Gifted Children with ADHD
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Is our daughter gifted?
My daughter aged 10 has been formally diagnosed with ADHD
from about 7. As part of the support process we have had a
WISC IV assessment of her approximately 2 years ago. The
scores were as follows:
VCI Total 37
PR Total 40
WM Total 20
PS Total 14 (coding score of 5)
Overal total 111
Am I correct in understanding this can be equated to her IQ?
I also believe I read somewhere that the VCI and PR elements
could be interpreted independently to identify if a child is
I have seen other people quote scores in the hundreds I am
guessing, please correct me if I am wrong that these
elements are factored up i.e.
VCI base level 30 = IQ 100
in our case 37 = 123.3
PR base level 30 = IQ 100
in our case 40 = IQ 133
We have a dilemma in as much she has strong reading
comprehension skills, is very quick to pick things up, often
working things out before instructed, excellent general
knowledge but has big problems in concentration and
recording information. Her school test scores are just above
average which we believe significantly undervalue her
Teachers, head teachers and psychologists have acknowledged
she is bright but we are struggling to find a way for this
to be reflected through schoolwork / tests. Thanks for any
A: I can understand your
concern. Children with ADHD (and other neuropsychological
issues) often have difficulties with working memory and
processing speed may result in lower Full Scale IQ (FSIQ)
scores, as with your daughter's scores. In this case, it may
be better to look at the General Ability Index (GAI) rather
than the FSIQ. The GAI is a composite score that is based on
three Verbal Comprehension and three Perceptual Reasoning
subtests, and does not include the Working Memory or
Processing Speed subtests included in the FSIQ.
The GAI score is less sensitive to the influence of working
memory and processing speed. With reference to your
daughter's scores, it shows that the working memory
performance is discrepant from verbal comprehension
performance; and processing speed performance is discrepant
from perceptual reasoning performance at an unusual level.
It is also true that the Verbal Comprehension Index is the
best of the four indices for predicting giftedness and your
daughter's scores are above average. So, yes, there is a
possibility that your daughter can be gifted but this would
be best determined by a psychologist who is able to
interpret the detail scores from each of the indices.
It is important that your daughter gets treated for ADHD;
however not all interventions recommended for the disability
may be suitable for all children with ADHD. Since treatment
matching is crucial, you may need professional help from an
ADHD expert. Researches have indicated time and again that
it is very important to employ interventions that focus on
developing the child's strengths, at the same time,
attending to the disability. This helps produce positive
results and even helps minimize socio-emotional concerns.
Unfortunately, the tendency is always to focus on the
weaknesses as in remediation of deficits. In fact, for a
gifted child, this may actually worsen the problem.
You may need to discuss this with the school/teachers. It is
very challenging to ensure a good fit in school for a child
who has ADHD and is gifted. Therefore, an individual
learning plan that addresses the child's intellectual,
social and behavioral needs is crucial for the development
of a gifted child with ADHD. Wishing you all the best!