Understanding Gifted Children
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Understanding Gifted Children



Slides of our talk to the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted or WAETAG. The talk includes gifted learning differences, intensity, perfectionism, sensitivities, twice ...

Slides of our talk to the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted or WAETAG. The talk includes gifted learning differences, intensity, perfectionism, sensitivities, twice exceptional diagnoses, motivation, temperament, brain research.



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Understanding Gifted Children Understanding Gifted Children Presentation Transcript

  • Understanding Gifted Children A DyNaMITE Perspective on Learning and Development in Gifted Children Brock Eide M.D. M.A. and Fernette Eide M.D. Slideshare.net/drseide
  • Abnormal versus Pathological• Gifted children really are “abnormal” in a statistical sense, which sometimes leads to the suspicion of disorder.• Most parents of gifted children have “moments of doubt.”• Behavioral rating scales may lend credence to concerns
  • DSM UsesA Single Perspective... Observable Behavior… Doesn’t consider context.
  • ADHD (DSM-IV-TR)Inattention Hyperactivity• Careless mistakes • Fidgets, Squirms• Difficulty sustaining attention • Often leaves seat• Does not seem to listen • Runs about, climbs• Does not follow through on • Difficulty playing quietly instructions, fails to finish work • Often “on the go”• Difficulty organizing tasks • Talks excessively• Avoids, dislikes, activities requiring sustained mental effort Impulsivity• Often loses things • Blurts answers• Often distracted • Difficulty waiting turn• Often forgetful • Interrupts or intrudes on others Either 6 or more of first or second column
  • Aspergers Syndrome (DSM-IV-TR) Impairment in Social Interaction: 2 of the following: • Impairment in eye contact, facial expression, gestures • Failure at developmentally appropriate peer relationships • Lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity Stereotyped Patterns of Behavior: 1 of the following: • Interest – abnormal in intensity or focus • Inflexible adherence to routines or rituals • Stereotyped mannerisms • Preoccupation with parts of objectsDisturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or otherNo delay in language, cognitive development, self-help not PDD or schizophrenia
  • Gifted Traits: A Two-Edged Sword GDC Characteristics of Giftedness • Reasons Well • Learns Rapidly • Extensive Vocabulary • Long Attention Span (If Interested) • Sensitive • Shows Compassion • Perfectionistic • Intense • Morally Sensitive • Strong Curiosity • Perseverant Own Interests • High Degree of Energy • Prefers Older or Adults • Wide Range of Interests • Questions Authority • Vivid Imagination
  • Result: Diagnostic “Mission Creep” “Once you understand what it’s [ADHD] about, you’ll see it everywhere.” • Edward Hallowell, Driven to Distraction
  • Simple, or Simplistic Aura of tidiness and simplicity creates: soccer field diagnoses “Rachel, stop Picking flowers And watch the ball!” “She’s inattentive” “Or maybe hyperfocused”“Do you think Jenny has Asperger’s?” “Probably just PDD-NOS”
  • Gifted Childrenare Complex and Chaotic… • Can’t completely plan and control. • Must observe and respond.
  • Key QuestionIf observable behavior is too narrow, What’s a better perspective from which to view these children?
  • Understanding the Gifted Child: The Five “DYNAMITE” Perspectives 1. Development 2. Neurobiology (“wiring”) 3. Motivation/Interest 4. Temperament 5. Experience
  • Development Gifted Development Is Often Uneven WISC-III VIQ (VRI) / PIQ (PRI) Discrepancies – 18 Points or More Control Sample 17.0 % Gifted Sample 54.7 % Sweetland, Port Washington School District
  • Development Favored Routes of Processing May Change at Different Ages Schlagger, WUSTL When performing similar tasks, children use more visual images, and adults use more precise verbal terms.
  • Development Developmental Patterns Differ By Sex Auditory and Visual Attention Improve With Time And Differ by Sex. Vuontela U Helsinki Age Boys Poorer Auditory Attention in Elementary School Behavioral Checklists Don’t Consider Developmental or Gender Differences
  • DevelopmentDifferent Learning Challenges ProduceDifferent Time Courses for DevelopmentDisorders with time frames:• Dyslexia/Dysgraphia• Autism Spectrum Disorders• ADHD• Birth Injury/Sensory Processing Disorder Catts U Kansas
  • Gifted Attention Matures Later The Higher the IQ, the More Delayed Executive Function (Prefrontal) Maturation Then Thicker Brain Young Gifted Cortices in the Teen Children Have Years Thinner CorticesBefore the Age of 10 Shaw, NIMH Delays may be especially pronounced for children with sensory processing and motor coordination deficits.
  • Development The child of today is not the same as the child of last week or month or year. These changes are produced by growth in: •Working memory and executive control •Self-knowledge and self-regulation •Experience •Speed and fidelity of connections in the brain
  • Development Understanding Family Patterns Is Critical Because Atypical Developers Run in Packs You’ll never really understand the Beav until you also know Ward, June, and Wally.
  • Understanding the Gifted Child: The Five “DYNAMITE” Perspectives 1. Development 2. Neurobiology (“wiring”) 3. Motivation/Interest 4. Temperament 5. Experience
  • Neurobiology: Four Common Characteristics of Gifted Thinkers1. Enhanced Sensitivity to Sensory Patterns2. Enhanced Memory Efficiency and Capacity3. Greater Potential for “Creative-Corporate Thinking”4. Enhanced Capacity for Detecting Associations/Analogies Visual Imagination fMRI Hirsch, Sloan Kettering
  • Gifted Characteristic 1: Enhanced Sensitivity The Upside:More information can filter through the system.
  • More Vivid Sensing (and Emotion) Results in Better Memory Active Recall Pictures ‘Memory’s Echo’ Pictures Sounds Buckner, WUSTL
  • Neurobiology Downside of Extra Sensitivity Gifted Brains May Overload Math Prodigy Performing Most Pediatric Post-Traumatic Green + Red Difficult Tower of Bipolar Stress London Task Brains on Fire Pesenti, Caen Just, Carnegie Mellon Reiss, Stanford Williams, U S Wales
  • Implications of Enhanced Sensitivity• Watch for signs of OVERLOAD• Gifted children are often introverts, allow recharging• Limit environmental distractions and triggers• Frequent high proteins or complex carbs• Provide lots of support and encouragement• Look for the positives: alertness and awareness• Time to develop: Persistence and focus are skills, not chemicals
  • Gifted Characteristic 2: EnhancedMemory Efficiency and Capacity Children Often Differ Dramatically In Their Preferred Form of Working and Long Term Memory
  • Encoding Efficiency: More Brain Areas Used For Initial Encoding Means Better MemoryGifted children often skilled in use of encoding strategies. Best Memory Gazzaniga, Dartmouth Learning Word List
  • Strong Working Memory and Attention To Solve Complex Problems Attention Tower of London Task Imagery Working Memory and Attention Help Keep Information ‘In Mind’ Just, Carnegie Mellon
  • Downside: Disorganization The Highly Active Mind Is Often…Distracted and Disorganized“Constantly late for school, losing his books, and papers andvarious other things into which I need not enter– he is so regular inhis irregularity in every way that I don’t know what to do.” --Winston Churchill’s Principal Einstein’s Office
  • Enhanced Memory + Emotional Sensitivity = Fragile Egos! With Better Memory, More Likely to Choke Under Stress Low Memory Group High Memory Group High Memory Demand “Choke” Beilock and Carr Michigan State U Low Pressure High Pressure The Bigger They Are, The Harder They’ll Fall
  • As a Consequence… Increased Sensitivity + Enhanced Memory = Cognitive Flypaper ‘Everything Sticks’• Gifted education should consist less of “filling up theirbrains” (AP fallacy) than with linking or organizing what theyknow...
  • Gifted Characteristic 3:Greater Potential for Well Balanced“Creative Corporate” Attention The Successful Gifted Creative Corporation
  • The Executive “Corporation” Training Creativity & Operations(Gifted Children Mislabeled with ADD) Chief Creativity Officer – Right Brain • Combines Ideas, Sensations, Images • Generates Alternative Approaches • Expands Possibilities and Associations • Prefers ‘The Big Picture’Chief Operations Officer – Left Brain• Oriented to the ‘Bottom Line’• Focusing & Prioritizing Goals• Deals with Detailed Planning and Implementation Rypma, Rutgers
  • The Creative Corporation in Our Brains If P, then Q. P, therefore Q. Novelty “Just Left” “Just Right” Noveck, Lyon Davis, U Toronto
  • What the Right and Left BrainsThink When They See WordsIn a partially split brain patient, the printed word “knight” wasflashed in such a way that only one hemisphere at a time could seeit.• When the word flashed only to the left hemisphere, the patient responded, “It says ‘knight’.”• When the word was flashed only to the right hemisphere, he said, “I have a picture in my mind but I can’t say it… Two fighters in a ring. Ancient wearing uniforms and helmets… on horses trying to knock each other off… Knights?”
  • Pitfalls of Chief Operation Officers • “Oh no, I have to think?” • Fails to Consider Alternatives • Misses the Forest for the Trees • Derivative More Than Innovative
  • Pitfalls of Creativity Directors • Disorganization • No Priority, No Plan • Unfinished Work • Poor Verbal Communication
  • Development of the Creative Corporation Fluid Reasoning task Brainstorm with Creativity Director, Plan, Implement, and Monitor Output with Operations Director Wright et al, March 2008 | Volume 1 | Article 8 | www.frontiersin.org
  • Examples of Successful Corporate BrainsNumber Crunching Math Genius Uses Whole Brain for ‘Frontal Sequential’ Task* Rules * Personal Memory * Unconscious * Brain Processing of Math Calculating Prodigy Green: Shared By Math Genius and Non-Experts Red: Only Math GeniusGenius used personal memory areas to store tables of squares,cubes, roots,and procedural short cuts to solve problems quickly Pesenti, Caen, Belgium
  • Gifted Characteristic 4: Enhanced AssociationsGifted Thinkers Often Use More TypesOf Brain Regions For Particular Tasks Red: Additional Areas In Math Prodigy Math Genius Performing Complex Math Pesenti, Caen, Belgium
  • Downside: Too Many Associations• More Associations May Result in Slowed Processing, and delayed recall: more possibilities to choose from.• Tendency to see problems where others don’t (may see “more connections” to a single link. Tendency to focus on gaps (or potential gaps) in knowledge. Simple Many Associations
  • The Gifted-Backward Paradox“My teachers saw me at once backward and precocious, reading booksbeyond my years and yet at the bottom of the Form. They were offended.They had large resources of compulsion at their disposal, but I wasstubborn.” Winston Churchill “The servants all thought that young Isaac was foolish, and his mother did not know what to do with him…” From Isaac Newton, The Greatest Scientist of All Time “I used to take these maths tests which were supposed to be done in one period and it took me not just that period but the next one which was a play period and sometimes the one beyond that…” Roger Penrose, Cambridge Math Professor
  • Idiosyncratic--Distinctive Vision/InterestsMagritte, Picasso, and Bosch – Age 7
  • Drawbacks of Enhanced Synthesis/Associations On Affect and Relationships • May result in a highly individualistic and fiercely independent approach and personalityChild age 6 who insists on writing “in cursive” though he doesn’t know how
  • Desire to find a new and better way to do everythingSignature on routine assignment, written in Mayan glyphs – age 10
  • Drawbacks of Enhanced Synthesis/Associations On Affect and Relationships• May result in isolation due to difficulty finding someone who “shares the vision”• May become agitated or depressed when unable to share or communicate their vision
  • Implications of Enhanced Capacity for Associations On Learning Style and Preferences• Tendency to view knowledge and learning personally• Benefit of the added “oomph” of personal memory and intrinsic motivation, but risk of defensiveness, despair, irritability, offended dignity Faust in despair in his lab Eureka!
  • Understanding the Gifted Child: The Five “DYNAMITE” Perspectives 1. Development 2. Neurobiology (“wiring”) 3. Motivation/Interest 4. Temperament 5. Experience
  • Perspective 3: Motivation and InterestMotivation is especially important to consider in gifted children, whose interests and self-direction may be especially strong.
  • Motivation“Where my reason, imagination, or interestwere not engaged, I would not or I could notlearn.” - Winston Churchill
  • Gifted Interests“I’m going to measure polar icecap thickness myself!” • Interest may be unusual in its focus, intensity, or exclusivity for age • May promote independence and/or isolation • May show unusual hunger for depth or novelty • May find repetition unusually excruciating • May be hard to engage outside of area of personal interest • May be very sensitive to the notion that theyre not already perfect • Especially likely to promote concerns about “disease”
  • Motivation Motivating Power of Novelty and Puzzles ‘The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that’s most interesting…’ - Richard Feynman Novelty-Seeking Is Not necessarily a Negative Trait: Gifted Children Often Practice Serial Expertise
  • M&I Esthetic/Metaphysical/ Spiritual InterestsSense of beauty, wonder, mystery, or awe: dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, mythology, biology (flowers, shells, animals, marine biology), physics/astronomy, robotics, building/engineering, mineralogy, fantasy literature, fantasy games or role play, medievalism, creative writing, drama, art, sailing, military history, politics…
  • MotivationEnjoyment of Beauty Drives Persistence“To really understand animals and their behavior youmust have an aesthetic appreciation of an animal’sbeauty. This endows you with the patience to look atthem long enough to see something.” - Konrad Lorenz, Nobel Laureate
  • Motivation and Interest Narrow or Intense Interests• Tendency to view all narrow or intense interests as signs autism spectrum disorders or OCD, even when the interest itself not especially unusual or destructive.• Careful understanding of motivations and interests especially important for gifted children, whose interests are often more narrow, focused, and intense than peers
  • Motivation and Interest Unhealthy Interests• Addiction, compulsion, barriers to other goods such as sleep, supper, relationships, or learning.• vast majority of cases, child simply pursuing an interest with a depth or intensity not usually seen among similarly-aged children.
  • Motivation and Interest Why Children Give Up• Struggling children often asked for unmakeable leaps.• When children fail to achieve a critical ratio of success, motivation plummets and they simply stop trying. Huge problem for handwriting, math, reading, sports…
  • Understanding the Gifted Child: The Five “DYNAMITE” Perspectives 1. Development 2. Neurobiology (“wiring”) 3. Motivation/Interest 4. Temperament 5. Experience
  • Perspective 4: Temperament• Temperament is a child’s “emotional disposition”; style, manner, or “flavor” of responding behaviorally and emotionally to the world.• Temperament is part of a child’s personality, which also includes humor, intelligence, interests, and talents.
  • Temperament Particular “Gifted” Traits • Intensity • Sensitivity • Introversion • Distractibility Secondary Profiles • Fierce Independence • Highly personal approach/attitude to learning • Auto-didacticism • Long span, “hyperfocus”, • Multi-task with novelty • Sensitivity to criticism • Perfectionism (sensitivity, intensity, negativity)
  • Temperament “Difficult” Temperamental Traits• Negative withdrawal reactions to new people and situations• Slow adaptability to change• Intensity• Negative mood• Especially high or low physical activity/energy• Irregular biological functions• Sensitivity (sensory and emotional)• Low task persistence, Distractibility• The more of these characteristics a child has, and the more strongly they are expressed, the more likely the child will have behavioral or emotional problems.
  • Intense and Independent• Cato the Younger was one of the great heroes of the Roman Republic, renowned for courage stubbornness, tenacity, and moral virtue.• When a visiting friend of his father’s (Pompaedius) playfully asked the young Cato what he thought of his latest political plans, Cato refused to praise them, even when Pompaedius hung him out a window by his heels and threatened to drop him.
  • Temperament Intensity: Special Risks • Anxiety • Depression • OCD
  • Temperament What Adds Up to Trouble• Not simply traits, but how traits interact with environment:• Predisposition + Provocation (+/- “Factor X”) = Response
  • Temperament “Factor X” Self-Control: Part of Growing Up• Normal part of maturation and character development.• Children with similar natural temperaments can behave in remarkably different ways due to differences in self- control.• If you can train a sea slug, you can train a child. • Predisposition + Provocation + Self-Control • = Response
  • Temperament Warning!• Prolonged mismatches between child’s temperament and environment (including academic demands and the expectations of parents, teachers, or the child him- or herself) can cause behavioral adjustment reactions, such as fall in self-esteem, aggression, oppositional behaviors, underachievement, anxiety, depression, etc.• Different temperaments have different risks and susceptibilities.
  • Temperament Further Reading on Temperament
  • Understanding the Gifted Child: The Five “DYNAMITE” Perspectives 1. Development 2. Neurobiology (“wiring”) 3. Motivation/Interest 4. Temperament 5. Experience
  • Perspective 5: Experience— The “Art of Autobiography”• Not simply biographical, but autobiographical.• i.e., Not simply an objective record of past events, but the child’s interpretation of and responses to those events.• interpretive style means autobiographical narrative may or may not be dominated by events that seem important to others.
  • Experience Two Key Contrasting Frameworks For Interpreting FailureMartin Seligman:• Pessimistic style: attributes failure to permanent, pervasive, personal factors, powerless to change, see failure as inevitable and deserved punishment.• Optimistic style: attributes failure to temporary factors, specific to particular event rather than permanent or universal, and care can be avoided in the future.
  • Experience Altering Experience by Altering Interpretations• Overly negative interpretive framework: risk for a “cycle of failure”• Need to understand self-defeating behavior, and learn new ways of responding and interpreting experience
  • Experience The Pluses of A Positive Outlook Although temperament heritable, optimism can be learned Optimism is an issue of mental and physical health. Cognitive behavioral therapy. Negative style of interpretation correlated with shorter life, less resiliency, less productivity. Positive style associated with longer life, greater productivity, and greater personal satisfaction.
  • Sensitivity and Perfectionism “Practically perfect in every way.”• Perfectionism is an interpretive stance or posture.• Common among gifted children.• Sensitivity, intensity, and negativity. • Drive for improvement valuable. • Self-loathing, extreme defensiveness, and pessimism are not.
  • Dealing Productively With Failure • Danger of viewing education as the process of learning never to be wrong, versus learning from experience.•Edison: “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, Ihaven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because everywrong attempt started is a step forward.”
  • Dealing Productively With Failure• The importance of roadblocks for the gifted student.• Learn to juggle with bean bags, not machetes. Lower the cost of failure. Chances to experiment on pass/fail projects.
  • Understanding the Gifted Child: The Five Perspectives -or – Viewing the Gifted Child As a Promise, Not a Disease 1. Development 2. Brain Basics (Neurological “wiring”) 3. Temperament 4. Experience 5. Motivation/Interest
  • Understanding Gifted StudentsA DyNaMITE Perspective on Learning and Development in Gifted Children Brock Eide M.D. M.A. and Fernette Eide M.D. Neurolearning.com