Gifted / Highly Able Children

"Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gift renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counselling in order for them to develop optimally."

(The Columbus Group, 1991, in Morelock, 1992)


When Jenna enrolled to begin her first year of school, she was reading at a 12 year old level, had a knowledge of Biology exceeding most 9th Grade students, a sense of fairness and justice that brought her to tears, and the physical strength and dexterity of a petite 5 year old. Two months into the school year, it became quite obvious that the regular classroom curriculum was not going to meet her needs. 

Subject accelerations, curriculum modifications, individual learning plans and regular review meetings formed the basis of her educational journey. Outside of school, her intensity, passion and diverse interests required flexibility and understanding in parenting in order to meet the challenges of her social, emotional and intellectual needs.

It is not always necessary to test children, before acknowledging that they are, or may possibly be gifted. Very often parents, friends, teachers and sometimes strangers will notice that a child’s behaviors are unusually advanced for their age, or that the child exhibits a certain intensity, which is unusual, compared to age peers. If the child is perfectly happy, and there appear to be no problems in terms of schooling, socialising etc., then simply acknowledging that you may have a gifted child is often all parents need to do. If this is the case, parents usually know their children well enough to respond to their changing needs at home. Noticing when a child needs a little more creative or intellectual stimulation, or responding with understanding and compassion when a child seems to react with great intensity are typical ways in which parents intuitively meet the needs of their gifted or highly able child.

In order to know with certainty that your child does fall within the gifted range, a detailed IQ assessment must be undertaken. This would typically involve a psychologist administering an IQ assessment such as a WISC-IV or a Stanford Binet. A Full-Scale IQ assessment of 130 + indicates that your child does fall within the gifted range.

A formal IQ assessment is often required in order to qualify for certain programs, or to be accepted into various selective groups. Having a formal assessment may also be useful in terms of school placement, early entry, or acceleration. The detailed profile of a formal assessment is very useful in identifying particular areas of strength, and in highlighting the needs of both underachieving and high performing gifted children.

FREE TIP SHEET ... Intensity

MOTIVATIONAL POSTERS - Heightened Intensities