Keep in mind that Giftedness is exceptionality in human nature and counseling is a normative, psychological service for people presenting behaviors outside what is psychologically deemed appropriate. This is an inherent problem because a person of exceptional nature, deviant from the norm, with characteristics in the extreme will receive the normative response that they need counseling.
A gifted person may need counseling in a general sense, requiring some guidance or direction on how to deal with issues of being unique and exceptional but it is important to understand what giftedness really is when considering counseling. If a counselor is only trained in a normative perspective and sees deviant, exceptional characteristics as requiring fixing, the gifted individual may be pressured to fit in, damaging their true nature.
When a gifted person is struggling it is important to start the process of understanding the nature of giftedness and seek appropriate help that will assess in a complex way what their challenges are about and how they can develop and grow as a person.
Perfectionism is a descriptive characteristic used very commonly in regards to being gifted and probably the most misunderstood of them all. People tend to view perfectionism as a specific characteristic of a personality.
From our perspective, perfectionism is an indication that a person has a real challenge in how they are going to execute their exceptional vision, idea, concept, etc., in practical reality. This discrepancy in production has to do with the asynchronous nature of a person and the developmental and physiological challenges of executing abilities (capability), which results in an emotional, frustrated response labeled as perfectionism. For gifted children, they believe that they have the skills required to create their vision but developmentally they may not. This can lead to self-criticism and feelings of failure.
The real issue becomes helping the gifted child/person understand what they are really struggling with when they have a “short-circuit experience” in response to not being able to execute their vision. Look at the patterns involved when feeling frustrated, and what skills are required on tasks so the person has an appropriate assessment of the issue and can work on developing the skills necessary to make things actually perfect.
I’m not very good at fixing the engine in my car but I’m exceptionally good at decorating my living room.
I’m not very good at electrical wiring but under the right circumstance I’m a mathematical genius.
I’m not very good at doing research papers but people say my creative writing is outstanding.
In these situations we are talking about the application of specific abilities, not necessarily one’s general intelligence. These situations, as well as homework, refers to ability compared to capability or what is termed the Achievement gap. A person may have the ability to think, understand, and create but they do not have the capability or the application of ability to produce at the same level. The underlying nature of this gap is how the neurophysiological developmental nature of a person, and their unique abilities are being developed and different aspects of their physiological profile are integrating over time.
For a gifted individuals, they may have high levels of interest in particular areas, which activates the executive functioning skills they need to perform certain tasks, and in another situation, context, subject matter, their performance may be subpar. Such a discrepancy requires understanding of the nature of giftedness and assessment regarding the developmental profile of a person and how they are being developed in relation to the world they live in; i.e. from class to class, activity to activity.
Ultimately it needs to be understood that Giftedness is not about doing everything well all the time but having the challenges of human nature in extremes.
What is boredom? Boredom is typically a symptom of a person’s inability to activate their prefrontal cortex, their executive functions, their ability to initiate in the world and engage in activity, learning, behavior and expression. In essence, to be self-directed in life.
When a gifted child says they are bored, people automatically jump to the conclusion that the child is under challenged, under stimulated and needs acceleration. Although there are a percentage of gifted children that acceleration is absolutely necessary, there is a larger percentage that boredom indicates an inability to deal with the “mundane”, which has to do with their executive functioning and effectively execute abilities. If there is a history of repeated boredom in certain areas then it may be necessary to assess how much of the issue is acceleration needs and how much is symptomatic of a possible undiagnosed learning issue.
Unfortunately, if only acceleration is utilized, it runs the risk of putting a child in a situation that only exacerbates the challenges or vulnerabilities with learning and does not develop an appropriate scaffold for the problem. The reverse can be true as well in not providing the child with what they need to be encouraged.
A gifted child has differences in their developmental nature, so their chronological peer group may not be the group they developmentally connect with. Unfortunately, other people in the gifted child’s life mistake this as a social problem or being antisocial and attempt to “fix” them. In fact, it’s not a matter of whether the child can socialize or connect to others, it has more to do with development. It is crucial to find peers of like-mind, like-nature and like ability, so the gifted child can create a sense of belonging in their lives like anybody else.
There are myriad reasons a child explodes and if these explosions are creating an unmanageable level of distress in your life as a parent and the child’s life then the first thing that needs to be done is to get some professional help. There is a tendency to justify “dysregulated expressions” in a psychologically normative way when they could be the result of multiple factors (physiological, biochemical, development, etc.). Talk to us or another professional to rule out what the explosions are really a symptom of.
It is difficult to prescribe clinical advice without understanding the nature of the issue (frequency, intensity, root cause) and even more difficult to provide a quick fix to an issue that has created such distress. In some cases, the dysregulation indicates that a child’s prefrontal cortex has shut down and the child cannot control their amygdala, thus they are unable to manage their emotional reactions. Attempts at that point to get them to “behave” will be met with failure. The most important thing is to make sure the child is safe in these situations and get professional help to determine the underlying cause.
Giftedness is a definition that can be challenging to navigate as it is defined differently based on varying perspectives from educators, psychologists, popular culture and researchers. It is the hope that the definition will become more fluid among these perspectives as we continue to study the brain, human nature and exceptionality.
We view Giftedness as a continuum of human nature and exceptionality in relationship to aspects of neurological, physiological, and developmental makeup. It constitutes a variance in human nature outside of the norm. In general, we look at Giftedness as human nature on a continuum, variance or exception.
Giftedness is not limited to the romantic view of advanced ability in science or math but encompasses far more variables of human nature that are exceptional or extreme in some manner compared to the normative conception of behavior and ability. Giftedness should not be viewed in a judgmental way; that being gifted is an indicator that a person will achieve more in life, be better than other people, or is non-human in any way.
Foremost, it is important to understand why a parent is asking the question of whether their child is gifted. What struggles or awareness have they come to about their child that’s unique, seemingly different, or challenging the parent in some way. If the question is being asked it is the first indicator that the child may be dealing with issues related to Giftedness.
The parent needs to begin by understanding the complexity of development and how intelligence plays out in a gifted person and to start out with a robust, assessed understanding of their child’s actual development, intellectual, and ability profile. The exact nature of the child’s giftedness and level of exceptionality is all relative and subject to assessments.
However, it is not always necessary to be tested; there are lots of indicators and descriptive characteristics that give parents an understanding of a child’s uniqueness to help sort out what the child is about and what needs to be done to facilitate the development of their nature. The difficulty arises when a parent is lead to believe that if a child shows signs of advanced development or precocity that they will sustain that advanced nature throughout their lives.
In fact, if a child shows signs of advanced development in areas it is more of an indicator that they may have areas of delay developmentally, such as: issues with their learning skills, executive function difficulties or the performance side of their ability that will present a host of challenges to meeting their needs throughout life. For a parent to find the answers and support they need it is better to ask, “What is the nature of my child’s giftedness and how I can best meet their needs?”