AAP News TODAY 2016 - Sunday, October 23, 2016 - 17
AAPexperience.org | 17
Gifted Children Often Misdiagnosed With Developmental Disorders
During her son's well-child visit, a mom
tells you she is concerned because the youth
doesn't have any friends his age. On further
questioning, you discover he has an intense
interest in computers and above-average
math scores but has trouble focusing in
school and has frequent outbursts.
You decide to screen for autism spectrum
disorder (ADHD) and anxiety.
You could, however, be missing an important diagnosis - giftedness.
"These kids have a high vulnerability of
being misdiagnosed as just having one of
these other developmental conditions," said
Daniel Peters, PhD, a licensed psychologist and executive director of the Summit
Center in California.
Dr. Peters will describe the behavioral
characteristics and developmental trajectory
of children who have advanced abilities
during a session titled "The Gifted Child:
Misunderstood, Mislabeled, Misdiagnosed"
from 3:00-3:45 pm today (F2150) in
Room 3024 of Moscone West and from
8:30-9:15 am Monday (F3037) in Room
He also will discuss a national campaign
to educate physicians on misdiagnosis of
gifted people (www.sengifted.org/SENG_
Too often, giftedness is defined in terms
of IQ scores or academic achievement,
Dr. Peters said. However, it is "more than
just smart kids in smart classes." Individuals also can be advanced artistically, have
strong leadership abilities or excel in the
visual and performing arts.
A gifted child's intensity can manifest
itself as the body always moving; a thirst
for knowledge that drives him to search
the internet constantly; heightened sensory
awareness that may include discomfort
with certain types of clothing; an active
imagination; or emotional sensitivity that
can cause frequent meltdowns.
"We easily see how quickly these kids can
be misdiagnosed," Dr. Peters said.
Constant movement can look like
ADHD. Emotional over-excitability can
look like a mood disorder. A vivid imagination can be mistaken for inattentive
"What I tell people in all of the medical and allied professions is by having an
understanding of what this profile presents
like, you're over 50% there because you're
actually opening up another possibility,"
Dr. Peters said.
Once giftedness is on their radar, it's
important for pediatricians to be aware
that gifted children often have asynchronous development. For example, they may
be advanced in math or reading but have
poor fine motor or social skills. It also is
thought that gifted children react to and
are affected more by their environment
"There is a developmental trajectory and
profile, and intensities and sensitivities that
come with it," Dr. Peters said.
The key is to determine whether giftedness explains the intense, sensitive or difficult behavior or if the child is gifted and
has a co-occurring condition like anxiety or
Moscone West, Room 3024
Repeats as F3037, 8:30-9:10 am
Monday, Moscone West,
a learning disability. Gifted
referred to as
might be confused about
pediatricians can help them understand
that uneven development is common and
advise them on how to advocate for their
One of the primary myths about gifted
people is that because they have advanced
abilities, they are going to be just fine.
"They actually are at high risk for having
a number of challenges if they're not
understood and their different behavioral
trajectories are not supported," Dr. Peters
said. "We need to focus on the social and
emotional trajectories as much or more at
times than their intellectual or academic
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Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC
Atlanta, GA 30328
U.S. Patent No. 6,103,248 and other patents pending.
Please see full Prescribing Information for Sklice Lotion at www.Sklice.com.
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Reference: 1. Data on file. Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC.
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Sklice is a registered trademark of Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC
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©2016 Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC. All rights reserved.
Printed in U.S.A. PP-SKL-US-0167