The primary characteristics of the highly able are intensity, sensitivity and overexcitability (Lind, 2001).
Most lists of characteristics of the highly able focus on the intellectual and academic aspects. Here we focus on the social, emotional and behavioural characteristics. Webb et al. (2005) has constructed the following list based on relevant behaviours for the topic of misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis. Jim Webb kindly gave permission to reproduce the list on this site.
- Unusually large vocabularies and complex sentence structure for their age
- Greater comprehension of subtleties of language
- Longer attention span; persistence, intensity and sensitivity
- Wide range of interests
- Highly developed curiosity and limitless questions
- Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
- Tendency to put ideas or things together in ways that are unusual, not obvious, and creative ( divergent thinking)
- Learn basic skills more quickly, with less practice
- Largely teach themselves to read and write as pre-schoolers
- Able to retain much information; unusual memory
- Have imaginary playmates
- Unusual sense of humour
- Desire to organise people and things, primarily through devising complex games
Want to find out if your child is high able?
You can fill in the ‘Characteristics of Giftedness Scale‘ for parents developed by Dr Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center, which will give you a direct indication. According to Dr. Silverman’s reasearch, parents are excellent identifiers of high-ability in their children: 84%of the children whose parents say that they fit 3/4 of the characteristics score at least 120 IQ (the superior range). Over 95% show high-ability in at least one area, but are asynchronous in their development or have learning difficulties, and their weaknesses depress their IQ scores.
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