Attention disorder also affects those with a high IQ

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am

Having a high IQ does not prevent people from suffering from attention deficit disorder, a conference was told yesterday.

Thomas Brown, associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders at Yale University's School of Medicine, said two recent studies of children and adults who had IQs of 120 or above found they also met the criteria for ADD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

'A lot of people think if you have ADHD it means that you're not very smart. This is good evidence that there are a lot of people who are very bright who do meet the diagnostic criteria for the problem,' said Dr Brown, one of six keynote speakers at a conference organised by the Focus On Children's Understanding in School (Focus) non-profit-making group at Cyberport.

He said studies indicated that in most countries about 7 per cent of children aged six to 16 suffered from ADHD, a disorder characterised by chronic problems with paying attention, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks.

Dr Brown said researchers also found that those with high IQs who also had ADHD had good verbal skills but poor short-term memory.

'What we found was a large number of these kids and adults have a lot more trouble in being able to remember these things then you would expect for someone of their ability.'

Dr Brown said people with ADHD usually took longer to complete tasks such as writing essays.

He said that because these children were so intelligent, they often expected a lot from themselves, as did parents and teachers.

'They often end up disappointing themselves and their teachers and parents, and then things rapidly begin to get worse because they get demoralised and give up on themselves,' he said.

Although ADHD is often seen as a behavioural problem that can be solved with consistent disciplining, Dr Brown said the disorder was caused by a chemical problem in the brain. Medication could help 80 per cent of people who suffered from ADHD, although it was effective to varying degrees.

Dr Brown said many children with ADHD were not getting treatment, a problem he believed would also be evident in Hong Kong.

Although some parents were concerned that giving their child medication may make them more likely to turn to drugs in later life, Dr Brown said children with ADHD had double the risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem than the average child if they did not get the appropriate medication. With effective treatment, they were no more likely than other children to develop such problems.

Other speakers at the conference include Drs Bennett and Sally Shaywitz from the Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity, Dr Paul Hutchins and Professor Loretta Giorcelli from Australia, and US educator Jerry Mills.

About 300 medical professionals, educators and parents are attending the conference, which ends today. A virtual conference will continue for three months at