Psychologist: ADHD Children Aren't Gifted

Nov. 29, 2012

Ann AbramowitzAccording to a recent article on WebMD, child psychologist Lara Honos-Webb asserts in her book, The Gift of ADHD, that children with ADHD have special “gifts” and abilities. By helping to develop those gifts, parents give their children more control over problem behaviors.

But Ann Abramowitz, Emory professor of psychology, disagrees. “ADHD is not a gift," she told WebMD. “If a child has ADHD symptoms but is not impaired, we don’t diagnose ADHD. So by definition, there is suffering going on.” Abramowitz, an ADHD and special education expert, directed Emory’s Center for Learning and Attention Deficit Disorders from1989-2001.

Though Abramowitz does agree with Honos-Webb that ADHD is too often carelessly diagnosed, and that children with ADHD should be encouraged to build on their strengths.

Abramowitz also told WebMD that after she diagnoses ADHD in a child, she is sure to bring up the topic of medication with parents. “There are many times when I recommend medications,” she said. “If the parent is comfortable with the idea, I say, ‘Let's do a trial.’ And then we talk about what makes a trial good instead of sloppy, and I tell them what I hope their physician will do.” She’ll also support – up to a point – parents who don’t want their child to take ADHD medications.

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