Dear Dr. Sylvia

Daughter Overcomes Disorders

May, 2013

QI am a single mum to a 7-year-old who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and post traumatic stress disorder. Teachers complained about her short attention span, and her inability to differentiate left from right. She had therapy from ages 3 to 6, but we stopped recently because, as the only bread winner in the family, I really needed to rejoin the work force.

My daughter is now in a top primary school, chosen purely because it’s near my house. Many people thought she wouldn’t be able to survive there; however, she topped her class by scoring 100 percent in all her subjects (English, Math, and Chinese). I am wondering if she falls under the label of twice exceptional? How can I tell and what can I do to ensure she is working to her full potential?


Your example is a splendid one of how children who have a history of genuine disorders can overcome their early challenges to function at a gifted level. It’s also an important reason to focus on children’s strengths, not just their problems. Your daughter has apparently learned to differentiate left from right and that may never be a problem again. As for her short attention span, her inattention could have been related to her lack of challenging work, though, obviously, I’m in no position to diagnose any child based on a letter. Either way, she is paying good attention at school and rising to her challenges.

If your daughter continues to exhibit disabilities, she might be categorized as twice exceptional. Otherwise, she could be identified as gifted. You could request that she be tested to determine both her IQ and her achievement test scores as compared to students in her own grade as well as to those in the grade ahead of her. That information could then be used to determine if she should be grade skipped or provided with additional enrichment within her grade. If you have a gifted coordinator within your school district, that person could assist you in obtaining services, whether within the school or from a private psychologist. Otherwise, the principal could be helpful for planning an evaluation and further enrichment.

I’m also betting that you are a great role model to your daughter. Although being a single mom can be very difficult, when your daughter observes how responsibly you manage both your work and your parenting, she can’t help but admire your ability to “do it all.” As she watches your strong effort, she apparently sees reason to make her own strong effort.

Dr Sylvia RimmDr. Sylvia Rimm is a child psychologist and clinical professor at Case University School of Medicine, author, newspaper and magazine columnist, and radio/TV personality. For free newsletters about gifted children, AD/HD, and/or learning disabilities, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for each newsletter to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI, 53094. All questions are answered.

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