Understanding the Gifted

By Allison Espinosa

Susan B. Anthony, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Amadeus Mozart all have one thing in common. They were high ability thinkers, or gifted and talented (aka: GT). A high ability thinker has an IQ of 130 or above. Despite their high intellect, this group of specialized learners struggles to survive within a world that doesn’t understand them. High ability thinkers make up around 5 – 7% of the entire world population. In the United States we lose 25% of our gifted population to suicide and another 25% in young adulthood to risky behaviors. That means half of our gifted population never make it to 40!

When most people think of a gifted child they have a preconceived notion of the perfect, the popular kid with straight A’s across all subject areas. The problem with this thinking is that not all gifted thinkers are alike. Sometimes, the behavioral problem within a classroom is the gifted students. Gifted students are self-motivated learners who have an unyielding thirst for knowledge. Left to their own devices, they will teach themselves new skills but the way they go about gathering those skills will oftentimes get themselves in trouble if they are not supervised. They can sometimes be considered eccentric in their behavior.

Gifted students oftentimes have problems developing socially and emotionally. They are more likely to want to socialize with their intellectual peers rather than with children of their own age. This means an elementary child may want to socialize with a teenager or adult not because they idealize him or her but because intellectually they are the same. When gifted children realize that their age peers are not intellectually the same as they are they can easily become depressed, lose motivation, and give up on all academics. This is especially true if they believe they are smarter than their teacher or if the material they are presented in class does not have real life implications.

The majority of the gifted populations are considered twice exceptional. Twice exceptional means the student has a learning disability, ADHD, a processing disorder or any other disability and is gifted in all other areas. This group of students is often misidentified within the public school system because parents and educators focus more upon the disability and never take notice of the child’s gifted areas. In order for the twice-exceptional student to achieve academic success both the disability and the gifted areas need to be addressed.

Of all the types of gifted learners, spatially gifted learners are the most misunderstood and misidentified because their high IQ rarely shows up on IQ testing. Standardized IQ testing only measures analytical and logical constructs of the brain. The spatially gifted learner does not do well with analytical and logical thinking. The spatially gifted learner understands mathematical concepts but can’t implement the computations needed in order to complete the mathematical task. They also have a poor sense of time and have difficulty completing their tasks. Other characteristics of the spatially gifted include: poor handwriting, poor listening skills, poor spelling skills, disorganized, distractible, extremely sensitive to criticism, physically sensitive (loud sounds, bright lights, etc.), loves to complete puzzles and computer games, and is obsessed with the arts.

If you believe your child has gifted tendencies please talk to your child’s teacher or consult with an educational consultant.

Introducing Allison Espinosa

Editor’s Note The Advocate is pleased to introduce this featured writer who will contribute a weekly Education Seriously column to our content.

Allison Espinosa teaches 3rd grade ELA and Social Studies at Eagle Elementary and has been teaching in a wide variety of educational settings since 1999. Allison graduated from Big Spring High School in 1994. She holds a BA in Theater Arts from Sul Ross State University, a MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Education at Walden University. Allison has a strong background in curriculum development, reading instruction/remediation, history and creative writing. She has experience in conducting writing workshops, evaluating manuscripts, and educating inspiring authors of all ages.

Allison has a thriving writing career under her maiden name, Allison Bruning. She is a screenwriter, scriptwriter, bestselling novelist and publisher. She began her professional writing career in 2008. All of her novels have hit the Amazon bestsellers list.

Allison originally hails from Marion, Ohio. Her maternal grandmother’s family is Appalachian Irish from West Virginia and her maternal grandfather’s family were one of the first families to settle in Ohio after the American Revolutionary War. Her paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany. Allison and her mother moved to Texas when she was sixteen. They settled in Alpine when Allison began her studies at Sul Ross State University in 1994.