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The Informed Parent

The Special Needs Of The Gifted Child, Part 3

by Louis P. Theriot, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Dec. 21, 2009

Who exactly is a gifted child? The gifted have outstanding ability or potential, and require differentiated educational programs beyond those normally provided in the schools. The gifted demonstrate exceptional abilities in the intellectual, academic, and leadership, creativity and artistic areas. Most psychologists and school districts continue to use a singular criterion of above-average intelligence to identify giftedness--an IQ of 120, 125, or 130.

Most people agree that a child who is reading at age 3, playing competitive chess at age 6 or playing the violin in the orchestra at age 11 is gifted. Academically gifted children who are in the upper three-to-five percent compared with peers in the areas of general intellectual ability, specific academic competence, excellence in the visual or performing arts, leadership or creativity, are generally considered to be gifted. There is often a genetic influence for creativity, and the fields of music and mathematics being particularly rich with examples of prodigies. Nationwide estimates range for a conservative four percent to as high as fifteen percent.

Characteristics associated with giftedness include advanced language and reasoning skills, conversation and interests more along the lines with older children and adults, impressive long-term memory, intuitive understanding of concepts, insatiable curiosity, and rapid learning.

Research shows that many gifted children are socially well-adjusted. Contrary to the common stereotype, most gifted children are popular, make friends, get along with others, have lots of interests, and do not experience loneliness or depression.

At the same time, however, gifted children may present with many challenges. They may achieve their developmental milestones earlier that usual, which may present particular problems for the mother. Some older children may feel emotionally or intellectually different from others and may have a difficult time making friends. Some may be perfectionists. The gifted adolescent may also present with symptoms of anxiety, depression, social isolation, drug or alcohol use, or promiscuity. Some may even present with ADHD or pervasive developmental disorders.

See your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

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