Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders

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Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD, or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and inappropriate counseling as a result.

Physicians, psychologist, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that mimic pathological diagnoses. Six nationally prominent health care professionals describe ways parents and professionals can distinguish between gifted behaviors and pathological behaviors.

Features include:

  • Written for parents and professionals

  • Characteristics of gifted children and adults

  • Diagnoses most commonly given to gifted children and adults

  • Traits of diagnoses incorrectly given to gifted children and adults

  • Guidelines to avoid mislabeling gifted children

  • Parent-child relationship problems

  • Issues for gifted adults

  • Advice for selecting a counselor or health care professional

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Editorial Reviews

National Psychologist
"This book is an excellent example of the kind of diagnostic thinking that represents the best ethical and professional functioning in our field. It is required reading."
Outlook Magazine
"a book that parents of gifted children, educators, psychologists, and physicians need to read."
Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented
Pep Talk Magazine
"The authors start by saying this book describes a modern tragedy. Nothing could be more accurate."
Spring, 2005
Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health
My advice to parents would be to read this book before your child is misdiagnosed and mistreated.
Director, Belin-Blank Center
This book makes a powerful statement that many behaviors associated with giftedness may be misconstrued as behaviors associated with disorders. I highly recommend this book to both professionals and parents.
Eide Neurolearning Clinic
This book should be required reading for every professional who cares for children and every parent with a bright but behaviorally perplexing child.
former president, American Psychological Association
These authors have brought to light a widespread and serious problem--the wasting of lives from the misdiagnosis of gifted children and adults and the inappropriate treatment that often follows.
Mahoney and Associates
This book is paramount...to the evolution of the field of counseling the gifted. It is critical and imperative for the field of mental health providers to finally become aware of the serious and damaging effects that misdiagnosis can have on gifted individuals.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780910707671
  • Publisher: Great Potential Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 298,632
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The authors, James T. Webb, Ph.D., Edwards R. Amend, Psy.D., Nadia E. Webb, Psy.D., Jean Goerss, M.D., Paul Beljan, Psy.D., and F. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D. include the President of the National Association for Gifted Children, two clinical neuropsychologists, two clinical psychologists, and a board-certified pediatrician formerly affiliated with The Mayo Clinic.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Characteristics of Gifted Children and Adults
Chapter 2. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Chapter 3. Anger Diagnoses
Chapter 4. Ideational and Anxiety Disorders
Chapter 5. Mood Disorders
Chapter 6. Learning Disabilities
Chapter 7. Sleep Disorders
Chapter 8. Allergies, Asthma, and Reactive Hypoglycemia
Chapter 9. Relationships Issues for Gifted Children and Adults
Chapter 10. Differentiating Gifted Behaviors from Pathological Behaviors
Chapter 11. How to Select a Health Care Professional or Counselor for a Gifted Child or Adult
Chapter 12. Resources
Appendix A. Suggested Readings
About the Authors
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This book describes a modern tragedy. Many of our brightest, most creative, most independent thinking children and adults are being incorrectly diagnosed as having behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders. They are then given medication and/or counseling to change their way of being so that they will be more acceptable within the school, the family, or the neighborhood, or so that they will be more content with themselves and their situation. The tragedy for these mistakenly diagnosed children and adults is that they receive needless stigmatizing labels that harm their sense of self and result in treatment that is both unnecessary and even harmful to them, their families, and society.

Other equally bright children and adults experience another misfortune. Their disorders are obscured because, with their intelligence, they are able to cover up or compensate for their problems, or people mistakenly think that they are simply quirkily gifted.
And there is another group of intellectually gifted children and adults who suffer from very real disorders, but neither they nor the treating professionals are aware that their disorders are related in any way to their brightness or creativity.

We-the six authors of this book, all of whom are practicing clinical health care professionals-independently came to the alarming conclusion that many very bright people are suffering needlessly because of misdiagnosis and dual diagnoses. Each of us, during the past 20 or more years, became aware that in our clinical practices, we were seeing patients who were misdiagnosed by other practitioners-professionals who were well-trained and well-respected. Sometimes the characteristics ofgiftedness were misinterpreted. Other times the characteristics of gifted children and adults obscured the clinical disorders. And in still other situations, the diagnosis was accurate, but the giftedness component needed to be incorporated into treatment planning.

In 2003, after talking informally at several professional meetings about these issues, we decided-somewhat hesitatingly-to write this book. We hesitated because we knew that our ideas were not in the mainstream of either psychology or medicine. We knew also that our ideas would be controversial to some. But we also believed that our information was accurate and would be very helpful to children, parents, and professionals. We frankly hope that our ideas will soon be more widely accepted in the health care professions.

During the last 10 years or so, the authors-competent and very experienced professionals in psychology, psychiatry, and pediatrics-all reported that they were seeing many patients who have been referred to them with diagnoses such as ADD/ADHD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Bipolar Disorder. Upon examination, we discovered that many of these patients had been seriously misdiagnosed-that, in fact, they were gifted individuals who were in situations in which the people around them did not sufficiently understand or accept behaviors that are inherent to people who are intellectually or creatively gifted.

Our experiences have led us to the realization that misdiagnoses are being made by otherwise well-meaning and well-trained professionals. We are convinced that misdiagnosis of gifted children and adults is not only a very real phenomenon, but also one that is very widespread.

How is this possible? How could this happen? Don't physicians, psychologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals learn about the behavioral, emotional, and intellectual characteristics of gifted children and adults? The answer is no. In fact, these professionals receive extremely little, if any, training about the intellectual characteristics and diversity of gifted children and adults, and even less about their typical social, emotional, and behavioral characteristics and needs. That lack of information is the largest single reason for the frequent misdiagnoses-and the subsequent reason for this book.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2008

    Very Helpful if you have a child with a questionable diagnosis.

    Our son was diagnosed at age 7 with Asperger's Syndrome. I admit to being resistant for the two years before we finally went to the autism clinic at a medical school and had him tested. After the testing and diagnosis, however, we did everything we could to help him where there seemed to be deficits. He has an IEP and weekly sessions with a speech specialist at his school. What has bothered me was how far up the spectrum he seems to be and wondering if is he even on it at all. He's more social than one would expect. He has a pretty direct gaze most of the time. Last night he offered me one of his cookies as we watched a TV sitcom together. This book has good sections on differentiating the characteristics between Asperger Disorder and Giftedness. At 12, it seems more uncertain than ever that he has the correct diagnosis. This book has helped us decide it may be time to have him retested.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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