Is My Child Gifted? A Parents’ Resource to Giftedness
What is meant by “giftedness”? • Children identified as gifted typically have mental abilities in the upper two and one-half to three percent of the population. • This does not mean that two or three out of every 100 persons are geniuses. They are gifted. • Only a fraction of gifted are geniuses.
How aregifted students identified as qualifying for gifted services? Students are identified gifted by one or a combination of the following state approved testing instruments: • The Cognitive Abilities Test • The Naglieri Non-verbal Ability Test • The Wisc III Intelligence Test Students are identified for gifted services if they score in the 97th percentile or above.
Understanding the term “Gifted” A gifted child is a child who by law qualifies for special education services.
What is “Special Education”? Special education means the adjustment of the environment factors, modification of the course of study and adaptation of teaching methods to provide educationally for identified students.
Special education for the gifted differs from regular education in areas such as: • Content, including broad based interdisciplinary curriculum. • Process, including higher level thinking skills. • Product, including variety and complexity. • Learning environment, including flexibility.
What is the law in Arizona regarding Gifted education? By law, all school districts shall provide to gifted pupils special education commensurate with their academic abilities and potential.
The most common misdiagnoses in the gifted child include: • ADHD:The gifted child’s characteristics of intensity, sensitivity, impatience, and high motor activity can easily be mistaken for ADHD. • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD):The intensity, sensitivity, and idealism of gifted children often lead others to view them as “strong willed” thus labeling them oppositional.
Common mis-diagnoses cont… • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Gifted children love to organize people and things into complex frameworks. They are often seen as perfectionists and bossy. Their intellectualizing, sense of urgency, perfectionism, idealism, and intolerance for mistakes may be misunderstood to be signs of OCD. • Bi Polar and Other Mood Disorders: Gifted children often go through periods of depression related to their disappointed idealism. However, it is not at all clear that this kind of depression warrants such a major diagnosis.
A Dual Diagnosis In some situations where gifted children have received a correct diagnosis, giftedness is still a factor that must be considered in treatment and should generate a dual diagnosis.
Is this child gifted or just a high achiever? This is one of the most commonly asked questions in the field of education. Teachers and parents alike struggle with identifying students as high achievers or gifted. Any child who potentially shows signs of giftedness should be tested.
High Achiever Knows the answer Shows interest Has good ideas Top of the group Listens with interest Learns with ease Understands ideas Grasps the meaning Completes assignments Is receptive Enjoys school Is pleased with self Works hard Gifted Learner Asks the questions Is highly curious Has wild, silly ideas Beyond the group Strong feelings/opinions Already knows Constructs abstractions Draws inferences Initiates projects Is intense Enjoys learning Highly self critical Plays around yet tests well High Achiever or Gifted?
Underlying Myths About Gifted Children • They have everything going their way. • They can succeed without help. • They are more stable and mature emotionally. • Their special abilities are always prized by others. • They should be valued primarily for their brain power. • They have gotten something for nothing. • They naturally want to be social isolates.
Myths common among parents and educators: • They are not aware of being different unless told. • They will reveal their giftedness. • Their giftedness needs to be emphasized above all else. • They need constant challenge by others if they are to achieve. • They need to be disciplined more than other children. • They should assume extra responsibility for others. • They enjoy serving as “examples” for other children.
My child is identified gifted, what are the benefits of enrolling in a program that is self-contained? By grouping students who are gifted, students can work with and relate to peers that are similar. They also work on curriculum that is tailored to their abilities. While learning the basics, they are also working on curriculum that challenges their abilities.
How often can students test for the gifted program? The test is given three times a year. A student can be tested one time per year. It is not ideal to test a child for gifted more than twice.
What are the areas of giftedness? Can my child be gifted in more than one area? Arizona requires that children be assessed in three areas: verbal, non-verbal (spatial), and quantitative. A student may qualify in one or more of these areas. Students are identified for gifted services if they score in the 97th percentile or above in one or more of the three areas.
How do IQ scores relate to giftedness? A student with an IQ of 130 or above is considered gifted.
What are some teaching strategies that my child’s teacher could use in the regular classroom to meet my child’s needs? Differentiating Instruction, Compacting, Accelerated Learning, Contracts, Independent Study, and Advanced Placement are all strategies that a teacher could utilize in the regular classroom.
What are the gifted teacher’s qualifications? The Arizona Department of Education requires a Gifted Endorsement for all gifted teachers.
If my child is identified as gifted, does he/she have to participate in special classes? No, you may choose to refuse gifted services. If you have questions about the gifted program at your school, it is recommended that parents speak to their child’s teacher, counselor, administrators, or gifted teacher to help make decisions regarding gifted services.
Resources for Parents and Students • National Association for Gifted Children: www.nagc.org • Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented: www.azagt.org • AZ Department of Education: www.ade.az.gov/ess/gifted • Hoagies’ Kids: www.hoagiesgifted.org
Credits/Bibliography • Rimm, Sylvia. How To Parent so Children will Learn, 1990 • Walker, Sally. The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids, 1992 • Webb, James. Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers, 1994. • Colangelo, N., &Davis, G.A. (2003). Handbook of Gifted Education (3rd ed.). Needham Heights MA: Allyn & Bacon. • Handouts and notes obtained in the class: SPE 534: Guidance and Counseling of Students with Gifts and Talents.