Using these 12 points you can gain insight into your child’s potential genius. Generally a young child who shows many of the following traits is likely to be gifted. However, other less gifted children may show some of these traits, and a gifted child will rarely show all traits. While this guide is for young children, many of the points can also apply to older children.
1. Early Intellectual Talent
Gifted young children can:
· Have a good memory and can learn simple math, science and social study concepts eagerly
· Grasp onto a particular topic (i.e. space and planets) and have an amazing understanding of the subject
· Have a wide topic interest, and a thirst to learn everything
· Move from one area to another very quickly
2. Advanced Development
A young gifted child frequently achieves certain milestones such as:
· First speech and walking much earlier than other children
· He may also have a greater vocabulary than other children of the same age and love to define words
· Read books and can often be a self taught reader at pre-school and kindergarten
3. A Thirst for Knowledge
A gifted child may:
· Have a drive to learn and a ‘thirst for knowledge’
· Want to discover and learn for the sake of discovering, without having any particular agenda, like a true scientist or philosopher
· Study everything or pull toys and devices apart to see what makes them work
· Be overly interested in simple things, then discard them quickly, looking for a new learning challenge
4. Greater Reasoning Power and Manipulation
A young gifted child tends to use his verbal ability rather than actions when communicating; this means you can often reason with a gifted child from a young age. This ability with his greater logical prowess and understanding of relationships can sometimes lead him to understand the benefits of dishonest behavior such as lying, stealing and cheating. Being able to manipulate adults can be a very disturbing feeling for a child, however, who needs a parent’s security.
Some young gifted children can be sensitive; general anger or criticism is taken personally. For example, they suffer with the starving children on TV or the injured animal, and when overloaded with impressions, may become introverted and withdrawn.
A great number of gifted children can be seen as “odd” or unconventional, and learn in different ways. Strictly organizing a child like this can hamper their development, as they need time to do their own thing to bring forth their creativity.
7. Uneven Development
Some children are gifted in a narrow field while others have a more ‘all round’ aptitude. However, there is often a large gap between their mental, social, physical and emotional development. This can lead to frustration and confusion on the child’s behalf. The advanced mind may be trying to grapple with concepts not emotionally advanced to deal with i.e. he may be over concerned with death, the future or sex. Their manual dexterity may also lag behind what they are trying to achieve in a task.
8. High Level of Activity
Unlike hyperactivity which can often have no focus, just amazing amounts of energy, a gifted child can often be active, and have a reduced need for sleep as they divert this energy to a purpose. Also, unlike hyperactivity, a gifted child may have a long attention span when they find something of particular interest.
A gifted child may have a great ability to read more into a situation and the future than his peers; due to this, he seems to hold back in new situations as he works out the implications, as well as the possibility of failure. While this may make him appear shy or slow, he shows his true ability by answering questions brilliantly or excelling at the given task.
10. Can Distinguish Between Reality and Fantasy Early
This may lead to discussions on, and the acceptance of the inevitability of death; the frequent need to analyze stories to see which parts “could really happen”, and awkward questions about Santa, and the tooth-fairy!
11. Early Insight Into Social and Moral Issues
Some gifted children have a highly developed social conscience, and become worried about war, pollution, injustice and violence. They see through adult hypocrisy, and become angry and scared when they see that adults are inconsistent and unreasonable.
12. The Importance of Adults
Gifted children may not be interested in very structured activities or meeting other’s standards, often preferring to develop their own projects. Despite this, adult guidance is very important to:
· help determine in which situation it is necessary to conform
· know when it is O.K. to be “different”
· put realistic limits on an overambitious project
· lend a hand when manual dexterity doesn’t meet mental visions
· avoid self-criticism from becoming destructive Help may be needed to set realistic standards.
How to Use the New IQ Tests in Selecting Gifted Students
Those instruments or portions of instruments with the richest loadings on general intelligence (g) are useful to determine gifted children. Raven’s Progressive Matrices, the Stanford-Binet Scales, and the Wechsler scales, were all founded on the conception of intelligence as abstract reasoning (g). Abstract reasoning and general intelligence (g) are synonymous. Giftedness is high abstract reasoning. Therefore, g could easily stand for giftedness as well as general intelligence.
How to identify a gifted child can be a difficult process. Many parents are scared to dare think their child has a talent above the norm, and find other parents and teachers may not believe them, thinking they are overly proud of their child.
Testing Gifted Children
When to Test Gifted Children:
The best time to test gifted children is between the ages of four and eight. Testing before the age of four is likely to result in unreliable scores, because their behavior is too unpredictable. Testing after the age of eight can result in inaccurate scores. Inaccuracies can be caused by several factors, including test ceilings, perfectionism and underachievement.
What Kind of Tests:
The two primary tests parents think about when they consider testing their gifted children are:
1 IQ tests —measure ability
2 Achievement tests —measure what a child already knows
· Schools often give group IQ tests, such as the Otis-Lennon
· Individual IQ tests, like the WISC-IV, are more accurate for gifted children
· The same problem exists for group versus individual achievement tests, such as the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
Who Should Test:
Testing should be done by someone who has experience working with gifted children, for test results to be accurate, i.e. a tester begins by asking the child the easiest questions, and continues until the child misses a consecutive number of questions. An experienced tester will start with more difficult questions so the child won’t tire or lose interest. Boredom can cause him to make mistakes; this then leads to a low and inaccurate score.
· Testing generally includes both IQ and achievement tests; the cost is the same, whether the tester has experience with gifted children or not. Be sure to ask any prospective tester about his experience.
· Graduate psychology students at a nearby university may do testing. However, they may not have experience with gifted children.
Characteristics of Gifted Children
To the trained eye, it can be fairly easy to spot a gifted child. Even to the not-so-trained eye of a parent, it’s easy to notice that a child is not quite like other children. However, parents often question what those differences mean. They know their child is smart, but gifted? Looking at a list of gifted traits or characteristics is a quick first step in determining whether a child is gifted. If you have a toddler and you’re wondering if he is gifted, take a look at the list of characteristics of young gifted children.
Long attention span
Excellent reasoning skills
Well-developed powers of abstraction, conceptualization, and synthesis
Quickly and easily sees relationships in ideas, objects, or facts
Fluent and flexible thinking
Elaborate and original thinking
Excellent problem-solving skills
Learns quickly and with less practice and repetition
Unusual and/or vivid imagination
Social and Emotional Traits
Interested in philosophical and social issues
Very sensitive, emotionally and even physically
Concerned about fairness and injustice
Well-Developed Sense of Humor
Usually intrinsically motivated
Relates well to parents, teachers and other adults
May Read Early
Reads Rapidly and Widely
Asks “what if” questions
Enjoys learning new things
Enjoys intellectual activity
Displays intellectual playfulness
Prefers books and magazines meant for older children
Skeptical, critical, and evaluative
Over excitability and the Gifted
Research and observation have led to the belief that intensity, sensitivity and over excitability are primary characteristics of the highly gifted. These observations are supported by parents and teachers who notice distinct behavioral and constitutional differences between highly gifted children and their peers.
The work of Kazimierz Dabrowski, (1902-1980), provides an excellent framework within which to understand these characteristics. Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist, developed the Theory of Positive Disintegration as a response to the prevalent psychological theories of his time.
He believed that conflict and inner suffering were necessary for:
—Movement towards a hierarchy of values based on altruism
—Movement from “what is” to “what ought to be”
Dabrowski also observed that not all people move towards an advanced level of development, but that innate ability/intelligence combined with over excitability (OE) were predictive of the potential for higher-level development. It is important to emphasize that not all gifted or highly gifted individuals have over excitabilities. However, we find more people with OEs in the gifted population than in the average population.
Over Excitabilities are inborn intensities indicating a heightened ability to respond to stimuli. Found to a greater degree in creative and gifted individuals, over excitabilities are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity. OEs represent a real difference in life and quality of experience.
Dabrowski identified five areas of intensity —Psychomotor, Sensual, Intellectual, Imaginational, and Emotional. A person may possess one or more of these areas. “One who manifests several forms of over excitability, sees reality in a different, stronger and more multi-sided manner” (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 7). Experiencing the world in this unique way, carries with it great joys as well as frustrations. The joys and positives of being over excitable need to be celebrated. Any frustrations or negatives can be positively dealt with, and used to help facilitate the child’s growth.
The Five Over Excitabilities (OEs) are described below. Each description is followed by several examples of strategies, which represent a fraction of the possible solutions to issues that may cause concern for over excitable individuals or those who work and live with them. These should serve as a springboard to brainstorm additional strategies or interventions that will help improve the lives of over excitable people.
PSYCHOMOTOR OVER EXCITABILITY
Psychomotor OE is a heightened excitability of the neuromuscular system. This Psychomotor intensity includes a capacity for being active and energetic (Piechowski, 1991, p. 287), love of movement for its own sake, surplus of energy demonstrated by rapid speech, zealous enthusiasm, intense physical activity, and a need for action (Dabrowski and Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991).
When feeling emotionally tense, individuals strong in Psychomotor OE may talk and act impulsively, misbehave and act out, display nervous habits, show intense drive (tending towards workaholism”), compulsively organize, or become competitive. They derive joy from their boundless physical and verbal enthusiasm and activity, but others find them overwhelming.
At home and at school, these children never seem still. They might talk constantly. Adults and peers want to tell them to sit down and be quiet! The Psychomotor OE child may also be misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Allow time for physical or verbal activity, before, during, and after normal daily and school activities. These individuals love to do, and need to do. Build activity and movement into their lives.
Be sure the physical or verbal activities are acceptable, and not distracting to those around them. This may take some work, but it can be a fun project, and beneficial to all.
Provide time for spontaneity and open-ended activity. These tend to favor the needs of a person high in Psychomotor OE.
SENSUAL OVER EXCITABILITY
Sensual OE is expressed as a heightened experience of sensual pleasure or displeasure emanating from sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing (Dabrowski and Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991).
Those with Sensual OE have a more expansive experience from their sensual input than the average person. They have an increased and early appreciation of aesthetic pleasures such as music, language, and art, and derive endless delight from tastes, smells, textures, sounds and sights. Due to this increased sensitivity, they can also feel over stimulated or uncomfortable with sensory input.
When emotionally tense, some individuals high in Sensual OE, overeats, goes on buying sprees, or seeks the physical sensation of being the centre of attraction (Dabrowski and Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991). Others withdraw from stimulation.
Sensually over excitable children might find clothing tags, classroom noise or smells from the cafeteria so distracting that schoolwork becomes secondary. These children can also become so absorbed in their love of a particular piece of art or music that the outside world ceases to exist.
Whenever possible, create an environment which limits offensive stimuli and provides comfort.
Provide appropriate opportunities for being in the limelight by giving unexpected attention, or facilitating creative and dramatic productions that have an audience. These individuals literally feel the recognition that comes from being in the limelight.
Provide time to dwell in the delight of the sensual and to create a soothing environment.
INTELLECTUAL OVER EXCITABILITY
Intellectual OE is demonstrated by a marked need to seek understanding and truth, to gain knowledge and to analyze and synthesize (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991).
Those high in Intellectual OE have incredibly active minds. They are intensely curious, often avid readers and usually keen observers. They are able to concentrate, engage in prolonged intellectual effort and are tenacious in problem-solving when they choose. Other characteristics may include relishing elaborate planning, and having remarkably detailed visual recall.
People with Intellectual OE frequently love theory. They love to think about thinking, and moral thinking. This focus on moral thinking often translates into strong concerns about moral and ethical issues – fairness on the playground, lack of respect for children, or being concerned about adult issues such as the homeless, AIDS or war. Intellectually over excitable people are also independent of thought, and sometimes appear critical of and impatient with others who cannot sustain their intellectual pace. Or they may become so excited about an idea that they interrupt at inappropriate times.
Show how to find the answers to questions. This respects and encourages a person’s passion to analyze, synthesize and seek understanding.
Provide or suggest ways for those interested in moral and ethical issues to act upon their concerns - such as collecting blankets for the homeless or writing to soldiers. This enables them to feel that they can help, in even a small way, to solve community or worldwide problems.
If individuals seem critical or too outspoken, help them see that their intent can be perceived as cruel or disrespectful, i.e. to say, “that is a stupid idea” may not be well received, even if the idea is really stupid.
IMAGINATIONAL OVER EXCITABILITY
Imaginational OE reflects a heightened play of the imagination with rich association of images and impressions, frequent use of image and metaphor, facility for invention and fantasy, detailed visualization, and elaborate dreams (Dabrowski and Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991).
Often a child high in Imaginational OE mixes truth with fiction, or creates his own private world with imaginary companions and dramatizations to escape boredom. He finds it difficult to stay tuned into a classroom where creativity and imagination are secondary to learning a rigid academic curriculum. He may write stories or draw instead of doing seatwork or participating in class discussions, or he might have difficulty completing tasks when some incredible idea sends him on an imaginative tangent.
Imaginational people may confuse reality and fiction, because their memories and new ideas become blended in their mind. Help individuals differentiate between their imagination and the real world by having them place a stop sign in their mental videotape, or draw the factual account before they embellish it.
Help people use their imagination to function in the real world and promote learning and productivity. For example, instead of the conventional school organized notebook, have children create their own organizational system.
EMOTIONAL OVER EXCITABILITY
Emotional OE is often the first to be noticed by parents. It is reflected in heightened, intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, identification with others’ feelings, and strong affective expression (Piechowski, 1991).
Other manifestations include physical responses like stomachaches and blushing or concern with death and depression (Piechowski, 1979).
Emotionally over excitable people have a remarkable capacity for deep relationships; they show strong emotional attachments to people, places and things (Dabrowski and Piechowski, 1977).
They have compassion, empathy and sensitivity in relationships. Those with strong Emotional OE are acutely aware of their own feelings, of how they are growing and changing, and often carry on inner dialogs and practice self-judgment (Piechowski, 1979, 1991).
Children high in Emotional OE are often accused of overreacting; their compassion and concern for others, their focus on relationships, and the intensity of their feelings may interfere with everyday tasks i.e. homework or doing the dishes.
Accept all feelings, regardless of intensity; for people who are not highly emotional this seems particularly odd. They feel that those high in Emotional OE are just melodramatic, but if we accept their emotional intensity, and help them work through any problems that might result, we will facilitate their healthy growth.
Teach individuals to anticipate physical and emotional responses and prepare them for these responses. Emotionally intense people often don’t know when they are so overcome that they might lose control or may have physical responses to their emotions. Help them identify the physical warning signs of their emotional stress such as headache, sweaty palms, and stomach ache. By knowing the warning signs and to act early, individuals will be better able to cope with emotional situations and not lose control.
It is quite difficult and demanding to work and live with over excitable individuals.Those who are not so, find the behaviours unexplainable, frequently incomprehensible, and often bizarre. Over excitable people, living with other over excitable people, often have more compassion and understanding for each other, but may experience conflict when their OEs are not to the same degree.
Finding strategies for helping children and adults deal with and take advantage of these innate and enduring characteristics may seem difficult. However, resources may be gathered from varied places:
1 Literature regarding counseling, learning styles, special education, and classroom management
2 Parenting books
3 Popular business texts
REMEMBER THE JOY
Often when over excitability is discussed examples and concerns are mostly negative. Remember that being over excitable also brings with it great joy, astonishment, beauty, compassion, and creativity. Perhaps the most important thing is to acknowledge and relish the uniqueness of an over excitable child or adult.
Sensory intelligence in gifted children
Sensory intelligence refers to the understanding and insight of how the brain processes what we see, hear, feel, taste, smell and receive through movement, and to transfer these perceptions into actions and behaviours for learning, working and living. This is a unique process for each individual, as we each have different sensory thresholds by which the information is received and processed.
This is the reason why some people are irritated by noisy environments while others thrive on it. Referring to our recent successful 2010 World Cup Soccer, the vuvuzela’s were loved or hated; loved by those with high thresholds and hated by those with low thresholds. When you know your child’s sensory stresses and needs, you will be able to assist and manage his attention and emotions, and understand his behavior more effectively.
Added: 2015-03-02 23:33:04