Gifted and Talented Children with disabilities

A Parent’s View


A gifted child can be bored in standard science classes because it’s easy for him or her. Other children are not able to follow him, to read books that talk about science and other topics at his level of understanding.

For a gifted child with learning disabilities, it may be noted that his or her hands will squeeze and tired after a short writing session. This means that he thinks of mathematical terms that teachers do not understand but have trouble writing. For a child who is gifted and has ADHD, this means that he or she performs the tasks incorrectly because he or she has missed some instructions and thus done the wrong thing. This means that he gets into trouble for not paying attention because he cannot focus on verbal instructions in multiple steps, but acts too smartly to not understand what he needs to do.

Gifted Children with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder)


Children with Asperger’s syndrome can be extremely verbal, hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, have obsessive interests in certain subjects, experience social isolation, have extraordinary memories and usually have an average IK. Gifted individuals can also manifest such behaviors. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome manifest behaviors that are very similar to gifted children, but the motivation for the behavior is quite different. For example, both gifted children and children with Asperger’s syndrome are very verbal. Both populations usually have an extremely advanced vocabulary and like to discuss their interests. The difference is that children with Asperger are very literal and find it difficult to think abstractly, but also remember a huge number of facts. This is not the case for a gifted child who, however, understands the concepts behind the words.

The kid is learning a math
The kid is learning a math

Distinctions between characteristics of gifted children and gifted children with Asperger’s Syndrome


Differentiating Characteristic

Response to routines

Social Interaction



Interests and knowledge base



Gifted Children

May passively resist, but go alongMay be socially isolated

Understands, uses humor in social situations

Usually very good

Highly focused interests, extensive knowledge base

Advanced understanding

Empathy for others and for abstract whole

Gifted with Asperger’s Syndrome

Low tolerance for change in routines

May be socially inept

Does not reciprocate humor

Social insight often absent

Highly focused interests, extensive knowledge base

Advanced memorization

Empathy for the abstract whole; difficulty with empathy for others

Gifted Children with ADHD


Children with ADHD and gifted students responding to an inappropriate curriculum may have very similar characteristics, and a student may be both gifted and ADHD. Here is a brief description of their behaviors.


Bored Gifted Children

Poor attention, daydreaming

Low persistence on irrelevant tasks

Begin many projects, complete few

High activity level

Highly sensitive to criticism

Problems exist only in some situations

Questions rules, regulations

May appear disorganized


Children with ADHD

Poorly sustained attention

Low persistence on tasks without immediate consequences

The shift from one incomplete project to another

High activity, restlessness

Highly sensitive to criticism

Problems persist across many situations

Has difficulty adhering to rules

May appear forgetful, losing items


– Adapted from work by Carol Bainbridge –

Similarities and Differences (gifted children and children with ADD/ADHD)


Both gifted children and those with ADD/ADHD may have problems in the school setting, but the difference is that children with ADD/ADHD will have problems across settings. Both groups may have problems completing or turning in work. Those with ADD/ADHD have forgotten to do it, been inattentive to the directions and have completed it incorrectly, left it unfinished, or lost it. Gifted children are more likely to choose consciously to not complete work as directed or simply decide not to turn it in-choice is involved. The gifted child is more likely to choose to skip the first 25 of the 50 math problems, while the child with ADD/ADHD may not even have the paper or is unable to complete the lengthy assignment because there is no immediate consequence. In both groups, then, there may be an apparent poor persistence or follow-through, but the poor persistence is more consistently seen in those with ADD/ADHD, especially when there is no readily apparent and immediate consequence.

Oppositional behavior in Gifted Children


Gifted children tend to be deeply committed to ideals, and they are outraged at the failures of others and of themselves – to match those ideals. In general, gifted children are slower to blame others and quicker to blame themselves. All children tend to be egocentric and to view themselves as sources of cause or blame but bright children blame themselves more so. Often their outrage is prompted by convictions rather than by the lack of them. They can be black and white in their thinking and rude or dismissive in their style. Gifted children also respond to appeals for empathy, such as suggesting that using one’s intellect to belittle or ridicule others is no more acceptable than using brute strength to physically hurt others. Underneath the oppositional behavior and anger of most gifted children is the feeling that “nobody understands me”, and that is the root od their anger. Gifted children have a greater propensity to gain awareness about the inequities of social situations and our world. However, because they are children, they often do not have the insight or experience to cope effectively with situations they encounter.

Culturally and linguistically different gifted children may:

  • to gain language easily and quickly
  • to set high standards for yourself
  • use creative problem-solving skills
  • show strong leadership skills in their own culture
  • show abilities in fine or practical art
  • that they have a wealth of imagination and informal language
  • that if he adjusts to new situations
  • self-correct


The intensity and sensitivity of gifted children can result in anger if they are not understood at home and if educational accommodations are not made.
It is important to remember that relationships are the most important part of raising well-adjusted children, and acceptance of the gifted child -with all of the inherent quirkiness- will go a long way toward fostering understanding and positive interactions.



Characteristics of Gifted Learners, Parent Part B of the Competencies Collaboration
SEVA Council of Gifted Administrators
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar… By James T. Webb, Edward R. Amend, Nadia E. Webb

Written by

Irena Canji

I am a teacher in kindergarten. I have been working with children aged from three to seven since 2000. Also, I am a mother of two kids. My son is a teenager and my daughter is going to kindergarten. My main goal through the website is to show that the process is more important than the product. In childhood, kids need to play, have fun, learn through their experience.

The content of this website is an interesting activity for children. You don't need special skills, lots of money or too much preparing.

Just smile, only positive energy, and goodwill!