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Perspectives on Giftedness

For decades, educators, academics, professionals in the field, parents and even those identified as gifted have tried to define the term ‘gifted’ with few reaching consensus. Today’s chat will explore different perspectives about giftedness. The terms educationally and psychologically gifted are terms used by some to distinguish between individuals with different needs in school. Other terms frequently used include high achievers or profoundly gifted. 2Es or twice exceptional students are labeled ‘gifted’, but also experience learning challenges. It’s important to consider a student’s strengths and address those before deficits.

What does it mean to be ‘more’ regarding gifted children and why does it matter? When the idea of ‘more’ is introduced in discussing gifted children, concerns about behavior are generally the issue. The source or reason for intense behaviors is debatable in academic circles, but rarely for parents. It is important to recognize and address out of the ordinary behaviors of a child who is identified as gifted to ensure their well-being as well as their ability to achieve academically and gain important social skills to be successful in life. In recent years, the importance of SEL or social-emotional learning has gained recognition among educators and parents. For GT kids, the assumption was that they would be fine on their own. This is no longer the case.

What challenges do twice-exceptional students face at school and in life? Initially, recognition of the existence of twice-exceptional students is paramount to providing appropriate educational opportunities. Failure to do so can result in students receiving only remedial services. Twice-exceptional students are often misunderstood both in school and by society at large. Challenging behaviors or academic deficits can result in students being misplaced in special education rather than placement in gifted programs. Inappropriate placement in school can lead to life-long consequences for twice-exceptional students whose most urgent needs are never met. It can have disastrous effects on life and career outcomes.

Pathologizing a gifted child’s behavior – labeling normal behavior as abnormal – is like trying to fix a problem which does not exist. Interventions, inappropriate treatments and even drug therapy can do more harm than good. For parents, in particular, it is extremely important to engage with professionals who have qualified experience working with gifted children. Pathologizing gifted behaviors may result in misdiagnosis which can lead to unmet needs or even more serious problems for their child.

Parents may wonder if they should tell their child they have been identified as gifted. However, its important to explain giftedness before they learn about it from unqualified sources or form their own opinions based on misinformation. Gifted children need to understand that they are more than a label assigned to them in order to receive services at school. That understanding involves realizing they are not better than, but rather better at. Understanding the nature of giftedness will help a gifted child to realize it’s okay to make mistakes or even fail at times; it’s not an excuse for poor behavior; and they may view the world around them differently than their age peers.

What does giftedness look like in adulthood? Gifted adults may or may not recognize their own giftedness based on their individual life experiences. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to only view eminent or high achieving adults as ever being gifted. Psychologists’ offices are filled with gifted adults experiencing anxiety, intense emotions, perfectionism, an acute sense of loneliness due to an inability to connect with others, existential depression, and so much ‘more’.

A transcript of this chat can 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/10AM AEST/1AM 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 authorLisa 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

Resources:

The Columbus Group Conference | Gifted Parenting Support

Gifted Myths: An Easy-to-Read Guide to Myths on the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional (book)

Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling

If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice Exceptional

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth

Behavioral Profiles of Clinically Referred Children with Intellectual Giftedness | BioMed Research International

Homeschooling Gifted Students: Considerations for Research and Practice (pdf) | IGI Global

Dwelling on the Right Side of the Curve: An Exploration of the Psychological Wellbeing of Parents of Gifted Children (pdf)

New Brain Mapping Technique Highlights Relationship Between Connectivity and IQ | Neuroscience News

“Choosing our Histories” by Kevin Gover, Baccalaureate Address 2016 | Brown University

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star (book)

Bright Adults: Uniqueness and Belonging across the Lifespan (book)

Comparison of Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Adaptive Behavior Profiles among Gifted Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gifted … You Know What That Means, Right?

When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs (book)

Serving Highly & Profoundly Gifted Learners (pdf)

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth | Vanderbilt University

Behavioral Profiles of Clinically Referred Children with Intellectual Giftedness | Biomed Research International

Images courtesy of GHF Learners, Celi Trepanier, Dr. Gail Post, Stacie Brown McCullough, and Paula Prober.

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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