Gifted Students with Attention Deficits: Fact and/or Fiction? Or, Can We See the Forest for the Trees?
According to Gordon (1990), far too many high ability students arc referred for problems with impulsivity, hyperactivity, and sustaining attention. Several important issues, rarely discussed in the literature on attention deficits, offer alternative hypotheses for the increasing incidence of hyperactivity and attention problems of gifted youngsters. These include theories on emotional development and excitability of gifted students (Dabrowski, 1938; Piechowski & Colangelo, 1984), evidence of unchallenging curricula for high ability students (Reif, 1993), implications of the multiple intelligences paradigm (Gardner, 1983), and adult reaction to students' extreme precocity (Rimm, 1994). These issues are examined in light of Barkley's theory of inhibition as it relates to the manifestation of ADHD. The issues represent environmental conditions that may cause or influence ADHD-like behaviors in high ability students. Diagnostie and intervention strategies are suggested to counteract environmental contributors to the problem.