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“To throw a non-swimmer in the deep end of the pool is inhumane. To demand an Olympic swimmer remain in the shallow end until the rest of the class learns to swim is a ludicrous restraint.” (Unknown)

Gifted children have special social and emotional needs that are unique to their IQ.

  • An average child’s intelligence is around 100.
  • Highly, Exceptionally, and Profoundly gifted children are 144 and above.

Nobody would ever think about putting a child with an IQ of 56 in a mainstream classroom. That would be cruel! And yet, that’s what is happening to many gifted children every day.

The idea of special classes for special children has been vilified as being elitist by many people, and gifted programs have been eliminated in many districts across the country including the two districts where I taught.

As an educator and a San Diego Unified School district Seminar alumna, this causes me sadness and concern. I believe that socially, it’s much better for a highly gifted child to be in homogenous grouping situations where he can feel “normal”.

You would think that parenting a gifted child would be easy, but it is in fact the exact opposite.

Living with a gifted child (or spouse) means living with Intensity. The Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski described this intensity even further, asserting that gifted people have “overexcitabilites” in five areas:

  1. Psychomotor
  2. Sensual
  3. Emotional
  4. Intellectual
  5. Imaginational.

Sometimes the more gifted a person is, the more areas of intensity he or she has.

The areas of overxcitabilies can also interact with each other in really crazy ways.

A child who is intensely Psychomotor and always jumping up and down and bouncing all around the house, but also intensely Emotional, might have a physical exhibit of emotions. If she is scared, she is physically nauseous. If she is angry, she gets choked up and cannot breathe.

A gifted person with overexcitabities in the Sensual and Emotional categories might be hyper aware of smells, sounds, and itchy clothing and become irrationally distressed by an untidy, or ugly atmosphere. Even having just one overexcitability can prove a challenge.

Imagine the Sensual gifted person, who is the smartest person you know but who is constantly getting lost in thought, forgetting to put out the trash, and unable to remember where he parked the car.

If you, your child, your spouse, or your family member is gifted, there are likely many attributes of that person that you think are personality traits, unique to that person’s character. The more I have studied the research about giftedness, the more I have learned that those “unique personality traits” are actually symptoms of a high IQ.

This brings be back to my first paragraph. Would you put a child who was severely mentally handicapped into a mainstream classroom without any services or special help? Of course not!

Not only would you have compassion for those students, but you would also recognize that the parents of those children might be dealing with behavioral and social challenges that can be pretty rough.

Here are some of my favorite resources for Gifted Education:

SENG website

Hoagies Gifted Page


  1. Peter Lydon says:

    Good post. Really like the quote at the start. Peter

  2. Claire H. says:

    The TAGFAM e-list is a good general resource and seems a fairly supportive bunch. They have a specific list for homeschoolers and one for those whose kids are one the very extreme end of the giftedness spectrum.

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