Is Everybody Gifted?

big_eyes_science“She sure seems angry,” I heard somebody say behind me. The presenter was passionate about her topic. She and another were taking turns explaining how “all students are a gift, but not all students are gifted,” and to say otherwise could undermine gifted education.

Some people in the audience squirmed. Others nodded their heads in enthusiastic agreement.

The problem is the word “gifted.” It’s a very common word; can any one group own it exclusively?

One viewpoint is that all of us are gifted, and we all have special needs. Those gifts and needs are usually connected. Here gifted is being defined as a talent or an innate personality trait, but it could also be something developed with effort.

This isn’t the type of gifted the presenters were talking about.

Instead, they are advocating for a specific category of students who are most known for having high IQs, but who are really set apart by what many call intensities or overexcitabilities. It’s due to these intensities that students need special education accommodations. Did you know that “gifted education” is a category of special education? Many don’t because they mistakenly believe that gifted students don’t need help – that they are smart enough to figure out things on their own.

Sharon Lind’s article Overexcitability and the Gifted does an excellent job of describing each of the 5 identified domains and providing strategies for each one:

  • Psychomotor
  • Sensual/Perceptual
  • Intellectual
  • Imagination
  • Emotional

Not only are these important to understand for education, they come into play in building healthy lives at home and work. Gifted individuals will typically relate to a couple of these, but a person can even have traits in all five.

I’m curious to know: do any of the overexcitabilities sound like something you or a loved one can relate to? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with this topic.


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