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Myths That Persist - A Five Part Series - Part Four

Myths That Persist- A Five Part Series

Part Four

By Teagan Taylor

“We need a shift in American culture where we can accept that kids need different things to thrive...and that means addressing the needs of the outliers of an average...which we ignore unless the government funds it.”

- Anonymous survey participant

Stakeholders took a survey on 5 common misconceptions/myths about giftedness and their opinions on what work there is left to do. Since we got so many thought provoking responses, we are doing a Five Part Series, a blog post for each of the 5 myths. Below is Myth #4!

Myth #4) Gifted students have strong social and emotional traits


The Numbers

graph of survey response

The Problem

  • “People often don't realize that gifted kids have their own social/emotional challenges. I have a 3rd grader who is quite intelligent, but she cannot wrap her brain around the need to be challenged. The moment she encounters something that she doesn't automatically know, she goes into a complete and total meltdown. She will ball up her fists and bang on her desk, rip her paper in half, and scream at the teacher and her peers. Even if it is a fun and open ended activity. Her fear of failure is so severe that it actually negatively impacts her academically and socially.”

  • “Many gifted students are emotionally intense and passionate kids. They may experience overexcitabilities. When we were in school, no one knew anything about overexcitabilities, including the gifted ed teacher, the school counselor, the regular classroom teacher, the administration. Even during psycho-educational testing at a private psychologists office known for "gifted testing," I found myself explaining overexcitabilities to them. It was shocking. There are few to no community resources in NC regarding the needs of highly/profoundly gifted students.”

  • “Teachers, in general, assume that giftedness equals social and emotional intelligence. A fifth grade boy identified gifted in math: the classroom teacher kept questioning the child's gifted identification. She complained that he would not complete work, he didn't understand the work, etc. Ultimately it was determined the child (African American male), wanted to fit in more with his friends who received Title 1 services. He was not comfortable being identified as gifted and was underperforming on purpose as a way to fit in with his friend group.”

  • “More often teachers and ESPECIALLY parents think the opposite -- that a student acting up might be gifted since "they are bored" is easier to assume than "they need counseling", "they have impulse control issues", "they have home life issues", etc.”

  • “I think the SEL discussion is being discussed - but I do not hear a lot directly discussed about gifted students.”

  • “We seem to have a better understanding of this one in my experience…”

The Solution

  • “Counselor training, staff training on the developmental characteristics and intensities of gifted students.”

  • “The amount of anxiety in gifted students has to be skyrocketing. I have seen it tripling in my own students. This is a BIG issue. The pressure the students are under is unreal. To be perfect. It comes from parents, teachers, peers, and within.”

  • “Helping students with study skills, organization, responsibility, and self-regulation, especially surrounding feelings of perfectionism.”

  • “DATA!! We need data to show what these kids are experiencing. (i.e. 56% of identified gifted students suffer from perfectionism, etc.)”

  • “Educate the universities with gifted ed programs about OEs (overexcitabilities) and misdiagnosis. Lots of SENG parent support groups need to be revived--Parents need to have more awareness of OEs and intensities before those OEs and intensities become pathologized. Gifted Ed needs to realize how often school failure occurs with these students and how to support those families that end up fleeing schools because of school failure and increased anxiety from that experience. Offer [credit hours] for psychologists regarding OEs.”

Check back next time for Myth #5, “Gifted programs are elitist”...

We would love to continue this discussion in the comments here or on our social media platforms. What are your thoughts about this myth?

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