Advanced Program for the ADHD Gifted
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My 9 year old girl is the poster child for ADHD in most
things, especially academics. She is inattentive, impulsive,
forgetful and very disorganized. She is always starting
things and never finishing them (or rushing through them
with no thought). She makes serious mistakes because she was
never listen to directions.
But, somehow when it comes to a subject she loves, such as
art, she is completely opposite! She is calm, completely
detailed, and perfectly focused. She has an amazing sense
for well organized thoughtful composition and emotional
Not long ago, a university professor saw some of her artwork
and felt very strongly that she is a natural prodigy of art
and that I should seriously be getting her into programs for
the gifted aside from her regular schooling. I am SO
My question: Are extracurricular "advanced" programs really
such a good idea at her age? I'm worry that her already weak
academic areas will never get a chance to improve if she is
allowed to devote that much more time on artwork. Shouldn't
she be pushed to improve skills in more academic areas
A:I most definitely feel that
you should be concentrating on her strengths rather than
giving too much attention to her weaknesses. She is already
9 and I believe you should have already placed her in an
advanced program much earlier. However, it is not too late
and I hope she will be enrolled in a good art program to
develop that natural talent she has.
You may need to give her extra coaching in her weak areas
but at the same time, her motivation may increase if she is
enjoying learning, even if it is not in academia. When a
child is happy, s/he is able to learn better. If you are
concerned about time taken for the extra program, you may
need to come up with a balanced timetable.
I suggest you have a heart to heart talk with your girl and
explain that you are concerned about her academic weakness.
Make a deal with her and compromise on allowing her to take
up the extra lessons provided she makes enough time for her
school work and shows some progress. If there is no
improvement, cut down some of her art time to help
understand that to be able to indulge in something she
enjoys, she needs to work on her other weak areas as well.
Pushing her to improve in academia without any "rewards" may
only leave her frustrated and less motivated. You need to
work this together with her and come up with a plan that
will help her progress better in her academic work as well
as nurture that hidden potential to the fullest.