Gifted Adults, Does This Sound Like You?

When gifted adults look back on their childhoods they tend to notice many glaring similarities among one another. Do any of these thing sound like you?

Deborah Ruf in her article Social and Emotional Issues:  What Gifted Adults Say About Their Childhoods, shares her experience and research with gifted adults. She begins like this:

“I recently attended a school conference that included the school psychologist, principal, classroom teacher, district gifted and talented coordinator, parents of the gifted child, and other interested parties. Five minutes into the discussion I wanted to shout, “I already have a tape recorded copy of this meeting!” Predictable camps of the debate espoused the same arguments, platitudes and attitudes that usually emerge in these discussions. Although the research is done and the information is available, few people in the trenches even know what giftedness is, let alone what to do about it.

Because I believe that giftedness is an inborn trait, I also believe the qualities of giftedness are present throughout people’s lives, even if they are underachievers or hide their abilities. It follows, therefore, that I believe former gifted children become gifted adults. Adults have experience and hindsight. I asked gifted adults what they thought of their childhood experiences at home and in school.

Case Study Feedback from Highly Gifted Adults

I gathered detailed case study information from 41 adults who scored in the 99th percentile and were between the ages of 40 and 60 in the early 1990s (Ruf, 1998). The following excerpts illustrate some of the feelings and conclusions that subjects had depending on their exposure to ability grouped classes, explanations about intelligence, and emotional support from family, schools and friends.

Knowing I’m Gifted

Although gifted people usually know they are smart they often do not know the many ways their intelligence affects them emotionally and socially. Just a few excerpts from subjects reveal how easily gifted people are both confused and hurt by lack of enlightenment about their giftedness. A woman who became an attorney wrote,”…

Please read the full article at Educational Options.



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  • Matt

    For myself it’s never been a issue of identity, only of “”pardon but .. now what? Broad is the way to … .. ” All that is seemingly available to our community remains articles, comments, all our power tools lack key components !!

  • Miriam Pia

    I feel that I have benefitted from researching more about this, including Linda Silverman’s work and seeing more about schools and special education for teaching gifted kids etc.. I feel grateful to have been identified in 3rd grade and that some of what made me weird was nothing bad but I was just ‘abnormally highly intelligent’ compared to the other children. We had noticed that I was a little weird, even peers who really liked me admitted to finding me strange. I had no idea that my strong emotional reactions might have any connection to that until in my 40s when I read about it from Linda Silverman at her website. I always like to have at least some of my closest friends also be like that but when at least some are, I don’t need all my friends to be that way. …I find that as an adult in the work world etc.. I am honestly not always sure how and when it is noticeable to others or when to mention it or not. I have only had some “smart people only” jobs.