Richard M. Cash, Ed.D.
Educator, Author and Consultant
nRich Educational Consulting, Inc.
Most people who know me would say that I’m “bubbly” or “full of energy.” When I was in school, I was always talking to my neighbor, easily distracted, and generally into everything other than what I was told to do. In my school years, we didn’t have terms such as ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). I was just labeled “chatty” or “naughty.”
Now we know more about the issues of ADD and ADHD and the neurological confusion that can go on in kids’ brains. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the term ADHD is replacing the term ADD entirely. Those with ADHD typically have a hard time staying focused, may have hyperactive tendencies to be in constant or almost constant motion, and can appear to be impulsive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD has increased steadily over time (and may vary based on the different measures applied). According to the DSM-5, upwards of 5 percent of all children live with ADHD. However, those rates may be higher in different communities.
Numerous strategies can be helpful when working with students with ADHD, such as providing:
Dr. Sydney Zentall, a leading researcher in the field of ADHD at Purdue University, suggests that in some cases students may not clinically have ADHD but simply be under-stimulated. She states that these students may require higher degrees of stimulation and engagement than the average student. Additionally, Matt Fugate, Marcia Gentry, and Zentall found that while some gifted students diagnosed with ADHD possessed poorer work habits, these students exhibited greater levels of creativity than gifted students without ADHD.
While ADHD carries with it some dramatic effects on learning and relationship building, there may be some positive outcomes for students who are diagnosed or exhibit traits. Based on the research cited above, here are some suggestions for working with your gifted ADHD students:
However, students with ADHD may be sending us a message regarding their needs for greater stimulation and desires to be more self-expressive in their learning. These traits are what will make them successful in life. We need to nurture students’ creative sides, allow for their unique ways of doing, and encourage them to develop their talents.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5. American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.
Fugate, C. M., S. S. Zentall, and M. Gentry. “Creativity and Working Memory in Gifted Students With and Without Characteristics of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder: Lifting the Mask.” Gifted Child Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2013): 234–246.
Zentall, S. S. “Research on the Educational Implications of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” Exceptional Children 60, no. 2 (1993): 143–153.
Portions of this article originated in a blog post that appeared on www.freespiritpublishingblog.com. Copyright © 2017 by Free Spirit Publishing. Used with permission. All rights reserved.