Discussing Giftedness with Healthcare Providers with Guest, Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis

gtchat 02162016 Healthcare Providers


This week, #gtchat provided an insider’s look at Discussing Giftedness with Healthcare Providers with Marianne Kuzujanakis, M.D. M.P.H . Dr. Kuzujanakis, a pediatrician with a masters degree in public health from Harvard School of Public Health and a homeschooler, is a former director of SENG and currently the Chair of the Professional Advisory Committee for SENG.

Dr. Kuzujanakis explained why it is important for healthcare providers to be knowledgeable about ‘gifted’ issues, “Most kids see MDs more than 12 times before age 6. MDs are the first regular professionals to follow a child’s development. This need not be a missed opportunity. Some MDs are GT and are well versed in complexities of being gifted and talented. Others, however, are unaware of gifted issues and  miss chances to help; many harm kids in the process. The overall prevalence of GT (5-10%) rivals learning disabilities, asthma, and ADHD – topics discussed frequently in medical school; yet giftedness is rarely mentioned. Why? Many MDs and society believe in giftedness myths. She went on to say, “GT affects the whole child and lack of knowledge leads to misdiagnosis (under-diagnosis/over-diagnosis) or other medical diagnosis.”

What type of general information should a patient or parent be prepared to provide to MD/MH providers? Marianne explained, “It’s awkward for many parents to discuss GT with their doctor. They often feel like they’re boasting. Other parents feel MDs should care only for body; not mind. But science shows the importance of a mind-body connection in disease. GT involves all aspects of mind-body and it is important in diagnosis.  Unfortunately since medical doctors primarily address deficits and delays, parents need to be assertive about GT. This can be difficult for introverts.” She emphasized the importance to be specific. She told us, “Don’t say, “My child is gifted.” Say HOW he or she is gifted; matter-of-factly. Take care to first learn about GT yourself. Be collaborative. Take the team-player route. Confrontation rarely gets best response. Your goal should be to get the best support for your child.”

“Trust helps the parent/MD relationship to go a long way to identify real needs in your gifted child and prevent over-medicalization of childhood.”~ Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis

Dr. Kuzujanakis suggested that parents “bring printed brochures and documents to appointments. Be a grassroots educator for GT. If your doctor isn’t open to discussion; find another doctor.  Many doctors are open to information provided by patients/parents in this media-driven world. Take advantage, but be cognizant of your MD’s time constraints.” She pointed out, “Doctors are trained to make a diagnosis to be reimbursed. Don’t rush to accept a diagnosis if you disagree. Parent often knows best. If necessary, seek a second opinion. Trust helps the parent/MD relationship to go a long way to identify real needs in your gifted child and prevent over-medicalization of childhood.”

Our discussion then turned to SENG’s Misdiagnosis Initiative. Dr. Kuzujanakis explained, “[The initiative] began after the AAP (American Academy of Pediatricians) approved ADHD medications for 4-yr-olds. Stimulates are now used even in toddlers. There is no medical school education on overexcitabilities or asynchrony. GT misdiagnosis is a global issue.” SENG has produced a brochure (see below) which is now available in 3 languages. In 2016, the SENG team will be presenting at the AAP’s National Conference and Dr. Dan Peters will be our team’s speaker. They will also be finishing up an article based on their Parent Survey research which involved over 3,500 parents. Marianne also announced that Great Potential Press plans to  publish the 2nd edition of Misdiagnosis & Dual Diagnosis (book) late this year. Look for it by Christmas.

For more from this chat, check out the transcript found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  2 PM (14.00) NZDT/Noon (12.00) AEDT/1 AM (1.00) UK. to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14 About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com



Health Care Providers Know Little About Gifted Children

Where Does a Pediatric Doctor Fit in the Care of Gifted Children? By Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis

Gifted Children and Adults: Neglected Areas of Practice (pdf)

The Role of Physicians in the Lives of Gifted Children

Healthcare Providers’ Guide to Gifted Children (Free Download)

Psychological Misdiagnosis of Gifted and Talented Children

Seeking Professional Help for Your Gifted Child

Professionals Specializing in Gifted

Developmental and Cognitive Characteristics of “High-Level Potentialities” (Highly Gifted) Children

Accurate Assessment? ADHD, Asperger’s Disorder & Other Misdiagnosis/Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children (pdf)

The Psychological Well-Being of Early Identified Gifted Children

Giftedness Myths

SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator

Starting a Gifted Parents’ Group

Homeschooling: Not the Last Resort

Reducing Risk of Medical Misdiagnosis

SENG Decreasing Medical Misdiagnosis in Gifted Children (pdf) Free Brochure

Why Should I Have My Child Tested?

Tests, Tests, Tests

Psychologists Familiar with Testing the Gifted and Exceptionally Gifted

SENG Misdiagnosis Initiative Webpage

Four GT-related Articles from Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis

SENG Liaisons

SENG Professionals Listing


Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Photo courtesy of Flickr   CC BY 2.0


Posted on February 21, 2016, in family, gifted, healthcare, Misdiagnosis, Psychology, Social Emotional, Twice-exceptional, Underachievement and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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