ADHD, highly sensitive or highly intelligent?

ADHD child book on head

ADHD: My personal experience!

At the outset  and as mentioned in my previous posts, I’d like to make clear that I am not a doctor nor do I profess to be qualified in identifying any sort of medical conditions.  What I can say is that I am a mother who would do anything to the ends of the earth for her children and their well-being.  So in my relentless pursuit to debunk this ADHD theory I have been there and back and have reached what I believe are some significant conclusions.  (Please note once again that these are my personal findings and experiences and I am sharing them to anyone who wants to take the time and effort to make sense of things)

As my son began his grade 4 year I was riddled with stress about how he would cope.  It’s no secret that he struggles to sit still and concentrate and now that school was getting serious, what would we do?  Mind you, he actually coped very well.  He had the most loving and understanding class teacher as well as great subject teachers.  He finished the term with surprisingly good results.

But all this while, we were looking for an alternative school for him.  And in doing so, a few of the schools required that he complete an educational assessment.  And here’s where my mind was changed about ADHD completely.

ADHD: super sensitive because of super intelligence?

His scores show that he is an above average child with a high IQ – which then led me to ask the question:  does he take in more information that makes him above average and does this then impact on how he reacts to the world?

Because to me this makes sense (in the context of many other things I’ve come across along the way).

  • If you take in more information than an average person, chances are that you’re likely to be more sensitive to your surroundings.  Like sound and light and distractions.
  • Maybe because you have more information going on in your head you’re more likely to blurt out answers or questions, simply as a result of your mind being somewhere else.
  • Perhaps the behavioural issues are caused by the extra stimulation to the brain and this makes kid’s unable to sit still, fidget, or jump around
  • Or whine and throw tantrums (just as other kids do) because there’s a lot going on that little brain.
  • Is there a possibility that having a higher IQ makes a child easily bored and therefore he requires a different way of learning?

So is it at all possible that he is a highly intelligent child that is highly sensitive to his environment?  Can it be that certain people don’t know how to deal with a child like him or they lack the patience? (Because it takes nerves of steel to deal with him sometimes) Dare I say it, are we possibly too busy in our lives to take the time to understand these kids better? Is it not true that ADHD medication alters your mind and thinking?  Why then would I as a parent want to suppress my child’s intelligence and abilities by giving him medication? Because I want him to be like all the other average kids?

Is medication the solution?

Sure the behavioural challenges are there, but does it justify putting my child on medication for epilepsy to calm him down when he is not epileptic?!  Why is this so easily prescribed to a 7 year old child? My concern is simple: is medication the first and best solution?

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2017.

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Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee, mum to a teenager, a pre-teen and ‎a little princess.  Part-time wife to a fanatical fisherman. She’s addicted to sneakers, anything chocolatey & is an invaluable member of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

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15 Responses

  1. My opinion, teachers have too many pupils in a class. How can any one person deal with 30 to 40 children at the same time. Lets be realistic about this, it just not possible. That is why doctors & teachers are sooo quick to diagnose a child with ADHD.

    No child should be put into a box, so what if they can not sit or stand still. If a teacher can not handle it & they are not prepared to look at alternative ways to teach the child…well then they should look at a different career. Just by the by there are 7 different ways of learning, why are teachers so set on only teaching one way?

    Society is too quick to give a pill for this ailment or that “mental” problem. Instead of taking the time to look beyond the child’s behaviour. Why is the child shuffling their feet or flapping their arms. Why do they stare out of the class room window during lessons? Why is the child angry all the time? Or sad or both?

    Maybe the environment is down right dull & the song running through their head just makes the day a little bit more bearable or the fantasy world they have created far out weighs the dreary dull droning of a teacher who is shouting or preaching more than teaching? No, why would the experts consider these things? It would make them look bad & we all know how ego’s can play a big part in situation. Who would want to be proven wrong?

    Kids these days are not allowed to be just kids. No, as adults we’re so wrapped up in our own little world thanks to technology that we want our children to grow up faster & be more. That is not fair to any child. This world has become soo techno orientated that just maybe we should put our cellphones down, close the laptop, switch off the television & breath.

    My daughter will be 3 years old soon & she is a busy little human. I love spending time with her in her fantasy world, I love watching her discover & figure out things for herself. I pity the teacher who tells me my child has ADHD.

    Thank you for your article.

  2. Well said Fatima! In my own research into this I have found that the thing most commonly misdiagnosed as ADHD is giftedness. There is a fabulous book that goes into this, exploring the theories of Dabrowski on gifted kids and their over excitabilities. The book is called “Living With Intensity” and I think you will get a lot of insight into your son (and yourself) by reading it!

  3. Thank you for the constructive feedback ladies! I totally agree with this. My son was always picked on from Grade R for never sitting still. I refused to have him “TESTED” for ADHD as one teacher advised me. As his mother I could see he was of above average intelligence without having his IQ tested. To this day he can never sit still, loses concentration gets bored with something very easily. When he does focus long enough on any given task, that is when he truly excels:)

  4. Disappointed with this unscientific and misinformed article. As you say Fatima, you are not doctor, nor do you have any skills or qualifications or training in diagnosing medical conditions.
    Then maybe leave it to actual, qualified, medical professionals?

    This is just another misinformed and misinforming article that intentionally misleads and increases distrust of actual experts.

    You clearly are a caring mother who loves their child, but you are not a doctor, or an expert in ADHD.

    Promulgating misinformation and unintentionally shaming children (or adults) who do suffer from the condition by strongly suggesting that it is not a real medical condition is irresponsible.

    I note that the current other article on about ADHD is by a homeopath. Perhaps, like her, you believe that diluting effective information in an inert medium provides some magical efficatiousnous?

    1. Thank you for that comment often we are told giving children medication is the worst thing one could do .I am a mother to a smart boy who was diagnosed with ADHD and like it happens with most cases I was also diagnosed with adult ADHD and I was glad because I never knew why things were just not coming together.

      The truth is I’m glad that my son doesn’t have to wonder all his life and not know what’s wrong, he will have answers and he will know what he is dealing with, let’s not make the mistake of shying away from what it really is. It is what it is and it’s not changing so rather accept and deal with it proffessionaly.

    2. Hi Tyson and thank you for your feedback. So would you recommend epilepsy medication to a 7 year old for ADHD as well? We consulted with an allegedly highly qualified psychiatrist and that was what he prescribed. What I’m getting at is that the symptoms or traits of ADHD overlap with so many other ‘conditions’ so how can it be that easy to diagnose as ADHD? There is no exact, medical test for ADHD, had there been one I would be more accepting of its findings. Maybe he is gifted or is that not a possibility?

      In my mind there are 2 parts to ADHD, 1 being behavioural and the other the academic issue or lack of concentration. When my son is older and if he needs the Concerta or Ritalin, sure I’d consider giving it to him. Only when he is mature enough to gauge whether it helps him or not. As for the Epilim, why?

      1. “An ALLEGEDLY highly qualified psychiatrist”, you say? A psychiatrist doesn’t only read the package insert and google. They have expert knowledge on psychopharmacology. Did you know that psychiatrists go through 12 years of training and numerous exams? An child psychiatrist another 2 years. Then they keep up by spending an absolute minimum of 30 hours per year to continued professional development. Yes, their approaches do differ and some are controversial. But if you feel uncomfortable with the diagnosis and script then go for a second opinion at another highly qualified psychiatrist rather than asking other parents if Epilim is appropriate. Yes, it’s not a mainstream treatment for ADHD, but there may have been other symptoms or history that prompted the prescription.

        1. Perhaps we were unlucky enough to come across the wrong expert in this field. There is no reason for the prescription of Epilim for my son at all. Looking at a few pages of questionnaires which we filled out can’t possibly lead him to prescribe as he did. He seems very popular as an expert of ADHD but really couldn’t sit still himself long enough to convince me that he even gave us or our child much thought.

          It’s hard work doing things alternatively, it takes patience and it’s exhausting.

          At the end of the day, each to his own.

          1. Hi all. My son will be 17 in 2 weeks. We had him tested by an educational psychologist when he was 11, who told us that our son has an above average IQ. The ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain which does not allow the mind to comprehend all aspects of any lesson being taught in class. He might have got point a, n b and c, mind wandered them got back at x, u and z.. then the mind battles to put it all together. We had him on Ritalin which as he got into his teens and coupled with hormone changes made him aggressive and extremely withdrawn, loss of appetite, it was most awful. We then went back to the drawing board and the doctors swopped him over onto Concerta. He now has to take 2x 36mg tablets per day, still has a bad lack of appetite and is very sensitive and yet he’s a very “manly” young man. He also struggled with major headaches which led to nausea etc. Being concerned, we saw a specialist who referred us to a Neurologist who ran a series of tests. MRI’s of different sors including a dye one. EEG, we were told that this was due to being a chronic migraine sufferer when he was just over 15 years old and then prescribed Epilim which although is used for epilepsy patients, it assists in alleviating some of the onset symptoms of a migraine attack. I am a migraine sufferer as well but my Neuro gives me Topamax which works the same for adults as what Epilim Populism is supposed to do for the kids. My son still struggles with school, yet he is so intelligent and had a vast general knowledge and where his passions lie, in motor cars and dogs, he can tell u how motors work, what makes them work at there most optimal points, the life of dogs, their life span, what diseases and illness they are prone to develop. Not always the best to deal with especially now when he towers over me and is not a “little one” any longer… yet the right answer eludes me and we can only help them the best way we know how to. That is after making an informed decision. Praying for God’s grace and help to see us through and help the kids through this. thank you

  5. I think you are right, but not for all highly intelligent kids. There are people who are “twice exceptional” with true giftedness AND true ADHD. Deidre Lockevy wrote an excellent book explaining giftedness, AdHD, Aspergers and combinations of these called “Different Minds”.
    The correct medication, if truly necessary, should not “suppress intelligence and personality” and if it does then there may be other treatments or approaches that may work better. Unfortunately many adults who were not diagnosed and/or treated for true ADHD as children end up in the psychiatrist’s office due to severe depression or other diagnoses like bipolar (often misdiagnosed), because they are highly intelligent people who struggle to function. Some of them have changed lives, careers and marriages when eventually the correct medication is prescribed.
    Just to remind people not to be too judgemental towards parents who choose to use medication.

    1. I agree with you and I don’t discredit medication at all. Just pointing out that there are other possibilities and treatments, don’t just take the first one you get. My son has something called Irlen Syndrome, just getting him tinted glasses to wear has made a huge difference.

      1. Your message came across as quite anti-meds.
        I agree with you, medication is precribed unnecessarily in many cases and where prescribed it should absolutely be just a part of the whole approach e.g. diet, structure, classroom adaptations, etc. as appropriate to that individual.
        As for Irlen Syndrome… it’s not scientifically proven at all (even according to Wikipedia) but if it works for your son, that’s great. Of course, sometimes treatment approaches are controversial and then eventually gets proven and maybe your son will be part of that proof.
        All the best!

  6. I don’t think the sensitivity is the same as the intelligence they just often reside together. I am ADD my sister is not we are both intelligent but there are things I struggle with that she does not. I think as a parent you need to use everything possible to help your child at school. If there is a medication available without serious side effects I would use it in conjunction with every other option. This is their future we are talking about. If the medication did not help I would stop it.

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