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The 5 Levels of Gifted Children Grown Up: What They Tell Us

Recently published, The 5 Levels of Gifted Children Grown Up is a detailed follow-up to Dr. Deborah Ruf’s previous book, 5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options. In this book, Dr. Ruf explores how background experiences and opportunities shape the lives of a specific group of gifted children—the ones from her previous book—as they reach adulthood.

As a researcher and gifted education expert, Dr. Ruf realized her earlier understanding of what gifted children need underestimated how complex the issue is. Over the next dozen years, she continued to observe, read, speak, write, and work with at least 1,000 families. Through this experience, she recognized additional factors exist apart from the schools and the school “fit” that often have a greater impact on how gifted children turn out as gifted adults.

To gain a deeper understanding of how these factors affected the gifted children from her previous book, Dr. Ruf contacted and began to speak with them again. All of them are now adults, many with families. Dr. Ruf wanted to know—and share with readers—who they had become and how life had turned out so far. This new book builds on the former, and it’s time to look at that together.

The 5 Levels of Gifted Children Grown Up is for parents and educators of gifted children, psychologists and therapists who work with the families of gifted children, educational program coordinators and designers, and policymakers from local, state, and national levels. It’s also relevant for adults who know or suspect they are gifted themselves. Through the stories of these 78 individuals, Dr. Ruf provides a unique perspective on the complex issues that face gifted children and the impact of their background experiences and opportunities on their adult lives.

“This comprehensive follow-up to Dr. Ruf’s original 5 Levels of Gifted study provides candid updates from gifted adults that tell readers more about their experiences than any other publication. In addition to direct narratives from the participants, readers have access to Dr. Ruf’s venerable wisdom on how personality preferences and family dynamics influence the developmental trajectories of gifted children. The 5 Levels of Gifted Children Grown Up: What They Tell Us offers research-based ways to think through the factors that influence what we all hope to see for these children, a good outcome.

Dr. Ruf provides unique insights into the complex factors that influence a “good outcome” for gifted young people. School fit, family dynamics, and opportunities to understand the self are apparent in how participants in Dr. Ruf’s original 5 Levels of Gifted study narrate their sense of well-being and goodness-of-fit with their goals and accomplishments. Gifted adults are likely to see themselves in the stories shared and develop a more nuanced understanding of their experiences. A must-read for parents of gifted children, professionals who work with them, and adults who have identified as them.

The author immerses readers in context through the power of individual stories augmented by research. The longitudinal qualitative results of her work with gifted young people and their families provide unique insight into how interpersonal factors interact with educational experiences. A good fit in terms of social, emotional and academic well-being correlates with a “good outcome” agreed upon as reasonably happy and well-adjusted in adulthood. Intervening variables complicate things along the way, but continuing to strive for an appropriate academic fit in the context of the well-being of the family as a whole tends to produce the best overall outcomes.”
~ Colleen Harsin, Director at Davidson Academy