From Academic Kids

Gifted children are those considered by educational systems to have significantly higher than normal levels of one or more forms of intelligence. During the 20th century these children were often classified by the use of IQ tests, but recent developments in theories of intelligence have thrown doubt on the use of such testing. However, the fact remains that there are those children who are beyond their peers and often feel either alienated or limited by those about them. Towards this end, many schools in both the US and Europe attempt to identify and to offer additional or specialized education for these students, in hopes of nurturing their talents. The general cutoff for such programs occurs around the sigma 2 level on a standardized intelligence test, children above this level being labelled 'gifted'.

Generally, these students learn more quickly than most of the population; and even may be able at the same level as normal children who are significantly older. Many schools offer gifted education programs: however, many of these programs (by nature only targeting a portion of the population) are often cut back due to budget restrictions. For some children, the only educationally available options are homeschooling, grade acceleration, or early college. However, gifted children and their parents say that grade acceleration is not a very good solution, especially radical acceleration (more than 2 grades), since before long the child is ahead again. Also, the teaching style used for normal children is often boring for gifted children even if the concepts are new. For example, teachers tend to redefine a new concept several times and then give a number of examples, then let the child do yet more examples on their own. Most gifted children would understand the concept early on in this process and get bored.

These children are characterized by high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity, a large vocabulary, and an excellent memory. They often learn to read early and can master a subject with few repetitions. They are also often very physically and emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic, and frequently question authority. They often perceive their teachers as their peers or even as inferior to themselves. Some have trouble relating to their age peers because of differences in vocabulary size (especially in the early years), personality, and interests, and so they prefer the company of older children or adults. Gifted children, especially gifted boys, are also more likely to have autistic tendencies or even Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism with good language skills). This may develop into High-Functioning Autism (HFA) later in life.

Introversion is more common in gifted children. Gifted girls are more likely to conform and hide their abilities. One gifted six year old girl was described as reading quite well at home, yet at school her reading ability appeared average. It's possible there are different types of giftedness with their own unique features, just as there are for developmentally delayed people.

It is common for a gifted child to be picked on at school, as they are usually socially retiring. There may be a relatively high correlation between giftedness and Social Anxiety Disorder, although the causality (whether giftedness and a socially retiring nature causes SAD, or vice versa, or whether there is just a high "co-morbidity") is unclear. Many gifted children turn out to be the computer geeks (a compliment) and engineers of society, as well as talented mathematicians, musicians and just about anything else they decide to turn their hand to — they can succeed extremely well at whatever they are actually interested in.

Gifted children are often extra-sensitive to sight, sound, smell and touch — they are extremely uncomfortable when they have a wrinkle in their sock, or cannot concentrate because of the sound of a clock ticking on the other side of the room. Their extremely sensitive hearing, however, is not often apparent, as they often miss things that are said by people around them: their hypersensitivity to external stimuli apparently creates "sensory overload," which can result in sociological detachment. This is also characteristic of conditions in the Autistic Spectrum.

Gifted children often perceive "average" tasks as mundane or mediocre, and are extremely unmotivated to work on them. They are often labeled as procrastinators, lazy, underperforming, and even unintelligent by teachers, who do not appreciate their giftedness and are not able or willing to help such children to make use of their gifts. The exact opposite is found to be true when a teacher finds a way to reach the children at their level. Sometimes that involves unlocking the children's talents in an unrelated medium, for example teaching them that the social labels that have been applied to them for years do not apply. In a real-life example, a student had been labeled as a poor performer for many years. The teacher that "changed his life" showed him that he had the ability to succeed in an area he had never before tried: the child was gifted in mathematics, but the teacher showed the child he also had the ability to write emotive, deep poetry. This helped the child realize that some subjects other than mathematics could be far from mundane, and that he could succeed in those areas too. Sometimes breaking the labels that have been applied to the student their whole lives of, "You're different" / "You are a procrastinator" / "You never turn in your homework" / "You can't do this" is the first step in helping the student, because it allows them to actually believe in themselves, and they begin to apply their talents to areas other than their core interests.

The Columbus Group (1991) offers this definition: "Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally."

Many people believe giftedness is a quantitative difference, as measured by IQ tests, but a number of people have described giftedness as a fundamentally different way of perceiving the world, which affects every experience of the child. As one 'gifted' child said: "giftedness is not something one can turn on when needed; it is there 24/7".

These differences do not disappear when children become adults or leave school. Gifted adults are seldom recognized as a special population, but they still have unique psychological, social, and emotional issues related to their high intelligence, as illustrated by one woman's story. (

A number of gifted children develop the INTP personality profile of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): description 1 (, description 2 ( The characteristics of this profile include the tendency towards social rebellion, the intense ability to focus etc. Again, these are also characteristics of the Autistic Spectrum.

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of a gifted child is that whatever they do, they do to extremes. This explains the perfectionism, the performance, the focus, the level of achievement when they apply themselves, and even the complete and perpetual procrastination of what is perceived to be mundane!



Savant are kids that have excellent performance in some one field (usually math), but are retarded at others (usually verbal skills).

Levels of giftedness

IQ testers use these classifications to describe differing levels of giftedness. The following bands apply with a standard deviation of σ = 15 on a standardized IQ test.

  • Bright: 115+, or 1 in six (84th percentile)
  • Moderately gifted: 130+, or 1 in 50 (97.9th percentile)
  • Highly gifted: 145+, or 1 in 1000 (99.9th percentile)
  • Exceptionally gifted: 160+, or 1 in 30,000 (99.997th percentile)
  • Profoundly gifted: 175+, or 1 in 3 million (99.99997th percentile)

Unfortunately, most IQ tests do not have the capacity to discriminate accurately at higher IQ levels, capable only of determining whether a student is gifted rather than distinguishing among levels of giftedness. Although the Wechsler tests have a ceiling of about 160, their creator has admitted that they are intended to be used within the average range (between 70 and 130), and are not intended for use at the extreme ends of the population. The Stanford-Binet form L-M, though outdated, is the only test that has a sufficient ceiling to identify the exceptionally and profoundly gifted. The Stanford-Binet form V and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Fourth Revision, both recently released, are currently being evaluated for this population. Mensa has some tests specially designed for gifted people, but they are only for adults.

See also

External links

de:Begabung nl:Begaafdheid


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