by Cheryl Ackerman
“All cheddars taste the same.” Have you have heard this radio commercial for Vermont cheddar cheese? Several ridiculously overgeneralized statements are made to a few women, all of which MUST be false, like, “all women are the same.” While most people would disagree with these statements, most would probably NOT disagree if presented with the statement, “all gifted individuals are the same.” Those of us in the field know that this is definitely not the case and that the diversity within the gifted population is enormous and something that is important to consider.
To start with a difference with which you may not be familiar, I am a “splitter,” not a “lumper.” If you’ve never heard these terms before, they refer to people who either prefer to lump things together in larger more holistic groups versus those who are more comfortable breaking groups up into smaller categories. Regardless of which you are, I am sure you will agree that when considering the individual differences within the gifted population, doing a bit of splitting can be helpful. For example, a gifted person might be male, an adolescent, and be very intense. Another gifted person might be female, an introvert, and have an attention deficit diagnosis. Each of these individual characteristics represents a different aspect of the individual that may need to be examined to help understand him or her. This is not to diminish the importance of looking at the whole person, but it is very difficult to find materials that will describe a complete person and all of his or her characteristics.
So, if you are interested in knowing more about specific characteristics, the SENG website provides a wealth of reading materials that focus on different topics. There are typically multiple articles that address each of the following areas, so please look beyond those listed below as you explore the online articles library.
- Highly gifted: Exceptionally Gifted Children: Different Minds by Deirdre V. Lovecky
- Adolescents: Helping Adolescents Adjust to Giftedness by Thomas M. Buescher and Sharon Higham
- Introversion: Introversion: The Often Forgotten Factor Impacting the Gifted by Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig
- Male: Managing His Image: The Challenge Facing a Gifted Male by Thomas P. Hébert
- Female: Social and Emotional Issues Faced by Gifted Girls in Elementary and Secondary School by Sally M. Reis
- Intensity: Overexcitability and the Gifted by Sharon Lind
- Attention deficit: Gifted Students with Attention Deficits: Fact and/or Fiction? Or, Can We See the Forest for the Trees? by Susan M. Baum, F. Richard Olenchak and Steven V. Owen
- Depression: Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals by James T. Webb
- Adult: Discovering the Gifted Ex-Child by Stephanie Tolan
Cheryl Ackerman is the President of SENG, a Senior Associate for Program Evaluation at the Delaware Education R & D Center at the University of Delaware, and has served on the SENG Board for over two years.