10 Things About Many Gifted People You May Not Know About
Updated: Aug 15
If you are a gifted adult and/or the parent of a gifted child there are may be hidden challenges you face related to being highly intelligent and having a sensitive brain. I've written about some of the hidden challenges gifted children face before, and there's more. Here are 10 more thinks you may not know about that need your attention to be a good support to yourself or your loved one:
Gifted children often need a logical reason to accept what you are telling or asking of them, which can lead to many questions, disagreements and refusal to do things. They aren't deliberately challenging you or being disobedient. They just have a more active brain, and are developing important critical thinking skills. Yes, this can be exhausting, but it is part of parenting a gifted child. While this isn't the norm for average kids, it is fairly normal for gifted ones. If you are able to give logical reasons, please do. This doesn't mean you have to give in to their refusal to do important things you ask of them. It means they may need to have a conversation first.
Mastery is deeply tied to self esteem. While not all gifted people struggle with perfectionism many do. Since gifted people learn quickly in at least one area, those other areas that take a little longer can feel like failure, and be painfully wounding to their self esteem. Many gifted people have a fierce inner critic that may prevent them from trying new things for this reason. Be kind, and help them to use their strengths to engage them in the challenges.
You or your child may be twice exceptional (2E). This means if you are gifted and have a disability or mental health diagnosis. People who are in the profoundly gifted range are also considered 2E.
You or your gifted child may need to adjust your expectations of self and others. Many gifted people are highly capable and set a high bar for themselves and others. This can be problematic at work and school, when bosses and teachers actually expect less. Being able to accurately understand what is being asked and expected of you is important both at school and work. Again, patience is key here, along with good communication. It's okay to ask questions to clarify everyone's expectations.
Not all gifted people are high achievers. Often gifted is confused with bright or high achieving. There are many average and high average (bright) learners who work extremely hard and are thought to be gifted. Gifted is different. Gifted people fall within a certain IQ range, tend to need less repetition in one or more areas, and have asynchronous development. Current brain imaging technology and research also suggests gifted people are not neurotypical. All of this, combined with environmental factors , emotional and learning differences, can mean a gifted person is not high achieving at all. Often gifted children and adults become bored and find it difficult to engage. They may need to find meaning in what they are doing to participate, opt out for fear of failure, or their learning and social needs may not be met.
Many gifted people struggle with executive functioning skills like planning and organization without having ADHD. While some gifted people do have ADHD, not everyone who is disorganized and distracted does. This is especially true for children. Research suggests executive functioning skills such as these are the last to develop, especially for gifted children. They may not have mastery over these skills until they are college age. It is important to work with them to develop the skills over many years, and to use their strengths to engage them in activities that are less interesting or more challenging.
An existential crisis can happen at any age. Gifted people can often see more possibilities than the average person, which can lead to intrusive thought loops that are upsetting. If your child, friend or spouse is having an existential crisis don't dismiss their feelings. They likely need someone to talk it out with, and help finding hope in their despair. If it is you who is spinning out, find someone to talk to, journal or take action to do something meaningful when possible.
Gifted people often need to find meaning in life, activities and relationships. Due to being deeper thinkers, gifted people may have a heightened awareness of meaning and be in search of a life purpose. They may also need to find meaning or purpose in what they are learning and activities they are doing to engage. Younger gifted children, especially may refuse to learn different concepts or activities if they deem it useless. Some gifted people may also crave deeper, more meaningful relationships versus shallow, casual relationships.
Vague questions and instructions are frustrating and vexing for many gifted people. This is especially true for the more logically minded, and often seen as a problem with writing assignments. Questions that are open ended can leave too little structure and too many possibilities for someone who can make many connections. If you or your child are having difficulty starting writing assignments, more structure, information and examples of what is expected are needed.
You or your child may have super sensitivities, also called over excitabilities (OEs). OEs are thought to be intensities in one or more of five different areas: physical, intellectual, imaginational, sensory and emotional. Often when multiple people in families are gifted, different people have different OEs that can excite other people and effect family dynamics.
Being in touch with your own needs, and understanding a child’s unique needs is important for all parents, including those of gifted children and teens. What would you do to help your child reach their full potential? It’s a no brainer for most parents to provide tutoring, test prep classes and other opportunities for their kids to excel. It is just as important to safeguard your own, and your gifted child or teen’s emotional health.
If you can connect with other like you it can be helpful to have a community. A therapist who is educated and experienced in the needs of gifted people can also be an invaluable resource. They can teach your child or teen important coping strategies, social skills, and help them to build self esteem. A great therapist can also help you with person issues, parenting issues, and give you ideas for navigating the school system. If you are looking for someone like this SENGifted.org is a good resource to find qualified professionals and parent support groups in your area.
About the Author: Christy, is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, practicing in San Diego, California. She has over 13 years of experience working with children, teens, parents, families, couples and individual adults with complex psychological and relationship problems. She specializes in the needs of gifted, bright and high achieving people, as well as those who have suffered past trauma. Christy uses a strength based, eclectic approach, meeting the needs of whomever she is working with. Her work addresses the needs of the whole person, incorporating mind and body.