ADHD + Gifted = "Average"?

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    • #54058

      So my gifted son is entering his sophomore year. He is highly inattentive and disorganized. Last year, I tried to get a 504 in place which would require his teachers to sign a small book I created for him, similar to an agenda, in which he wrote down his assignments and the teacher acknowledged them as well as any turned in assignments (another area of difficulty). But I was told because my son was already performing “above average” that they didn’t need to provide any accommodations. That seemed wrong to me – my son is not achieving at a level of which he is capable. But I’m not sure how to fight that battle. Any suggestions? Thanks!

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by 2GreatKids.
    • #54072

      I was in that exact situation when my son was in middle school . He is a gifted child with an extremely high IQ and has performed very well academically up until high school . As you have found with your own child the scaffolding that they get in the early years can mask their poor executive functioning if they are indeed very bright . I urge you to be a very squeaky wheel and push push push to get what you need for your child . If you have had all the testing done they should be able to put something in place for him . If he isn’t public school he should be able to get an advocate if in private school their staff should also be there for his support . It does take a lot of effort on your part and, I’m sure you realize, a lot of frustration. My son is about to enter senior year and is still struggling with underperformance due to poor executive functioning and misunderstanding despite the fact that he is a incredibly bright kid . There is no silver bullet for this I’m afraid but entails a lot of dedicated effort on your part as a mother and as your child’s advocate . Good luck and stay squeaky

    • #54074
      Penny Williams

      The problem is that the law leaves “appropriate education” up to the determination of the school staff. And there is no measure anywhere in IDEA or Section 504 that promises or even addresses “potential.” This was pointed out to me very early on — my son also has ADHD (and autism) and a gifted IQ. With a TON of micromanaging and school meetings on my part, he barely squeaks by as average, and that’s in inclusion classes, not gifted classes.

      It is very hard to see your child’s intelligence, then watch them struggle to even get by in school. It is heartbreaking. One thing that has helped me during the last couple years in middle school is reminding myself that college (if he goes) and career will be something of his choosing in areas of his interest. Where, right now, he’s just a square peg trying to be shoved in a round hole. He learns differently than schools teach. He just doesn’t do school well, and that’s ok, because that DOES NOT mean he can’t do well in the future.

      Unlocking the Potential of Gifted Kids with ADHD

      It is a complete myth that a child has to be failing or behind grade level to qualify for accommodations and services in school ( Unfortunately, far too many teachers and administrators don’t understand the laws and what they are to do for students with learning differences and other disabilities.

      Step-by-Step Guide for Securing ADHD Accommodations at School

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #55369

      One thing you might want to consider is to see if you can get a few teachers on board voluntarily, for example in the classes he struggles in the most. Even if the school as a whole is opposed to providing formal accommodations such as a 504, I have found that most teachers are very willing to work with students to help them in this area if it’s done in a way that is not overly disruptive or time consuming for the teacher. For example, perhaps a teacher wouldn’t have time to write the assignments down in his book at the end of each class, but if he wrote them down ahead of time and brought the book to the teacher after the bell so as to not disrupt teaching time (or after school or whenever is best for the teacher), then it wouldn’t be too hard for them to quickly look it over and initial it.

      If you don’t have any luck with this, keep in mind that the overall goal of this type of tracking system is for your son to develop good habits and skills and find tools that will work for him in the future (when he won’t have you or teachers to double check things). So it is still very beneficial for him to use a tracking system like this book on his own even if you don’t have the teacher’s input.

      Good luck!

      Joyce Mabe
      Parenting Coach, school counselor, author, mom of adult son with ADHD

    • #56930

      Yes, your child can absolutely qualify for special education services even if he is performing above grade level. The IDEA does not provide specifics, and that is mostly to allow varying degrees of abilities to be accounted for in IEPs, but it does not limit services only to those children who are below grade level. If his disability is impacting his ability to access the curriculum, then an educational program should be developed to fit his specific needs. However, that does not mean it will be easy to get the school system to agree. I would recommend hiring an attorney or advocate to help facilitate discussions with the school, but remember, you have a right to file a due process complaint against the school and force them to defend their denials in a legal setting.

    • #56932

      There is nothing in the DSM criteria that speaks to the childs intelligence. What defines ADHD is symptoms and intelligence is never mentioned. In fact many people with ADHD are very intelligent. You need to find a good doctor that specializes in ADHD and have your child evaluated. Then walk into a meeting with a diagnosis from a doctor. If they ignore that – then the fun can begin. Check out this link.

    • #56935

      I am an Intervention Specialist and there are a few things that you can do. First, in order to prove the need for a 504 the student needs to be performing at least 2 standard deviations from their norm. In my brothers case, he took the ACT and got a 32 first try as a sophomore, but was receiving C’s, D’s and F’s in his classes. In order to prove that he needed help, my parents pointed out his test scoring in comparison to his assignment grades. We found that at the high school level some teachers were not willing to accommodate him by signing his agenda to verify assignments had been written down/completed either.
      IQ is an indicator that can be used to determine if a student needs/qualifies for services but is not the only or most reliable indicator.
      Every school district has parent advocates available for your use. I recommend getting a hold of an advocate and seeing what they can do to help.
      The official term for a student who has a disability and is gifted is “Double exceptionality”. This is just being recognized in the field of special education. Some school districts and teachers are informed of it and others are not. I don’t know if your son has been officially tested through the district, but every parent has the right to say I want my student tested to see if they qualify for special education services and the school must test him. This does not mean that he will qualify for services but official testing could provide evidence to support your position that your student is both gifted and has a disability. Frequently this testing will show gaps in his executive functioning’s that can be significant enough to qualify for a 504 if not an IEP. If he is officially in the gifted classes then there is some testing on file to determine that he is gifted and you can use some of that information to help prove the two standard deviation of lack of performance.
      I hope this helps! Good luck!

      • #57158
        Penny Williams

        Not all states used a minimum gap between test scores to qualify for special education anymore. Here in NC, 8 years ago my son was denied special education because the deviation wasn’t large enough. Two years later, he was evaluated again and qualified because that was no longer the method of qualification.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #56938

      Thank you – school started yesterday and I want to address it sooner rather than later. As a newly single mom, I doubt I can afford to hire an attorney (still paying for one!) but I will investigate the parent advocate route. We don’t live in a great school district so I’m not overly hopeful they will have these resources but I need to try. He has been tested and diagnosed as gifted and has an IEP in place for such. But at his grade and his enrollment in an IB program, there isn’t much differentiated education for gifted.

      Alex took the ACT halfway through 7th grade and received a 27. His freshman grades were on average a B level, but as an IB program, these are weighted as a 4.0. He received high marks on all his final/end of course exams but during the year struggled to keep a B, had several Cs (even in classes where he received an A in final exam) and even a D once. Mostly due to homework and organizational issues.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

    • #56940

      Here is a guide that was provided to all school districts as it relates to providing students with ADHD receiving 504 plans and services under IDEA. I have attached this guide which is about 42 pages I hope this helpsGuidance on 504 plans and IEPs for students with ADHD

    • #56945

      First you need a diagnosis from a doctor/neurologist to support your claim. Second, request the meeting with the school officials and have that information on hand, let them know that you will go to district and raise hell if your child doesn’t get reasonable accommodations through an IEP (he can have both gifted classes and ADHD accomodations). By law the school districts have to work with you. If you are a single mom and your child may have Medicaid (not making an assumption just throwing this out there for other parents in similar situations) then the Federal Govt. is paying a Federal share for these services and I don’t see why the school wouldn’t want to work with you, the school even gets a Federal Share to cover admin costs.

      I have to go on a vacation shortly but please update post if you don’t get nowhere and I will get all the Federal criteria related to IEPs, your child is entitled to a reasonable accommodation because of his ADHD and intelligence is not a factor nor a criteria to get it. My son has a high IQ in the 3rd std deviation (fluid reasoning) yet he needs reasonable accommodation due to his ADHD in order to succeed and get good grades.

    • #56993

      I actually got into a very heated discussion during my 11-year-old sons last 504 meeting. My son is diagnosed Severe ADHD and considered “gifted”. He was in accelerated Language Arts in fourth grade and used to LOVE reading and chose reading over anything else. After his fourth grade year in Accelerated Language Arts, my son hates reading. The responsibility to read two books at once was far too much for him to manage along with everything else. Fast forward to Fifth grade where he was placed in Accelerated Math and as you can guess, he did not do so well! He scored Advanced in Science and Accelerated in Math and Language Arts on the Spring State Tests last school year. Seeing my son struggle SO much the last two years added way more stress on not only him but for us (his parents)! He is terrible at organizing himself especially the different subjects. Homework assignments were often forgotten and here’s the kicker… Classroom work wasn’t even being completed! I met with the school a number of times last year asking why his accommodations weren’t being met and what was the point in the 504 is it’s not being followed by the people who should be implementing it, his teachers! I begged the school for him to go back on an IEP because although he is smart and he is not “struggling academically” he STILL NEEDS SOMEONE TO HELP GUIDE HIM THROUGH HIS DAY!!!! Especially when his teachers aren’t delivering the accommodations from his 504. Allow an Aid to help him then. Now he’s starting Middle School in a week and I am scared Sh$%less because there is so much more responsibility and pressure that will be placed on him.

    • #57706

      In my former teaching position, one of my responsibilities was as a case manager for the 504 students. At least in our state, if your child has a documented medical diagnosis (i.e. ADHD) and needs accommodations to succeed in school, he cannot be denied a 504. It is illegal for a school to say no to a 504 plan if you have written verification by a licensed medical practitioner documenting your child’s diagnosis and need for accommodations. Perhaps this varies by state? If it happened here, you would have grounds for a lawsuit.

    • #58213

      I would push for an IEP under IDEA to have more input over your child’s accommodations in my opinion. Don’t give up on your kid, be persistent and go as far as you have to go, we’re the only advocates they have in the shcool public system.

      This is an excerpt from “Educational Rights for Children with ADHD in Public Schools” by the National Resource Center on AHDHD.

      IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that provides special education and related
      services needed for an eligible child with a disability to benefit from the child’s education. Services received under IDEA are often referred to as “special education.” An
      Individualized Education Program (IEP; sometimes called an Individualized Education Plan) is designed specifically for each eligible child with disabilities to provide a free
      appropriate public education (FAPE).

      Who is Eligible?
      A child is eligible for services under IDEA if he or she is identified with a qualified disability and, “by reason thereof,” needs special education and related services. A child with ADHD may qualify if the ADHD seriously impacts the child’s learning and/or behavior at school.

      To qualify for IDEA, a child must meet the criteria of at least one of 13 disability categories. Often children with ADHD will qualify under the Other Health Impairment (OHI)
      category. They may also qualify under Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) or Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED).

    • #58598

      NO. He is twice exceptional. The school doesn’t have to give him certain types of academic support, but they do have to address his disability, just like with a deaf kid.

      My 14 year old has accommodations for his severe dysgraphia. He is in college.

    • #59833

      I can’t guarantee I have the answer to this question, but I recently wrote a book on people who’ve been successful with ADHD. They all struggled with motivation for things they find boring, like studying at uni for a subject that is not a huge passion, and no amount of pushing can make them enjoy something that’s not exciting enough for them.

      Saying that, my real ADHD superstars have all been hugely successful on their OWN terms, in achieving their OWN life goals. I have ADHD myself, came second in my year at school with all A’s, never studied at uni, and felt huge amounts of expectation on my shoulders. I’ve ended up with advanced degrees in subjects that I’m completely uninterested in using. I’m only just finding my way now, by following my real passion of entrepreneurship. And it’s a similar story for my friends.

      I decided to write the book because an interesting thought struck me. All of the entrepreneurs in my phonebook have ADHD. They all have very interesting lives (far more interesting than my non-ADHD friends). And I wanted to know how it can possibly be that this is considered a “disorder,” if once people cast off the expectations and structure of the rather grey and imposing system, they can blossom into whatever they want to be.

      In my book I interview real ADHD entrepreneurs to find out how they used the traits of ADHD as an advantage, and avoid dropping through the gaps.

      Their insight can help you see through the eyes of a someone with ADHD, from childhood to adulthood. They talk a lot about how they found their way, what they thought of the education system, their parents, passions and success.

      Rachel McKnight

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