Gifted Kids

Gifted Kids, p.2

Shifting Lines

A major part of the confusion stems from the changing definition of giftedness. It used to be that only the Mozarts of the world qualified. Now there's a lengthy continuum, with prodigies at one end and kids who are just very bright at the other.

Until the late 1960s, giftedness was based strictly on IQ. Then experts developed a broader definition, which has remained largely intact and includes five areas: intellectual (measured by IQ and achievement tests), academic (such as when a child is fantastic in math), creative, leadership, and visual and performing arts. "We realize there's much more to intelligence than just a test score," says E. Jean Gubbins, Ph.D., associate director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

In some families, it's pretty obvious that the kids are, if not prodigies exactly, then clearly above the norm in intelligence. Carolyn Kottmeyer has two daughters, ages 5 and 9, who have IQs over 160 -- think Good Will Hunting. Her younger child began teaching herself American Sign Language when she was 4. When her older child was the same age, she had memorized several Broadway shows from start to finish. One day she compared the triangular relationship between herself and two of her friends to that of Marius, Cosette, and Eponine in Les Misérables. "My husband and I are running as fast as we can just to keep up," says Kottmeyer, of Downingtown, PA.

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