diagnoses. Six nationally prominent health care professionals describe ways parents and professionals can distinguish between gifted behaviors and pathological behaviors. "These authors have brought to light a widespread and serious problem?the wasting of lives from the misdiagnosis of gifted children and adults and the inappropriate treatment that often follows." Jack G. Wiggins, Ph. D., Former President, American Psychological Association

30 review for Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders

  1. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    Because psychologists and teachers very often are not trained about gifted children, and because the quirky behavior traits of giftedness resemble symptoms of various disorders, gifted children are often misdiagnosed as having disorders they don't actually have. Conversely, because gifted children can compensate for learning disabilities and still perform satisfactorily, they often have their learning disabilities go undetected. This book was written to help parents, teachers, and psychologists Because psychologists and teachers very often are not trained about gifted children, and because the quirky behavior traits of giftedness resemble symptoms of various disorders, gifted children are often misdiagnosed as having disorders they don't actually have. Conversely, because gifted children can compensate for learning disabilities and still perform satisfactorily, they often have their learning disabilities go undetected. This book was written to help parents, teachers, and psychologists understand what behaviors are merely typical of gifted children, and which rise to the level of disorder or disability. When I was going through school, there was no "dual labeling" of students as both gifted and LD (now "special needs"). You were either LD, normal, or gifted. When the school system wanted to put me in an LD class in first grade, my parents declined because I was doing acceptably academically. Although I continued to do well academically (with the exception of handwriting and spelling), it apparently never occurred to anyone that I might also be gifted until mandatory, universal IQ testing of the 6th grade class. At that point, I went on to more advanced classes and continued to do well academically, and I did not hit a wall with my visual-spatial disability until college mathematics, at which point I simply gave up the idea of majoring in math. So this book was of interest to me because it helped me confirm the learning disability that was never officially confirmed, and it helped me to find some comfort in observing that some of my quirky traits are "typical" of gifted people. It was also interesting for me to learn that my horrible handwriting is part and parcel of my visual-spatial issues. I thought this book provided valuable and through information about a variety of disorders, though I would have liked considerable more detail in the Asperger's section.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    I was disappointed in this book, because I felt like the dual diagnosis wasn't really part of it. The book focused on how gifted traits can often appear to be some other disorder, but really aren't. There was a lot of describing what the various disorders are and what their traits are like, and what traits a gifted person would display that might be mistaken. And here and there there was mention of people with a dual diagnosis, but not enough. Basically, it said that yes, gifted people can have I was disappointed in this book, because I felt like the dual diagnosis wasn't really part of it. The book focused on how gifted traits can often appear to be some other disorder, but really aren't. There was a lot of describing what the various disorders are and what their traits are like, and what traits a gifted person would display that might be mistaken. And here and there there was mention of people with a dual diagnosis, but not enough. Basically, it said that yes, gifted people can have other disorders as well, but most of the time a gifted child is mistaken to have some type of disorder. As someone who is gifted and has at least three "lovely" additional disorders, I felt this book did me little good (except explain a bit why my therapist had a hard time diagnosing the ADHD at first, because my giftedness compensated).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    This book was extremely helpful to me. I am a homeschooling parent of a very bright child who has had some developmental and sensory issues and is frankly just exhausting! Everyone is always commenting on how very bright my child seems and though I have mostly agreed I always wondered, "Then why does she have so many 'issues'!?!" I loved that they discussed physical symptoms sleep issues, food allergies/sensitivities, and reactive hypoglycemia, and sensory sensitivity and explain that this is a This book was extremely helpful to me. I am a homeschooling parent of a very bright child who has had some developmental and sensory issues and is frankly just exhausting! Everyone is always commenting on how very bright my child seems and though I have mostly agreed I always wondered, "Then why does she have so many 'issues'!?!" I loved that they discussed physical symptoms sleep issues, food allergies/sensitivities, and reactive hypoglycemia, and sensory sensitivity and explain that this is a very common "constellation of behaviors that generally co-occur". One thing that concerned me a little is that in the chapter about ADHD the only treatment they discuss is prescription medication. They remedy this a bit in the later chapter discussing food sensitivities but I think more could be said about this. Also I am curious why there was no chapter about Asperger's Syndrome or Autism.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Very eye-opening. Every parent who has quirky or intense kids should read this. And copies that are worn from use need to be on every teacher's shelf. The main idea: Being bright is not the summation of giftedness. It is pervasive; it effects almost every aspect of a gifted child or adults life - from the way they interact with people, to the way they learn, to the way they behave and experience emotions. The idea that gifted people have it easier than the rest is a myth - and a potentially dama Very eye-opening. Every parent who has quirky or intense kids should read this. And copies that are worn from use need to be on every teacher's shelf. The main idea: Being bright is not the summation of giftedness. It is pervasive; it effects almost every aspect of a gifted child or adults life - from the way they interact with people, to the way they learn, to the way they behave and experience emotions. The idea that gifted people have it easier than the rest is a myth - and a potentially damaging mindset for a parent or teacher of a gifted child to have.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is a detailed study of how gifted characteristics can appear to be different disorders, such as ADD, ODD, mood disorders, etc. That's not to say that your gifted child doesn't have ADHD (it's possible!), but all too often a child is diagnosed with a disorder when in reality the symptoms are just the quirks of being gifted. The book also discusses learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, and how they can be masked by a child's giftedness. This book is not a substitute for an evaluation if yo This is a detailed study of how gifted characteristics can appear to be different disorders, such as ADD, ODD, mood disorders, etc. That's not to say that your gifted child doesn't have ADHD (it's possible!), but all too often a child is diagnosed with a disorder when in reality the symptoms are just the quirks of being gifted. The book also discusses learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, and how they can be masked by a child's giftedness. This book is not a substitute for an evaluation if your child is having trouble at home or at school. It won't tell you if the problem is ODD, ADD, or boredom. But it will arm you with some valuable information with which to question a system that prefers that you use medication to fix a problem that could better be solved with situational or behavioral changes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book was recommended to me by the school counselor. I didn't read the entire book, only the four chapters that interested me the most (introduction, adhd, anger, relationships). It certainly gave me something to think about, but also highlighted the limitations of our public school system. This book was recommended to me by the school counselor. I didn't read the entire book, only the four chapters that interested me the most (introduction, adhd, anger, relationships). It certainly gave me something to think about, but also highlighted the limitations of our public school system.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    This book is a thorough treatment of the ways in which giftedness can affect the diagnoses of people. Recommended for all interested in gifted people.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    This is a two-part review. The beginning will present what is included in the book and why it is valuable. Afterward, I have included an explanation about why and how I came to find this book in case someone is looking for validation, understanding and further resources. This book was vital in completing my understanding of my gifted child and myself. It is written by six professionals with extensive experience and expertise when working with gifted individuals. This book is useful for gifted in This is a two-part review. The beginning will present what is included in the book and why it is valuable. Afterward, I have included an explanation about why and how I came to find this book in case someone is looking for validation, understanding and further resources. This book was vital in completing my understanding of my gifted child and myself. It is written by six professionals with extensive experience and expertise when working with gifted individuals. This book is useful for gifted individuals, parent's of gifted children, teachers who want to know how to meet the needs of gifted children in their classrooms, and health professionals/therapists wanting or needing to provide services to gifted individuals. The breakdown of each chapter made the reading straightforward and applicable. General characteristics of giftedness are explained to lay a groundwork for what is typical for this population. Then each following chapter covers a specific diagnosis or group of diagnoses. I found it particularly helpful that each chapter specifically addresses the similarities and differences of gifted behavior and the other diagnoses ending with "incompatible or contradictory features." Essentially breaking down process of elimination or identification. For example: If your child displays these behaviors . . . they may have ADHD but these behaviors can also found in gifted individuals for these reasons . . . If the individual can sometimes . . . they most likely do not have ADHD because that quality is rare in that population. The chapters cover: ADD/ADHD; Anger Diagnoses (Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder); Ideational and Anxiety Disorders (OCD, Asperger's, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder); Mood Disorders (Bipolar disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Depressive Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Existential Depression); Learning Disabilities (Dyslexia & other Language-Based Disorders, Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, Sensory-Motor Integration Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder); Sleep Disorders; Allergies, Asthma and Reactive Hypoglycemia. Testing, medication, relationship issues and how to select a Health Care Professional/Counselor are also covered throughout the book. The fact that the book is nearly 15 years old at my reading doesn't affect the content. My child's story of being identified as gifted did not begin with common signs such as self-taught learning at age 2 or a prodigious talent in a specific area. We knew he was smart and ahead of his peers, sometimes he would even astound us with his knowledge, but we felt that a spectrum of intelligence exists for all people so we didn't think this remarkable. He was smart. We could handle that. Then, he began school and everything went wrong. He was fortunate enough to have some patient teachers to begin with but by the end of first grade an assessment was called for and it was suggested he was on the autism spectrum. I felt ambushed and blind-sided. It was like he was Dr. Jekyll at home and Mr. Hyde, who I'd never met, at school. In the end they found that he didn't fit on the autism spectrum but his emotional and social skills were behind and he maxed out on their IQ test. (It would be a while before I learned of the asynchronous development of gifted children.) School continued to be a huge struggle in spite of services provided so we eventually turned to homeschooling where I finally met the Mr. Hyde side of my child. I was overwhelmed. We went to a therapist and by the end of the first appointment she helped me understand what was at the root of everything. What we struggled with everyday was because our child was gifted. Not just smart, which is what society implies giftedness is. He thinks differently and sees and experiences the world differently. I was reading everything I could about giftedness A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children (the best starting point, in my opinion), Living with Intensity, hoagiesgifted.org, sengifted.org, and other various blogs. Suddenly I was understanding and feeling validated. It was when I read Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World by Deborah Reber where I laughed at her parenting coach who said, "I've never had a parent come to see me and excitedly exclaim that their child is gifted. If they do then I know the child probably isn't actually gifted. Because highly gifted children are typically very challenging. In fact, being highly gifted is actually a special need in its own right." As I was reading Ms. Reber's book, new questions surfaced. Her son's story (Who is Autistic -Aspergers - and has ADHD) and some of the other vignette's seemed too similar to our own. Was something more going on with my son in addition to his giftedness? Ms. Reber is an advocate with experience but she is not a researcher or mental health professional. That's where this book, Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults, came in. It completed the picture for me for the reasons listed in my review above. I encourage you to look to support groups, blogs, websites, and other books for validation but come here for mental health and diagnosis advice.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheridan

    This book was amazing for me to read. I have a gifted son who has learning issues and other issues as well. I am struggling to understand him. I honestly think for me this book has answered SO many of my questions about him. The book is written for doctors, teachers or parents who are working with or trying to understand gifted children. The book goes over different diagnoses that children may get. It talks about how often gifted children have "symptoms" that may lead to diagnosis which are inco This book was amazing for me to read. I have a gifted son who has learning issues and other issues as well. I am struggling to understand him. I honestly think for me this book has answered SO many of my questions about him. The book is written for doctors, teachers or parents who are working with or trying to understand gifted children. The book goes over different diagnoses that children may get. It talks about how often gifted children have "symptoms" that may lead to diagnosis which are incorrect. It gives guidelines to figure out if they fit or not. For me it confirmed a diagnosis, but helped me feel reassured he does not have a different diagnosis as well. Often gifted kids are misdiagnosed and doctors don't realize how their giftedness can mimic ADHD, OCD, etc.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    Very informative book. Helps parents know when to ignore a "pediatrician diagnosed" issue when the child *really* needs a comprehensive psychological or neuropsychological evaluation. I knew that many learning disabilities and gifted qualities can mimic ADHD but was shocked at how many different things can be mistaken for ADHD by an untrained eye (parent OR untrained professional..the ped for example). All in all though, this book did help confirm our son's diagnosis (by the ped AND nueropsycholo Very informative book. Helps parents know when to ignore a "pediatrician diagnosed" issue when the child *really* needs a comprehensive psychological or neuropsychological evaluation. I knew that many learning disabilities and gifted qualities can mimic ADHD but was shocked at how many different things can be mistaken for ADHD by an untrained eye (parent OR untrained professional..the ped for example). All in all though, this book did help confirm our son's diagnosis (by the ped AND nueropsychologist) and I am thankful I'm informed and totally confident in the label. I would highly recommend this book to any parent or family member who suspects ADHD in someone they love. Also a great read for teachers who deal with these kids often.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I only read this for the ADHD parts and skipped over the parts that didn't apply. Overall very good. I think there are a lot of idiots (and not necessarily idiots but overworked doctors) out there handing out diagnosis. This is a good book to read if you think your child is gifted but has also received another label. I only read this for the ADHD parts and skipped over the parts that didn't apply. Overall very good. I think there are a lot of idiots (and not necessarily idiots but overworked doctors) out there handing out diagnosis. This is a good book to read if you think your child is gifted but has also received another label.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megan Mcallister

    Very good read. There is an amazing amount of things that are common to gifted children that I would never have paired with gifted traits. You go away from this book feeling like someone is making it all make sense and laying out a map for you. However to get 5 stars I would need them to tell me what I actually could do about it all.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book is one of the best books I have read that explains how gifted childrent can be misdiagnosed or have overlapping symptoms with other problems. Everyone I have loaned this to has also said it was worth reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sippy

    Quite a good book. Unfortunately mainly about gifted children. Probably (partly) caused by the lack of knowledge about gifted adults. Nevertheless interesting read. Skipped the paragraphs and chapters which were irrelevant to my research.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    I read only the sections that were relevant to me, but I was impressed by this book. I'd recommend it to anyone who is trying to untangle the web of giftedness and frequently diagnosed mental disorders. I read only the sections that were relevant to me, but I was impressed by this book. I'd recommend it to anyone who is trying to untangle the web of giftedness and frequently diagnosed mental disorders.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meggityb

    Constant reference book

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I recommend that all psychologists read the first chapter, because it provides a very comprehensive profile of gifted children. The chapter on comorbidity with ADHD was excellent, too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    This book is really opening my eyes and teaching me a lot about my daughter Emily. This has been a LONG journey and I think I'm finally getting some answers. This book is really opening my eyes and teaching me a lot about my daughter Emily. This has been a LONG journey and I think I'm finally getting some answers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    A fascinating look at how children who are ahead can still be left behind. A must read for anyone associated with Gifted people.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany O'neill

    This is one of the most valuable texts I own. A must have for every educator in the field of gifted education!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jehnie

    After reading two chapters I ordered a copy for my bookshelf. I can see handing sections of this book to well-meaning teachers and other adult figures in the next few years.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Altman

    The book that will make you say, "Why the fuck didn't my parents read this when *I* was a kid!??!" The book that will make you say, "Why the fuck didn't my parents read this when *I* was a kid!??!"

  23. 5 out of 5

    MNBooks

    An amazing resource for providers, parents, and those interested in neuroscience! This was an Amazon suggestion, and my jaw actually dropped reading the introduction when the authors discussed how little time is spent on gifted learners during med school (literal advice given: when cognitive testing, go ahead and stop after you hit an IQ of 130). Obviously there are real consequences to being too far off the bell curve.. we’re talking 140s or god help them 160s (like the 9 yr old who’s in colleg An amazing resource for providers, parents, and those interested in neuroscience! This was an Amazon suggestion, and my jaw actually dropped reading the introduction when the authors discussed how little time is spent on gifted learners during med school (literal advice given: when cognitive testing, go ahead and stop after you hit an IQ of 130). Obviously there are real consequences to being too far off the bell curve.. we’re talking 140s or god help them 160s (like the 9 yr old who’s in college and insulted his peers on TV—super smart and the emotional intelligence of an elementary student… ouch). It’s easy to skip around to the sections of interest and get right to specific information. I will be fully re-reading in detail as there was tons of useful information and details to absorb here and will be a useful reference for all those interested in this field! Although this book is a helpful first step, I think the authors will have lots of material for a follow up on how this relates to the healthcare system and insurance. For example, children may benefit from behavioral interventions even if they don’t meet criteria for a diagnosis. However, our medical system is set up so that a diagnosis is REQUIRED for that to occur. I’m sure that contributes to an overwhelming number of misdiagnosed kiddos—doctors approach all assessments like a “where’s Waldo”—find the underlying disorder so they can bill for the their time. Until that changes, I see many kids and families dealing with labels and confusion when what they really need is advice on living with a kid who is the equivalent of a 16yr old stuck in a 7 yr olds body.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vincent

    Of the three books I have recently read about giftedness and gifted people, I would have to say this one was probably my favorite. Noks was somewhat interesting, but had some focuses (on work settings and social clashes) that did not particularly concern me, and Siaud-Facchin was a tad elementary, although I appreciated the focus on the gifted adult for a change. This book, however, in attempting to clarify how the presentation of giftedness differs and can be distinguished from certain other ps Of the three books I have recently read about giftedness and gifted people, I would have to say this one was probably my favorite. Noks was somewhat interesting, but had some focuses (on work settings and social clashes) that did not particularly concern me, and Siaud-Facchin was a tad elementary, although I appreciated the focus on the gifted adult for a change. This book, however, in attempting to clarify how the presentation of giftedness differs and can be distinguished from certain other psychological or, sometimes, physiological diagnoses, necessarily went a bit more in depth, which was fantastic. And this focus on differences and uniquely distinctive traits gives a much more thorough understanding of what it really means, or can mean, to be gifted. The book is nicely divided into chapters, at first by possible alternative diagnosis, later on by certain aspects of being gifted or seeking assistance with giftedness, so that you can read especially about those aspects that are relevant to your particular situation. For me too, some parts were more relevant than others, but I read the book in full and greatly enjoyed it all the way through. If there's one minor criticism I can give, it's that even in spite of their effort to include the gifted adult in their discussion, there was still a rather big, matter-of-course focus on the gifted child in particular. But at least they explicitly refer to gifted adults many times, too, and even include some sections that are of specific relevance to this often overlooked group.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Good, with some reservations. It was helpful for me, as I've been struggling with these questions in my own life for quite a while now. But also I'm well read in the area and able to read between the lines as needed. The book was based off an old version of the DSM and is inaccurate with regards to some diagnoses (most particularly "Asperger's Disorder," with no mention of autism), and in my opinion didn't do enough to counter the potential misinterpretation of "oh my child isn't broken, they're Good, with some reservations. It was helpful for me, as I've been struggling with these questions in my own life for quite a while now. But also I'm well read in the area and able to read between the lines as needed. The book was based off an old version of the DSM and is inaccurate with regards to some diagnoses (most particularly "Asperger's Disorder," with no mention of autism), and in my opinion didn't do enough to counter the potential misinterpretation of "oh my child isn't broken, they're special!" due to a portrayal of the various disorders as always-negative attributes instead of aspects of neurodiversity as they are now thought to be. With those caveats, though, very helpful! Did a good job of differentiating between diagnosable disorder and aspect of giftedness with clear indicators in either direction and suggestions for treatment or adjustment of environment of the child. Not much focus on the adult, unfortunately, but some of that can be extrapolated. Overall, glad I read it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This is one of the most useful books about giftedness and twice exceptionality I've come across. As a parent, I'm focusing on the sections about ADHD and ODD. But, oh man, the anxiety section is digging up some baggage for this grown up gifted child! To be clear, the authors pick apart characteristics of giftedness and differentiate them from mental diagnoses. It will not give you strategies for helping your neurodivergent child. This is one of the most useful books about giftedness and twice exceptionality I've come across. As a parent, I'm focusing on the sections about ADHD and ODD. But, oh man, the anxiety section is digging up some baggage for this grown up gifted child! To be clear, the authors pick apart characteristics of giftedness and differentiate them from mental diagnoses. It will not give you strategies for helping your neurodivergent child.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erika Powers

    I found the similarities and differences between add and giftedness interesting. It didn't include Borderline Personality Disorder, a bit disappointing for me. I didn't read it all but what I did read was very good. I have yet to read the section on depression but my add is getting the best of me. I found the similarities and differences between add and giftedness interesting. It didn't include Borderline Personality Disorder, a bit disappointing for me. I didn't read it all but what I did read was very good. I have yet to read the section on depression but my add is getting the best of me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    excellent book that describes how traits of gifted learners can be mistaken for learning or mental disorders. also explains what it looks like when a gifted learner does have each of these conditions. highly recommend for anyone that is a parent of or works with gifted kids.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Mauerhofer

    Excellent overview, great mix of strutured information and case studies illustrating the possible ways of misdiagnosis and overlapping phenomenon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Shelan Katz

    Mandatory reading for anyone raising or teaching a gifted child and navigating the fine line of various diagnoses. Helpful for my profoundly gifted and autistic daughter with adhd.

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