Gifted Kids; Smart or Struggling: WARNING: EXTREMELY LONG, BUT INTERESTING
by Ruben Abril: Staff Writer
Gifted Kids. They are seen as having a gift, but it is just as much a curse. Gifted students are often identified from ages 3 to 8, but most commonly around age 5. But being gifted is not limited to being smart. There are 6 types of gifted children; Successful, Autonomous, Challenging and Creative, Underground, Potential Dropout or At Risk, and Doubly Exceptional.
Successful is the type people think of when gifted kids are brought up due to making up to 90% of gifted kids. They are the smart ones. The “Classic Giftedness.”
Autonomous tend to push further than Successful. They’ll go further than the school to pursue any interests that they can. They also are usually strong leaders and creative thinkers.
Challenging and Creative “are generally the opposite of “successful” gifted children.” They tend to be more creative artists, writers, and other creators/designers.
Underground gifted kids are those that do not get identified until later than the 3-8 y/o age bracket and develop asynchronously with other gifted students. Usually, they will mask their gifts due to the heightened bullying/teasing that is associated with this period.
The Potential Dropout or At-Risk gifted children require the most sensitivity and patience. They may come from an unstable home environment or a culture that discourages academic excellence or gifted education.
Doubly Exceptional or Double-Labeled gifted kids “are those who are gifted and who also exhibit a learning or physical disorder. The disability may hide the gift, or the gift may overwhelm the learning/physical challenge, leaving one or the other undetected.
Now that the types of gifted students have been introduced, let’s explore the struggles they face. The four most common, according to The Davidson Institute, are “Sensitivities and Overexcitabilities, Social Skills, Perfectionism, and Self-Concept.”
“Research has shown that gifted students experience heightened sensitivities and advanced emotional processing.” Often the term ‘overexcitability” comes up when in discussion of gifted students sensitivity. While gifted students can have overexcitabilities, Kazimierz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist, and psychologist, found that the term is misleading, as it implies that the brain is intensifying the reaction to some stimuli. In fact, the reactions between neurons just have more going on.
Sometimes this manifests in sensitivity throughout the 5 scenes. It could be a strong response to specific textures, lights, sounds, or tastes. The response could be negative, causing the student to try and limit exposure. Or the response could be positive, producing a yearning to continue experiencing.
Not only are gifted students more sensitive to stimuli from physical interaction, but could have a heightened emotional response. Often this can be triggered by tragedies, injustice, and reminders of mortality. When this triggers, the overexcitability may be seen as the actions of attention-seeking or being over-dramatic. This could appear, however as caring for others, strong compassion, and empathy.
They also could have Intellectual, Imaginational, or Psychomotor Overexcitability. Intellectual Overexcitability will lead to the child being incredibly smart. They could ask questions, make connections, or understand things that are way above their age. They might want to go really deep into topics that interest them or talk about theoretical concepts. For Imaginational Overexcitability they could be highly creative, have a love of art or storytelling, and fictitious worlds. They may doodle or daydream when their class is too ‘basic’. This could also have such an intense imagination that they might tell stories, while people assume they are lying. WIth Psychomotor Overexcitability look like they have way too much energy. They could talk fast and excessively, seem fidgety, or heightened physical behavior. With those behaviors aligning with ADHD, it could be misidentified as it.
While it is a myth that gifted children are just unable to properly socialize, they could still have trouble socializing. The reason that they are seen as antisocial is that they are asynchronously to their peers. It would be hard for them to socialize with others when their interests don’t align.
Gifted students are also often perfectionists. It will appear as an average high-achieving behavior until it starts to damage the child’s health. Being perfectionist is very harmful to gifted students’ development as they could become very competitive with others, prioritizing achievement at the expense of everything else, or avoiding activities that they feel they can’t succeed at. The perfectionistic mindset could arise from their self-esteem where the student or the people around them, expect them to be gifted in all subjects, all the time. Parents of perfectionist gifted children will often see
intense anxiety, fear of failure, have a ‘catastrophic thinking’ mindset, it could appear as procrastination/underachievement, they won’t try until they feel they can complete it perfectly the first try, won’t turn in ‘perfect’ or complete work.
“1. Children with perfectionism may experience intense anxiety, feelings of moral failure, 2. Engage in “catastrophic thinking” if they perceive they are not living up to a certain standard. 3. It can also look like procrastination or underachievement. 3a. Many perfectionists tend to not initiate any task unless they can do it perfectly the first time around or may not turn in work they find less than perfect, 4. Perfectionism might be expressed outwardly by having high to unreasonable standards that they hold others to, including an unhealthy amount of competitiveness, which makes it difficult for them to cooperate with authority figures and peers.”
Self-Concept is another thing that gifted children tend to struggle with. One of the most common difficulty being depression and anxiety. The Davidson Institute states that “The precursors to depression among the general population, including relationship difficulties, death within families and friends, family difficulties and so forth, exist for gifted students as well. However, in addition to these influences, researchers have documented that students with gifts and talents have unique experiences because they are gifted that adds stress to their lives. These stressors create concerns about not being accepted, feeling different from other students, being ostracized, having limited social latitude, and so on, merely because they are gifted.”
While Gifted students can seem to have everything under control for a while, these traits could drop off after a while. The biggest stunt in gifted students seems to be motivation loss. With being smarter or more creative, comes all of these struggles. Some gifted students are luckier than others, suffering from fewer of these problems. Some are even more challenged, with most of these problems. The human brain is a very complex organ, obviously. Giving blessings, disguised as curses.