Gifted: children, despite everything

Being a gifted child is much more than having a high IQ. It is a complex condition, which is often feared, envied, and almost always misunderstood. Most dream of being like the rest and end up making their talents invisible or, in some cases, failing in school. The key to avoiding it is helping them realize their potential. IQ greater than 130, creativity, persistence in tasks, great ability to influence people.

Clinically, these are the basic characteristics that define a gifted person. However, in everyday life this ‘quality’ implies much more. “In principle, they are children who have a normal neurological situation, without any history of previous disease,” Pedro de Castro, a child neurologist at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid, explains to SINC. “But once the intellectual capacity is established above the average, it is necessary to assess other factors that are frequently associated, such as depressive problems or social integration problems.” In fact, although figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that 2.3% of the world’s population has high abilities, more than 30% of these people have poor school performance and feel isolated and not as happy as his group of peers.

Furthermore, according to De Castro, gifted children often suffer from lack of motivation and frustration at school, they feel that teachers do not understand their behavior or their way of being and do not identify with others. And this often leads to isolation; they do not pay attention at school, they have no interest in what is explained and they do not settle for what they are told. All of this leads in many cases to apparent school failure, a symptom that is usually the reason for going to a specialist. “Families come for problems at school, they believe that their children may suffer from attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity; most of the time they don’t know that they are gifted ”, affirms the neurologist. “That’s why the first thing to do is diagnose them so that the right professionals channel these capacities and achieve optimal academic and personal performance.”

As Alicia Rodríguez, president of the Spanish Association for Gifted and Talented (AEST) points out, “not having a child within the average means having to find out about their profiles, as we would have to do with any other difference, such as celiac disease. or diabetes, and thus help him to develop within the greater normality, where he is identified with the whole ”. However, some families experience this condition with anxiety, not as a reward or ‘added value’ from their child. They do not know if they are taking care of her properly, if she needs more or if they demand too much of her. Experts agree that gifted children should first be treated as children, and then according to their innate ability. Ready or Gifted? One of the indicators to determine giftedness is the anticipation of learning or everyday events, such as starting to walk or learning to read very early, which is sometimes confused with a child’s precociousness.

That is when the specialists should come into action so that the diagnosis arrives as soon as possible. However, to date in Spain no symptomatic detection is carried out. “A high ability is not given by a high IQ, that is just one more indicator,” says one of the technicians from the Department of Education of the Community of Madrid in charge of managing the Educational Enrichment Program for High Ability Students PEAC). “Accreditation of high capacity must be official, always carried out by a specialized team.”

The evaluation carried out to determine the presence of high ability includes tests of intellectual capacity, but also one of creativity, divergent thinking, and a monitoring of the student’s school production. High ability students can be proposed to voluntarily participate in the program. It would be revealing if a neurobiological analysis could determine intelligence, but there is nothing like it. Castro makes it clear: “There is no biological test that detects it, no analysis, no magnetic resonance, or studies of any other type that show a high capacity.” For the child neurologist “initially it is difficult to make a differential diagnosis between a gifted child with no problems and one with social difficulties, as occurs in many cases of Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism spectrum disorder. It is necessary to think very fine to know if these complications are reactive to the fact that they have not paid attention or to an intrinsic pathology ”.

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