Gifted Children: Who they are and why we should talk about it

Parents bring their children into my office for a variety of reasons, but usually the children are there because somehow their cognitive, academic, or social-emotional needs are not being met by their current environment. Sometimes, after I get to know the child and conduct an evaluation, it becomes clear that the child is gifted, and that giftedness is part of the equation of this child’s unmet needs.

One 12-year-old boy told me his reasons for wanting to be evaluated:  “I want to find out how many people in the world have a personality like me, because I want to know: where do I fit in?”  He then poignantly added, “at lunchtime, all the boys want to talk about football, and I want to talk about physics!”  A 16-year-old I tested shared with me that middle school had been the hardest time for him, because that’s when he “had the most disagreements with teachers on the worth of what we were doing.”  A mother of a 6-year-old girl told me that her daughter comes home from school looking dejected, and described what she termed as her daughter’s “nerdy acting out.”  When the girl’s first grade teacher asked the children to write down different ways to make the number 6, the girl wrote “2×3” and “-1 + 7”. The teacher then told the girl that “that’s not what we are doing right now.”  After that incident, this child became even more disengaged from school.

When I share the results of the evaluation with parents and with the child, we discuss how being gifted is an important part of the child’s unique learning profile and of the unique way this child relates to the world.

At this point, it becomes important to clarify:  what does “being gifted” mean?

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