While working with gifted children and their families, I came to realize quite a long time ago that giftedness is not merely about the ability to achieve, but is a holistic state that impacts the entire person. Ever present, the appearance of giftedness shifts and morphs according to internal and external stimuli, how a person is feeling about themselves and their surroundings.

And rarely does giftedness does show up as high achievement. In fact, giftedness doesn’t usually show up in any expected or easily-identified way.

But you probably already knew that.  🙂

Fortunately, George Betts and Maureen Neihart have conducted research on the social, cognitive, and physical impacts on gifted children. Using that data, they came up with six distinct types of gifted child, which they break down as follows:

Type 1: The Successful

Type 2: The Challenging

Type 3: The Underground

Type 4: The Angry

Type 5: The Twice-Exceptional

Type 6: The Autonomous Learner

And even these six types are more complicated than they seem; a child’s giftedness can present itself quite differently on the first day of school as compared to the 101st day of school, depending on the circumstances.

For example a child may enroll in my program when she is eight showing all the signs of a “Type 4, Angry” gifted child. She may be angry after years of enduring bullying and being forced to hide her giftedness. After a few months, enjoying her new-found freedom and alive with creative and divergent thoughts, she may look like the “Type 2, Challenging” gifted child. In a couple years she may settle down into the “Type 6, Autonomous Learner”, secure in herself and her gifts she’s a learner who’s not afraid to try.

In my experience, a gifted child will unconsciously move through these six different types while coping with puberty, changing family dynamics, and an increasing sense of self-awareness. To complicate matters, many gifted children are a blend of types with one type that dominates. It’s never as easy as picking a number!

However, understanding where your child fits in this framework at any given time is a starting point to best supporting your gifted child. Ultimately, this understanding can help you better understand the feelings and needs involved with your child’s behavior.

In my next six blog articles I focus on each type of gifted learner. I have created this quiz for you to help determine what type or blends of types your child might be. Tally up your score and stay tuned to learn more about how to best support your gifted child.

These questions cover a variety of scenarios throughout your child’s life. When you come to a question that seems to be either too young or too old do your best to imagine your child at the age in that scenario. To get the most out of this work trust your sense of your child but keep in mind the reality of who they are, not who you wish them to be.

Ready for the first question? Here we go!

1. It’s spirit week at your child’s school. One of the planned spirit week events is to have a crazy hair day day. Every child is encouraged to style their hair in a wacky or outrageous way. Your child:

A. happily participates, on the day of the event you notice her hair is not too crazy or too normal, although she has shown some small signs of creativity you notice she still “fits in” with the general theme her classmates are following.

B. was made for this day. She wakes up extra early to execute a design that she has been troubleshooting for the past week. This is her favorite day of school, all year.

C. has the creative skills to pull off a really great crazy hair design, but she settles on a safe design that doesn’t take too much time.

D. refuses to participate and begs to stay home. She may even become unreasonably angry at the suggestion that she participate or at the offer of help with participating.

E. is very nervous or anxious about having a non-typical school day. These feelings thwart any effort they put toward participating or having fun with the day. In fact they become so anxious they make themselves ill and have to stay home.

F. participates in these things only if it seems fun to her. She does not personally identify with or associate her self-worth with these types of events or activities.


2. You sit down to play Settlers of Catan with your family. This is your favorite game and you are really looking forward to having a nice relaxing evening after a full day of work and school. When your child loses the game she:

A. has a good attitude towards losing (she only lost because of your victory point anyway) but you’re annoyed that she texted with their friends the entire time. You know she could’ve won if she’d applied herself more during the game.

B. doesn’t really care that she lost. She’s busy using your cell phone to document the unusual and creative board design she came up with and creating stop motion animations with the playing pieces.

C. didn’t really try. You remember a time when your child would have mopped the floor with you. You wonder what happened and when she stopped trying.

D. has worn you out with constant arguing over the finer points of the game and having near meltdowns when a roll doesn’t go her way. When she does finally lose, you’ve seriously considered swaying the game so she can win somehow just to avoid an even larger meltdown. You make a mental note for the future that this a not a relaxing activity the whole family can enjoy.

E. loses because she simply could not focus on the game. If she wasn’t rolling around on the floor she was needing constant reminders about the rules of the game. This is strange to you because she routinely wins the online version of this game.

F. loses and she accepts that with her usual aplomb. You are impressed by her insight into what she could’ve done better and how she has improved since the last time you played together.


3. Your child has had seven weeks to finish an independent project for school. Tomorrow is presentation day, It’s 8 o’clock at night, you and your child are:

A.  just finishing some last minute details. They did a good job and you are impressed by the project. You know they could’ve done a great job and wonder why they aren’t taking more risks.

B. trying to work on the spelling and grammar for the visual aides portion of the project. Your child’s project is wild, original and creative. You are proud of her but you’re not entirely sure she learned anything “academic”.

C. are scrambling to come up with something last minute. You are shocked to find out your child has been ditching this class to hang out with her friends at the park. You’re sad and worried for your child. You remember her second grade project on the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates and how most of the other children had no idea what those words even meant.

D. angry, after the third meltdown today you think you may just keep her home “sick” tomorrow. She had a great idea for her project but fear, anxiety and perfectionism has kept her from executing something she is proud of.

E. editing the spelling and grammar your child used in her research paper. The spelling and grammar used by your child is almost unreadable. You know this will affect her grade and that bums you out because the product your child created for the project is creative and full of obvious effort. When she speaks on her topic it’s clear how much of the information she’s internalized. You wish she went to a school that valued that as much as spelling and grammar.

F. finishing up some last minute details. Your child LOVES independent project time. Her choices are often quirky and have included topics such as “The Influence of the Vietnam War on Popular Music of the 1960’s” and “Plausibility of the Inventions of Dr. Who” She knows that independent project time is her time to shine.

If you answered the questions with mostly A’s then your child may be the Type 1: Successful Gifted Child. Mostly B’s points towards your child being a Type 2: Challenging Gifted Child. Having more than 2 C’s as answers may suggest that your child is Type 3: The Underground Gifted Child. Your child may be a Type 4: Angry Gifted Child if you answered with D’s. Type 5: The Twice-Exceptional Gifted Child is reflected by E answers. And finally those that answered with F’s probably have a child that is Type 6: Autonomous Learner.

For the next post, I’ll discuss Type 1: The Successful in more detail.

And won’t you share your perspective on the different types of gifted learners and where you think your child fits in the comments? I love hearing from you!

*This blog post is based on the article, Profiles of the Gifted and Talented  (Betts, George, and Maureen Neihart. Profiles of the gifted and talented. Gifted Child Quarterly, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), 1988. Web. 2013. <http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10114.aspx>.).

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