Every child is an individual and every child has needs. It’s no different for children identified as gifted or twice-exceptional. But … how do we identify social-emotional needs of gifted children without pathologizing them? Many GT kids are well-adjusted with minimal need for intervention, but others do have specific needs. Although clearly a point of contention among professionals, identifying the social-emotional needs of gifted children does not need to rise to the level of believing they are psychologically abnormal or unhealthy.
Those characteristics of giftedness that influence a child’s life do not suddenly disappear as they become adults; they grow right along with them. Childhood anxiety, asynchronous development, perfectionism, and more can manifest in adulthood. Gifted adults may have difficulty maintaining peer relationships due to a high level of internal drive (Webb), continued maturation differences well into their 20s, and existential depression.
Educators can guide gifted students as they endeavor to confront their ‘multipotentiality’ (Kerr) and bring focus into their lives regarding the direction they take in their academic careers. They can be extremely influential in the life of a gifted student by simply recognizing the nature of their needs and seeking professional development in how to meet those needs.
From the earliest years, gifted students recognize that they do not share the same concerns or abilities of their age-peers and the internal conflicts created because of this can affect their eventual transitioning into adulthood. Asynchronous development can be both positive and negative. Social-emotional needs and peer relations are most affected. Its effects are more pronounced in younger children and tend to lessen as they enter adulthood.
What challenges do twice-exceptional students face in transitioning to adulthood? Societal appreciation of what the ‘spectrum’ looks like is evolving. It is recognized as a ‘range’ of individual traits and abilities. There is growing acceptance that ability is not ‘all or nothing’; challenges exist and are variable. The biggest challenge for twice-exceptional students is recognition that they exist and the second is the willingness of adults in their lives to learn about what it means and how to best help these kids to experience fulfillment in life.
Parents can help ease their gifted child’s transition into adulthood. The best strategies start with the premise that parents are trying to do their best and most sources of advice don’t generally apply to their child. Parents today benefit from the existence of organizations such as SENG, IEA, NAGC and the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented who provide parents with strategies for meeting the needs of their gifted children. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gifted Kids Workbook (book)
Discovering the Gifted Ex-Child (Tolan)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad