If you’re new to the world of “giftedness,” here’s the foundation you’ll need for everything else you’ll learn.
When it comes to “the G word” (giftedness), there’s basic information you must have before diving into anything else. Partly because you’ll keep seeing references to these phenomena, but also because everything else builds upon them.
Stellar grades are no guarantee
First and foremost, giftedness isn’t about being able to coast through school. Sure, many “gifted” students (I call them “kite kids”) get great grades in elementary school. And for some, that continues into middle school and high school; others, however, really start to struggle at that point. (There are many reasons for this.)
Furthermore, a kite kid may be “gifted” in one or two subjects, but not others.
Also, some are “twice exceptional” (2e). This means that, in addition to being intellectually gifted in one or more areas, they have a learning disability. Examples include: autism, ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia and sensory processing disorder.
The whole child
At its most basic level, giftedness really is about neurodiversity – and neurodiversity is always a 24/7 scenario. Just like an autistic child’s “brain wiring” causes her to experience (and react to) the world differently, or how a child with ADHD receives and processes input differently both in and out of school.
Kite kids’ brains develop – and function – in unique ways; you can see it in MRIs. And because of that, they also experience life through an unusual lens. Their “brain wiring” doesn’t magically change from atypical to neurotypical as they exit school each day. (Trust me.)
There are two traits that all kite kids have to one extent or another:
- Asynchronous development Pediatricians, child therapists and educators need developmental standards as a point of reference. It’s how they assess whether each kid is on track for reaching various milestones. What’s unusual about kite kids is that they tend to be all over the place – higher than their age intellectually, lower than their age socially and/or emotionally, and possibly “off” in areas of physical development as well. It’s like they’re three ages (or more) walking around – and trying to function – in one child. Experts believe there’s a strong correlation between I.Q. and the extent to which kite kids stray from these developmental norms.
- Overexcitabilites (a.k.a. intensities, supersensitivities) Remember what I said earlier about experiencing – and reacting to – the world in different ways? That’s what overexcitabilities are all about. In the 1960s, Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski identified five types of heightened experiences that are common among kite kids (intellectual, sensual, emotional, imaginational and psychomotor). Some gifted children have one or two; others have all of them. When you hear the term “hyper brain, hyper body,” it has a lot to do with this. Their brains function in intense ways; therefore, so do other parts of their bodies.
See what I mean about this type of “brain wiring” affecting more than grades? Maybe puberty isn’t so difficult to navigate after all! 🙂
As a result of all this, many kids (and adults) don’t understand these children.
What’s more, because many overexcitabilities and aspects of asynchronous development can mirror disorders, some kite kids end up being misdiagnosed with (and medicated for) conditions they don’t have.
Beyond the basics
If you’d like to learn more, see my How to Help pages and Resources pages in the Parents, Educators and Clinicians sections of this site. (I’ve tailored that information based on which group you’re in.)
Also, if you didn’t arrive on this site via my home page, be sure to check that out, too. It’s where you’ll see all my blog articles. And I’m writing new ones each week.
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