The Misunderstood Face of Giftedness

The Misunderstood Face of Giftedness

sometimes being gifted effectively hides learning and mental health conditions. Giftedness may over-compensate for weaknesses, masking the weakness and sometimes the giftedness. Despite the seriousness of misdiagnosis, physicians are exposed to an alarmingly few articles in the pediatric medical literature about the complexities of giftedness, while many parents also hesitate in discussing giftedness with their doctors, some with the belief that giftedness plays no role in medical health.

Dr. James T. Webb, clinical psychologist, author, and founder of SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted), stated, “Unfortunately, extremely few psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, or other health care professionals receive any training about characteristics of gifted children and adults, particularly behaviors of bright, creative persons that can sometimes resemble or conceal disorders.”

So, while some gifted kids are erroneously labeled and medicated for mental health disorders they do not have, others are unrecognized for learning or mental disorders they do have.

Normal giftedness can be easily confused with a diagnosable mental disorder. Gifted kids may talk a lot, have high levels of energy, and be impulsive or inattentive or distractible in some settings — similar to symptoms of ADHD. It’s not unusual for gifted kids to struggle socially, have meltdowns over minor issues, or have unusual all-consuming interests — all pointing to an inappropriate diagnosis of autism.

What results is that the gifted frequently feel alone and alien in a world that doesn’t fully understand them.”


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