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The Informed Parent

The Special Needs Of The Gifted Child, Part 1

by Louis P. Theriot, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Oct. 12, 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 violin in the orchestra at age 11 is gifted. Academically gifted children who are in the upper 3-to-5 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 4 percent to high as 15 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.

What are some of the concerns parents have regarding their gifted children? The issue of educational decisions and options is a relatively frequent question. The gifted child may be bored, under challenged or unhappy in the regular classroom. Finding an optimal educational setting is crucial for the gifted child. Speak with your school regarding possibilities. Many school districts begin testing in 2nd grade, and an exceptional child will likely be identified then,  and offered more enriched academic programs.

Look for Part II on the subject of the needs of the gifted child in November’s issue of The Informed Parent. See your pediatrician if you have further questions. 

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