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ADHD and Attention Differences

Bright children may exhibit symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity.  At Guiding Bright, we focus on mitigating presenting difficulties whether or not a child has been diagnosed with ADHD, is suspected of having ADHD, or simply exhibits some ADHD characteristics due to giftedness. We provide our clients with tools and strategies that help reduce the daily battle between the child’s internal and external worlds.


Dr. James Webb, psychologist, author and founder of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), has identified behaviors in bright children that are sometimes misdiagnosed as ADHD.

  • Poor attention, boredom, daydreaming in specific situations

  • Low tolerance for persistence on tasks that seem irrelevant

  • Judgment lags behind development of intellect

  • Intensity may lead to power struggles with those in positions of authority

  • High activity level; may need less sleep

  • Questions rules, customs and traditions.

Visual-Spatial Learners

Visual-spatial learners have difficulty sustaining attention when they receive information verbally. For this reason, they tend to struggle more in school. A visual-spatial learner could exhibit signs of ADHD due to their frustration in learning.


Individuals with this difference may appear to have an attention deficit, but are acutely aware of the environment around them and have difficulty filtering out information. When high interest and a conducive learning environment come together, an individual with ADHD has the ability to hyperfocus for hours on a singular topic or activity.

The information on ADHD has become rather confusing over the years. The DSM-5, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), identifies only ADHD.  ADD is not a diagnosis.  There are 3 types of ADHD: Inattention, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity and Combined. 

The symptoms for each type of ADHD are summarized below. At least six must be present for children up to age 16 and at least five for children ages 17  through adult to be identified with that specific type. For Inattention, the symptoms must be present for at least 6 months and inappropriate for developmental level. For hyperactivity/impulsivity, the symptoms must also be disruptive for the developmental level of the child. A similar number of symptoms on both sides would suggest “combined type.”



Makes careless mistakes

Fidgets with or taps hands or feet

Difficulty holding attention

Leaves seat at inappropriate times

Appears not to be listening

Runs or climbs at inappropriate times

Fails to complete tasks

Unable to participate quietly in play or activities

Difficulty organizing tasks

“On the go” as if “driven by a motor”

Difficulty sustaining mental endurance for lengthy periods

Often talks excessively

Often loses necessary materials

Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed

Often easily distracted

Has trouble waiting for his/her turn

Often forgetful in daily activities

Often interrupts or intrudes on others


Thom Hartmann, author of Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, offers a fresh and intriguing perspective. Hartmann hypothesizes that characteristics typically associated with ADHD are actually evolutionary adaptations that were beneficial to ancient hunter-gatherer societies. However, this adaptation has now become problematic within the context of our current culture.  The heritable characteristics of ADHD may be precipitated by the elements of our modern world in which people lack adequate sunlight, natural foods and physical exercise amongst other things. 

Hartmann's hypothesis is based on society's ancient roots as nomadic hunter-gatherers.   The introduction of agriculture caused more people to become farmers and therefore, adapt to that way of life.  Hartmann suggests that while most humans adapted to farming cultures, those with ADHD retained some of the older hunter characteristics.

Hartmann's hypothesis may provide some explanation for the recent and dramatic rise in the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD.  Is it possible that our world is changing so rapidly that the people who have inherited this neurological type are finding it increasingly difficult to get their needs met and, therefore, struggling more?  The Hunter vs. Farmer hypothesis is certainly worthy of consideration.

Guiding Bright incorporates this approach into our work with children and parents who exhibit characteristics of ADHD.  

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Phone: (970) 819-3577
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