My son's teacher has questioned whether or not he has ADHD. She asked if there was a history of ADHD in our family, I told her none. She then suggested with take him to our pediatrician for an evaluation because he exhibits many characteristics of ADHD such as not staying in his seat, inattentiveness, and disorganization. We know that he is totally disorganized. We also know that it is tough to get him to sit still. The inattentiveness is something we don't see at home. He can work on a Lego project for hours on end with no breaks. If he is interested in something, nothing stops him. Isn't inattentiveness required for an ADHD diagnosis? We know he is really bright, could he be inattentive because he isn't interested in what they are teaching?

Answer:

High ability children often exhibit intensity, sensitivity, impatience and high motor activity. These characteristics can easily be mistaken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). High ability children may be identified as having ADHD, when their behavioral characteristics are, in reality, the result of their ability level. It is interesting to compare characteristics of ADHD and Gifted children in the list below. It is possible for a child to be gifted and to have ADHD, but many gifted children who are labeled as having A

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My five year old son has started Kindergarten and is reading and solving math equations on a second grade level. His analytical thinking skills are way above par also. I am interested in learning ways to challenge him in the classroom.

Answer:

In my opinion, the key to happiness in school revolves around two concepts: compacting and interests. Compacting involves determining what the child has already mastered (subtracting with regrouping) and streamlining or eliminating instruction on that topic. Let’s say your son is in 2nd grade and the teacher is introducing subtraction with regrouping. Your son was doing that with proficiency in Kindergarten. The teacher wants to make sure he really understands the concept so she gives him a pretest. He does well (let’s say 80% or better) on the pretest. If there was a concept he did not understand in the 20% of the problems he missed, the teacher would streamline his instruction by teaching only those concepts to him. If the 20% reflected careless errors which he could easily correct, he could be compacted out of all of the instruction relating to subtraction with regrouping. Now the big question….what to do while the other children are learning what he already knows. This is where interest comes into the picture. The ideal is to allow him to work on a special project in his area of interest. If he loves history, he might work on something related to the Civil War while the other children are learning subtraction. If he is fascinated by planes, he might investigate Bernoulli’s Principle. Specific guidelines need to be established so that he has a sense of direction and so that the teacher feels comfortable with his progress. A great teacher guide on how to compact is:

by Joseph S. Renzulli, Sally M. Reis, Deborah H. Burns

And there is also a tutorial on Curriculum Compacting at: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/CurriculumCompacting/INDEX.HTM

The objective is to give him something to do

Some other possibilities:

If there is at least one other child in his class with whom he could work, the two children could be reading a book and discussing an open ended question while the class is learning the letter M.

Junior Great Books is a fabulous program and can be run by parent volunteers as well as teachers. www.greatbooks.org

While the class is working on what the number 5 means, a child who has mastered number sense could be working on something more complex such as number patterns… what comes next?

2 4 6 8 ________ _________ __________

2 5 8 11 ________ _________ __________

3 5 8 12 ________ _________ __________

Instead of adding single digit numbers, give him the answer. The answer is 12 – how many ways can you make 12? Encourage using more than two addends (4 + 3 + 5).

Anything that gets your son thinking about words and numbers and what they mean instead of just using them is wonderful. Where did words come from? Where did numbers come from? Why are words important? Why are numbers important?

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I have children who are highly intelligent, but have learning disabilities. While the school is providing tem with accommodations based on their learning disabilities, they refuse to allow them to participate in the gifted program. Aren’t they entitled to participate in the gifted program as well as special education?

Answer:

YES they are entitled! Children who are Twice Exceptional (Learning Disabled and Gifted) must have their strength areas addressed in addition to having accommodations for their weaker areas. My experience with students I have taught is that if we only dwell on their weaknesses, they develop what I call the "fraud complex". They believe they are intelligent at one point in their lives and then begin to feel like a fraud when they realize that they cannot produce as quickly as their classmates. They begin to feel that those great ideas that they have are not of any value because all they see is what is wrong with themselves, not what is right. If there are no children in the "gifted classes" who are entitled to accommodations, there are children who are not being properly identified as gifted. The number of gifted students with disabilities is much higher than most teachers and administrators realize. The experts aren't even sure of the exact number because so many of them are perceived as "average" students because their gift masks their disability and their disability masks their gift. Our mantra for all children, especially Twice Exceptional children should be: Nurture the Gift and Respect the Child - both are essential to help these children develop into productive adults.

There is a wealth of information online at Hoagies Gifted: www.hoagiesgifted.org/twice_exceptional.htm

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