Final Diagnosis: He’s Just Himself

For parents with children who are both gifted and have learning differences or behaviors with or without a clear diagnosis, often referred to as ‘twice exceptional,’  finding the best program for them can seem daunting.   After hearing from parents with children in need of better options, we invited former P.A.L. panelist Jill Tatara, magazine editor and mother of two, to share her recent experience and book recommendations.

When my son was first diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD at the age of 6, it was helpful to finally get a name for the behavior I had witnessed in him for years.  Having a diagnosis was something I could hold on to and focus on.  I proceeded to read every book I could find about Asperger’s, ADHD, and giftedness.  (He is also highly gifted.)

Along with the sense of purpose came heartbreak.  I was scared and I didn’t exactly know what all of this meant.  There was a sense of being very at sea, with an additional feeling of being punched hard in the stomach.  That was with me for months.

Just recently my son had to see a doctor for  an updated diagnosis.  This new doctor said that he definitely has ADHD, but he doesn’t really, exactly have Asperger’s.  “He’s different.”  “He’s just himself.” It seemed so ephemeral to me.   What am I supposed to do with that?  Maybe I should have been happy that my son was not diagnosed with Asperger’s.   Oddly, when the Asperger’s label was taken away, I had that same feeling of being punched in the gut.

I did what I always do when I feel at sea.  I hit the books.

Here is my list of top three books for gifted kids with ADHD and maybe-something-else-going-on-that-makes-them-different-but-not-exactly-Aspergers.

  The ADHD Book of Lists, A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders by Sandra Rief –  this has so much great, useful information.  And I love lists!  Just reading them makes me feel more organized.




  The Difficult Child, by Dr. Stanley Turecki– a transcendent little book.  effective and wonderful , with a special chapter on ADHD.  This book puts part of the onus on the parents and our reactions to the difficult behavior.  The author is so respectful of kids that would be considererd “difficult.”  I loved this book.  Dr. Turecki is a gem.



  The Explosive Child, by Ross W. Greene– this book should be required reading for every person that has a child.  Nurses should plop in into parents’ hands as they leave the hospital with their newborn.   With a similar philosophy to The Difficult Child, and a similar sense of being very respectful of children, it helps parents understand bad behaviors and tantrums and how our reactions can diffuse or exacerbate the situation. I just loved this book.  I wish I had read it years ago.


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