Unusual Intelligence: How Common is It?

The emergence of the book ‘Genius Denied’ by Jan and Bob Davidson in 2004 has shed some light on the world of giftedness in children and adults. Even though child prodigies, scientific geniuses, and the works of great composers and inventors in history provide fabulous stories for people to share and learn about, the traits and characteristics of extreme intelligence are still evident in a portion of the population.

‘Genius Denied’ identifies the key issues of importance for highly intelligent youth that may go unrecognized in today’s society. Accelerated students can find various outlets for mastering and gaining confidence in themselves and their talents, with opportunities such as the Davidson Academy of Nevada. This public school opens its doors to middle and high school students who are exceptionally gifted and can pursue their creativity, insights, and thought processes in a self-motivating and encouraging environment.

However, the majority of gifted adults and children go unrecognized for large periods of time and through different stages of their lives. Online programs to boost academic performance and provide new avenues of learning and interaction are an excellent resource for this group, as independent learning comes naturally. Online forums and sites such as the GT-Cybersource offer blogs, discussion groups, news, and seminars brimming with educational and awareness opportunities. A portion of the site is dedicated to finding out if your child is gifted, as well as an interactive map reflecting ‘How gifted-friendly is your state?’ The map shows how much state-mandated support their may be available for funding. At this time, only Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, and Alaska offer fully state-funded gifted programming.

Schools such as Stanford are catching onto the trend; Stanford recently opened its first online high school for exceptional students and gifted groups. It is an effort to encourage talent well before the college years, and Stanford is leading the way in designing cohesive summer programs and learning modules for their students. Young minds can benefit greatly from an online program, especially when they are able to learn and absorb at such rapid rates. As the internet becomes more valuable for research, learning, and processing information, talented children, young adults, and adults can find new ways to express and share their creations and insights.

Recognizing giftedness can be surprisingly difficult; many parents report instances and realizations that their children are excelling at an ‘abnormal’ rate in a given area, or having significant trouble with underperformance issues at school. If a gifted child or young adult does not have resources for intelligent and creative play, they may indeed begin to experience dysfunction and underperformance in other areas of their lives. As adults, giftedness shows some stronger traits; gifted adults often find solutions to problems quickly, processing information quicker and at a higher success rate than most, and having an exceptional memory. ‘Growing Up Gifted’ by Dr. Barbara Clark identifies some of the following signature traits of unusual intelligence and highly gifted groups:

� Learning in large-scale, intuitive leaps

� High awareness of detail

� Exceptionally strong visualization skills, often associated with visual-spatial learning processes

� High levels of emotional sensitivity

� Strong signs of intellectual curiosity

� Rapid comprehension and processing rates

� Argumentativeness

� Ability to think and develop thoughts abstractly

� Fascination with processes, ideas, and complexity

� Ability to break down problems into solvable steps, finding key patterns and relationships

� Precision and detail focused

In today’s fast-paced, innovative world, these are fantastic traits to pursue in productive and creative ways. With the internet’s capabilities of interactivity, forums, and discussion groups, and information exchange, research, learning, and developing can take on remarkable new heights with the avenues available for gifted adults and youth-in-the-making.

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