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Gifted Children with ADHD

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Is our daughter gifted?

My daughter aged 10 has been formally diagnosed with ADHD from about 7. As part of the support process we have had a WISC IV assessment of her approximately 2 years ago. The scores were as follows:

VCI Total 37
PR Total 40
WM Total 20
PS Total 14 (coding score of 5)
Overal total 111

Am I correct in understanding this can be equated to her IQ? I also believe I read somewhere that the VCI and PR elements could be interpreted independently to identify if a child is gifted.

I have seen other people quote scores in the hundreds I am guessing, please correct me if I am wrong that these elements are factored up i.e.

VCI base level 30 = IQ 100
in our case 37 = 123.3

PR base level 30 = IQ 100
in our case 40 = IQ 133

We have a dilemma in as much she has strong reading comprehension skills, is very quick to pick things up, often working things out before instructed, excellent general knowledge but has big problems in concentration and recording information. Her school test scores are just above average which we believe significantly undervalue her ability.

Teachers, head teachers and psychologists have acknowledged she is bright but we are struggling to find a way for this to be reflected through schoolwork / tests. Thanks for any help.

A: I can understand your concern. Children with ADHD (and other neuropsychological issues) often have difficulties with working memory and processing speed may result in lower Full Scale IQ (FSIQ) scores, as with your daughter's scores. In this case, it may be better to look at the General Ability Index (GAI) rather than the FSIQ. The GAI is a composite score that is based on three Verbal Comprehension and three Perceptual Reasoning subtests, and does not include the Working Memory or Processing Speed subtests included in the FSIQ.

The GAI score is less sensitive to the influence of working memory and processing speed. With reference to your daughter's scores, it shows that the working memory performance is discrepant from verbal comprehension performance; and processing speed performance is discrepant from perceptual reasoning performance at an unusual level.

It is also true that the Verbal Comprehension Index is the best of the four indices for predicting giftedness and your daughter's scores are above average. So, yes, there is a possibility that your daughter can be gifted but this would be best determined by a psychologist who is able to interpret the detail scores from each of the indices.

It is important that your daughter gets treated for ADHD; however not all interventions recommended for the disability may be suitable for all children with ADHD. Since treatment matching is crucial, you may need professional help from an ADHD expert. Researches have indicated time and again that it is very important to employ interventions that focus on developing the child's strengths, at the same time, attending to the disability. This helps produce positive results and even helps minimize socio-emotional concerns. Unfortunately, the tendency is always to focus on the weaknesses as in remediation of deficits. In fact, for a gifted child, this may actually worsen the problem.

You may need to discuss this with the school/teachers. It is very challenging to ensure a good fit in school for a child who has ADHD and is gifted. Therefore, an individual learning plan that addresses the child's intellectual, social and behavioral needs is crucial for the development of a gifted child with ADHD. Wishing you all the best!


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