Assist for Gifted College students with ADHD
My child has ADHD. There. I said it. I’m not sure why this is so hard, but damn it is.
More specifically, my child is what they call “twice extraordinary” or 2e. He is highly intelligent and has another learning challenge. That challenge could be autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dyslexia, or a learning disability, but for my child, it’s ADHD.
My child’s giftedness made it incredibly difficult to recognize – and acknowledge – his ADHD.
Confusing 2e signs – and denial
The apparent signs of giftedness actually overlap in many places with the symptoms of ADHD. To make matters worse, stereotypical symptoms of ADHD – such as difficulty concentrating, impulsiveness, and fidgeting – don’t exactly apply to my child. He focuses hard on pleasant things and does not care about boring things. He occasionally loses patience with everyday activities. Sometimes he wobbles to get comfortable or sits upside down in chairs. Sometimes he doesn’t seem to pay attention when spoken to, but he can literally repeat what I just said. He often experiences strong emotions and sometimes has things he needs to resolve before a conversation ends.
[Free Download: What Learning Disabilities Look Like In the Classroom]
But all of these behaviors feel typical of a 7-year-old – at least that’s what I told myself when his teachers suggested a little more. I followed a winding road of denial where my inner dialogue looked something like this:
- My child is gifted and bored. Give him challenging and interesting material and he will excel.
- ADHD is only for hyperactive children or children who cannot concentrate. This is not my child.
- My kid is soooo good at everything, so it can’t possibly be bad at ___.
- ADHD is usually genetic. My husband and I were not diagnosed. We made it through school, each with their own set of challenges, but nothing like ADHD.
- There is so much stigma surrounding ADHD. Children with him are supposed to be annoying and disruptive and cause problems for teachers – and I don’t want my son to experience that. Even if he has ADHD, we can deal with his difficulties at home so that he is not automatically seen as a “problem” at school.
Confirmation – and a cry for help
After enough advice from teachers – some subtle, some less – we decided to have our child examined to end the conversation.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pretty sure my son was highly intelligent, nothing more. But half right is still right, isn’t it?
That’s why I say today after the evaluation that my son is gifted and has ADHD. He also has bouts of anxiety, perfectionism, and qualities that could develop into obsessive-compulsive disorder. Our child is the rainbow glitter of all his parents’ psychological inclinations. You’re welcome to this magical DNA, kid.
[Read: Unlocking the Potential of Gifted Kids with ADHD]
On the other hand, now that we know more about our child, we have a preliminary way forward. There are books and publications to read, experts to listen to, and podcasts that might help.
Even though I read and hear all of the things, I realize that there is a lack of resources and help for 2e kids. Everywhere I look I only find partial answers. It’s often the same two or three recommendations hidden in a less prominent section of an obscure article or publication. It’s incredibly frustrating.
Branch off doesn’t seem to help much. Does your child have strong feelings? Well, here are 800 more books to read about how you can help your child. But wait, it’s about reward systems and consequences and setting limits that don’t work for your child’s brain.
Is your child having trouble transitioning to less interesting tasks? Well, here’s a tip to try it out. One that you’ve probably tried already. If it doesn’t work, that’s all we have. Check out the previous 800 book recommendations (that didn’t apply to your child) to help you navigate emotions through these transitions.
Let’s dive deeper into 2e-specific topics. But wait. Did you mean gifted and dyslexic or gifted and autistic? Did you mean gifted and dyslexic and ADHD? No? Only gifted and ADHD? Well they are all the same. We throw them together and talk about it together. You can search through all of that talented and ADHD material to find the things that are relevant to you.
I get it. I really. The ADHD population is large. The intellectually gifted population is quite large. The 2e part is smaller. And the percentage of people specifically gifted with ADHD? Even smaller.
Why focus on such a small population? Who needs these special features? Well, experts and researchers, for one thing. And there i am. Right now. And in years when my child goes to middle school, high school, and college. And well into the future even when my children may have their own. I need it. As it stands, I keep looking. I will read 800 more books. I’ll listen to the podcasts. I will keep looking for tidbits that might help me out with my child.
2nd children: the next steps
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Updated June 24, 2021