High-Able Children at Risk
Unfortunately the needs of high-able children are regularly not met because of, e.g. ignorance of the needs and issues around high-ability, lack of funding or biased thinking that helping high-able children is elitist because they are advantaged already, not realising that problems they face makes them a special needs group. If the intellectual, social and emotional needs of gifted children are met they are not at extra risk (Webb et al., 2005).
By letting high able children down negative consequences are created.
- Gifted pupils are at risk if their intellectual, social and emotional needs are not met. They need special programmes. If not, they are at risk of underachieving and developing social, emotional or behavioural problems (Webb et al. 2005). At schools with a specific programme for the gifted, normally the emphasis is on the intellectual needs of the gifted, leaving programmes to meet the social and emotional needs to be developed.
- Social and emotional adjustment is influenced greatly if their educational needs are met (National Association for gifted children, 2002; Neihart, 1999).
- It is not known to many that the primary characteristics of the highly gifted are intensity, sensitivity and overexcitability (Lind, 2001). Because the behaviour of gifted children can be significantly different from the norm, gifted pupils are at risk of misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis (Webb et al., 2005).
- 90% of diagnosed gifted children in the USA learn to play the system and thereby lose their autonomy and creativity. They do not possess the necessary skills, concepts, and attitudes necessary for lifelong learning. Gifted young adults who may underachieve in college and later adulthood come from this group (Betts, 1988). This could be a consequence of the fact that most programmes are meeting only the intellectual needs of the gifted.
- Risk of learning disorders increases as a function of IQ (Silverman, 2005), explaining the more common occurrence of twice exceptionals, gifted children with learning disabilities, among the gifted.
- Some disorders, like Existential Depression and Anorexia Nervosa, are more likely to occur among high-able children. (Neihart, Piirto, Webb, quoted in Webb, 2005). Webb (2005) questions how many of these disorders are the results of the interaction between temperament and environment and concludes that changing the environment can effectively treat many conditions.
Schools, teachers, professionals and parents should get the chance to be informed and understand how high-able children experience the world, so they are able to support them effectively and meet the intellectual, social and emotional needs of those children.