Gifted Children – Types (Part 3)

PREVIOUS: G & T kids #2

SITEs: Depressive disorder in highly gifted adolescents

• WARNING: Parenting a GIFTED CHILD may be Hazardous to your (mental) heath

CATEGORIES of ‘Gifted & Talented’ (G&T) (cont)
TYPE I: The Successful
Type II: The Challenging

Type III: The Under-grounders
These students develop at a different pace from their peers (asynchronously). They often hide or deny their exceptional abilities in order to feel more included by their more ‘average’ peer group. Therefore, many of them (usually female) are never identified as gifted, since they tend to be quiet, insecure & anxious.

This pattern can start usually around grades 4-6, when bullying is at its peak in most schools, with a dramatic rise in middle school. If they’re in a ‘gifted’ school program, they minimize their talents by resisting challenges – because of shyness.

• They see school as irrelevant & a hindrance to what they really want to do – which is to express their talent. So it’s better for Type IIIs to have creative interests outside of school – where they can get validation for their exceptional abilities. Although Type III’s should not be allowed to abandon all projects or advanced classes, alternatives can be explored for meeting their academic needs.

• If a gifted boy goes underground, it tends to be later, in high school, & usually from pressure to participate in athletics.
Type IIIs who earlier were highly motivated & intensely interested in academic or creative pursuits – may undergo an apparently sudden radical shift, losing all interest in previous passions. This puts them in conflict with parents & teachers.

Forcing “undergrounders” to perform is never the answer, causing withdrawal, plummeting academic performance, or refusal to participate in gifted education, from a feeling of loyalty to their talents & peers – alienating them from adults who can help meet their needs & long-term goals.

• At home = There’s a tendency to push these children, to insist they continue the ‘special’ program no matter how they feel. However, what they actually need is to be accepted as they are at the time.
This includes emotional support, freedom to choose activities & time to spend with friends their own age. Ideally, parents should be role models of life-long learning.

Because these children feel insecure & anxious through their school years, unfortunately they often end up as insecure adults. So professional counseling is recommended early on.

Type IV: The At-Risk / Potential DropOuts
These gifted children are the angry with adults & with themselves, because the system has not met their needs for many years – perhaps not until high school. They feel rejected & may express anger by being depressed & withdrawn, or by acting out & responding defensively. Being neglected, they become bores, bitter & have very low self-esteem.

School is basically irrelevant for them. Type IV high school students, & occasionally elementary students, attend school sporadically, having basically “dropped out” emotionally & mentally, if not physically.

Type IV’s often have unusual interests outside the regular school curriculum, which they’ve never gotten support or validation for their talent & imagination. Clearly, traditional programming is not appropriate for Type IV’s.

Due to their uphill battle, dropout or at-risk children are usually identified later in their school careers, so may not use their gifts until well out of the school system – & with a great deal of struggle.

These students require the most sensitivity & patience. They may come from a culture or unstable home which discourages academic excellence or gifted education (especially for girls). Some may never have experienced support for basic educational goals, or their parents / caregivers might be completely uninterested in their schooling.

Family counseling is strongly recommended, & Type IVs given individual counseling. Diagnostic testing is also useful to identify possible areas for remediation. One type of help is for this teen to have a close working relationship with an adult they can trust.

NEXT: G & T Learning styles 5 & 6

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