Children with attention deficits are often smart in unique, non-traditional, non-academic ways.To find out some of the ways your child is smart, please check out the free ADHD Assessment. This may cause them to struggle and underachieve in school, leading to poor self-esteem and low motivation. Instead of going from failure to failure, we want our children to go from success to success.  That’s why it’s important to important to identify and nurture strengths —including cognitive, intellectual, academic and creative ones— as soon as possible. Looking at multiple intelligences can help.

What is Multiple Intelligence?

The most innovative work on intelligence, including nontraditional ways of being smart, was done by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner at Harvard.  This work has been carried on by neuropsychologist Branton Shearer. Dr. Gardner identified 8 kinds of intelligence

Two of these intelligences, the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, are associated with academic success and doing well on IQ tests. Children with ADHD are likely to struggle with parts of these intelligences, leading to cognitive challenges in reading, writing, calculating, reasoning, memorizing or solving problems.

If your child has ADHD they are likely to be subjected to a school day filled with many things that they can’t do very well. No wonder that children with ADHD often get diagnosed with ADHD when they are being evaluated for depression.

Strengths of the ADHD Child

A child with ADHD is more likely to have strengths in one or more of the six non-academic intelligences —Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal and Naturalist.

Does your child show strengths in any of these intelligences?  At Sparks of Genius as part of our free ADHD assessment, we offer an abridged version of the tool that Dr. Shearer developed to identify multiple intelligences — The Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scale. /

Many children with ADHD score high in Spatial, Kinesthetic and/or Musical Intelligence, intelligences that are associated with the arts. Dr. Michael I. Posner, the psychologist who discovered and mapped the brain networks controlling attention, advises parents to encourage their child to find an art form they love and to pursue it with passion.  “Focused arts training in any of the arts — such as music, dance or theater— strengthens the brain’s attention system and can also improve other cognitive skills.”

Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence

Children with ADHD with high Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligences have the coordination and athletic skills to excel at sports, martial arts or gymnastics.  There have been multiple studies cited by John Ratey M.D. showing the importance of physical exercise in helping children with ADHD focus, be alert and ready to learn or perform.  Ratey recommends complex, focus-intensive physical activities like martial arts, gymnastics or dance that have a cognitive component, where you have to strategize your moves, as well as a physical one.

When we encourage a child to pursue one of their strengths instead of focusing on what they cannot do well, the student becomes happier, more socially successful and increasingly resilient. Because when students are following their passions, new neural networks are created, attention is strengthened and school performance is improved.

Alex: A Success Story

Alex, diagnosed with ADHD at age 11, was attracted to and excelled in several extreme sports. His kinesthetic intelligence was strong but his mother was concerned about her son’s total lack in interest in school, defiant behavior and inability to concentrate…..except in sports. Referrals to several psychologists were unsuccessful and mom’s fear was that that Alex was setting himself up for failure.

Even with his oppositional behavior, after being enrolled in Sparks of Genius for just 30 days, he adjusted to his cognitive training program. By the end of the third month, he stopped getting in trouble in school and started doing homework, even excelling in math. Eventually his brain coach rewarded him with a few juggling lessons, and within a short time Alex was getting better than his coach.

As the school year came to an end, the middle school Principal approached Alex, who thought he might be in trouble again. Instead she applauded his improvements in academics and behavior and asked him to juggle on stage at the year-end main event. His mother, thrilled at the change in her son, purchased juggling balls which glowed brightly in the dark auditorium. Alex put on quite a show and ended the year on a high note.

To find more about how your child is smart, there is a Multiple Intelligences section in our free ADHD Assessment.

Innovative Solutions to ADHD