Highly Active - Gifted or ADHD?
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My 7 year old daughter's school recently completed the Slossan
Intelligence Test on her and were surprised that and she scored
Overall Percentile Rank is 96
Total Standard Score (TSS) is 128, where she showed particular strength
in Comprehension (Social Intelligence) and Auditory Memory.
She is performing above average in her class but her teacher has
regularly complained about her high energy, lack of attention and
organisation skills in the classroom.
I'm also puzzled by my daughter's increasingly distractibility and
sensitivity so I'm wondering whether this is part of her giftedness
and/or ADD. She has shown signs of being advanced from an infant and I
thought that school would be a place for her to accelerate but she is
starting to show inconsistent school results. I'm also concerned as my
daughter is showing signs of being frustrated with herself for not
‘getting things' that she has done before or she feels she can do
Can you please explain her test results and what impact ADD might have
on this or any future test?
Finally, should I be seeking an educational physiologist or educational
paediatrician for further assessment and support.
Based on the test scores, your daughter is in the Superior range but may
not qualify for a gifted programme. Usually a cut-off of 130 is
required. Both gifted and ADHD children have high energies and a few
other similar characteristics and it can be quite confusing. Teachers
are quick to note if a child has very high energy and is distracted in
the classroom often and can often be judgemental. Find out the instances
she becomes highly active or gets distracted/poor attention. It could be
a sign of ADHD or giftedness, or even both (twice-exceptional).
Most children with ADHD would show significant impairment in working
memory and processing speed. Individuals with ADHD often perform at a
lower level on intelligence tests than those without ADHD. This is not
because they have lower intelligence but because these tests require
sustained mental effort. Most tests do not allow the examiner to repeat
instructions or modify administration rules to accommodate the special
needs of individuals who may not have attended to the directions
properly or who have a hard time sitting still for testing. Therefore it
is very important to get these children tested by an experienced
It is very important that you get her tested further. In an ideal
situation, a diagnosis of ADHD of a child suspected to be gifted should
consist of a multidisciplinary team for an accurate assessment. As many
as two thirds of children with ADHD have coexisting conditions (e.g.,
learning disorders, depression), therefore assessment must include an
evaluation for these disorders as well.
Speak to her teacher to find out more about her behaviour in the
classroom. The teacher may refer you to the school counsellor who may be
able to guide you further. I feel further evaluation is very necessary
as soon as possible. All the best!