Misdiagnosis Q&A: Asking Doctors, ADHD Testing, Hyperlexia, and More



Great Potential Press is proud to continue our series ”ADHD, Autism, and Giftedness: A Conversation“ with a series of questions selected by Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis. Our expert panel ansewring the questions includes the authors of Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults. Today’s answers come from Dr. Paul Beljan.




I love my child’s doctor, but I feel uncomfortable asking him for advice about school problems which I think are complicated by my child’s giftedness. I really need advice. The last time I mentioned to my doctor that my child is gifted, I didn’t get much of a response. I don’t want to come across as boastful, but how can do the best for my child?

PCPs and pediatricians do a great job with medicine, but are not generally versed in the process of schooling gifted children.  I’d recommend you try several things:


1) Go to the school district website and find out what kind of gifted programming is offered and what the entrance criteria is for enrolling.

2) Talk to the school psychologist about an assessment for your child if one has not already been done.

3) Talk with the district gifted coordinator about the appropriate steps to obtain gifted placement for your child.

4) If you do not have scores, then a school psychologist or a private child psychologist can administer intellectual testing.  Just make sure the private psychologist uses tests that are on the state approved list for giftedness.

5) If you do not get any traction with these methods, then contact a private educational advocate for assistance to get your child’s academic needs met.




My daughter was so alert from the day she was born. Everyone was amazed when she began to sit up and speak at an early age. She’s now three years old, and her abilities scare me. She’s using such grown-up vocabulary. A friend told me that she heard advanced vocabulary is associated with something called hyperlexia, and that’s a sign of trouble. Something like Aspergers, she said. Now I’m even more concerned. What do I do?

Hyperlexia is a term that simply means the child reads at a precocious level.  It is a clinical word that sounds pathological, but is not. Early language development and early reading skills are very telltale signs of high intellect. There are many children with Aspergers who are voracious readers, but also many typical gifted children who are voracious readers.  If the child is happy and relates well to others, then I wouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.  However, if you want to rule out any possible issues, then you should have the child evaluated by a developmental or pediatric neuropsychologist who is versed in gifted intellect.  Often the your state’s association of gifted or blogs like this one have information on who you can see in your local area.




I’ve been told my child has ADHD, but I think she’s just pre-occupied with her own thoughts. She always forgets to do homework, but when I remind her, she eventually gets it done for me. Still, the school says they want her tested for ADHD. Can I test her privately, or does the school handle it? I’ve never suggested to the school that my daughter is gifted, and I fear they won’t take that into account when they test her. Are there special behavior or ability tests I should request of the school?

ADHD is much more complex diagnosis than what most people think.  When giftedness is involved, I think the disorder becomes very complex to rule in or rule out.  Being a pediatric neuropsychologist, I am biased.  I think the gold standard of evaluating for ADHD is with a pediatric neuropsychologist, but keep in mind not all pediatric neuropsychologists are trained in giftedness.  Do your homework and do not be afraid to ask the professional about their understanding of ADHD in regard to giftedness.  If they are not forthcoming or downplay the role of giftedness, go see someone else.  I do not recommend you get an ADHD evaluation at the school.




My child was tested privately for giftedness (at much cost out-of-pocket), and she was found to have an IQ of 143. She is bored at school, but the school requires in-school testing to get any pull-out accommodations. My child is much too anxious to go through all that again, and the school won’t accept outside testing. What are my rights?

I have come across this issue many times in my practice. Often schools will make arbitrary rules like the one you describe.  If the psychologist determined giftedness with a test that is on the state approved list, then there should be no issue.  I have no problem hiring an educational advocate because too often schools make up rules that are out of line with IDEA.  Federal Law trumps any rule the school decides to make up and any advocate worth their weight knows this.

Dr. Paul Beljan

Be sure to catch the previous posts in this series:

Part 1: “ADHD, Autism, and Giftedness: An Invitation To A Conversation

Part 2:Autism, Giftedness – and Human Diversity

Part 3: “Giftedness, ADHD, and the Complexities of Society

Part 4: Giftedness, Misdiagnosis & National Children’s Mental Health Week

Part 5: ”Misdiagnosis Q&A: Intelligence Testing for a 4-year-old?


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