Overview of Latest Researchby: Doris Santarone


  • "Profoundly gifted children may have emotional problems, or they may be well adjusted; they may be gifted across skill areas, or they may be gifted in only one skill area. In fact, they may be gifted in certain areas and delayed in others." (McGuffog, Feiring & Lewis, 1990).
  • Longitudinal studies of exceptionally gifted individuals indicate that those most satisfied with their lives had parents who were understanding and supportive of their special needs. (Hollingworth, 1942; Terman, 1926; Terman & Oden, 1947; Feldman & Goldsmith, 1991)
  • The exceptionally gifted or profoundly gifted child requires an educational program which differs quite radically in structure, pace and content from that which might be offered to moderately gifted age-mates (Gross, 1992).

  • “Exceptionally gifted children discuss complex issues at a much earlier age than would be expected. They may ask questions or think about issues related to the origins of things: "‘How did time start?’ ‘Does time start anew with the start of a new galaxy?’ ‘What is the purpose of religion?’” (Lovecky, 1992).

  • Parenting any exceptional child who is at an extreme from the norm has special challenges. And this is as true for the parents of profoundly gifted children as it is for the parents of mentally handicapped children. One difference between these two extreme situations is that impediments to functioning are, quite naturally, more recognizable and provided with more support and funding from society, whereas resource needs of the profoundly gifted are typically seen as the responsibility of the individual family. This makes the likelihood of successfully raising talented children often as dependent upon parents’ abilities to generate adequate material resources as on their parenting skills. (Bloom, 1982, 1985; Borland, 1989; Clark, 1992; Feldman, 1991; Feldman & Piirto, 1994; Tannenbaum, 1983; Vail, 1987)

  • Social isolation experienced by highly gifted children is caused by the absence of a suitable peer group with whom to relate. When exceptionally gifted children who have been rejected by their age peers are removed from the inappropriate grade placement and are permitted to work and play with intellectual peers, the loneliness and social isolation disappears, and the child is accepted as a valued classmate and friend. (DeHann & Havighurst, 1957; Janos, 1993; Hollingworth, 1931; Gross, 1993).

  • In terms of intellectual capacity alone, the profoundly gifted student of IQ 190 differs from moderately gifted classmates of IQ 130 to an even greater degree than the latter differs from the intellectually handicapped student of IQ 70. (Gross, 1993).

  • Accelerating exceptionally or profoundly gifted children by a single year is no more effective than retaining them in the regular classroom with age-peers." (Gross, 1993).

  • Highly gifted children are frequently placed at risk in the early years of school through misidentification, inappropriate grade-placement and a seriously inadequate curriculum (Gross, 1994).

  • Vulnerabilities of highly gifted children include uneven development, perfectionism, adult expectations, intense sensitivity, self-definition, alienation, inappropriate educational environments and role conflict (Roedell, 1994).

  • Those gifted children most likely to develop their talent to the level of an expert will be: those who have high drive and the ability to focus and derive flow from their work; those who grow up in families that combine stimulation with support; and those who are fortunate to have inspiring teachers, mentors and role models. (Bloom, 1982; Winner, 1996).
  • Data on the Study for Exceptional Talent (SET) members’ backgrounds suggest that they are likely to have well-educated and high-achieving parents; it is likely that such parents value education and do whatever they can to help their children attain the best education possible. Such family support is a great asset. (Brody & Blackburn, 1996).
  • Profoundly gifted individuals have been identified in all races, cultures and economic levels, although some cultures support, nurture and develop giftedness more than others (Clark, 1997; VanTassel-Baska, & Seeley, 1989; Kearney & LeBlanc, 1993).

  • Because exceptionally gifted children often have high levels of energy and require less sleep, they are sometimes misdiagnosed as being hyperactive. These traits can look like hyperactivity, but there is a difference. The energy of a gifted child is focused, directed and intense, whereas the energy of a hyperactive child is diffuse, random and sporadic (Clark, 1997).

  • Accelerated highly gifted students achieve significantly higher levels of social and general self-esteem than do children of equal intellectual ability who have been retained with age peers or who have been permitted only a single grade-skip. (Gross, 2000).

  • “Both early movement and early speech contribute significantly to the highly gifted child’s capacity to acquire and process information and to relate to other people within and outside his or her family. Through early speech and reading, the young child has access to an ‘information bank’ normally reserved for children some years older, which may have a lasting effect on her values, attitudes, and interests.” (Gross, 2000).

  • Developmental profiles of extremely gifted children show no singular pattern. Children functioning four or more standard deviations from the norm differ from each other in as many ways as do children of normal intelligence. (Robinson, 1981; Gross, 2000).

  • Play patterns in highly gifted children are more complex than their age mates. They are able to play games with complex rules and often create extensive dramatic and imaginative play with complex plots and characterization that extends over time. (Kearney 2001; Wright, 1993).

  • The schools that are most effective in serving the needs of exceptionally gifted students are those with teachers and administrators who have a flexible, thoughtful attitude toward these students and toward their parents, and thus were willing to explore educational activities they had never initiated, supervised or experienced previously with any other student. This flexibility permitted a collaboration to develop between the home and the school that supported the educational needs of the exceptionally gifted student. (Osborn, 2001).

  • Early college is not for every highly gifted student and it is appropriate that students self select themselves into these opportunities. (Brody & Stanley, 1991; Robinson & Harsin, 2001).

  • Research on acceleration or grade skipping has been found to have almost uniformly positive results; acceleration is educationally and socially advantageous for highly gifted learners. No other arrangement for gifted children works as well as acceleration, which is far more effective in raising student achievement than the most successful school reform models (Clark, 1997; Colangelo, Assouline & Gross, 2004).