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Assessing & Addressing the Unique Needs of Gifted Children

By Dr. Lori Tall, Rush NeuroBehavioral Center Clinical Director

For all parents, it can be troubling when a child is racked with worry, is disorganized or inattentive, struggles academically, or has difficulty making or keeping friends. For parents of gifted children, these challenges can be particularly perplexing, because they seem to present a vast contradiction between the child’s potential and his or her functioning.

The co-occurrence of giftedness with academic, social, and emotional challenges can pose unique challenges. Giftedness can mask children’s struggles; as a result, those challenges are often not properly identified or addressed. Other times, giftedness amplifies what might otherwise be a mild challenge, as when an anxious child’s powerful imagination leads her to worry more than she otherwise would or when a bright child’s strong academic orientation sets him apart socially.

The Rush NeuroBehavioral Center’s clinical team has assessed countless gifted children. Gifted children who struggle nearly always have a “spiky” profile, with exceptional talents accompanied by areas of weakness. For example, some gifted children have precocious verbal abilities and less well-developed visual-spatial abilities, which often carries with it weaker math and social skills. Other gifted children struggle with attention and executive function skills, leading to disorganization, lost homework, and unfulfilled potential.

For parents and teachers, understanding each gifted child’s talents and challenges is critical. The Rush Neurobehavioral Center website provides a wealth of information on executive function skills and how to tell if a child needs help. Good assessment can help clear parents’ confusion. More importantly, findings from a good assessment can be used to build on a child’s strengths, address their challenges, and allow their talent to shine through.

Professionals from Rush NeuroBehavioral Center are holding a series of seminars for parents in Lake Bluff, Illinois on October 29 and in Evanston, IL on October 29, November 5 and November 12, 2016. Visit CTD’s Parent Seminar page for more information on these events. CTD will be hosting additional seminars in Chicago, Evanston, Lake Bluff, Naperville, and Palatine, Illinois this winter and will post the details on our website soon – check back for details!

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