Psychological Misdiagnosis of Gifted and Talented Children

IMAGE Gifted and talented children face many challenges. One challenge is being correctly identified. The other is living in a world where their personal traits are often poorly understood. Such challenges put these children at risk for having certain difficulties at home and school. Being gifted may also be misdiagnosed or overlooked.

What It Means to Be Gifted or Talented

There is no universally-accepted definition of giftedness, although IQ testing has been among the most commonly used standardized tools to assess ability. Many experts feel that such tests may fail to recognize many truly gifted individuals.According to the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, gifted and talented children possess greater than average awareness, perception, and sensitivity. This may be expressed in one or more areas, such as art, music, language, science, or math. Some common traits of gifted and talented children include:
  • Ability to reason well and learn quickly
  • Creativity
  • Strong imagination
  • Good memory
  • Deep absorption in activities that interest them
  • Keen observation, perception, and insight

Difficulties Facing Gifted and Talented Children

Because of their finely tuned awareness, gifted and talented children tend to experience life differently and more intensely than others. Unfortunately, peers and authorities at school or home often do not understand these differences. Gifted and talented children may experience problems, such as:
  • Boredom and impatience
  • Frustration and disappointment when ideals are not reached
  • Disregard for, or open questioning of, rules and traditions
  • Preoccupation with deep human concerns, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty observing boundaries and channeling their intense energy
  • Feelings of not fitting in with their peers
The child's intense personal traits and difficulties may be viewed as symptoms of a mental or emotional disorder. Misguided therapy or medication may follow, as the doctor or therapist attempts to suppress or cure the symptoms of giftedness.

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