The Challenges of Being Gifted

Although there are differing opinions on what constitutes giftedness, one common definition is obtaining a score of 130 or higher on an IQ assessment like the Stanford-Binet or the WISC. That score is 2 standard deviations from the mean of 100 and roughly 3-5% of the population falls within that area. Thus, one reason why gifted people often feel very different is because they are.

But there are signs to look for even without considering test scores. Gifted people tend to exhibit faster development, heightened sensitivity, originality and a high level of intellect.

Being gifted is wonderful but it also brings its own challenges. One of the problems many gifted children face is that their intellect and talents can far outstrip their chronological age. Adults tend to treat them as more mature than they are, their ideal educational environment may be with older students and they can have difficulty connecting with age-mates. As such, many gifted people underperform in school in order to remain popular with their friends.

Academic underachievement also could occur because gifted people frequently are not adequately challenged in school and they quickly become bored and tune out (some even drop out!). Another reason for academic struggles is due to the fact that gifted people are used to things coming easily for them, especially in the world of school. Thus, they often don’t know how to study and when they finally are challenged intellectually, they do not know what to do.

Other challenges for gifted people can include atypical responses to things. It is very common for gifted people to need less sleep, so they must know how much sleep they actually need and ensure that they are getting it. Emotional responses also may be greater than what you would expect and this is particularly true in adolescence. Gifted people sometimes have difficulty managing their emotional sensitivity and can struggle with anxiety and depression.

As gifted people comprise only 3-5% of the population, they frequently are misunderstood even by themselves. As such, gifted people need to do their research and investigate what giftedness means to them. They also need understanding and validation from those around them. Even though gifted people have amazing talents and show maturity beyond their years, they still need the love and guidance of friends and family.

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