A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I'm Saying...

When I say that my child is gifted, it is not a value judgment. I'm stating a fact about the way he is wired, that's all.

Too many people still see this word as a measure of value. All children are valuable. All children are gifts and have gifts. But not all children are gifted. That would be impossible: in order to have above-average intellects, you must have average and below-average intellects- that's the way of the bell curve. I am certainly not saying that he is perfect. I am certainly not saying that he is a great student. I'm not even saying that he can do everything that other kids his age can do.

What I am saying is that he is a voracious learner, and needs a pace that is about 7x faster than the average classroom. In many cases, you don't even
have to finish your sentence and he'll pick up what you started.

What I am saying is that he is asynchronous - he's AMAZING at math and science (and grammar), but struggles to express his ideas in writing.

What I am saying is that he thinks about things in a way that is far beyond his age and maturity, but he struggles with those thoughts because they are beyond the capacity of his lagging emotional maturity.

What I am saying is that he has a profound capacity for empathy, but you'll likely never see it like I do, because it overwhelms him.

What I am saying is that he is wired to experience the world with an intensity that is exhausting, overwhelming, and like nothing most of us can imagine.

Speaking of imagining, what I am saying is that he's got the kind of imagination that could solve huge global problems like hunger, disease, or the Middle East; or maybe will get stuck on the problem of what to have for lunch.


  1. This is so well said, Mona! All of those who believe "gifted" is a value judgement decided on in school need to read this. This is as clear of a picture as I've ever seen! Thank you!

  2. So tiring that people STILL view giftedness as a statement of value. Your child didn't choose to be gifted any more than he chose the color of his eyes or his height. You list some great points.

  3. Good luck with lunch; fingers crossed for peace. Both can be intense, and both can be easy, depending.

  4. I'd pack his lunch if he sit long enough to eat it.

  5. I often wonder whether giftedness, especially extreme giftedness, is not a form of neurological neoteny. From introspection, and conversations with other profoundly gifted family members, the salient features of our minds seem to have a lot in common with those of children, yet enormously overexpressed and retained into adulthood. Perhaps asynchrony is a miscategorisation which is erroneously attributed to a statistical effect (where intellectual and emotional development are partitioned and viewed as following independent trajectories, and therefore it would follow that a child in which BOTH such pathways are exceptional would be vanishingly rare), and could be better explained as another effect of the same developmental mechanism that is responsible for a powerful intellect. Just a hypothesis, but maybe worth thinking about.
    It's good to hear about your son- he sounds a riot :)

    1. Interesting, Alan. I've often said that the Teenlet has spent so much energy, especially in early childhood, on brainpower that his social-emotional and physical growth lagged behind. I don't really see them as independent, but rather as highly intertwined. Once he hit puberty, both his S-E and physical growth skyrocketed to bring him securely into his appropriate age range, while his intellectual development has continued its own growth, but at a slower pace (probably due to insufficient stimulation, but that's another story altogether).

  6. I wish I could ditch the term "gifted" and instead use a phrase like, "he has an intellectual exceptionality." The term "gifted" just seems too nice, and doesn't convey my son's experience (which includes some very real challenges!) very well.