Review articles

By Dr. Chaitanya Varma , Dr. A Shrikiran , Dr. M Suneel , Dr. A Karthick
Corresponding Author Dr. Chaitanya Varma
Department of Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India
Submitting Author Dr. Chaitanya Varma
Other Authors Dr. A Shrikiran
Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India

Dr. M Suneel
Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India

Dr. A Karthick
Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India


ADHD, Gifted children, IQ, EQ, Behavioural Disorders, Potential, Geeks

Varma C, Shrikiran A, Suneel M, Karthick A. Gifted Children in Pediatric Practice. WebmedCentral PAEDIATRICS 2012;3(1):WMC002836
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2012.002836

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License(CC-BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Submitted on: 31 Dec 2011 12:56:36 PM GMT
Published on: 01 Jan 2012 10:53:22 AM GMT


This article gives an insight into the developmental patterns and various problems of gifted children. The treating pediatrician should avoid missing such children when brought for behavioural disorders and learning disabilities.


The term “gifted children” was first used in 1869 by Francis Galton.Lewis Terman defined them as children with IQ of 140 or more. Terman had conducted a longitudinal study for a period of 35 years on children with a mean IQ of 150 to identify characteristics in this sample[1]. In 1926, Leta Hollingword published, “Gifted Children, Their Nature and Nurture”, and the term “gifted” has been used ever since to refer to children of high potential.
The standardised Intelligence Quotient Test was developed in the early 1900’s by Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon to measure the relative intelligence in French school children. The threshold of 130(Wechsler Intelligence Scale) is most commonly considered for describing the child as gifted. Any child with a score between 130-144 is moderately gifted, 145-159 highly gifted, 160-179 exceptionally gift and those above 180 profoundly gifted [2].
Sternberg developed a triangular theory (“triachic mind”) of intelligence for “gifted” children. According to him Analytical intelligence along with practical intelligence and creative intelligence are to be taken into account when labelling a child “gifted”[3].Gardner developed the “multiple intelligences” theory which included seven types of intelligence like-linguistic, logicomathematical, visuospatial, musical, somatokinetic, interpersonal and introspective. He also introduced the concept of “Emotional Quotient”. EQ measures integrate the emotional and affective experience of the individual by using specifc tests[4].
Brain growth from birth is an important factor in the development of higher potentialities and vice versa. Studies have shown that children with higher “potential” have higher alertness and attentional focus including increased duration of calm wakefulness even during newborn infancy period. Shapiro et al demonstrated that gifted children had a statistically significant edge for age of walking and age of speaking two word sentences. But this significance diminished if the child was not put in a proper stimulating environment[5].
Vaivre-Douret demonstrated that gifted children learn language earlier with fluent use of syntax and grammer. These children reach the threshold of sensory motor intelligence on an average 2 months earlier than normal children. They also perform well in perceptive visuospatial activities like matching a colour, nested box etc.They have enhanced information processing abilities with analytical abilities and sharp memories[6].
As these children enter their school going age they demonstrate an exceptional talent in some field (eg music), are high achievers, intrinsically motivated and can be emotionally and physically oversensitive.The child might externalise his distress or hurt through psychosomatic or behavioural disorders. ADHD is frequently noticed in such children. It has been shown that gifted children with ADHD suffer from learning disabilities. Many gifted children have enhanced right-hemisphere development, language-related difficulties, and autoimmune disorders [7].
They tend to withdraw onto themselves indulging in their favourite activities and are usually considered introverts.The child can take refuge in intellectulisation and are branded “geeks” by their peers.They learn to develop a defence mechanism, internalise hurt and become relatively apathetic. These children are at high risk of developing Depression, phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Few gifted children go on to become adult creators because the skills and personality factors required to be a creator are very different from those typical of even the most highly gifted children.


1. Terman LM, Mental and physical traits of a Thousand Gifted Children: Genetic Studies of Genius. Vol.1.Standfort University Press;1925.
2. WISC-IV. Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children. 4th edition.Paris.France. Centre de Psychologie Appliquee;2005.
3. Sternberg RJ. The Triarchicmind: A New Theory of Human Intelligence. Viking Penguin;1988.
4. Shapiro et al. Giftedness. Can it be predicted in Infancy? Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1989 May;28(5):205-9.
5. Gardener EA,Gillespie DC, Evans RI,Bowen A. Performance on tests of cognitive estimation.J Clin Exp Neuropyschol. 2002 May;24(3):286-93.
6. Vaivre-Douret. Precis Theoryque et Pratique du Development Moteur.2nd edition. Psychologie Appliquee.
7. Winner E. The origin and end of giftedness. Am Psychol. 2000 Jan;55(1):159-69.


CV prepared the draft. It was reviewed by SH,SM and KA. I wish to thank Mrs.P.Subha and Dr. P.S.Raju without whose help this article would not have seen the light of the day.

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gifted children in pediatric practice
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