They say Einstein didn’t speak until he was three. They took it as a sign that he was learning more slowly than the rest, but he was a genius with an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 160 points, well above the average between 90 and 110 points.
The pace of learning in each child is different.
However, there are signs and characteristics that can make parents suspect that their daughter or son has above-average intelligence.
What are they? What can parents do when a child is gifted?
How are the gifted?
The brain of a gifted person “is as if you had a computer with greater processing capacity and greater storage capacity, so it goes much faster” than a normal computer, explains from the other side of the phone clinical psychologist and gifted expert Carmen Sanz Chacón, who is also director of The world of the gifted.
This translates into a number of features beyond having an IQ greater than 130 points. “She learns faster than others, has a much more developed memory, has the ability to relate things, which they also learn very quickly, with which normally she also has a great capacity for innovation,” says the psychologist, who is also gifted.
Because their learning is more accelerated than that of their peers, many times a 10-year-old child has a mental age of 13.
“These children need course acceleration as the first educational measure because it is what will make them stay in the course that really suits them,” explains Sanz Chacón.
“If they are not given special education, they often have problems with school failure, bullying, lack of motivation, problems in social relationships, etc.”.
But it’s not all about intelligence. Gifted people also appear to have common emotional characteristics, or at least according to the observations of clinical psychologist Sanz Chacón.
“What I observe in The World of the Gifted is that, normally, we are hypersensitive, people with a great capacity for adaptation, we are also quite absent-minded.
We tend to be very demanding with ourselves and with others, which also makes us sometimes a little intolerant with others and many times, if you have had problems fitting in with your peers, there are also personality problems, such as we are more introverted than others, with a sense of privacy and reserve higher than the rest.
Although it doesn’t always happen.”
“We find it difficult to fit in with normal people because we have very different concerns and sometimes it’s complicated or difficult to be in a normal group of people because if you’re an adult you get bored and if you’re a child, too,” explains the expert.
“These are usually the general characteristics. Apart from this, we tend to have a great empathy, a great sense of humor and, generally, I often say that intelligence tends to be associated with kindness, not always, but they tend to be associated,” says Sanz Chacón.
Sometimes, when we talk about giftedness, we also talk about high capacities even though they are not synonyms, since there is a small nuance between both terms. But what exactly is this?
“High capacities is a concept that is used in the educational world to reflect people who need special education,” explains Sanz Chacón to Hipertextual. “They can be gifted or people with specific talents or with an IQ of 120 or higher,” adds the psychologist.
Thus, the definition of a person with high abilities is broader than that of a gifted person, so Sanz Chacón estimates that 10% of the population are people with special educational needs because they stand out above the rest and only 2% for those with giftedness.
How to measure intelligence?
There are a multitude of tests that can be carried out to measure a person’s intelligence, but when it comes to measuring general intelligence, which is what gifted people have, they all tend to focus on five areas: verbal capacity, memory, logical capacity and reasoning, visospatial capacity and speed.
“These are the ones that measure the usual tests, they are five parameters with which the intelligence quotient is obtained“, affirms Sanz Chacón.
But they are not the only ones that can be done, you can also do tests that only measure verbal ability or logic, “but they are all related and the IQ results they give are usually similar to those of a general test,” he explains.
For people with high abilities these tests are also useful for general intelligence tests, they will simply stand out more in their field of dexterity.
They are not suitable for people with musical talents, for example, for that you would need a different test, as the psychologist specializing in gifted explains.
“In the end, high ability is an educational term that reflects that a child has special educational needs and may need them because he or she has great verbal development or because he or she has great mathematical talent or great visuospatial ability or great sense or development for art,” he says.
While people with high abilities can excel more in a field or have a talent, the gifted have a general intelligence, as Sanz Chacón explains.
Socialization for gifted children, as for others, is very important for their future development.
However, they have an added difficulty: it’s more difficult to fit in when the rest of the children don’t understand your games or interests.
Nor does it help that one learns much faster than the rest. “You are different, you have different interests and you learn much more quickly, this leads to rejection by peers who do not understand or do not follow you,” says the clinical psychologist.
“You want to play things that they don’t understand, and then you’re a little weird and that makes these kids get pushed aside, left out, blocked, or even bullying, insults, bullying, beatings, and so on.
And what is the consequence? The child’s self-esteem drops and ends up closing in on itself, which generates social skills problems that can last a lifetime.
“But this happens because the school environment is hostile; if a gifted child is in the right environment, with people who understand him, this doesn’t have to happen,” says the giftedness expert.
The environment in which the child develops is so important that, as Sanz Chacón points out, when people with a lack of social skills and problems relating to others arrive, “it is usually a consequence of not having been in the right environment”.
Not only can the shape of the mouth, nose, or other physical features be inherited.
From parents to children or from grandparents to grandchildren, intelligence is also inherited.
“It is very common that parents of gifted children also have giftedness and do not know it,” comments Sanz Chacón to Hipertextual. “In The World of the Gifted We Evaluate Both Children and Parents,” adds the clinical psychologist. “And if it’s not the parents, it could be a grandfather or someone in the family,” he says. “Genetic character is very common.”
What can I do if my child is gifted?
Tests confirm that the girl or boy is gifted. Now what can parents do? “Form and be informed,” says Sanz Chacón.
In order to find out what it means to be gifted, it is best to ask for an orientation consultation, either in The World of the Gifted or in another center specializing in gifted people.
Parents need to know “how they can evolve, what problems may arise during their development, what educational needs they may have, etc,” says Sanz Chacón.
But it is also important “to bear in mind that he is a child with special needs, that his behaviour may not be like that of a normal child, that he is going to develop much more quickly and, perhaps, they meet an adolescent who is 8 or 9 years old, but who, nevertheless, is still a child“, he illustrates. “They have to learn to take him, to educate him and to bring out the best in him,” he adds.
When parents discover that the child has high abilities or giftedness and how they can work with him, explains Sanz Chacón, problems such as school failure or lack of motivation usually disappear.
“When in doubt, we always recommend that parents ask for an evaluation,” concludes the director of The World of the Gifted.