MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Are there known cases of gifted children that have been excluded from school?

Date: Thu Oct 18 21:57:17 2001
Posted By: Jeffrey Utz, M.D., Neuroscience, pediatrics, Allegheny University
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 997069385.Ns

Very few kids are excluded from all grade levels because of a medical or 
mental problem, even if they need to take significant time off from 
school. The only medical diseases that would do this are very severe 
diseases that would affect a child's ability to get around, such as polio 
and cerebral palsy, but these conditions would not prevent a child from 
participating in school. At least in the US, if these children are able to 
participate and benefit from being in school, they will go to school.

The mental illnesses that would prevent children from going to school 
would mostly be severe depression and severe anxiety disorders, like 
agoraphobia, which is a severe anxiety such that when one goes outside the 
house, he has severe anxiety, thought processing disorders like 
schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder. However, any mental 
disorder that is severe enough to keep a child home from school for 12 
years is going to be severe enough that the child would most likely have 
problems learning during those years, making college not an immediate 

In addition, if a child had severe enough mental illness to keep him home 
from school, but he still managed to get an excellent eduation from 
learning from tutors or parents, he would still face the same mental 
problems going to college.

So if a child had a severe mental illness that was so severe that it kept 
him from going to school, it probably would cause him not to be able to go 
to college as well.

However, I found one example of a medical illness that looks like mental 
illness is sometimes seizures. See This. This case, some youngsters had seizures 
that looked like agoraphobia. However, these types of cases are rare, and would 
only rarely prevent a child from going to school, especially with good 
diagnosis and care.

There are cases where gifted children were not able to fully benefit from 
school. For example, both Thomas Edision, the inventor, and Albert 
Einstein had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Edison was 
taken out of school and Einstein was told that he was not going amount to 
anything by his teacher (his teacher was quite mistaken). However, ADHD is 
better recognized and rarely keeps kids out of school.

As far as finding documented cases, I could not find any. You could try to 
search the web for organizations that deal with diseases like autism, 
ADHD, seizures, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, 
agoraphobia, and schizophrenia and ask those organizations.

I am sorry I do not have a simpler or better answer, but unfortunately, 
these are rare cases.

Good luck!

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