The diverse profile of the extremely gifted child
McGuffog, C., Feiring, C. & Lewis, M.
Roeper Review
Vol. 10, No. 2

This article by Carolyn McGuffog, Candice Feiring and Michael Lewis presents the diverse profiles of extremely gifted children under the age of four. Examples of some of the multiple factors beyond IQ, such as emotional characteristics, social knowledge and relationships and environment, that have an effect on young gifted children's skill performance are highlighted. The case studies presented in the article illustrate that the profiles of extremely gifted children show no singular pattern. However, the predominant factor in these children's behavior was their superior skill performance.

    Profiles of extremely gifted children under the age of four are presented. Examples of the multiple factors beyond IQ that have impact on the young gifted child's skill performance and adaptation are highlighted. Examination of the cognitive, social and emotional profiles of these extremely gifted children suggest that no singular pattern characterizes their functioning.

Carolyn McGuffog (Ph.D.), is Adjunct Assistant Professor, Candice Feiring (Ph.D.), is Associate Professor of Pediatrics; and Michael Lewis (Ph.D.), is Professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Psychology and Chief, Division of Child Development at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick.

Inherent in the study of gifted behavior are a complex set of theoretical issues regarding the definition and development of intelligence. Intelligence has been conceptualized as a single factor (g) by some (Terman, 1906; Spearman, 1904) while others reject the notion of "g" and posit that intelligence consists of disparate but loosely related sets of skills (Thurstone, 1938; Cattell, 1952; Guilford, 1956). The model of intelligence to which one subscribes would be an important determinant in formulating one's assessment battery and the definition of giftedness one posits.

The stability of intelligence over time has been another area of inquiry. The traditional model of general intelligence held the "g" remains stable over the life span (Terman, 1925). Even theorists who conceptualize intelligence as a set of skills may suggest that prediction should be possible within skill areas so that early motor development, for example, should predict subsequent physical aptitude. While infant intelligence scales have been found to be lacking in predictive validity (McCall, 1983; Honzik. 1983; Lewis & McGurk, 1972; Lewis & Sullivan, 1986), what we do know about prediction is that the less time that elapses between testings the more similar the scores should be and the older the child is at the time of testing the more closely childhood IQ should resemble adult IQ (McCall, 1983; Honzik, 1983). In spite of the problems of predictive validity that plague early intelligence testing, it is important to keep in mind that assessing the overall developmental status of a child reveals important information about that child's level of functioning at the particular time of testing.

Another theoretical issue which impacts on one's conceptualization of giftedness concerns the age old nature vs. nurture debate. Some theorists have argued for a biological explanation of intelligence, one which places heavy emphasis on the genetic contribution and less weight on environmental contributors (Terman, 1975; Scarr-Salapatek, 1976). At the other extreme, one may interpret the "super baby syndrome" as suggesting that any child can be gifted given the proper stimulation and early teaching. Most of us probably take a midline position between these two extremes and consider that the identification and understanding of giftedness requires inspection of both child characteristics and environmental factors. The child's behavioral style in interaction with the environment's response has been suggested as likely to account for a portion of the variance in growing up gifted (Lewis & Michalson, 1985; Lewis & Coates, 1979).

In addition to the standard definition of giftedness set forth by the U.S. government - "individuals who display outstanding performance or potential in one or more of the following areas: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, visual or performing arts, leadership" - there are important domains of function and factors which need to be considered when attempting to understand how gifted individuals adapt and perform.

Areas such as affective characteristics, social knowledge and social relationships, family interactions and environment as well as demographic variables all may play an important role in understanding the course of -gifted development. We have suggested that multiple factors, beyond superior skill performance, must be considered in our approach to the profiles of a gifted child (Lewis & Michalson, 1985). The task we have set in this paper is to present examples of the multiple factors beyond IQ that have impact on the young gifted child's skill performance and adaptation to social and nonsocial types of situations.

General Aspects of Giftedness
Over the last three years, we have evaluated a large number of children under the age of four in the Gifted Child Clinic. A large percentage of those children have been identified as gifted, either with regard to their overall performance or their performance in a given skill area. As can be seen in Table 1 (see page 19), the distribution of children according to total IQ Score on the Stanford Binet indicates that 58% of our sample is at least two standard deviations above the average in ability. It is also of interest that 8% of our sample is over four standard deviations above the norm, this also is statistically far beyond the rate one would expect to find in the general population.

Given that the large majority of our referrals come from parents, this high true positive rate of identification and assessment suggests that some parents are accurate observers of their children's behavior. What are those child factors which contribute to parents' perceptions of their children as gifted?

In order to consider this question, data from parent questionnaires were utilized. The questionnaire, among other things, asked parents why they believed their child is gifted. Table 2 (see page 19) presents these data. In the gifted group (IQ 132-163), 60 parents gave 216 responses, in the extremely gifted group (IQ 164+), 10 parents gave 38 responses and in the nongifted group (IQ 105-131), 50 parents gave 210 responses. The reasons parents give are considered in terms of percentages based on the total number of responses given within a group.

For all three groups of children, parents report that memory and expressive language are two reasons they think their children are gifted. Since there is not much difference in parent report between groups who are or are not gifted, these factors do not appear critical. Abstract thinking appears to be a child attribute which distinguishes the groups; the parents of the gifted groups report that their children show this factor more. Of interest are those reasons only mentioned either by the parents of gifted or nongifted children. Parents of the gifted group, but not the parents of the nongifted, mention curiosity, learns quickly, and motor acuity as reasons why they think their children are gifted. Curiosity is a motivational factor while learns quickly is a cognitive style factor. For the parents of the nongifted children, word recognition, early interest in books, and music are uniquely reported. This suggests parents of nongifted children use reading as an important cue for giftedness more than do the parents of the gifted. Since our emphasis in this paper is on the extremely gifted group, it is of interest to note that for parents of these children, memory followed equally by expressive language, abstract thinking, and spatial knowledge are the reasons most likely given for the belief that their children are gifted. It is important to note that it is not reading ability which distinguishes these highly gifted children in their parents eyes, rather it is spatial ability and more cognitive style variables such as curiosity and learns quickly.

Profiles of Some Extremely Gifted Children
Having had the opportunity to observe gifted children, it is of some interest to consider those children whose overall IQ makes them "extra" ordinary. As we found and will report, the environments of these children vary considerably as well as the children themselves either because of unusual family circumstances, the ability to compensate for a deficiency in a certain skill area, a behavior pattern indicative of an emotional disturbance concomitant with superior intellectual capacity, or cultural and language factors discrepant from the norm on which our tests are standardized. Case descriptions of some of these children will be presented both to provide more information about such gifted children (and their families) and to demonstrate that multiple factors are related to the expression of giftedness. The children discussed below are exceptional in that they scored four standard deviations above the mean of the general population, IQ of 164 or better. It should become evident from the profiles of these children that giftedness does not fall within any particular stereotype of behavioral or familial pattern. Rather, gifted children and their families are as likely to violate stereotypes as they are to perpetuate them.

Very often parents will be heard saying, "I don't want my child to be a genius," because the expectation is that along with genius comes a host of behavioral and emotional problems. Certainly, exceptionally gifted people have been plagued by the stereotype that they are odd, unusual, and a little weird. In our sample of highly gifted children, we found only one child who now shows signs of an emotional problem. We have chosen to describe him because we found it remarkable that given the level of emotional distress he experienced, he was able to achieve, maintain and demonstrate such incredible intellectual strength.

Background Information.
Paul was evaluated at the Clinic when he was three years of age. He was referred by his parents who reported that he showed advanced reasoning and problem solving ability. At the time of testing, Paul was an only child although his mother was pregnant. Both parents were professionals and reported that they had attended gifted classes as children. Paul had attained language milestones and motor milestones early. He had been attending a nursery school program for one year at the time of testing. His teacher commented that Paul is a bright child, however, he is disruptive and aggressive in class and does not get along well with other children. His parents reported that Paul seemed to be obsessed with themes of death, violence and punishment.

Behavioral Observation.
Paul was a challenge to test. He was active, distractable and impulsive throughout two testing sessions. It was necessary to help Paul focus his behavior on each and every task. Paul responded well to reinforcement; however, it was impossible to get any compliance without the promise of a reward. Paul was capable of learning scanning strategies i.e., "Look at all the pictures before you choose one ... look at this one and this one and this one ... now which picture shows a group?" Nevertheless, he was unable to generalize the use of these strategies from one task to the next. Paul exhibited a high anxiety level throughout testing. He was frequently concerned about the whereabouts of his parents, he seemed frightened to try new and challenging things, and he made a number of comments about how "tough" he was. Paul was more manageable on language activities than other tasks; however, overall he became increasingly uncooperative and out of control as items presented became more difficult.

Play Behavior and Parent Child Interaction.
Paul demonstrated an advanced capacity for symbolization. Yet, in spite of the fact that Paul clearly had the capacity to carry out complex imaginative themes, a good deal of his play was fragmented and aggressive. For example, he threw things around the room, waved a mop in his mothers face, put things in his mouth and threw himself on the floor. Paul's play vacillated from looking like play of an 18 month old child to play characteristics of a five year old.

Paul's parents were completely at a loss when it came to controlling him. They were clearly embarrassed by and uncomfortable with his regressive behavior. One got the sense that any intervention they had tried in the past only escalated the situation so now they sat back helplessly and watched. On the other hand, they were very comfortable with his play when he was being creative. They actively participated in his imaginative games, perhaps assuming too much control over the play, in their well intentioned desire to engage with their son and foster his intellectual development.

Results of Testing.
In spite of his difficulties in attending and concentrating, Paul earned an IQ score of 164 on the Stanford Binet. His mental age was 5 years and 8 months, more than two and a half years beyond his chronological age. Although Paul scored above age level in all skill areas, language was the area in which he really excelled. Paul scored lowest in the skill areas of spatial aptitude and gross motor coordination. Tasks in these two skill areas caused tremendous anxiety for Paul. Paul scored above age level on short term memory tasks, however, the examiner felt that it was impossible to accurately measure Paul's memory ability because his attention was fleeting and memory tasks, perhaps more than other test items, require undivided attention and disallow repetition on the part of the examiner.

Paul's parents welcomed the news that their son was extremely gifted and when mention was made of their son's difficult behavior, they were quick to blame Paul's emotional problems on his advanced intelligence. They suggested that perhaps he was bored in school and this was the reason for his poor behavior. The examiner explained that Paul regressed when confronted by challenging tasks. Thus, it seemed unlikely that Paul's acting out behavior resulted solely from a lack of challenge. Paul and his family were referred for treatment. Although a complete explanation of the extent of Paul's psychological distress is beyond the scope of this paper, hypotheses concerning the relationship between giftedness and emotional disturbance can be offered.

It is plausible that in some highly intelligent children a discrepancy may exist between their intellectual development and their social emotional development. These children may be flooded with knowledge that they cannot incorporate into their underdeveloped psychological structures. We have discussed elsewhere a hypersensitivity that has been noted in several gifted children (McGuffog, 1985). It may be that gifted children are particularly perceptive and as such pick up on subtle cues that may go unnoticed by children of average intelligence. However, our experience does not suggest that a high IQ and a poor social-emotional development go together. Rather, the majority of our gifted youngsters are very well adjusted; the typical gifted child is advanced in both intellectual and social-emotional development. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that the course and manifestations of a psychological disorder are influenced by cognitive factors and so extraordinary intellectual capacity does add an additional dimension to the problem.

There has been extensive controversy around the issues of cultural bias in testing, as well as around the disadvantage created when children are tested in English, when it is not their first language. A full discussion of culturally biased testing is beyond the scope of this paper and since the majority of the children evaluated in the Clinic have been white middle class this was not an issue we had to address. At least not until we met Dean.

Background Information.
Dean is a Chinese boy who was three years and two months at the time he was evaluated. Although he lived in America since birth, he had never attended any school program or had any American friends so the only exposure he had to English was from his parents who did not speak fluent English, although his father's English was better than his mother's. Since birth, Dean had never been separated for any length of time from his mother. Chinese was the primary language spoken in the home.

We had explained that the evaluation would be done in English since no one on our staff spoke Chinese and that the procedure required that the parents be interviewed in one room while the child is tested in another. The parents said they thought Dean would be fine and they understood that he might not score as high as he would if he were tested in Chinese.

Dean's acquisition of language and motor milestones were reported as average. His parents reported that he began reading Chinese characters at a round 15 months of age and that he had always been able to remember them immediately. Dean also could write many Chinese characters. In addition, it was reported that he could read and write English words.

Play Behavior and Parent Child Interaction.
Dean engaged primarily in learning activities during the free play situation. He spent a lot of time creating letters out of the blocks. His parents were very involved with his play. They were highly directive, structuring the activities into an organized teaching session. Dean complied happily with their direction and was very positive and interactive with his parents. He appeared to enjoy his parents challenges and their teaching behavior. After the play session, his parents told him that they had to go into another room and he was to remain with the examiner. He complied graciously and at no point did he show any anxiety about his parents whereabouts.

Behavioral Observation.
Dean was totally cooperative throughout the testing session. He sat quietly, talking only when he had to answer a question. He was very persistent in problem solving, but not upset by failure. It was evident that speaking English was a struggle for him, yet it was astounding how well he understood complex sentences and how he managed to relay his responses. Dean was very polite and he had no difficulty sitting and attending for over one hour.

Test Results.
Dean's IQ score was 164 on the Stanford Binet and his mental age was 6 years. On the McCarthy Scales, Dean's performance in the skill areas of perceptual, quantitative and memory exceeded the 99.9 percentile, while his verbal score fell at the 94th percentile. Dean's fine motor coordination and his drawing skills were on a 9 year level. Dean was able to read in English on a 9 year 4 month level and his parents said that he read better in Chinese. Dean's lowest score was in vocabulary, particularly when he had to verbally define a word. On the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, hits score placed him in the 94th percentile.

While a testing situation is not a familiar experience for most of the young children we see, for none could it have been quite as foreign as it must have been for Dean. He had never separated from his mother before, had never been solely in the presence of an unfamiliar adult, had never spoken English to anyone other than his parents and had never been in a situation in which only English was spoken to him. What was perhaps more familiar to Dean than to the average child was the structure and directiveness imposed on him by the testing experience.

Deans parents were very invested in his development and they seemed to have spent a great deal of time teaching him. We were impressed with the parent's teaching skills. They were creative and seemed to know intuitively how much to challenge Dean without taxing him. Still, it is difficult to imagine any amount of teaching that enables a 3 year old child to read on a 9 year level in his non-native language. The parents reported that no one in either family was gifted. The father had a bachelors degree and the mother was a high school graduate. It is also surprising that given the high degree of control the parents maintain over Dean's play, he was compliant and respectful. Most of the other children we have seen who have highly directive parents have issues around control, yet, Dean displayed no rebellious behavior.

Our expectation is that girls should score higher on language tasks and boys should score higher on spatial tasks (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). While there is some data supporting this profiling for older children, at the Gifted Child Clinic the majority of the children we see are advanced in language development, regardless of whether they are boys or girls (Lewis, Feiring, & McGuffog, 1986). This is probably due to the fact that most children are referred to our clinic by parents and parents are more aware of language than they are of perceptual abilities. In spite of this bias, we have seen a few children who excel in spatial aptitude. The three and one half year old girl who will be discussed not only excelled in spatial ability, but earned an overall IQ score of 173 and did so in spite of a speech-language problem.

Background Information.
Carla was referred to the Gifted Child Clinic when she was three years and four months of age by her parents who reported that Carla was imaginative and creative and very interested in shapes and drawing. Carla was a first born child. Her brother was seven months old at the time she was evaluated. Carla's parents were both professionals, although her mother was not working outside the home at the time. The parents reported that Carla was seldom verbal. She had some problems articulating certain words and it was often difficult for others to understand her. This might have been related to the chronic ear infections that Carla had suffered the first two years of her life (Kavanagh, 1986). Even so, she attained language milestones early and motor milestones at age appropriate times. Carla had food allergies and was colicky as an infant. She had an imaginary friend who she often spoke to and she spent a lot of time drawing and doing puzzles.

Behavioral Observation .
Carla was very cooperative throughout testing. She was persistent and demonstrated an exceptionally long attention span. The examiner had some difficulty understanding Carla because of her poor articulation. Carla showed no overt signs of frustration when she had to repeat herself, however she became much more engrossed in manipulative tasks than in those requiring verbalization.

Test Results.
Carla earned an IQ score of 173 on the Stanford Binet. She passed language items up to a six year level and passed spatial items up to a nine year level. Carla's fine motor skills were very advanced and her drawings were extraordinarily elaborate.

A number of possible suggestions can be offered to explain the discrepancy between Carla's verbal and perceptual skills. It is particularly provocative that Carla should demonstrate superior spatial aptitude in light of research that suggests that boys are more likely to excel in the perceptual domain while -iris are more likely to excel verbally (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). One possibility is that Carla's strong spatial aptitude emerged because a verbal outlet for her advanced intellect had been blocked by her early hearing and articulation difficulties. Even if the hearing loss was not dramatic enough to impede language development per se, it is possible that Carla's frustration in attempting to hear and make herself understood, led to a lack of interest in language activities. Such a frustration problem with lesser skill areas may be seen in the gifted learning disabled child (Feiring & Taft, 1985). One wonders whether Carla would have excelled so dramatically in drawing had verbal communication been as easy for her as artistic expression?

A second possible explanation of ability differences is related to environmental and educational factors. Carla's father was a dentist and her mother taught high school math and science. Because her parents were both in fields that are perceptually/spatially oriented they may have provided Carla with more opportunities for perceptual/spatial expression and play than parents who are more language oriented.

A final explanation that could be offered is genetically based. Carla may have inherited her spatial aptitude from her parents. It should be noted however, that while Carla's parents had many impressive accomplishments to their credit, neither had been identified as gifted and neither demonstrated any particular interest or aptitude in drawing. Clearly, genetic and environmental explanations are not exclusive and so both may play a role.

Marvin and Craig
We have so far seen three families in which more than one child has been identified as gifted. We suspect that over the years we will see more of this since the majority of the children we have tested thus far have been first borns. One family in particular, reflects the problems we wish to examine. This family had two children, both males, 15 months apart in age, and both ultimately were identified as extremely gifted. One of the unusual aspects of the evaluations was that the mother first brought the younger child in for testing. We will begin with discussing the younger boy and then discuss our evaluation of his older brother. In addition, we will describe the siblings' relationship and contrast the behavioral and skill profiles demonstrated by each, emphasizing the effects each sibling had on the other.

Background of the Younger Sibling.
Marvin was three years eleven months at the time of the evaluation. The interview with the mother began with her discussion about how this child was extraordinary. She reported that he read the alphabet by 16 months and was reading sentences by 30 months of age. He was described as a very aggressive, outgoing child and the mother seemed to be quite proud of these traits. She explained that Marvin won every race he ran against his older brother, not necessarily because he was faster, but because Marvin would do anything to win. In spite of her praise for Marvin's aggressive nature, Mother reported, "Marvin and I have a hard time. He doesn't listen to me. He may stick his tongue out at me or spit." Marvin was enrolled in preschool class two mornings per week. His preschool teacher had never commented on either his behavior or his advanced abilities. Mother reported that Marvin's teacher was not a good teacher.

Behavioral Observation.
During the testing, Marvin was very cooperative. He demonstrated a long attention span and was thoughtful and careful when responding to items. He was eager to please and always seemed to be interested in achieving high scores. When Marvin was confronted by a language, reading, math, or memory task that was too difficult for him, he calmly responded that he didn't know the answer, however, failures on spatial and particularly drawing tasks, aroused high anxiety in Marvin. Marvin never once mentioned his brother.

Test Results.
Marvin's IQ score was 164 on the Stanford Binet. His mental age was 6 years 10 months or three years beyond his chronological age. Marvin's strengths were in the skill areas of language, memory and reading. His vocabulary was on a 7 year level, he passed memory items at a 7 year level and his reading was at a 9 year level. In reading recognition, he scored 9 years 4 months and in comprehension 9 years 2 months. Marvin's math skills were at a 6 year level, whereas his spatial and fine motor skills were age appropriate.

Background Information on the Older Sibling.
Craig was five years and three months at the time of the evaluation. He was brought to the Clinic only after the examiner who evaluated his brother suggested to his mother that from her comments it sounded like Craig also might be advanced. Craig began reading at age three years of age. He was described by his mother as a quiet, withdrawn boy who has no friends and idolizes his younger brother. Although Craig was the older brother, his mother explained that he always lost fights to his younger brother who was much touchier. The mother had been getting reports from Craig's preschool teacher that he was a behavior problem in school and did not get along with the other children. Craig also was a problem at home.

Behavioral Observation.
Craig was very cooperative throughout the testing session. He demonstrated a long attention span, an eagerness to please and persistence in attempting tasks. Craig was particularly persistent in trying to sound out new reading words and failures in reading caused Craig a higher level of anxiety than failures in other skills areas. Craig talked about his brother five times during the session and one time answered a question about what he liked best to eat for lunch with the answer "Marvin loves hot dogs."

Test Results.
Craig's IQ was 165 on the Stanford Binet. His mental age was 8 years 2 months or three years beyond his chronological age. Craig's strengths were in the skill areas of language, memory, spatial and reading. His vocabulary was on a 9 year level. He passed memory items and spatial items on a 9 year level. In reading recognition, he scored at a 9 years 2 months and in comprehension 9 years 5 months.

The most apparent irony in this family was that the older brother was equally as gifted as the younger brother, however, because of their different personality styles, the mother perceived only the younger son as gifted. The mother also identified more strongly with the younger son who she saw as "...a bright kid but a terror, just like I was." In reviewing the behavioral observations in light of the test results, it is interesting that Marvin was most sensitive to failures on spatial and fine motor tasks, which are the two skill areas in which he performed least well while his brother excelled in these areas. Craig on the other hand, was sensitive to failure in reading, even though his reading level was far above age expectancy, but he was reading on the same level as his younger brother.

Both boys displayed anxiety around their need to compensate for their perceived deficits. Marvin compensated for feeling less than Craig with regard to drawing (and probably size and age and other areas that were not tapped in the testing) by becoming; very competitive and aggressive, while Craig compensated for this perceived lack of ability and parental attention by withdrawing and idolizing his brother. The profile of this family demonstrates not only how powerful underlying family dynamics are in shaping self-esteem, but it also suggests that self representations may effect how specific behaviors are interpreted. We also see how issues of behavioral style, identification and one's comparison group come into play in determining who gets identified as gifted.

Most of the families seen in the Clinic are middle class and the majority have at least one parent who has some college experience. There is a bias in our sample skewed toward middle to upper socioeconomic status created by the fact that there is a fee for service. We would like to discuss one set of parents however, who did come from a low socioeconomic background. These parents came to the Gifted Child Clinic saying they did not think their daughter was gifted but they recognized that she was not like other children her age (three years nine months).

Background Information.
Marie was described by her parents as a 'hyperactive" baby. She reportedly slept only six to eight hours as an infant and when she began walking at nine months she was "wild" running around the house. She achieved both language and motor milestones early. Mother commented that she thought Marie's thought processes were different from other children. She was never satisfied with an answer, she always had to know more. Mother reported that she often felt inadequate as Marie's mother because she did not feel smart enough to provide a satisfactory explanation to her questions. No one in either family had been identified as gifted or had attained more than a high school education.

Behavioral Observation.
Marie was very cooperative and she engaged in a lot of fantasy play throughout the sessions. She was focused and her responses to test items were thoughtful. Marie was very feminine in her behavior and played a lot with her "baby" doll that she had brought with her. She was not upset by failure and engaged in much conversation with the examiner.

Test Results.
Marie scored 175 on the Stanford Binet and her mental age was 6 years 9 months. Her skill profile revealed that she was advanced across skill areas with language being, her strongest area. Marie had no prereading or premathematics skills.

Marie's parents were shocked to hear about the advanced intellectual capacity of their daughter. They could not figure out where her extreme intellect came from and they were certain that they were not responsible because they had never even taught her the letters of the alphabet. We explained that learning letters has little to do with fostering intelligence and tried to assure them that they had provided a positive environment in which Marie had flourished. These parents were unlike other parents we generally see in that, even though they had come to the Clinic, they were astonished to find that their daughter was gifted. As the mother put it, " At least now I know what has been going on with her these past three years." This seems to be one of those cases that suggest that children are not pushed into giftedness, rather some children bring their parents along with their interest and curiosity.

For the most part, the gifted children we have seen tend to be advanced across skill areas, although some show uneven skill development. Gifted children are sensitive to their areas of strengths and weaknesses and are often more anxious about failures when they occur in an area of weakness. Two kinds of profiles can be observed. In the first, the child shows an uneven pattern even though all skills are above mental age level. For example, the young girl with an articulation problem scored above age level in language. The second profile involves skills which are much more uneven and where some skills are be- low age level. We have seen one young boy who was superior in his language, memory and reasoning ability, but who was delayed in his fine, gross motor, and perceptual development.

Background Information.
Jesse was referred to the Clinic by his parents when he was two years seven months of age. He was described as a very verbal child who loved to talk about anything. Jesse reportedly attained language milestones at an early age. He was described by his parents as having been very interested in repeating sounds since he was five months of age. His acquisition of motor milestones was age appropriate. His parents were college educated and they reported that no one in either family was gifted.

Behavioral Observation.
Jesse was basically cooperative throughout the testing session. He responded quickly to the questions asked when he knew the answer. He was not terribly persistent on difficult tasks, rather he usually became quite frustrated and gave up. This was particularly true on spatial and motor tasks. Jesse was notably awkward when holding a pencil and he was clumsy even when just walking.

Test Results.
Jesse earned an IQ score of 164 on the Stanford Binet with a mental age of 5 years and 1 month. Jesse's language memory skills were on a 5 year level while his spatial and fine and gross motor skills were on a 2 year level.

It was not surprising that Jesse became overwhelmed with frustration at times as his experiences vacillated tremendously between being extremely easy for him and extremely difficult. Had this child simply been given a single test rather than a battery of tests he may have been identified simply as extremely gifted. Whenever possible, Jesse was already using his verbal skills to compensate for his less developed skills, however, early recognition of his areas of weakness is as important as is recognition of his strengths. This case speaks to the importance of conceptualizing intelligence as a collection of skills and abilities, rather than as a single factor.

It was noted that this family focused on the child's strengths and in fact played down his weaknesses by saying "No one in the family is much of an athlete and he can always type instead of write."

Impact of Assessment on Parenting
Although a full explanation of the parental component of the evaluation process is beyond the scope of this paper, a comment on what types of information we provide to parents is relevant. We do not simply report the child's IQ score and a determination of gifted or not gifted, rather we provide a skill profile so that parents become aware of the skill areas in which their child is demonstrating exceptional strengths, as well as those areas in which their child is performing average or below average. We make recommendations for activities that are targeted to the child's level of cognitive functioning within each skill area, rather than encouraging parents to target activities to their child's chronological age level. We educate parents on the normal developmental sequence so that they do not attempt to teach skills out of sequence, resulting in frustrating the child, and we offer suggestions for moderately challenging though not over taxing the child. Finally, we sensitize parents to their child's emotional style and encourage them to become aware of how their child's temperament comes into play in his or her approach to learning situations. On a practical level, we provide parents with a resource and referral list of relevant programs, activities and agencies that can help them to foster further development in their child. In general, parents have reported that the evaluation offered them a deeper understanding of their child cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally.

Concluding Remarks
Through case descriptions presented here we see that the profiles of extremely gifted children show no singular pattern. Children functioning four standard deviations from the norm differ from each other in as many ways as do children of normal intelligence. Extremely gifted children may have emotional problems or they may be well adjusted; they may be gifted across skill areas or they may be gifted in only one skill area. In fact, they may be gifted in certain areas and delayed in others (Lewis, 1985; Feiring & Taft, 1985). Extremely gifted children may have parents or relatives who are gifted or they may be the first member identified as exceptional; they may come from families that stress achievement and learning or they may come from families believing that their children should grow at their own pace.

In reviewing these cares, it is tempting to conclude that the predominant factor in these children's lives and behavior was their superior skill performance. Indeed we have selected to review these cases in part because of the childrens' outstanding capabilities. However, they were selected also because of the diversity of family back- ground and environments, and the personality or behavior style of the child. It is important to remember that gifted children react to their experience and are perceived by others not only in terms of their special talents but also in terms of their social skills and emotional make up. In fact, a myriad of factors interact with intellectual giftedness in influencing the course of development. Consequently, themes of sibling rivalry and parental identification and expectations, such as Craig was struggling with, are the types of characteristics that come to play a major role in an individuals' development whether one is gifted or not. Similarly' aggressive modes of dealing with frustration, as was true for Paul, or a facility for adapting to new situations and being able to trust an unfamiliar person, as in the case of Dean, play a critical role not only in the expression of one's gift but in the potential and expression of one's life course.

In regard to the role of environment and genetics in the development of giftedness, the picture that emerges is complex. On the other hand, these cases provide evidence for the argument that regardless of the environment, superior skill can be manifested by children. In the cases of Paul and Craig, extreme giftedness was noted despite environmental and personality characteristics that would have been expected to inhibit its expression. On the other hand, the cases of Dean, Carla and Marie are examples of supportive environments, intellectually and emotionally, which play a role in the development and nurturance of general and special skills. The evidence here can shed no information on the extent of the biological or environmental contributions to giftedness. Other data, however, does seem to indicate that later outcomes especially in terms of fulfilling ones potential, are related to life events such as family environment and personality style (Feldman, 1982).


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