Underachieving Gifted Teens

In some states (not Virginia) Gifted—or Gifted and Talented—kids are included as one of the exceptionalities in the Special Education program.  Why?  All gifted students think and learn differently.  It's easy for them to become gifted underachievers who lack motivation.  Their underachieving can involve perfectionism, hypersensitivity, poor organization or executive function, being easily distracted, and poor time management, such as turning in schoolwork late (if at all).

Some underachieving gifted kids also may have ADD/ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Depression, OCD or OD, or they may have trouble making friends, or hate to read or to writebut they are also highly intelligent, creative, funny, sensitive, and have great imaginations.


  • Inattention - Not knowing what task to attend or to stay focused long enough to finish a task.
  • Inpulsivity - Not being able to control urges to speak or act.
  • Hyperactivity - Excess physical or mental restlessness.

Because everyone shows signs of these behaviors at one time or another, the guidelines for determining whether a person has ADD/ADHD are very specific. In children, the symptoms must be more frequent or severe than in other children of the same age. In adults, the symptoms must be present since childhood and affect one's ability to function in daily life. These behaviors must create significant difficulty in at least two areas of life, such as home, social settings, school, or work. Read more about the disorder at CHADD's National Resource Center on ADD/ADHD (

Many of the gifted and talented students I have worked with
through the years have also had ADD/ADHD.
Anne S. Roberts, MA
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Anne S. Roberts
BrainRelief LLC
7806 Oak Street
Falls Church, VA 22043-3122

Phone: (703) 641-8940