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Volume XXV Issue 2


Member, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

• Counseling Gifted Youth

• Interventions for Underachievement
• Independent Study & Mentorship Programming
• Gifted Kids in Crisis
• What the Research Says …
• Call for Nominations TAGT Executive Board
Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

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SMU-0102 TAG|CE Combo v1.indd 1 1/17/05 11:13:56 AM
Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners



From the President

Executive Director’s Update


BOBBIE WEDGEWORTH 7 Counseling a Gifted Adolescent
Through Isolation & Loneliness

SHERI PLYBON 13 Unerachievement in the Eye
of the Beholder

SECRETARY/TREASURER 16 Independent Study Plus Mentorship:

DR. KEITH YOST One Size Really Does Fit All

Society’s Most Wanted: Gifted Kids
The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) is a nonprofit organization of
parents and professionals promoting appropriate education for gifted and talented students & MARY CHRISTOPHER
in the state of Texas.

TAGT Tempo is the official journal of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.
It is published four times a year in January, April, July, and October. The subscription is a
benefit for TAGT members. Annual dues are $35 — $55.
23 Book Reviews
Material appearing in Tempo may be reprinted unless otherwise noted. When copying

an article please cite Tempo and TAGT as the source. We appreciate copies of publications
containing Tempo reprints.
What the Research Says About
Gifted Students with Behavior
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membership names and addresses are made available for approved research requests. If you

do not wish your name to be made available for G/T-related research, please write to TAGT
at the address below.
Address correspondence concerning the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented
(including subscription questions) to TAGT, 406 East 11th Street, Suite 310, Austin, Texas,
78701-2617. Call TAGT at 512/ 499-8248, FAX 512/499-8264.
ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED: Please notify TAGT if you are moving or if

your mailing address has changed. TAGT publications are sent via third-class mail and are
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TAGT publications or mailings after your membership expiration date. From the Editor


Call for Nominations

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Counseling a Gifted Adolescent Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, she now Mary M. Christopher, Ph.D., com-
Through Isolation serves as assistant professor in educational pleted her doctorate in curriculum and
Studies at Hardin-Simmons University. instruction at Texas Tech University in
Andrew S. Mahoney, M.S., L.P.C., She recently completed 4 years of service 2003. After teaching for more than 5
L.M.F.T., is a licensed professional on the Texas Association for the Gifted years in elementary and middle schools in
counselor, licensed marriage and family and Talented board. She begins a term as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, she now
therapist and director of The Counseling past-president of the Research Division serves as assistant professor in educational
Practice of Andrew S. Mahoney & of TAGT this year. Her research inter- studies at Hardin-Simmons University.
Associates, a counseling center for the ests include gifted university students She recently completed 4 years of service
gifted and talented in Herndon, Virginia. and appropriate instructional strategies on the Texas Association for the Gifted
He is a nationally recognized speaker for gifted learners. She can be reached at and Talented board. She begins a term as
in this specialty area. Mr. Mahoney has mchris@hsutx.edu. past-president of the Research Division
delivered many keynote addresses, along of TAGT this year. Her research interests
Carla C. Nutt, B.S. is currently work- include gifted university students and
with conference, seminar and symposium
ing on her master’s degree in gifted educa- appropriate instructional strategies for
presentations. In addition, he is a long-
tion at Hardin-Simmons University. Her gifted learners. She can be reached at
standing executive board member of the
research interests include the social and mchris@hsutx.edu.
Counseling and Guidance Division of the
emotional needs of gifted learners and
National Association for Gifted Children curriculum writing.
and is past chair of that division. He can What the Research Says About Gifted
be contacted through his Web site at Students With Behavior Disorders
Independent Study Plus Mentorship:
One Size Really Can Fit All Susan K. Johnsen, Ph.D., is a pro-
fessor in the Department of Educational
Underachievement in the Eye Shannon South is an advanced Psychology at Baylor University. She di-
of the Beholder academics specialist for the Hurst-Euless- rects the Ph.D. program and programs re-
Bedford Independent School District, lated to gifted and talented education. She
Pamela Campbell, B.A., is currently teaching fourth– through sixth– grade is past-president of the Texas Association
attending graduate school at Hardin gifted and talented students. She recently for the Gifted and Talented. She has writ-
Simmons University to obtain her master’s developed an ISM program for the Irving ten over 00 articles, monographs, tech-
degree in gifted and talented education. Independent School District and now nical reports, and books related to gifted
Her research interests include emotional serves as its mentor coordinator. She is education. She is a frequent presenter at
and social needs, as well as instructional also pursuing graduate studies through international, national, and state confer-
strategies and curricula for the gifted Hardin-Simmons University. She can be ences. She is editor of Gifted Child Today
learner. She has taught fifth and fourth reached at shannonsouth@hebisd.edu and serves on the editorial boards of
grades in an elementary school in Irving Gifted Child Quarterly and the Journal
ISD for the past 5 years. After teaching 2 Gifted Kids in Crisis of Secondary Gifted Education. She is
years in the regular classroom, she moved the author of Identifying Gifted Students:
to the fourth grade self-contained gifted Dawn M. Bailey, M.Ed., completed A Practical Guide and coauthor of the
and talented classroom. her graduate work in gifted education Independent Study Program and three
at Hardin-Simmons University in 2003. tests that are used in identifying gifted
Elizabeth C. Cavazos, B.A., is cur- Having taught for 2 years, primarily with students: Test of Mathematical Abilities
rently working toward a master’s in gifted elementary students, she now serves as for Gifted Students (TOMAGS), Test of
education through Hardin-Simmons the advanced academics consultant for Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI-3), and
University. Her research interests include Birdville Independent School District Screening Assessment for Gifted Students
instructional strategies and curriculum in northeast Texas. She is a member of (SAGES-2).
models for the gifted learner. She has the Texas Association for the Gifted and
taught in an elementary school in Irving, Talented and recently received the Non Alexandra Shiu, B.B.A., M.S., is a
Texas for 9 years and currently teaches in Doctoral Student Award from the National doctoral student and a graduate assis-
a self-contained gifted classroom. Association for Gifted Children. She is tant in the Department of Educational
currently working on her second master’s Psychology at Baylor University. Her re-
Mary M. Christopher, Ph.D. com- degree in educational administration search interests include behavior theory,
pleted her doctorate in curriculum and from the University of North Texas. Her gifted minority students from lower SES
instruction at Texas Tech University in research interests include appropriate pro- backgrounds, and social capital.
2003. After teaching for more than 5 gramming and curriculum development
years in elementary and middle schools in for gifted and talented learners.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners


by Bobbie Wedgeworth

uan* was the smartest and most popu- sixth-grade gifted class, now in Juan’s • be afraid of making mistakes;
lar boy in my sixth-grade gifted and eighth-grade class, came and sat with me • equate self-worth with grades (at
talented class. He was handsome, po- and we cried together in the last three home and at school);
lite, sensitive, kind-hearted, and athletic, pews of Juan’s church. • expect to ace tests throughout his or
endearing himself daily to his teachers and her school career, though the work
peers alike. It was no surprise to me when His parents spoke to me afterwards. continues to be more challenging
he was elected class president. He was a “He couldn’t have done this,” his mother each year; and
straight “A” student because he either aced sobbed. “It must have been an accident!” • feel sad, scared, and stressed much of
the test or produced the most outstanding His dad thanked me for caring about his the time.
project or report in the class. son.
How can these gifted students who
After Juan went to junior high school, During my brief conversations with are trying to cope with perfectionism be
I really missed his smiling face. Every now former students, one girl mentioned to me helped? The solution to this problem lies
and then, like some of my other students, that Juan had made his first B on a paper with informed parents and professional
he stopped by my classroom to visit dur- that week, but she “felt sure it couldn’t counseling. School counselors desperately
ing 6-weeks or semester tests, when the have upset him that much.” The more I need specialized training to deal with the
junior high campuses had early dismissal. thought about that remark, the more I unique emotional needs of gifted young
He seemed as upbeat and happy as ever. wondered if she could be wrong. To this people.
day, I do not really know why it happened,
When Juan was in the eighth grade, I but I can tell you the impact it had on me. Was Juan a victim of perfectionism?
received a call at home one evening from That day I made a vow to never again let How can this tendency among many gifted
his homeroom teacher. The words I heard another gifted child leave my classroom children be refocused toward healthier
next will stay with me for the rest of my without making a B somewhere along the thinking and behavior?
life. “I thought you would want to know way, followed by a one-on-one, eye-to-eye,
that Juan Romero committed suicide yes- heart-to-heart talk about the importance The pursuit of excellence is a much
terday. He hanged himself in the basement of learning versus grades on a report card more worthy goal. It means taking risks,
of his parents’ home. He often spoke of and the fact that self-worth is not deter- trying new things, growing, changing,
you and how much he enjoyed your class, mined by or linked to grades. making mistakes, and learning from
and I thought you should know.” them. The pursuit of excellence some-
During the years that followed, I times means failing to achieve a goal. This
In disbelief and choked with sobs, I learned that many gifted children think leads to learning the value of persistence
expressed my shock and bewilderment. they have to be perfect because they feel and that it is okay to fail. (To find out what
“But why? Why would this young man, that parents, teachers, and others expect “works,” we need to find out what doesn’t.)
who had it all, want to do such a thing?” perfection from them. Experts have Pursuing excellence, rather than strug-
The obviously shaken man on the other speculated that gifted youth are at high gling with perfectionism, also lays the
end of the line had no answer. I tearfully risk for suicide due to their extreme sen- foundation for healthy self-esteem and a
copied down the funeral arrangements he sitivity and perfectionism. Perfectionism happier life.
gave me with shaking hands and a heavy is experienced, according to a recent sur-
heart, thanked him for calling, and col- vey, among approximately 46% of gifted *The name of this student has been
lapsed on the sofa to tearfully recall all middle school students. Perfectionism changed to protect his identity.
my favorite memories of this very special means a student may:
young man.
• set impossible goals for him- or herself;
The day of the funeral was one of the • be overly critical of him- or herself ;
saddest days of my life. My entire former • be highly competitive;

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners


by Tracy Weinberg

promises to be an tronic format permits a great deal still unclear whether this certificate will
exciting year full of more information to be available at become required for new teachers to the
changes and growth a fraction of the cost. Finally, Tempo, field or whether this will remain the only
at TAGT, a year to work to fulfill the TAGT’s quarterly journal, is available teaching field that does not require a spe-
promises of the past year and “Enrich the there in electronic form, beginning cialized certificate. TAGT believes that it
Legacy” of the association. with the Fall 2004 issue. (It will still would be most unfortunate to single out
The biggest change will be the hir- be mailed to all full members) gifted students as the only population not
ing of a new executive director; as 2004 • The formation of the TAGT Dual worthy of specialized expertise from its
ended, TAGT bid farewell to Jay McIntire, Language/Multicultural Division. This teachers. You can monitor progress on
who moved with his family back to his na- division, led by Dr. Rebecca Rendón both of these issues on the TAGT Web
tive Maine. I am serving as the interim ex- of Brownsville ISD, will focus atten- site.
ecutive director while the executive board tion on one of the most underserved
conducts a nationwide search. The vision gifted populations in the state. Look In the meantime, be sure to mark
and leadership he brought to TAGT dur- for outstanding sessions organized your calendars for two upcoming TAGT
ing his 2+ years at the helm will be sorely by the division at the TAGT annual conferences:
missed. conference. • The Leadership Conference, hosted
• The reorganization of the Research by TAGT’s Coordinators’ Division,
The past year brought many worth- Division, under the leadership of Dr. will be March 3–April , in Austin.
while changes to TAGT. They include: Barbara Polnick of Sam Houston State Keynote speakers will be Senator
• The Legacy Book Awards, a national University. They are hard at work Florence Shapiro, chair of the Senate
recognition of the most exceptional on developing their goals, and you Education Committee, and TAGT
books in the field of gifted educa- can expect to see more sessions on past-president Dr. Bertie Kingore.
tion for scholars, educators, parents, research topics at the TAGT annual • TAGT’s 28th Annual Professional
adolescents, and youth. The win- conference. Development Conference for
ners are noted in the current TAGT Educators and Parents, “Marvel of
Newsletter and on our Web site at The coming year offers many oppor- the Mind,” will be in San Antonio at
http://www.txgifted.org. tunities and challenges. Foremost among the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention
• A redeveloped and upgraded TAGT them will be advocacy work on behalf of Center, November 2–5. Keynote
Web site. As the staff has taken on gifted students and these who live and speakers will be Dr. Carol Ann
the management of the Web site, work with them. The ongoing effort to Tomlinson, one of the country’s fore-
TAGT has been able to beef up its encourage legislation that will strengthen most experts on gifted education,
content, give it a bit of a facelift, and gifted education is a major goal of TAGT. on “The Role of Gifted Education
keep it more up to date. One major We have been meeting regularly with a in Equity and Excellence” and the
change that benefits the entire gifted number of key legislators in both the Texas energetic young entrepreneur Jason
community in Texas is the posting of House and the Texas Senate, and we hope Dorsey, on “How Gifted Education
Insights, TAGT’s Annual Directory those efforts will bear fruit. There has been Saved My Life!” There are excit-
of Scholarships, Grants, and Awards particular interest in the Performance ing preconference sessions on
on the public portion of the Web site. Standards Project as a means to increased Wednesday, a planned Family Day for
Now all interested teachers, parents, accountability for gifted education. If you parents and children on Saturday, and
and students can access this most visit their Web site at http://www.perfor- a redesigned schedule that will help
valuable resource. mancestandards.org, you might see the you rediscover the excitement that is
• A greatly enhanced Members Only future of gifted education. the country’s premier gifted educa-
section on the TAGT Web site. tion conference.
Additions include audio interviews Also, TAGT has been testifying tire-
with leaders in the field of gifted lessly, if not entirely successfully, to the I hope this is just the beginning of a
education and on other topics of in- State Board for Educator Certification year that will enrich TAGT’s legacy and
terest. The newly redesigned TAGT (SBEC) regarding the G/T Supplemental show Texas and the country the future of
Newsletter is posted there; the elec- Teaching certificate. As of this date, it is gifted education.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Counseling a Gifted to be facilitated. In the case of the client

who is the focus here, he was clearly lack-
self an understanding of how his gifted-
ness was related to his feelings of isola-

Adolescent Through ing awareness of why he had struggled so

long with trying to fit in. Using the GIFM,
tion and loneliness. He also began to take
responsibility for how he would address

Isolation for this case the issues of loneliness and

isolation are placed in the cross-matrix
these issues in the future. In this session
the client explored his defenses against

and Loneliness area of the construct Affiliation and the

Social System.
awareness of his role in creating feelings
of loneliness and isolation. In most clini-
by Andy Mahoney This client’s initial perception of his cal approaches, a therapist is unlikely to
struggle with isolation and loneliness was include giftedness as a variable that im-
incongruent with his perception of self in pacts on the intense isolation and loneli-

oneliness and isolation are common regard to his giftedness. He lacked aware- ness experienced by the client during his
themes in the literature on the social ness of how his being highly gifted cre- formative years. In this client’s situation,
and emotional concerns of gifted ated unique differences between him and the social system interfacing with his life
individuals (Kerr & Cohn, 200; Webb, most of those with whom he interacted. had an impact on his identity as a gifted
Meckstroth, & Tolan, 982). Yet, the field I helped the client become more aware person. His social system impacted how
has not explored these areas in terms of of how his giftedness impacted his social he perceived himself in relation to his
clinical approaches designed to assist system and his feelings of isolation and peers and how he understood their ways
gifted individuals form more meaningful loneliness. of relating to him.
One purpose of this article is to be- THE CLIENT THE SESSION
gin to close the gap between the aware-
ness that gifted individuals struggle with The client was a 7-year-old highly A. This sense of what you’re calling “a
these issues and strategies for addressing gifted male in his senior year of high sense of abandonment”— There are two
them. What follows is a clinical example school and a veteran member of an ongo- things going on. You have some awareness
of how one highly gifted client and his ing counseling group for gifted boys. Mid- that your beliefs are changing. Secondly,
therapist began to resolve this struggle. year during his senior year, he sought indi- you’ve got some realization that you’re
A second purpose is to show how this vidual counseling from
session fits within the framework of my the group leader to
Gifted Identity Formation Model (GIFM; explore issues related
Mahoney, 998). GIFM is designed to to feelings of isolation
help counselors and therapists working and connection with
with gifted clients to account for their others and to explore
unique and complex nature and to direct issues in depth that had
clinical approaches accordingly. The basic surfaced in the group.
premise of the GIFM is that the therapist Though his parents
should look at the client’s social system were divorced, both
and explore how his or her giftedness were highly supportive
has impacted relationships and in turn of the client. He was a
impacted identity. It is crucial that the high achiever academi-
therapist not overlook giftedness as a cally, but did not par-
variable in the client’s social system. If ticipate in extra-cur-
giftedness is overlooked in the therapy, ricular activities until
the client may ultimately feel misunder- his senior year, when
stood, and feelings of isolation and lone- he became involved
liness will have been exacerbated by the with the drama de-
therapy itself. The construct of affiliation, partment. He was the
which the GIFM refers to as one of the second child of several
underpinnings of identity formation, is siblings and step-sib-
important for the therapist to understand lings. The transcripted
because it pertains to a gifted individual’s session described here
development of peer relationships. For is the fourth individual
the average individual, peer affiliations session.
are likely to occur naturally, probably not This session shows
requiring intervention and not having evidence of a marked
lasting negative impact on identity forma- change in the client’s
tion. With a gifted individual, affiliations level of insight. The
with those of similar levels of ability are client was able to inte-
less likely to occur naturally and may need grate into his sense of

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Validation Affirmation Affiliation Affinity
Family of Origin

Figure 
Gifted Identity Formation Model

talking a lot in school to fill space. You’re J. I’m not really expecting them to. liness. Then you go back and attribute it
saying you’re doing this out of a sense of I’m just feeling disappointed if they don’t to—what?
abandonment. even know I’ve set it up so they couldn’t J. Fears of loneliness and abandon-
J. That’s not the cause. It’s more what possibly—well, I guess they could possi- ment I attribute to itself. I go in a full
I feel when I think about it. I think I can bly. I’ve set up an unreal situation to keep circle of—Yeah, I see what you mean. My
put it better. It’s more out of a sense of undermining myself, I think. mind has been liking to ignore that fact,
loneliness and isolation, but if I sit there (The client is beginning to struggle hasn’t it, that maybe it’s not that they don’t
and I don’t talk, I feel like just another with the reality that he has actually set up want to relate to me or communicate to
person. But, when I do talk, it’s not any a dynamic where he is placing expectations me; it’s just that they can’t. Or even if they
better because I feel that people are just on others that are unrealistic. He starts by did have the mental capability to, they’d
thinking of me as a set of behaviors that blaming himself for a lack of understand- be afraid to or wouldn’t be ready to.
aren’t even me. ing of why he is doing this, which relates (Most therapists might interpret what
(The client is beginning to clarify that to his earlier comment about “stabbing the client just described as arrogant or elit-
the way he is behaving in school, talking a myself at every turn.” He is vacillating be- ist. It is not. The client clearly has to get to
lot, is really a manifestation of his deeper tween blaming others for not understand- a point where he can distinguish that there
feelings of loneliness and isolation, which ing him to now blaming himself for setting is a distinct difference in the way gifted
he had formerly identified as abandon- people up not to understand him. At this people relate.)
ment.) point in the session, he has not yet fully J. I’m using my different level or trend
A. It sounds, then, that you’re invali- understood the complexity of his defenses of thinking, which is so different than
dated. around isolation and how this relates to theirs, I guess. Most people wouldn’t be
J. Uh-huh. Stabbing myself at every his giftedness.) able to relate to me, and then I feel disap-
turn. A. I hear you, but there’s something pointed when everybody can’t. I expect
(The client demonstrates here how missing in the equation. everybody to be able to understand me.
deeply he internalizes the pain of not being J. Fear? Anger? Happiness? A. Which speaks to what about your
able to affiliate with others.) A. No. It’s none of those things. It has self-awareness?
A. So you’re expecting these people to do with the audience or the classmates (This is the client’s first clear real-
to understand and relate to you on the or the set of people or the individuals ization in regard to loneliness as related
level that you’re relating to them. you’re trying to relate to (all fall under the to giftedness and why he is struggling so
(At this point, I am helping the client category of affiliates) and whether or not intensely. He is beginning to formulate a
clarify his expectations of others, that they you’re assuming they could actually relate new concept. He is beginning to gain per-
understand him before he understands with you. You’re assuming they have the spective on himself as it pertains to affili-
others. That expectation is another way same level of interests, same level of de- ation with others in a social system. This
the client externalizes responsibility for sire, same level of intellectual precocity, is actually the point in the therapy when
struggle and defends against facing the same level of understanding of material. change is ripe to occur.)
complexity of his struggle as it relates to When they don’t reciprocate, that sets off J. It makes it seem that I try to use
his high level of giftedness.) your feelings of abandonment and lone- other people to define my self-awareness.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
I try to go through other people to un- you moved away from saying more about of counseling session different from work-
derstand myself, let their reactions to the that and you went back into your feelings ing with conventional problems with af-
things I’m saying dictate the way I think around isolation, loneliness, and feeling filiation and socialization, is the level of
about if the things I’m saying matter. less worthy. awareness the client has regarding the root
(This statement is indicative of self- J. Yeah, okay. I see what you mean of why he is not able to make the affiliation.
validation and affirmation as it pertains now. I think what I’m doing is I’m avoid- Once the client can identify that, because
to the self and social system.) ing thinking about how I have trouble he is gifted, there is inherently a unique
A. It sounds like that process doesn’t interacting with people instead of focus- set of aspects surrounding affiliation that
work for you. ing on these feelings that I can’t just by must be reconciled with, the process differs
J. No, it doesn’t. Because they’re not themselves do anything about. Ignoring from conventional counseling. The client
really in a position to invalidate what I’m why I’m really feeling these things. Trying would not be able to move on to the next
saying, and yet I let them. I’m giving them to explain why I feel. phase if there were no accurate awareness
too much power over me. I’m giving ev- A. Talk about your feelings of isola- of this unique context. In actuality, if this
erybody too much power over me because tion. part of the counseling did not reconcile
I don’t really want it myself. Then I would (I am challenging the client to move the client with his giftedness, the counsel-
really have to deal with myself instead further into exploring his feelings of iso- ing would inevitably hit an impasse and
of trying to make other people deal with lation and loneliness. At this point, I am possibly produce more feelings of isolation
me. trying to hold the client accountable, not and loneliness. Not only would the client
(The client has come to an under- to just identify the feelings of isolation and feel his peers couldn’t affiliate and un-
standing of self and validation.) loneliness, but also to express them and to derstand, he would feel the therapist also
A. Dealing with yourself would in- explore them on a deeper level so that the could not.)
clude—? client can begin to understand how they A. So, you can express how you feel,
J. Recognizing how I feel. relate to his struggle with being gifted but it’s not connected to the real reason
A. If I asked you, “How do you feel?,” and, in turn, affect his ability to form af- you’re feeling that way. So, you don’t have
my sense is we’d go back into that cycle, filiations with both gifted and nongifted to deal with the fact that you can’t find
and again you wouldn’t talk about what people.) people who can really relate to you.
the issues are around why you feel that J. I see what you mean now. I think J. So probably people that can relate
way, even though you can identify how what I’m doing is avoiding thinking about to me, I assume that—well, I don’t know
you feel quite readily. how I have trouble interacting with people if this is true—but it could be that I am
J. I’m doing it again. instead of focusing on these feelings that, seeking out people who won’t be able to
A. What is “it” that you’re doing? just by themselves, I can’t do anything understand me. Well, actually, I don’t
J. I’m using understanding to shield about. Ignoring why I really feel these think it’s true.
myself again. things. Trying to explain why I feel them A. I don’t think it’s true either. And
A. From what? Shield? Shield? with themselves. Which isn’t possible. I’m glad that you acknowledge that it isn’t
J. What do you mean, “shield”? I’m (The client is admitting at this point true.
using my shield to avoid understanding that he has not really explored the depth J. Yeah. It didn’t seem right to me. I
my shield? of his trouble interacting with people, and think it’s just a way of me . . .
A. You said you’re shielding yourself I am now going to move in the direction of A. Well, I think you’re judging your
again. discovering the function of his avoidance quest for seeking people, and I think it’s
(The client is the teacher here—the of exploring these feelings at a deeper level, totally appropriate for you to seek out
therapist is not the expert. I need to un- particularly exploring these feelings in re- people.
derstand the term the client is using. I am lation to his being gifted.) J. Yeah, I was contradicting it by fo-
asking the client to define his defense pos- A. What function does that behavior cusing on something else again.
ture—his “shield.” The client wanted me serve for you? A. Rather than starting to realize that
to define the term, and I turned the ques- J. It makes me not have to face that this process of seeking out like minds is
tion/challenge back to the client. This all there are going to be very few people quite a challenge for you. It brings up all
occurred very subtly in the session above who can relate to me the way I need to be these issues around your loneliness and
where the client responds, “What do you related to, and I don’t want to face that. isolation that have been relevant to your
mean—‘shield’?” as if I had used the word Instead I try to focus on the way I feel so I life up to this point. It’s a lack of aware-
first. If I had “taken the bait,” the client don’t have to do anything about it. ness as to why you’ve been so lonely and
would have been rescued from exploring (At this point, for the first time, the isolated.
his defensive position.) client admits that his isolation and lone- J. Yeah, I’m skittering away from the
J. Uh-huh. Stop using that word. Well, liness have something to do with his being issue every single way I can.
abusing that word. gifted. This is a crucial awareness. Prior A. And the issue is . . .
A. Sounds like some aspect of your- to this point, the client’s belief system was J. Okay. The issue is that I cannot find
self that you’re not acknowledging. You that the trouble he was having with social people who I can relate to fully and who
started to talk about it, and you acknowl- affiliations was not related to any aspect I feel can understand and accept me for
edged that on some level people couldn’t of his gifted identity. What is important who I am.
relate, whatever words you used. And then for me to know, and what makes this type A. And who are you?

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

(At this point in the session, the cli- people who I don’t feel could really accept be able to relate to and who can relate to
ent has progressed considerably since the who I am, whether that is true or not. me and understand me and I understand
session began. The fact that so early in the (The client is realizing how deeply them. And the other thing is . . .
session he has been able to take on and ingrained his defenses are against, and (He is beginning to strategize how
integrate this whole issue clearly reflects his feelings are about, being different and he is going to implement this new aware-
his giftedness. I can now delve even fur- how those defenses are functioning in his ness—and integrate it—without any direct
ther into issues surrounding the client’s relationships with others.) intervention or advice from me. In the next
identity.) A. Can you say more about this pro- statement, I reflect basic tenets of counsel-
J. I don’t know. cess of hiding yourself? ing: recognizing the client’s strengths and
A. You’ve just shut down. J. Yes. I feel a lot of negative when calling attention to positive movement.)
(In actuality, the client didn’t “shut I talk about the way I feel and the way I A. You talk about it, though, as
down.” He actually became introspective, think. I get a lot of negative reinforcement. though it’s in the future. And yet, it’s hap-
as is evident in his next statement.) Like people are going to say that some of pening already.
J. Yes. I’m a very bright person who is it is true and some of it is imaginary and J. Yes.
very sensitive to a lot of things and who created by me. But, for whatever reason, A. I want to go back to the part where
feels a deep need to help people and to be I don’t often talk about things that really you were frightened about facing this
understood. matter to me. I don’t try to relate to people awareness.
A. What’s it like for you to say that? on my own level. I try to relate on theirs. I J. Yeah. I think that what really is
(At this point, I am asking the client to spend very little time focusing on myself scaring me is feeling that, in most of my
explore his feelings around professing his in conversations—well, no time, almost. I relationships with other people I have
identity—to discuss what it is like to vali- try to relate to everybody by focusing on right now and have had in the past, I’ve
date his own identity as a gifted person. who they are, their needs, their desires, been not actually able to relate to a per-
What he described above are character- thus ignoring myself and creating a very son on the level that I need. That’s a re-
istics of a gifted person. This statement is bad relationship that is dependent on ally frightening thought. It doesn’t really
obviously something he has known and ex- them. make me feel alone. Yeah, it makes me feel
perienced deeply about himself. Therefore, (At this point, the client is acknowl- alone.
much of this session is not really new to edging his own compensation strategies. A. Sounds like there is more that it
him. It may be seen as an unveiling process He is also indirectly acknowledging how does to you.
of his gifted self that he inherently knows much he is giving up in relationships, par- J. I guess it makes me feel like the
to be there.) ticularly with other gifted people.) relationships that I’ve had with people
J. It’s kind of frightening because not A. It sounds like a lot of that evolves are less real or less meaningful, in a way.
only am I realizing that’s true; I’m real- out of your desire to be understood. And Because almost all my relationships, I’ve
izing that I don’t want to admit that it’s yet, it leads you to be totally misunder- just had them on a distant, superficial
true. I don’t want to admit that I’m unique stood. Because your real self, and things level. A great example of that is my cousin
and that it’s going to be hard for people that are really important to you, you won’t Steve, who is one of my best friends. Until
to relate to me because I’m different from express. about 2 months ago, I had never talked to
them in a lot of ways. J. Or when I do try to express them him at all about anything real. Ever.
A. And that’s frightening. occasionally, I quickly back down and A. It sounds like about 2 months ago
(I am simply reflecting the client’s allow myself to be completely diverted. you talked to him about something more
fright. However, this therapeutic “event” Because it’s so hard for me to talk about real, then?
is of great magnitude in assisting the cli- things, about myself, because I think the (The client refers to benefits to the
ent in his struggle with social affiliation. other person wouldn’t understand. So I relationship with his cousin in response
Reflecting feelings, without interpretation, give up and I run away. to earlier work in sessions and previous
oftentimes is the key to unlocking even A. What are you thinking? group process. I use an experience the cli-
more awareness. This simple use of reflec- J. I’m thinking a few things. That I ent brought up 2 months previously.)
tion of feelings, when done appropriately, have quite a bit more self-awareness now, J. Yeah. On the phone I got this in-
can move the client forward tremendously. and I’m realizing how much this has been tense . . . like a prelude to the realization
It is a rare event when someone reflects impacting my actions and how it will im- of what I’m realizing now.
feelings, instead of reflecting content, pact my actions now. (I know that good therapy is a client
advising, interpreting, fixing, rescuing, or (The client has come full circle. He is learning what he already knows, but the
preventing feelings.) now able to conceptualize his struggle in function of the therapist is to help bring
J. Yes, it is. I think what I’ve been do- relationship with his social system and this knowledge to a greater awareness, in-
ing in response to feeling that way is, in- affiliation.) tegration, and availability for the client’s
stead of realizing that I am different and I I’m also kind of uneasy because this later reference.)
have different thoughts and trying to find is a lot for me to face, for me to deal with, I’ve realized how dysfunctional, in
people who can understand me for who because it is a very frightening thing that a way, our relationship was, and how,
I am, I’ve been trying to change myself I’ve never dealt with before. That there although we’d done lots and lots of stuff
or hide myself in order to be accepted by will not be very many people that I will together, we didn’t really understand

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each other more than a vague kind of therapist—or teacher or counselor—must I’ve said that, which makes me think that
companionship. So, I talked about it and be able to affirm his or her own profes- it was bothering me, I feel much, much
then after I chiseled through 30,000 tons sional expertise and life experience and better. I feel kind of free, released and not
of ice and humor and such, I finally kind not be intimidated by them or in awe of shoved into a little box that I’ve created
of got through to him. Now, although we them. Those adults must recognize that for myself. It’s still very confusing and
kind of avoid it off and on, now we kind gifted clients/students are also developing very frightening since I’m still very much
of realize it and we’re a lot closer to each and that they need assistance like anyone, getting used to it, but it’s making me feel
other. We have some kind of mutual, real maybe more so, in the process of develop- very optimistic.
understanding relationship. Now it makes ment.) (At this point, the client is realizing
me realize how little of that I’ve done in A. So far, you sound like you’re get- that he is not limited in terms of how he
my life and how few relationships I have ting a bit of an overview or understanding affiliates with others—differing from his
that are like that. Most of the relationships of what is happening to you. But, you’ve earlier statements that it was going to
that I’ve had I’ve tried to change myself not yet said anything about future pos- be with very few people. Even though he
for the other person. I’ve tried to change sibilities of having more connectedness or is still highly gifted and the number of
myself into what I thought the person I mutual affinity with people. people he can relate with may be limited
was talking to or relating to could under- J. Ah. What a coincidence. at some level, he is realizing that it is not
stand. Putting it on a level that I thought A. You don’t talk about that as a pos- an impossible task for him to find social
they could understand, but not even that, sibility yet. affiliation.)
not even explaining myself, just going into J. Yeah, you’re right. I do. I have been A. What is it that is making you feel
topics that I thought I could relate to them talking about all this as though I was kind optimistic?
with while remaining distant. of trapped in it. I guess what I need to do J. Realizing that I don’t have to change
(At this point, not only does the cli- is analyze how I relate to people and figure myself to be accepted or that I can’t
ent clarify his defenses, he is able to grasp out all these little ways of changing myself change myself to try to be accepted allows
a fundamental core truth that he can to fit the mold of what I think they would me to be free not to try to undermine my
access later. The client indicates that he accept of me. I’m going to try to stop do- self-confidence based on other people’s
is one step ahead of the therapist. A key ing that and allow myself to be who I am opinions of me. Or what I perceive other
ingredient to working with gifted individu- without putting up all these shields of try- people’s opinions of me.
als is recognizing their ability, since they ing to assimilate. I need to stop trying to (Even if this client regresses from this
may be, in many ways, more intellectually assimilate to everyone or the person who powerful acknowledgement of some sort
nimble than the therapist. However, the is convenient at the moment. Now that (Continued on Page 32)

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners


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Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
Underachievement achievement, such as:

in the Eye of the Beholder • low self-esteem;

• boredom in school;
• low maturity levels;
Pamela Campbell, Elizabeth Cavazos, Mary Christopher, and Carla Nutt • extreme perfectionism;

nderachievers of all types have definition of underachievement becomes • feelings of rejection from family
mystified educators for decades. important because of the implied negative members;
Cases of gifted underachievers, student images. Underachievement, a fa- • marked hostility toward adult au-
however, have further baffled counselors vorite buzzword within the educational thority;
and school psychologists because edu- community, becomes especially impor- • resistance toward adult influence;
cators commonly misidentify and label tant to clarify when identifying the gifted • feelings of being victimized;
gifted students as learning disabled, trou- underachiever. One school of thought de- • disorganization;
ble-makers, misfits, nonproducers, and fines underachievement as a behavior, or • impulsivity;
lazy students. One popular case study of a problem of attitude (Delisle, 2002). The • failure to set realistic goals; and
such a grossly misidentified underachiever very term, underachievement, implies dis- • short-term, rather than long-term
was that of Albert Einstein. Albert loved approval and failure in the eyes of adults coping strategies.
fantasy as a young boy, but he did not due to a student’s stubbornness, as well Delisle (992) differentiates between
communicate verbally until the age of 4. as his or her choice of behavior. While underachievers who are unable to perform
His speech did not improve until after the studying the topic of underachieving at their ability level and nonproducers
age of 9. Einstein despised memorizing gifted students, Baker, Bridger, and Evans who choose not to perform. Therefore,
facts, and his teachers considered him (998) concluded that the failure of the nonproducers have a separate set of char-
a slow learner. He did not test well, and child to perform academically at a level acteristics. Confusing these two types of
facts simply bored him. At the age of 8, commensurate with his or her potential underachievers reduces the rate of success
he failed the entrance exam to engineer- defines the term underachiever. Other re- in reversing the patterns of underachieve-
ing school. However, Albert Einstein went searchers suggest that it should be defined ment. To properly identify a truly gifted
on to become one of the world’s greatest by a lack of success in school. Therefore, underachiever, educators must look for
thinkers (Polette, 2004). due to the lack of a clear definition, most other behaviors that also occur in nonpro-
research focuses more on the character- ducers. Some characteristics common to
DEFINITION istics and causes of underachievement in gifted underachievers and nonproducers
OF UNDERACHIEVEMENT the educational setting (Delisle). include a dislike of school, fear of adult
rejection, tendency to withdraw, few inter-
One problem of underachievement CHARACTERISTICS ests in or outside of school, and a feeling
begins with its definition. No consensus OF UNDERACHIEVERS of helplessness. In many cases, separating
exists regarding what underachieve- AND NONPRODUCERS the nonproducer from the underachiever
ment actually looks like, where it starts, becomes a difficult task (Delisle, 992).
and how or when the metamorphosis to Research provides a plethora of check- The blame for underachievement may lie
achievement occurs (Delisle & Galbraith, lists containing behaviors and characteris- in taught behavior. Nonproducers master
2002). The manifestation of underachieve- tics exhibited by underachieving students. the art of relying on their own ability to
ment may reflect a mismatch between Some professionals attempt to define get by without putting forth effort; they
the student and the curriculum (Reis & underachievement by determining a dis- simply lack the motivation to change.
McCoach, 2000). According to Delisle, crepancy between age and performance Curricula that do not challenge the un-
the best description of the word lazy (Baum, Renzulli, & Hébert, 995; Mandel derachiever and lack creative appeal leave
describes “people who are not motivated & Marcus, 995; Rimm 997). Others sug- students uninterested and bored (Delisle,
in ways you want them to be” (p.). The gest longitudinal data to screen for under- 2002). Underachievers, on the other hand,
same description can apply to the word achievement (Rimm, Cornale, Manos, & do not understand the underlying reasons
underachiever. Another expert in the field Behrend, 989). Underachievement often for their inability to achieve, regardless
of gifted and talented education, Ceil Frey mimics other learning disorders such as of changes made in the curriculum or in
(2002), defines underachievers as students learning disabilities, Attention Deficit and their efforts to improve. Educators must
who demonstrate a significant discrep- Hyperactivity Disorder, as well as depres- understand that underachievers display
ancy between their cognitive potential sion. Poor study habits, low leadership different behaviors than nonproducers.
and their performance in the classroom. status with their peers, and the inability
Studies recognize that these students may to focus on future goals are additional CAUSES OF UNDERACHIEVEMENT
demonstrate remarkable strengths and behaviors exhibited by underachievers.
talents in some areas and disabling weak- Several researchers (Baum, Olenchak, & Once identification as a gifted under-
nesses in others. Owen, 998; Clark, 988; Gallagher, 99; achiever occurs, it is important to uncover
Researchers have studied various Schunk, 998; Van Boxtel & Mönk, 992.) the causes of this problem. Studies prove
types of underachievement and have failed list other characteristics educators may that genetics do not contribute to the
to develop one consistent definition. The discover when trying to identify under- student’s underachievement syndrome;

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
rather, a multitude of factors can lead impairment, or lack of normal hearing or contribute to a student’s underachieve-
to the problem. These factors may be visual perception may coincide with un- ment” (Reis & McCoach, p. 84). Such
grouped into four critical areas: physical derachievement. Some underachieving interventions usually involve individual,
circumstances, environmental factors, students are dyslexic or neurologically peer, or family counseling or a combina-
emotional states, and intellectual situa- disabled, but it is the lack of appropriate tion of several types of counseling (Jeon,
tions (Smith, 2003). programming that produces that under- 990). In most counseling situations, the
Physical circumstances may include achievement, rather than the disability. counselor should refrain from forcing the
any persistent or chronic illnesses such as These students frequently lack adequate underachiever to become a more suc-
allergies or asthma. These conditions alone challenge or encouragement to develop cessful student. The student must decide
do not make a child an underachiever, but their intellectual abilities because of low if success is a desirable personal goal.
missing too much school may. Consistent expectations and a narrow curriculum. Therefore, the counselor’s job focuses on
school absence hinders the child from Waldron and Saphire (Gallagher, 99) reversing counterproductive habits and
learning the basic curriculum, which examined the abilities of 24 elementary- behaviors that support underachievement
can lead to underachievement in upper aged gifted/learning-disabled students (Reis & McCoach).
grades. The child becomes frustrated compared to 24 gifted students without Delisle classifies reinforcement strat-
and shows little motivation to remediate learning disabilities. The study showed egies with underachievers into three clus-
missed skills. that gifted/learning-disabled students did ters: supportive, intrinsic, and remedial.
There are at least three environmen- not perform as well as other gifted stu- Supportive strategies “affirm the worth
tal factors that may contribute to under- dents on a variety of standardized tests, of the child in the classroom and convey
achievement: school, home, and society which included digital span coding and the promise of greater potential and suc-
in general (Smith, 2003). Researchers block design. The results suggest that the cess yet to be discovered and enjoyed”
speculate that certain aspects of school, learning-disabled students may demon- (Whitmore, 980, p. 265). Supportive
such as too much or too little competi- strate the characteristics of organic brain strategies rely on the teacher as a support
tion, conflict with teachers, peer pressure, syndrome, showing areas of deficit in rote partner with the student and help to put
lack of opportunities to be creative, and auditory memory, rather than simply un- the child back in charge of his orher own
a desire to fit in, affect a student’s ability derachievement. education (Delisle, 992). These strategies
to achieve in the classroom. In the home, All these factors tend to work against include:
lack of proper early reading and motiva- the student’s achieving in the classroom, • elimination of previously mastered
tion can cause underachievement. Other but most underachievers can improve when work;
issues in the home, such as overprotective given appropriate assistance. Learning to • individualized curriculum and in-
parents, sibling rivalry, pressure to con- identify the underlying causes of under- struction using selected topics of
form, and conflict with parents may cause achievement is crucial to the correction of interests;
a student to underperform (Rimm, 995). the problem. Underachievement develops • daily class meetings and contracts;
Poverty also affects underachievement over a long period of time, usually starting and
because the family’s focus is often on se- with an early failure in learning to read, so • student choice of work.
curing basic needs, rather than nurturing it cannot be corrected overnight or in one Intrinsic strategies “are designed to
and cultivating early learning experiences. school year. According to Smith (2003), a develop intrinsic achievement motivation
Family dynamics play an important role child struggling with underachievement through the child’s discovery of rewards
in deep-seated causes of gifted under- needs a long-term commitment of help available as a result of efforts to learn,
achievement, as well. Emotional factors and support from parents, teachers, and achieve, and contribute to the group”
should also be considered when examin- peers. (Whitmore, 980, p. 265). Intrinsic strat-
ing underachievement. Low self-esteem egies rely on self-motivation along with
diminishes the desire to complete quality INTERVENTION PLANS verbal rewards for self-initiated behaviors,
work. Feelings of not fitting in with others, FOR UNDERACHIEVEMENT such as:
being ignored by peers and teachers, and • frequent and positive contact with
being dumb often affect a child’s self-es- Over the past decades, educators have the family;
teem (Smith). questioned the effectiveness of a variety • student-selected daily goals;
Intellectual factors of underachieve- of interventions. Most interventions lack • student evaluation of work prior to
ment may be difficult to determine due to documentation of their effectiveness in teacher’s assessment; and
invalid test scores. Gifted students who reversing underachievement in gifted stu- • long- and short-term goals made in
show no intelligence discrepancies ac- dents, or such documentation is inconsis- collaboration with the teacher.
cording to standardized test scores can tent and inconclusive. According to Reis Remedial strategies are “employed to
still be underachievers. It is easy to say and McCoach (2000), most interventions improve the student’s academic perfor-
that underachievers are “just not smart in the schools aim to reverse gifted un- mance in an area of learning in which he
enough,” but the statement is rarely true derachievement through counseling and or she has evidenced difficulty learning,
(Reis & McCoach, 2000). Impairment due instructional interventions. “Counseling has experienced a sense of failure, and
to specific learning disabilities, brain dam- intervention concentrates on changing has become unmotivated to engage in
age/cerebral dysfunction or neurological the personal or family dynamics that learning tasks” (Whitmore, 980, p. 27).

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
Several strategies provide a structure for tion deficits: Fact or fiction? Or, can children: What do we know? Waco,
effective remediation: we see the forest for the trees? Gifted TX: Prufrock Press.
• peer tutoring in student’s strength Child Quarterly, 42, 96–04. Polette, N. (2004). Gifted or goof off?
area; Baum, S. M., Renzulli, J. S., & Hébert, T. Marion, IL: Pieces of Learning.
• small group instruction in students’ P. (995). The prism metaphor: A new Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2000).
areas of weakness; paradigm for reversing underachieve- The underachievement of gifted stu-
• self instructed goals for improvement ment (CRS9530). Storrs: National dents: What do we know and where
determined between the student and Research Center on the Gifted and do we go? Gifted Child Quarterly, 44,
the teacher; and Talented, University of Connecticut. 52–70.
• encouragement administered daily by Clark, B. (988). Growing up gifted: Reis, S. M. & McCoach, D. B. (2002).
the teacher and family . Developing the potential of children Underachievement in gifted students.
at home and at school (3rd ed.).
In Neihart, M., Reis, S. M., Robinson,
CONCLUSION Columbus: Merrill.
N. M., & Moon, S. M. (Eds.), The
Delisle, J. R. (992). Guiding the social
social and emotional development of
Based on research, defining under- and emotional development of gifted
gifted children: What do we know? (pp.
achievement for any learner remains youth: A practical guide for educators
and counselors. White Plains, NY: 8–9). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
difficult. Seeing a student’s capabilities
Longman. Rimm, S. (995). Why bright kids get poor
and an occasional glimpse of brilliance
often replaced by a wall of apathy and Delisle, J. R. (994, November/December). grades and what you can do about it.
apparent indifference compels parents, Dealing with the stereotype of under- New York: Crown Publishers.
educators, and counselors to uncover the achievement. Retrieved October 25, Rimm, S. (997). An underachievement
answer for this troubling area of gifted- 2004, from http://www.eddept.wa.edu. epidemic. Educational Leadership,
ness. Identifying characteristics in the au/gifttal/EAGER/UAch.html 54(7), 8–22.
early years of a child’s development, as Delisle, J. R., & Berger, S. L. (990). Rimm, S., Cornale, M., Manos, R., &
well as social patterns with family, teach- Underachieving gifted students. Behrend, J. (989). Guidebook for im-
ers, and peers, foreshadows future prob- Washington, DC: U.S. Department of plementing the trifocal underachieve-
lems with underachievement in school. Education, Educational Information ment program in schools. Watertown,
Pinpointing specific causes of the problem Center. (ERIC Document Reproduction WI: Apple.
and intervening as quickly as possible with No. ED32483) Schunk, D. H. (998, November).
individual, group, and family counseling Delisle, J. R., & Galbraith, J. (2002). When Motivation and self-regulation in
have proved to be effective with reversing gifted kids don’t have all the answers. gifted learners. Paper presented at
underachievement in upper elementary Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit. the annual meeting of the National
grades. Using supportive, intrinsic, and Frey, C. (2002, Spring). Dealing with the Association of Gifted Children,
remedial strategies that allow students needs of underachieving gifted stu- Louisville, KY.
to take back the responsibility of their dents in a suburban school district: Smith, C. B. (2003, November 24). What
own learning may help gifted students as What works!. Retrieved October 25, makes our kids underachievers?
they transition from underachievement 2004, from http://www.gifted.uconn. Retrieved October 25, 2004 from
to productive learning in the classroom. edu/nrcgt/newsletter/spring02/
Underachieving is not a new dilemma sprng023.html
for gifted children. Additional research Gallagher, J. J. (99). Personal patterns
regarding underachievement of gifted of underachievement. Journal for the
Van Boxtel, H. W., & Mönk, E. J. (992).
learners must follow to provide effective Education of the Gifted, 4, 22–233.
Jeon, K. (990). Counseling and guidance General, social, and academic self-
solutions to this problem.
for gifted underachievers. Paper pre- concepts of gifted adolescents.
REFERENCES sented at the First Southeast Asian Journal of Youth and Adolescents, 2,
Regional Conference on Giftedness, 69–86.
Baker, J. A., Bridger, R., & Evans, K. (998). Manila, Philippines. (ERIC Document Whitmore, J. R. (980). Giftedness, conflict,
Models of underachievement among Reproduction No. ED32805). and underachievement. Boston: Allyn
gifted preadolescents: The role of Mandel, H. P., & Marcus, S. I. (995). Could and Bacon.
personal, family, and school factors. do better. New York: Wylie. Whitmore, J. R. (985). Underachieving
Gifted Child Quarterly, 42, 5–4. Neihart, M., Reis, S., Robinson, N. M., & gifted students. Reston, VA: ERIC
Baum, S. M., Olenchak, F. R., & Owen, S. Moon, S. M. (Eds.). (2002). The social Clearinghouse on Handicapped and
V. (998). Gifted students with atten- and emotional development of gifted Gifted Children.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Independent Study Plus Mentorship: One Size Really Does Fit All
Shannon South

here is not a person living in the Many of these diverse needs can be served mity, interpersonal difficulties, prob-
United States who doesn’t scoff through an independent study course, lems determining a fulfilling vocation
at the “one-size-fits-all” concept, made most effective when mentorship is (Delisle, 992)—can be addressed by the
and rightly so; students exhibit a myriad of an integral part of the equation. individualized nature of the ISM. Social
academic and social needs. However, for and emotional guidance issues are easily
the gifted population there exists an edu- The Why’s of the Independent identified when ISM teachers and men-
cational programming option that does fit tors conference regularly with students.
an array of advanced-ability students and
Study Plus Mentorship (ISM) In addition, the supportive community of
that also addresses the unique social and an ISM class allows students to encour-
emotional hurdles they must overcome: age and challenge each other throughout
the Independent Study plus Mentorship. the research and development of products
As IQ (intelligence quotient) and test The Texas Education Agency offers a and speech writing and public speaking.
scores are easily measured and justified, blueprint for an ISM class on its perfor- Most importantly, though, from a social
most districts have become adept at iden- mance standards Web site (http://www. and emotional standpoint, ISM students
tifying and serving those students with performancestandards.org) on which evolve into a family that honors individual
general intellectual abilities. However, individual school districts may base their differences: unique personalities on differ-
there are those gifted students whose own programs. The Independent Study ent paths, but all working toward the same
abilities and social proclivities and sen- Mentorship program is a research-based, goal of becoming experts in a field of their
sibilities do not comply with Advanced advanced level, active learning course de- own choosing.
Placement programming tracks to which signed to provide high school juniors and Beginning with the guidance of an
most GT students are assigned once in seniors with an opportunity to explore an ISM teacher, students learn organizational
high school. So who are these “off-the- area of study of their own choosing. skills, develop critical and creative thinking
track” students? They might be the highly Speaking in generalized timetables, skills, develop new ways to look at prob-
focused and creative students whose ISM students spend the first semester of lem solving and strategic planning, and
mode of speech and dress set them apart the school year selecting and research- practice research techniques that become
from the norm. They might be those an- ing a topic of study, during which time increasingly advanced as investigations
noyingly brilliant students who utterly they build a portfolio based on their in- into their topic of study become focused.
lack the motivation to do much beyond vestigations. After extensive background Because educators’ experiences with stu-
slouching indolently in the back row of the research, students write a project proposal dents indicate that they think and learn
classroom. Nontraditional students might that outlines their strategies for develop- differently (Smith, 2002), career guidance
be languishing in an English as a Second ing an original, real-world product that instruments and learning-style inventories
Language (ESL) or Limited English will be refined and guided during the such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Proficiency (LEP) classroom despite their second semester by a mentor with whom and “True Colors” (which may be avail-
extraordinary abilities; they also might be they are matched. At the end of the school able through a school’s counseling office)
disenfranchised minority students or stu- year, ISM students publicly present their can be used to help students acquire and
dents for whom poverty has removed the work to an audience of invited guests develop their own personal skills, evaluate
emotional, mental, and physical resources (each ISM student is responsible for his learning options, and make informed de-
needed to compete in a traditional ad- or her own guest list and the arrangement cisions when considering career choices.
vanced classroom setting and who require of the room in which he or she is are pre- Maximizing the learning potential of all
a program and instructional design to fit senting), and it is evaluated by a panel of students is most effective “when the class-
their special needs. Students deprived of expert judges. room environment is compatible with
social, emotional, and economic resources their learning style preferences” (Rayneri
often need, for example, opportunities to SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL & Gerber, 2004, p. 90).
present their work orally and visually, to IMPLICATIONS By combining ISM advanced research
work with mentors with whom they share projects with the opportunity for refining
an interest, and enjoy the academic and According to surveys reported in the public-speaking skills, students from di-
emotional support offered by small-group Journal of Counseling and Development verse backgrounds are afforded the occa-
participation (Slocumb & Payne, 2000). (Kerr & Colangelo, 988), academically sion to develop professional education and
And still there are more: the singularly talented students often gravitate toward business etiquette. The ISM offers these
gifted students, the visual and performing individualized education. Because the students a special opportunity to investi-
arts mavens, those students with whom independent study is designed to meet gate the contributions made by members
gadgets of any kind are not safe from dis- individual, rather than group, needs, of various racial and ethnic groups, as well
section, and the students who lead by the some of the concerns shared by many as the social issues that affect their work,
strength of their resolve and personality. gifted students—problems with confor- during their research and product devel-

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
opment. According to NEA Today (Harris, wither into pessimism and lassitude. What Ascertain what resources are avail-
996, p. 6), students learn how to “defend the ISM requires of potential practitioners able: budget monies, empty classrooms,
their positions and stand up for themselves is no more or no less than it requires of teacher units, miscellaneous supplies.
later in life” by making presentations and its students: creative thinking, strategic If none of the obvious resources are
defending their opinions. Additionally, problem solving, and fortitude. forthcoming, it’s time to think creatively.
utilizing all available technologies and An effective ISM advocate must Recruit the smartest and most creatively
software encourages students’ participa- start with the school district’s current savvy educators in the district to the ISM
tion and learning during the writing and financial reality; gather the available hu- development team.
editing process of reporting secondary man resources; research sources of local, For consideration:
resources. Videotaping interviews and state, and federal grant monies; identify • Who could teach the ISM if no teacher
practice speeches encourages self-evalu- potential problems before they arise and units are available?
ation and develops improved speaking list possible solutions; and, with every • Are the high school librarians certi-
skills. conceivable base covered, begin advocat- fied teachers?
ing for a new reality. • What about the technology special-
THE MENTOR A good first step is conferencing with ists? Could any of them get free for
an administrator who enthusiastically a couple of hours a day to teach the
Mentoring not only aids in the ISM supports the independent study concept. ISM class?
student’s career exploration, but also The district’s GT coordinator often will be • No classrooms? Does the high school
helps make the “entire school experience your most dedicated advocate. Once there have a library? Where better for a
personally meaningful to youth” (Davalos is an agreement of support, the next step research class to meet than in a li-
& Haensly, 997, p. 204). Mentors, accord- may be writing a proposal with a plan of brary?
ing to E. Paul Torrance, create a secure development for the ISM to be submit- • What about retired teachers who
environment in which students can create ted to the appropriate administrators might be interested in part-time em-
freely and learn how to focus their ener- for approval. Start the research process ployment?
gies on worthy goals (Pleiss & Feldhusen, for the proposal with TEA’s Texas State Leave no stones unturned in your
995). Mentors aid gifted minorities and Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented quest for the ISM. If a variety of different
low-income students who, after working Students, which states that both inde- ways to structure an ISM course at little
with professionals, show “gains in self- pendent study courses and mentorship cost to the school district can be identi-
concept and in their knowledge about programs are components of acceptable fied (combined with the opportunity for
possible careers” (Pleiss & Feldhusen, p. learning opportunities for gifted students. the school to provide its students with in-
60). Mentors, according to various stud- Visit http://www.performancestandards. novative educational practices), even the
ies, may be particularly helpful to those org to learn about the details of the ISM. most traditional administrators often can
GT students “off the traditional path”: the Draft a proposal to fit the needs of the be convinced.
gifted underachievers, GT students with district and include: Once the possible key ISM players are
learning disabilities or physical difficulties, . why the district needs an Independent identified, a steering committee to oversee
ESL/LEP students, and gifted girls (Pleiss Study Mentorship program; the development process should be formed
& Feldhusen). 2. the purpose of the Independent Study and should include representatives from
The need for independent study Mentorship program; instructional technology, parent/student
combined with mentorship “has been 3. an overview of the Independent Study Services, fine arts, career and technology,
extensively articulated, particularly in Mentorship program; ESL/LEP, and any other interested parties
4. Independent Study Mentorship pro- who might have students who would ben-
terms of specific career exposure and ca-
gram support personnel—for exam- efit from participating in an independent
reer guidance, as well as for general social
ple, an ISM Program Facilitator, ISM study situation. The ISM umbrella is large
and emotional development” (Davalos &
Teacher of Record, Mentors, Judges and inclusive, and the formation of an
Haensly, 997, p. ); students need more
(for end-of-the-year presentations), ISM family requires constant communi-
individual attention than they have been
and an ISM Oversight Committee; cation and deliberate nurturance of good
receiving. Results of a study of students
and will, especially when it comes to the bu-
who participated in an ISM program in a
5. project assessment and brief closing reaucratic details of course descriptions,
school district from a large southwestern
statement. credits, grade points, and PEIMS codes.
city from 989–994 found that improved
After the concept proposal has been Advance preparation is the name of
self-esteem was identified as the number
approved, begin meeting with district the ISM development and implementa-
one comment received in response to the
principals to share your knowledge of, and tion game. Look to the Department of
study questionnaire (Davalos & Haensly).
enthusiasm for, TEA’s Independent Study Education for information about federal
Performance Standards Project (PSP). grant monies and learn how to apply for
The How’s of the ISM Elicit their input about possible road- applicable local, state, and federal grants
blocks to implementation of the ISM, note (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/
No time, no money, no teaching their concerns and insights, and strive to esea02/pg57.html). Occasionally, mon-
units, no facilities, no supplies: It’s enough enlist their support for this new course ies from different departmental budgets
to make even the hardiest of educators offering. can be combined when serving a diverse

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

group of students in a specific course, and are celebrated and honored with both in- students. Journal of Counseling and
Title I funds often can be appropriated to dividual attention and public recognition. Development, 67, 42–67.
serve low-socioeconomic-status students Districts can provide this opportunity
(http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/ for their students with a little coopera- Pleiss, M. K., & Fedhusen, J. F. (995).
esea02/pg.html). tion, creative thinking, and the dedicated Mentors, role models, and he-
While all this sounds overwhelming work of educators who believe they can roes in the lives of gifted children.
when considered from an individual per- gradually change the face of gifted educa- Educational Psychology, 30, 59–69.
spective, it is the distribution of responsi- tion by adding alternate dimensions to its
bilities and duties that can create a suc- topography—new twists, turns, hills, and Rayneri, L. J., & Gerber, B. L. (2004).
cessful ISM program. A cooperative effort valleys to be traversed that will include Development of a student perception
between educators and administrators students previously left dejectedly on the inventory. Roeper Review, 26, 90.
from academic, fine arts, and technology roadside, waiting for a ride that will take
can breathe life into new ventures. them where they need or want to go. Slocumb, P. D., & Payne, R. K. (2000).
When everyone gives a little, much Removing the mask: Giftedness in pov-
can be accomplished. REFERENCES erty. Highlands, TX: aha! Process.

Davalos, R. A., & Haensly, P. A. (997). Smith, M. K. (2004, February 4). Howard
Bottom Line: No Guts, No Glory After the dust has settled: Youth re- Gardner and multiple intelligences’.
flect on their high school mentored Retrieved January 9, 2005, from
The development and implementa- research experience. Roeper Review, http://w w w.infed.org/thinkers/
tion of the Independent Study Mentorship 9, 204–207. gardner.htm.
program is a worthy and reasonable goal
for districts who want to broaden their Delisle, J. (992). Guiding the social and
base of GT offerings at the secondary emotional development of gifted
level in a fiscally responsible manner. The youth. New York: Longman
ISM provides an opportunity for students
to create meaning and purpose in their Harris, L. (996, May). Unwrapping the
educational lives, explore career options, gifted. NEA Today, 6.
and build the self-esteem needed to sup-
port and nourish their life goals. Through Kerr, B. A., & Colangelo, N. (988). The
the ISM, unique personalities and styles college plans of academically talented

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Society’s Most
Gifted Kids
in Crisis
by Dawn M. Bailey & Mary Christopher

ranks as the fifth feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and ul- ward themselves and others (Adderholdt
leading cause timately depression (Freedman & Jensen, & Goldberg). Other common characteris-
of death among 999). A “minority within a minority” in tics of perfectionism include overanalyz-
5- to 4-year-olds and is the third leading terms of their social and emotional needs, ing personal decisions, seeking constant
cause of death for those between 5 and gifted children at risk for emotional distur- approval from others, and avoiding new
24 years of age (Adderholdt & Goldberg, bance need the support and intervention experiences (Schuler, 999). All of these
999). The statistics are alarming. More of caring adults to reverse the detrimen- negative behaviors result in severe feelings
than 6,000 young people take their lives tal effects caused by depression (Delisle, of guilt and anguish for the perfectionist.
each year, with at least 0 times that num- 992). Multiple causes of depression ap- Perfectionism, for many gifted youth,
ber attempting suicide (Delisle, 2000). The pear in youth; however, five problems are begins at an early age. Often, gifted chil-
suicide rate of adolescents has increased more often associated with depression in dren learn more quickly than their age
by at least 300% in the last three decades, gifted youth than with any other group: peers, and have a long history of mak-
with at least 0% of adolescents attempt- perfectionism, societal expectations, dys- ing easy A’s in classes that present little
ing suicide (Kerr & Milliones, 995). A synchronous development, existential or no challenge to them. Gifted youth
look behind these numbers reveals the thinking, and the imposter syndrome soon learn that they can produce perfect
shattered lives of children and families in (Delisle, 2000). schoolwork through minimal effort, thus
pain, each with a unique story and experi- equating minimal effort to being gifted
ence left untold. Often, the decision to end PERFECTIONISM (Winner, 996). They conclude that gifted-
one’s life is not a “conscious wish to die, ness means instant mastery and immedi-
but rather a pronouncement that living The most influential and potentially ate achievement. Parents and teachers are
has become too painful” (Delisle, 992, p. destructive aspect of giftedness is per- also quick to praise these achievements
62). Youth who contemplate suicide are fectionism. Many gifted children possess and come to expect a continuing level
in a profound state of confusion and con- perfectionist tendencies that may range in of high performance, which adds more
flict. Ultimately, they want the emotional intensity from the “healthy pursuit of excel- pressure on the student to perform. This
suffering to end and are searching for a lence” to “living in a constant state of anxi- desire to be perfect then transcends other
purpose and reason to continue living ety about making mistakes” (Adderholdt areas of life outside of the school setting to
(Kendrick, 200). & Goldberg, 999, p. 4). Dysfunctional the point where doing your best becomes
perfectionists set extremely high stan- the struggle to be the best in the mind of
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH dards for themselves and are unforgiving a perfectionist (Adderholdt & Goldberg,
DEPRESSION IN GIFTED YOUTH of their setbacks. They also internalize 999). Many gifted students do not experi-
others’ excessive expectations and nega- ence academic struggles until late in high
Gifted children are at risk of encoun- tive criticisms more intensely than their school, when remaining at the top of their
tering severe emotional problems due to own achievements. Perfectionists tend to class becomes difficult. These students
the dynamics of their giftedness. These tie their self-worth to their achievements, have not yet developed the productive
children make more abstract connections, viewing themselves as failures when they study habits needed to feel successful. At
synthesize diverse experiences, and draw do not achieve to their ideal. Thus, they this point, depression may develop as they
sophisticated conclusions at much earlier may procrastinate, become workaholics, “suspect that they are no longer gifted, and
ages than their peers. For some gifted overcommit themselves, develop eating their sense of self-worth is undermined”
children, these unique perceptions lead to disorders, or demonstrate hostility to- (Kaplan, 990, p. 2).

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Perfectionism is a learned behavior terests, abilities, and personalities. They messages of conformity and individual-
that can be unlearned. Parents and teach- should not feel responsible for solving the ity emerge earlier for some gifted youth
ers must help children realize that mov- world’s problems, nor should they have than others. This struggle becomes most
ing away from perfectionism does not to live up to others’ expectations. Gifted notable in adolescents who want to be
mean lowering standards and that mak- children need opportunities to select and cool and fit in with others their same age.
ing mistakes is a valuable part of learning explore activities that bring them personal Peers may be cruel and unaccepting of
(Delisle, 2000; Hately, 200). The focus fulfillment without the fear that they may differences. Many children conclude that
shifts to the path taken, rather than the disappoint others. Caring adults should their giftedness somehow alienates them
result itself. Children must be taught how be available for guidance and encour- from others, so they often mask their
to balance schoolwork, play, and mean- agement, but ultimately they must allow talents. Gifted girls frequently hold this
ingful relationships in order to break the gifted children to develop goals on their perception and go underground when
cycle of defeat that perfectionism creates. own (Kaplan, 990). Teachers play an being popular becomes more important
Perfectionists need assistance in breaking important role in creating a supportive than being smart (Kerr, 997). This inter-
down tasks into small, attainable goals. learning environment, both directly and nal conflict may lead to a poor self-image
Adults can help by applauding persistence, indirectly. Smiling, sharing enthusiasm and bouts of depression.
rewarding efforts, and honoring time in- and encouraging words are only the be- Adolescence is a difficult time of ad-
vested in the task. By expecting progress ginning. A supportive learning environ- justment. During this period of develop-
and not perfection, adults convey courage ment must also include clear expectations, ment, adults must recognize emotional
and acknowledge learning. Also, knowing flexibility, constructive criticism, tangible changes that occur and show patience
that successful people keep working at rewards, and scheduled times for sharing with gifted adolescents. Gifted youth need
something even when their efforts are not and relaxing (Schmitz & Galbraith). encouragement and reassurance that it is
immediately rewarded promotes personal alright to excel at activities that their peers
growth and satisfaction (Nugent, 2000). A DYSSYNCHRONOUS DEVELOPMENT may not. Connecting with a peer who
reformed perfectionist recalls her success, has experienced similar circumstances
“It was when I stopped trying to do every- A third cause of depression among may help diminish feelings of isolation
thing right that I started doing things well” gifted youth results from dyssynchronous (Buescher, 989).
(Adderholdt & Goldberg, 999, p. 7). development. All children grow through
the same stages of development, but at EXISTENTIAL THINKING
SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS varying rates. Gifted youth often reach
intellectual maturity before emotional Because gifted children possess the
A common misconception in soci- and physical maturity, thus resulting in a ability to consider many complex issues
ety imparts that to whom much is given, distinct gap between mind and body, or and ask tough questions that should, but
much is expected in return. True or not, dyssynchrony (Delisle, 992). may not, have answers, they are more
many gifted children feel a special sense Several researchers have referred to likely to be affected by existential depres-
of responsibility to “live up to their poten- the uneven development of gifted indi- sion. Existential depression arises when
tial” (Freedman & Jensen, 999, p. 3). The viduals as dyssynchrony (Delisle, 992; an individual confronts the basic issues
burden to become change makers and the Hollingworth, 942; Kerr, 99; Terrassier, of existence such as death, freedom, and
pressure to solve tomorrow’s problems 985). Although this term is essentially justice, as well as limitations of time and
results in feelings of aimlessness and help- synonymous to asynchrony, dyssynchrony space (Little, 2002; Webb, Meckstroth, &
lessness in today’s children. This situation conveys negative, pathological overtones Tolan, 982). Gifted children tend to be
is further complicated by numerous career (Silverman, 993, 2002), therefore making more sensitive to the “big picture” and
options available to gifted youth because it the more appropriate term as a causal hold a passion for truth and fairness that
of their multiple abilities. An adolescent factor for depression. Terrassier (985) makes deceit and insensitivity unbear-
may have the talent and desire to become identifies two expressions of dyssyn- able at times. They become more aware
a successful mechanic, while the adults in chrony: internal and social. Within gifted of global events as they internalize the
his life push him to become a doctor or individuals, internal dyssynchrony occurs atrocities on the news depicting stories of
lawyer so he can “make a difference” in the as they experience varying rates of intel- famine, crime, terrorism, and pollution.
future. This constant push and pull of in- lectual, psychomotor, and affective devel- Yet, these children may not be emotionally
ternal versus external expectations drains opment. Social dyssynchrony involves a mature enough to process the information
energy and may lead to a great sense of mismatch between advanced cognitive productively (Walker, 99). This aware-
doubt and despair (Jackson, 998). development of gifted individuals when ness may lead gifted children to ask hard
Every person has the right to make placed in a social setting with age peers. questions such as, “Why do people say one
his or her life meaningful. One important Gifted children form expectations thing and do another? Why do people say
element in developing a positive self-con- and standards according to their mental things they don’t mean? Why are so many
cept emerges from the need to feel under- age, rather than their chronological age, people uncaring in the world? How much
stood and accepted by others (Schmitz & which may lead to feelings of guilt or difference can one person’s life make?
Galbraith, 985). Gifted children are first frustration when those goals are not met What is my purpose in life?” (Delisle,
and foremost children with distinct in- (Silverman, 993, 2002). The conflicting 992, p. 58). When gifted children share

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

these concerns, they are often met with (Dweck, 2000). They question the validity fessionals. In some cases, these tools are
reactions of puzzlement from those who of test scores, the observations of adults, not enough, and medical attention is also
are focusing on more concrete issues or and academic performances that do not required from a physician specializing in
who cannot offer adequate answers. They meet their levels of expectation. These chemical imbalances (Kerr & Milliones,
quickly discover that they cannot control gifted students may feel the need to prove 995).
or change the situation for the better. their worthiness with each new challenge
Then, they seek a sense of meaning and they face. Adolescents are particularly SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS
purpose in their existence as they become vulnerable to criticism, suggestions, and
more aware of how brief and finite life can emotional appeals from others. Insensitive While no empirical data support the
be in this large scary, world. The frustra- adults and jealous peers can perpetuate belief that gifted children are at higher
tion and isolation resulting from power- this imposter syndrome by setting unre- risks for depression and suicide than the
less anger may quickly transform into alistically high goals for achievement that total adolescent population, suicide at-
deep depression. If left unchecked, exis- cause unbearable levels of stress and anxi- tempts among youth have increased in
tential depression can lead to desperate ety for the gifted youth (Buescher, 989; recent decades (Neihart, Reis, Robinson,
attempts to belong to the world coupled Kaplan, 990). & Moon, 2002). Parents and teachers
with contemplations of suicide (Little; In helping gifted students develop a dealing with gifted adolescents who are
Webb, Meckstroth, & Tolan). realistic and accurate self-concept, it is at risk for severe depression or potential
Adults can assist gifted children essential to recognize and appreciate ef- suicide may need to seek professional
with this form of depression. Meaningful forts and improvement. Efforts are within help. Experts agree that those who are in
relationships break down the feelings of a student’s control, whereas the outcomes danger of committing suicide show many
isolation. Knowing that someone else has are not. Gifted children need to be shown danger signs in advance that should not
experienced similar questions helps one love and acceptance regardless of the out- be ignored (Adderholdt & Goldberg, 999;
feel less alone. Touch, another important come, so they feel cherished as a person, Gross 993; Jackson, 998; Kendrick, 200).
element of existence, shown through rather than for their achievements (Cohen Signals of impending suicide include the
daily hugs, pats on the shoulder, or high- & Frydenberg, 996). If a child thinks he following:
fives, helps establish a connection that or she must always do the best work pos- • sudden changes in personality or be-
builds bonds of trust. If the gifted child sible, there is little room for mistakes. havior;
is reluctant to share physical closeness, Adults may help by assisting them in set- • sudden changes in eating or sleeping
an adult may try saying, “I know that you ting priorities and deciding which tasks habits;
may not want a hug, but I could sure use require best efforts and which do not • engaging in high-risk behaviors such
one.” Another useful intervention is bib- (Kaplan, 990). Rather than reminding a as alcohol or other drug use;
liotherapy. Hébert (995) suggests that bi- child to “always do your best,” it is better to • lack of interest in or withdrawal from
ographies may be useful in assisting gifted reinforce that “less than perfection is more planned activities;
children in dealing with issues of under- than acceptable” (Delisle, 999, p. 3). • persistent boredom;
achievement, self-inflicted pressure, and • severe depression that lasts a week or
cultural alienation. Reading about people PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION longer;
who have struggled with their own gifts OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE • withdrawal from family and friends
along their life’s journey provides an op- (self-imposed isolation0;
portunity to eliminate feelings of isolation. In addition to developing quality gifted • inability to have fun;
Involvement in service projects, in which programs that address the unique social • concealed or direct suicide threats
a child actively gives of him- or herself to and emotional needs of gifted students, (often given to peers);
others, may also bring encouragement awareness of depression and suicide must • loss of interest in personal grooming;
and hope to those searching for a mean- also be addressed by parents and teach- • an illness that has no apparent cause;
ingful purpose in life (Little, 2002; Webb, ers. A child experiencing depression of • preoccupation with death and death-
Meckstroth, & Tolan, 982). any magnitude needs the intervention and related themes;
support of caring adults. Understanding • giving away prized possessions to
THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME and recognizing the causes of depression family and friends;
is the first step in helping a gifted child at • saying goodbye to family and
Talented youth often mirror perfec- risk (Nelson & Galas, 994). Open com- friends;
tionist tendencies because they question munication, wholesome relationships, and • difficulty concentrating;
the reality and validity of the gifts they positive coping strategies are all important • an unexplained decline in the quality
possess. Many gifted children are identi- ingredients in the healing process. Often, of schoolwork;
fied for placement in gifted programs at a regular exercise, proper diet, adequate • a recent suicide of a friend or relative;
young age. If they do not understand the sleep, and relaxation techniques help al- • a previous suicide attempt;
nature and significance of their gifted- leviate the effects of depression. However, • talking about suicide, either jokingly
ness, feelings of doubt and disbelief tend severe cases of depression may require the or seriously;
to surface as they grow into adolescence intervention of counselors or other pro- • running away from home, family,

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
school, etc.; and loss: The emotional lives of gifted Little, C. (2002). Depression and the gifted
• feelings of meaningless in life. children. Retrieved October 4, 2004, child. Understanding Our Gifted,
from http://www.kidsource.com/ 4(3), 2–4.
CONCLUSION kidsource/content4joy.loss.eq.gifted. Moser, A. (988). Don’t pop your cork on
html Mondays: The children’s anti-stress
Suicide is a tragic end to the beauti- Galbraith, J. (999). The gifted kids’ sur- book. Kansas City, MO: Landmark
ful gift of life, full of so many wonderful vival guide. Minneapolis, MN: Free Editions.
possibilities that ended too soon. With at Spirit. Neihart, M., Reis, S., Robinson, N. M., &
least 0 attempts (many unreported) for Galbraith, J. (2000). You know your child Moon, S. M. (2002). The social and
every  suicide committed, a great need is gifted when….Minneapolis, MN: emotional development of gifted chil-
appears for the implementation of suicide- Free Spirit. dren: What do we know?. Waco, TX:
prevention programs within junior high Gross, M. (993). Exceptionally gifted chil- Prufrock Press.
and high school mental health curricula. dren. London: Routledge.
Nelson, R. E., & Galas, J. (994). The power
Mentioning suicide in a health class as a Hately, S. (200). Perfectionism and
to prevent suicide: A guide for teens
part of a clinical discussion does not pro- the highly gifted child. Retrieved
helping teens. Minneapolis, MN: Free
mote its occurrence; rather, it promotes October 4, 2004, from http://www.
awareness (Delisle, 992, 2000). Raising hoagiesgifted.org/perfectionHG.htm
the question of suicide encourages a young Hébert, T. P. (995). Using biography to Nugent, S. A. (2000). Perfectionism: Its
person to talk about internal pain with a counsel gifted young men. Journal manifestations and classroom-based
caring adult and helps eliminate feelings of Secondary Gifted Education, 6, interventions. Journal of Secondary
of isolation. Many quality resources avail- 208–9. Gifted Education, , 25–2.
able today to educators and parents make Hipp, E. (985). Fighting invisible tigers: Romain, T., & Verdick, E. (2000).
ignoring this issue unfathomable. These A student guide to life in “the jungle.” Stress can really get on your nerves.
gifted children need to know that they Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
are society’s most wanted: deep within the Hollingworth, L. S. (942). Children above Schmitz, C. C., & Galbraith, J. (985).
depths of their doubt lies an “invincible 80 IQ Stanford-Binet: Origin and de- Managing the social and emotional
summer” of vibrant life (Delisle, 992, p. velopment. Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: needs of the gifted. Minneapolis, MN:
62). World Book. Free Spirit.
Jackson, S. (998). Bright star-black sky: Schuler, P. A. (999). Voices of perfection-
REFERENCES A phenomenological study of depres- ism: Perfectionistic gifted adolescents
sion as a window into the psyche of in a rural middle school. (ERIC
Adderholdt, M., & Goldberg, J. (999). the gifted adolescent. Roeper Review, Document Reproduction Service No.
Perfectionism: What’s bad about be- 20, 25–22. ED430352)
ing too good? Minneapolis, MN: Free Kaplan, L. S. (990). Helping gifted stu- Silverman, L. K. (2002). Asynchronous
Spirit. dents with stress management. (ERIC development. In M. Neihart, S. Reis,
Buescher, T. M. (989). A developmental Document Reproduction Service No. N. M. Robinson, & S. M. Moon,
study of adjustment among gifted ad- ED32493) (Eds), The social and emotional de-
olescents. In J. VanTassel-Baska & P. Kendrick, C. (200). Suicide awareness velopment of gifted children: What
Olszewski-Kubilius (Eds.), Patterns of quiz. Family Education. Retrieved do we know? (pp. 3–37). Waco, TX:
influence on gifted learners: The home, September 0, 2004, from http.// Prufrock Press.
the self, and the school (pp. 02–24). familyeducation.com/quiz/0,399,-
Silverman, L. K. (Ed.) (993). Counseling
New York: Teachers College Press. 5028.00.html.
the gifted and talented. Denver:
Cohen, L. M., & Frydenberg, E. (996). Kerr, B. A. (99). A handbook for counsel-
Coping for capable kids. Waco, TX: ing the gifted and talented. Alexandria,
Terrassier, J. C. (985). Dyssynchrony—
Prufrock Press. VA: American Association for
Delisle, J. R. (992). Guiding the social Counseling and Development. uneven development. In J. Freeman
and emotional development of gifted Kerr, B. (997). Smart girls: A new psy- (Ed.), The psychology of gifted children
youth. White Plains, NY: Longman. chology of girls, women and gifted- (pp. 265–274). New York: Wiley.
Delisle, J. R. (2000). Once upon a mind: ness (Rev. ed.). Scottsdale, AZ: Great Walker, S. Y. (99). The survival guide for
The stories and scholars of gifted Potential Press. parents of gifted kids. Minneapolis,
education. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/ Kerr, M. M., & Milliones, J. (995). MN: Free Spirit.
Thomson Learning. Suicide and suicidal behavior. In V. Webb, J. T., Meckstroth, E. A., & Tolan,
Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their B. Van Hasselt & M. Hersen, (Eds.), S. S. (982). Guiding the gifted child.
role in motivation, personality, and Handbook of adolescent psychopa- Columbus: Ohio Psychology Press.
development. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor thology: A guide to diagnosis and Winner, E. (996). Gifted children: Myth
& Francis. treatment (pp. 653–664). New York: versus realities. New York: Basic
Freedman, J., & Jensen, A. (999). Joy and Lexington Books. Books.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Book Reviews
Books for Children
Ruby’s Wish (ISBN: 0-88-3490-5)
tells the story of a young girl, Ruby, who
is determined to break with the family ex-
pectations of marriage. Set in rural China,
Ruby displays great talent and intelligence
and wants to attend university like the
boys in her family, rather being married.
Written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illus-
trated Sophie Blackall, Ruby’s Wish is the
true story of the author’s grandmother.
For more information, contact Chronicle
Books, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA
9405; http:// www.chroniclekids.com. Confusion experienced by many in determin-
ing if an individual is gifted or suffers from a men-
Not So True Stories and Unreasonable tal, behavioral, or emotional disorder is clarified
Rhymes (ISBN: 0-88-3773-4) takes the in the book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of
reader on a magical ride with vibrant il- Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD,
lustrations and rhymes far from ordinary. Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders (ISBN
Carin Berger uses eccentric characters 0-90707-67-7) by James T. Webb, Edward R.
who are larger than life, such as Rodeo Amend, Nadia E. Webb, Jean Goerss, Paul Bejan,
Rosy and Daddy-O, to create a world of and F. Richard Olenchak. Focusing on the impli-
adventure and whimsy. The cut paper il- cations of frequent misdiagnoses of gifted people,
lustrations in combination with the poems this book provides a wealth of information for the
engage the eyes, as well as the ears. For individual, parents, educators, and health care
more information, contact Chronicle professionals in determining a correct diagnosis
Books, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA and resulting treatments of gifted, talented, and
9405; http://www.chroniclekids.com. creative children and adults. Too many individu-
als suffer needlessly because of misdiagnosis and
Folk Wisdom of Mexico/Proverbios y dual diagnoses. The authors logically sequence the
dichos Mexicanos (ISBN: 0-88-4773-X) book to explain in understandable terms what is
is an introduction to Mexican proverbs meant by the term gifted and why so many gifted
in both Spanish and English. This book is individuals are misdiagnosed. The use of anec-
the perfect introduction to the laughter, dotes to support the literature and cited research
love, and faith prevalent in Mexican folk gives a face to the gifted and to those afflicted
culture. The proverbs can be used as a with mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders.
springboard for further writing or deeper The authors seek to create a new way of looking at
research into the Mexican culture. The behavioral, educational, and health care concerns
illustrations in woodblock print also help of gifted children and adults. For more informa-
to capture vividly the themes expressed. tion, contact Great Potential Press, P.O. Box 5057,
For more information, contact Chronicle Scottsdale, AZ 8526; (877) 954-4200, http://www.
Books, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA, giftedbooks.com.
9405; http://www.chroniclebooks.com. Reviewed by Anthony Grandinetti

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

What the Research Says about Gifted

Students With Behavior Disorders
Susan K. Johnsen
and Alexandra Shiu

n the past, society believed that “only symptoms or fears associated 2002; Metha & McWhirter, 997); three,
a thin line separated genius from with personal or school prob- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
madness” (Tannenbaum, 983, p. 4). lems. (Hartnett, Nelson, & Rinn, 2004; Moon,
Lombroso (89) supported this belief by (ii) The term includes schizophrenia. The Zentall, Grskovic, Hall, & Stormont, 200;
publishing “scientific” results suggesting term does not apply to children who Jarosewich & Stocking, 2003); and one,
that famous men had a disproportion- are socially maladjusted, unless it is learning disability (Shaywitz, Holahan,
ate number of emotional disturbances. determined that they have an emo- Fletcher, Freudenheim, Makuch, &
Attempting to dispel this belief, Terman tional disturbance. Shaywitz, 200). While most of the re-
and his colleagues (925) studied a sam- searchers made recommendations re-
ple of gifted students from elementary We examined articles published since garding interventions at the conclusion of
through adult years. He concluded that 994 in Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal their articles, only Adams (996) focused
gifted individuals excelled in both cogni- for the Education of the Gifted, Journal of on an intervention: a school’s response to
tive and psychological areas. Since these Secondary Gifted Education, and Roeper adolescent suicide.
early studies suffer from biased samples, Review. To be included, the article needed The majority of the sample included
many professionals still ask these ques- to be empirical and focus on gifted stu- students at the secondary level, with 8 au-
tions: Is there a higher incidence of dents with behavior disorders as defined thors including high school students and
behavior disorders among gifted and tal- in IDEA or on students who have a greater 9 examining middle school students. Only
ented students? Do they suffer from more likelihood of being described as having a 5 of the articles described characteristics
depression? Are they more successful in behavior disorder, such as gifted students of students with behavior disorders at
committing suicide? These questions will who are “emotionally intense” (Tucker & the elementary level (Cornell et al., 994;
be addressed in this review of the recent Hafenstein, 997) or who manifest atypi- Moon et al., 200; Sauders, 2003; Shaywitz
literature. cal behaviors such as creativity (Galluci, et al., 200; Tucker & Hafenstein, 997).
We defined behavior disorders or Middleton, & Kline, 999). International While no article included only girls, 7
emotional disturbance according to the studies and reviews of the research were studies did include only boys because they
Individuals with Disabilities Education not included. These selection criteria exhibited the behavior disorder or they
Act (IDEA) was used (§ 300.7 Child with identified 25 studies. were of interest to the researchers. Two
a Disability, Part 4). The vast majority of the studies de- of the articles surveyed graduate students
scribed the incidence and characteristics (Hartnett, Nelson, & Rinn, 2004; Rizza &
(i) The term [emotional disturbance] of gifted students with specific behavior Morrison, 2002) and their perceptions of
means a condition exhibiting one or disorders or disabilities. Seven of the stud- gifted students and those with behavior
more of the following characteristics ies examined general behavior disorders disorders.
over a long period of time and to a among gifted students (Cornell, Delcourt, Dominating the methods used to
marked degree that adversely affects Bland, Goldberg, & Oram, 994; Garland collect data were descriptive studies in
a child’s educational performance: & Zigler, 999; Gallucci, Middleton, & which groups of students were adminis-
(A) An inability to learn that can- Kline, 999a; Gallucci, Middleton, & tered tests and compared to one another
not be explained by intellectual, Kline, 999b; Rizza & Morrison, 2002; (n = 3). The next most frequent method
sensory, or health factors. Sauders, 2003; Tucker & Hafenstein, was case studies (n = 7), followed by psy-
(B) An inability to build or maintain 997); five, perfectionism (Orange, 997; chological autopsy (n = 2) and surveys (n
satisfactory interpersonal rela- Parker & Mills, 996; Roberts & Lovett, = 2). Psychological autopsy was used as
tionships with peers and teach- 994; Schuler, 2000; Siegle & Schuler, a research approach for studying gifted
ers. 2000); three, underachievement that students who commited suicide.
(C) Inappropriate types of behavior resulted in behavior problems (Hébert, Researchers did not report a higher
or feelings under normal cir- 200; Neumeister & Hébert, 2003; incidence of behavior disorders among
cumstances. Schultz, 2002); three, depression (Baker, gifted students and the general popula-
(D) A general pervasive mood of un- 995; Jackson, 998; Metha & McWhirter, tion (Cornell et al., 994). This similarity
happiness or depression. 997); three, suicide (Cross, Cook, & in incidence was true for those who were
(E) A tendency to develop physical Dixon, 996; Cross, Gust-Brey, & Ball, highly creative (Gallucci, Middleton, &

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
Kline, 999) and those who were more researchers found that academically than the general population. Contrary to
highly gifted (Shaywitz et al., 200). Even gifted students reported significantly the surveyed graduate students’ reports,
among gifted students with diagnoses of more irrational beliefs, higher levels of gifted students tend to exhibit fewer be-
depression, anxiety, and ADHD/ADD, self-oriented perfectionism, and larger havior problems and have more advanced
rates were comparable or lower than negative reactions to academic failure coping skills. As a whole, gifted students
the general population (Jarosewich & than nongifted students. They concluded are more perfectionistic, with girls ex-
Stocking, 2003). Gifted students did ex- that perfectionistic tendencies among hibiting more perfectionism than boys.
hibit fewer behavior problems (Gallucci, highly gifted students are internalized, This perfectionism also influences gifted
Middleton, & Kline, 999a) and more rather than socially prescribed. students’ reactions to failure, which is
advanced coping skills and judgment Perfectionism is one factor that may more intense than the normal popula-
(Garland & Zigler, 999). On the other influence underachievement (Schultz, tion. Underachievement, depression,
hand, gifted boys who were diagnosed 2002). Other factors include inappropri- and suicide are influenced by a complex
with ADHD seemed to have “more emo- ate curricular and counseling experi- set of factors. More research is needed
tional distress than is typical for gifted ences, interests other than school, family in the area of effective interventions.
children” (Moon et al., 200, p. 237). problems, negative peer and environmen- Researchers do recommend that gifted
The researchers did report that gradu- tal influences, and discipline (Hébert, students be provided a safe environment
ate students tended to stereotype extreme 200; Spiers, Neumeister & Hébert, 2003; where they can learn and grow (Cross,
characteristics, with gifted students Schultz, 2002). In the case of one col- Gust-Brey, & Ball, 2002).
viewed as having more positive charac- lege student, the authors suggested that
teristics than students with behavior dis- the underachieving student might profit Adams, C. M. (996). Adolescent sui-
orders, (Rizza & Morrison, 2002). In fact, from online courses, rather than a typical cide: One school’s response. Journal
Hartnett, Nelson, and Rinn (2004) found classroom setting. of Secondary Gifted Education, 2,
that a giftedness category influenced the In terms of depression, Baker (995) 40–47.
diagnosis of ADHD among graduate stu- did not find any significant differences of
dents who were majoring in counseling. depression and suicidal ideation among Adams describes to the school’s re-
These authors felt that gifted students may academically gifted, exceptionally gifted, sponse to the three suicides committed in
exhibit many behaviors similar to ADHD and average students. Those gifted stu- a span of approximately 3 months in the
children because they are bored in class, dents who do exhibit depression need a spring of 994. The school is located on
have high energy, and experience difficulty “haven” where they can express them- the campus of a university and is governed
paying attention, act without forethought, selves without judgment and have op- in large part by the university’s board of
experience problems on certain tasks, and portunities for healthy interactions with trustees. A task force was implemented
have difficulty following rules. Tucker and other gifted students (Jackson, 998). immediately after the end of the school
Hafenstein (997) reported that some of Suicide appears to be positively re- year in June by the university’s dean of
these negative behaviors were typical lated to the level of depression and past the College of Education with the follow-
of “overexcitabilities” and might lead to and recent stress (Metha & McWhirter, ing goals: assist in developing a screening
inappropriate diagnoses. Sauders (2003) 997). Substance abuse and life-changing procedure for psychological problems
found that, when a misbehaving student events were factors in predicting suicidal along with a prevention program, gather
was labeled as gifted, teachers’ percep- thoughts among gifted and nongifted information on the suicides and report re-
tions changed and the student exhibited students (Metha & McWhirter). Those sults, and host a conference for residential
more appropriate behavior. who do commit suicide generally mani- academies for gifted students. The school
Gifted students do appear to have fest depression, anger, mood swings, and decided on three strategies: hire a new
a higher rate of perfectionism than the confusion about the future; poor impulse coordinator of admissions to increase
normal population, with over 85% report- control along with substance abuse; rela- the applicant pool, follow up on teacher
ing characteristics (Orange, 997; Parker tional difficulties with self, family mem- recommendations regarding a students’
& Mills, 996; Schuler, 2000). More boys bers, and romantic interests; and isolation mental and/or emotional wellness, and
(64%) than girls (35%) were nonperfec- from people capable of dealing with irra- revise questions in the student interview
tionistic (Schuler, 2000). An equal num- tional logic (Cross, Cook, & Dixon, 996; to include questions about emotional,
ber of boys and girls (about 50%) were in Cross, Gust-Brey, & Ball, 2002). Adams social, and mental wellness. More mental
a continual state of anxiety over making (996) described a school’s response to health personnel were hired, counseling
a mistake (i.e., neurotic; Schuler, 2000). three suicides within 3 months. The was offered on-site and within walking
Girls were more likely to be healthy per- school revised admission criteria, hired distance, students were given informa-
fectionists as compared to boys (Parker more mental health personnel, and dis- tion cards that included various resource
& Mills, 996). Siegle and Schuler (2000) seminated information to faculty and stu- options, and postintervention sessions
found that perfectionism appeared to dents. Communication and intervention were held for the faculty. The following
increase among girls throughout middle are essential in preventing suicide (Cross, school year (994–995), two senior girls
school. Gust-Brey, & Ball). expressed concern to the administration
One quasi-experimental study exam- In summary, gifted students do not about their classmates dealing with the
ined gifted students’ reactions to scholas- exhibit a higher incidence of behavior dis- previous three suicides. Immediately, the
tic failure (Roberts & Lovett, 994). These orders, including depression and suicide, administration gathered nearly 30 coun-

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
selors and school personnel to be avail- Cornell, D. G., Delcourt, M. A. B., Bland, hospital where he was being treated for
able for any student in the auditorium L. C., Goldberg, M. D., & Oram, G. depression. Case 2 was a 6-year-old boy
after lunch. Before the scheduled date of (994). Low incidence of behavior who shot himself near the school on prom
the school’s crisis management workshop, problems among elementary school night. Case 3 was a 6-year-old boy who
another girl student from the junior class students in gifted programs. Journal was identified as being at-risk following
attempted suicide. Adams points out that for the Education of the Gifted, 8, the death of Case 2. Case 3 also hanged
addressing issues versus ignoring them is 4–9. himself outside of his former high school.
a healthier way to deal with a situation like The researchers used interviews and ar-
this, and conversations with faculty, staff, This study examined differences chival information to collect data on the
and students during the 995–996 school in behavior problems between gifted or victims. Commonalities between the vic-
year indicated more positive attitudes and regular students. This sample consisted of tims and the general adolescent suicide
open lines of communication. 675 gifted students and 322 regular stu- population included being adolescent
dents. The gifted students included 46.5% Caucasian boys; manifestation of depres-
Baker, J. A. (995). Depression and suicidal boys and 53.5% girls, with 60.7% White, sion, anger, mood swings, and confusion
ideation among academically gifted 26.8% African American, 7.7% Hispanic, about the future; poor impulse control
adolescents. Gifted Child Quarterly, and 4.7% other. The regular students in- along with substance abuse; relational
39, 28–223. cluded 45% boys and 54% girls, with 57.5% difficulties with selves, family members,
White, 36.6% African American students, and romantic interests; and isolation
Baker’s study selected a total of 46 0.9% Hispanic students, and 5% students from people capable of dealing with irra-
exceptionally gifted, gifted, and average from other backgrounds. In the fall of tional logic. The warning signs shared by
students from Midwestern communities their 2nd or 3rd grade year, the students all victims included behavior problems,
to examine the incidence of depression were administered the Iowa Test of Basic a period of escalation of problems, talk-
and suicidal ideation. The exceptionally Skills, Form J (Cornell et al., 992). The ing about suicide, changes in academic
gifted students (n = 32) were from the teachers completed the Teacher Report performance, constriction, and family
Northwestern Talent Search program Form (TRF; Achenbach & Edelbrock, histories of psychological problems.
and had scored over 900 on the Scholastic 986) along with the Child Behavior Dabrowski’s theory of giftedness was
Aptitude Test (SAT) when they were 3 Checklist. Data on family socioeconomic used as a theoretical construct for the
years old. This group of students were in status were assessed by the Hollingshead analysis of themes related to giftedness.
grades 9– and contained 56% boys and Education Scale (Hollingshead, 975), The authors concluded that the mani-
44% girl students, with 90% Caucasian, 3% but was only available for 422 gifted and festations of overexcitabilities among
Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 3% other. Forty-six 200 regular education students. The au- the three victims—expressing polarized,
students in grades 9– whose class rank thors found no significant differences of egocentric value systems; engaging in
placed them in the top 5% of their public behavior problems between gifted and group discussions of suicide as a solu-
high school class were selected for the sec- nongifted elementary students. tion; expressing behaviors consistent with
ond gifted group. The researchers added 2 Dabrowski’s Level II or Level III of Positive
students to the gifted group in grades 7–0 Cross, T. L., Cook, R. S., & Dixon, D. N. Disintegration; and attending a residen-
scoring above the 95th percentile on stan- (996). Psychological autopsies of tial school as a means of escape—were all
dardized tests. The norms of the instru- three academically talented adoles- commonalities related to their giftedness.
ments used allowed for the inclusion of cents who committed suicide. Journal Warning signs include atypical divergent
7–2 graders, making a total of 58 students of Secondary Gifted Education, 2, thinking, extreme emotionality, preoc-
for the second group of gifted students. 403–409. cupation with negative themes, excessive
This group included 29% boys and 7% introspection, and sensitivity. The authors
girls, with 95% Caucasian, 3% Asian, and The authors provide an overview of assert that “it is better to have a live en-
2% Hispanic students. Fifty-six students in the psychological autopsy as a research emy than a dead friend”(p. 408).
grades 9– were selected for the academi- method, information about the unique
cally average group based on being ranked characteristics involving the three sui- Cross, T. L., Gust-Brey, K., & Ball, P. B.
approximately the midpoint of their class. cides, factors that were consistent with (2002). A psychological autopsy of
This sample consisted of 55% boys and suicides among the general adolescent the suicide of an academically gifted
45% girls with 96% Caucasian, 2% African population, and themes and commonali- student: Researchers’ and parents’
American, and 2% Hispanic students. The ties among the cases that may be related perspectives. Gifted Child Quarterly,
Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale to giftedness. The three adolescent vic- 46, 247–259.
(RADS; Reynolds, 987) and the Suicidal tims attended a state-supported, residen-
Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ; Reynolds, tial Midwest high school for academically This study described the life of a
988) were administered in class or study talented th and 2th grade students in gifted 2-year-old college student who
hall. Findings included no significant dif- 994. Case  was a 5-year-old boy who committed suicide. The purpose was to
ferences of depression and suicidal ideation had been withdrawn from the high school discover the interaction of his psycho-
among academically gifted, exceptionally for disciplinary dismissal and commit- logical characteristics with the environ-
gifted, and average students. ted suicide by hanging at the psychiatric ment, significant life stages, and events.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
The identification of such factors might the CBCL ratings. The authors found that and judgment. The sample was also split
reduce the likelihood of suicide among the CBCL ratings of gifted children in into two groups using the median SAT
similar groups of individuals. The au- Louisiana and Connecticut and the rat- score to create a gifted and highly gifted
thors used the data-gathering methods of ings for nongifted students in Connecticut group to compare behavior problem
a psychological autopsy, which included were shown to be consistent with national scores. There was no evidence that highly
interviews with significant people in the norms. It was also found that both gifted gifted youth (as measured by aptitude
student’s life and archival information and nongifted groups demonstrated fewer scores) exhibited more emotional and be-
(medical records and school records) to behavioral problems. havioral problems than moderately gifted
assess a variety of factors including behav- or nongifted youth.
iors, feelings, thoughts, and relationships. Gallucci, N. T., Middleton, G., & Kline,
The authors concluded that parents need A. (999b). The independence of cre- Hartnett, D. N., Nelson, J. M., & Rinn,
immediate information about suicide and ative potential and behavior disor- A. N. (2004). Gifted or ADHD? The
that aberrant behavior should never be ders in gifted children. Gifted Child possibilities of misdiagnosis. Roeper
considered typical of a gifted individual. Quarterly, 43, 94–203. Review, 26, 73–76.
Professionals should provide safe envi-
ronments for gifted students to learn and This study examined whether gifted This study examined the similarities
grow. Communication and intervention students are more likely to have higher of gifted children and ADHD children.
are essential in preventing suicide. levels of creativity and behavioral prob- The authors surveyed 44 first-year gradu-
lems. The sample (n = 78) contained 26 ate students who were 20 to 36 years old.
Gallucci, N. T., Middleton, G., & Kline, boys and 8 girls ages 2–6 from a gifted In the sample were 35 women and 8 men.
A. (999a). Intellectually superior summer program in Louisiana along with Participants received a vignette about a
children and behavioral problems a comparison group of 8 boys and 6 girls hypothetical case study of a young boy
and competence. Roeper Review, 22, in Connecticut public schools. Student with ADHD and gifted characteristics
8–2. IQ scores on the WISC-III were greater with two response alternatives. After ran-
than 30. The Torrance Test of Creative domly splitting the sample in half, the re-
This study examined the question of Thinking (TTCT; Torrance, 990a) was searcher distributed the two forms, Form
whether gifted children are more likely to used to measure creative potential and A and B. On Form B, participants were
have higher levels of potential behavior the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; able to choose from an array of diagnos-
disorders as compared to students of av- Achenbach, 99) was used to measure tic alternatives. On Form A, participants
erage intelligence. For the gifted student behavior problems. Using chi square wrote their diagnoses. A chi-square analy-
sample, the authors recruited 26 boys and analyses, the authors found no significant sis indicated a significant main effect and
8 girls ages 2–6 in a residential summer difference between groups with the gifted suggested that the presence of a gifted-
enrichment program for gifted students sample subjects showing an absence of ness category can influence the diagnosis
in Louisiana. Ethnicity of this sample was behavior problems. of behavior typical of both giftedness and
74.4% Caucasian, 4.5% African American, ADHD. Of all the participants given Form
6.8% Asian American, 9.% Hispanic, and Garland, A. F., & Zigler, E. (999). A, no one suggested a diagnosis of either
4.5% other. To expand the socioeconomic Emotional and behavioral problems giftedness or giftedness and ADHD. The
diversity, a comparison gifted group of among highly intellectually gifted results indicated that counselor training
8 boys and 6 girls was recruited from youth. Roeper Review, 22, 4–44. programs do not adequately clarify the
Connecticut public schools. The com- differences between ADHD and gifted-
parison group consisted of students This study explored the relationship ness. The authors concluded that the
ages 2–5, with 76.5% Caucasian, 2.9% between giftedness and psychosocial gifted may act like ADHD children since
Hispanic, .8% African American, and problems. The sample consisted of 9 they are bored in class, have high energy,
8.8% Asian American. All gifted students students, ages 3–5, attending a sum- experience difficulty paying attention, act
had scores greater than 30 (n = 78) as de- mer program for intellectually gifted without forethought, experience problems
termined by intelligence quotients on the youth based on exceptional Scholastic on certain tasks, and have difficulty fol-
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- Achievement Test (SAT) scores. The eth- lowing rules. The danger in misdiagnosis
Third Edition (WISC-III; Wechsler, nic distribution consisted of 8% Anglo, is that the gifted students’ creativity can
99). Children with average IQs (n = 0% Asian American, 4% Hispanic, 3% be squelched.
62) comprised the nongifted group. The African American, and 2% other, with 68%
nongifted group (n = 62) ages 2–6 was boys and 32% girls. The Child Behavior Hébert, T. P. (200). “If I had a new note-
recruited from regular education classes Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 99) was book, I know things would change”:
in Connecticut schools and included 33 mailed to the parents of the students to Bright underachieving young men
boys and 29 girls. Parents of all students be used as a measure of behavioral dif- in urban classrooms. Gifted Child
completed the Child Behavior Checklist ficulties. The CBCL scores of the sample Quarterly, 45, 74–94.
(CBCL, Achenbach, 99). ANOVA analy- were compared to norms for youth from
ses showed no differences between the a similar age bracket. The authors found This study examines the lives of gifted
Louisiana and Connecticut gifted groups, that these extremely intellectually gifted males and how their urban life experi-
and these two groups were combined for youth exhibited advanced coping skills ences influence their underachievement.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Six boys in grades 0–2 were included in ported that 467 (27%) of the students had students with both ADHD and gifted-
this sample. Two were African American, been prescribed medication at the time ness were compared to two other groups:
 was Hispanic, and 3 were White. School of the summer program. Only 76 (4%) of 3 students with giftedness only and 3 stu-
administrators recommended these stu- the prescriptions addressed a psychoso- dents with ADHD only. All subjects were
dents based on achievement test results cial diagnosis. The authors found that the from the same Midwest school district
at or above the 85th percentile, but with most frequently reported diagnoses were and were 8–0 years old. Their identifica-
a GPA of 2.0 or lower. A qualitative re- ADHD/ADD, depression, and anxiety. tion as ADHD or gifted was determined
search design was used with a case study However, these incidence rates of social/ by the district as was their need for medi-
approach. Data were collected using emotional difficulties were comparable or cation. A variety of methods were used,
participant observation, ethnographic in- lower than general child and adolescent including collecting data with multiple
terviews, and document reviews. Factors norms. methods from multiple sources, con-
contributing to academic underachieve- ducting analyses at three different levels
ment include inappropriate curricular and Metha, A., & McWhirter, E. H. (997). (individual case, within-group, and cross-
counseling experiences, family problems, Suicide ideation, depression, and group), and using researchers with differ-
negative peer and environmental influ- stressful life events among gifted ad- ent theoretical perspectives. The authors
ences, and discipline problems. olescents. Journal for the Education found that ADHD is more likely to create
of the Gifted, 20, 284–304. peer relational problems and greater emo-
Jackson, P. S. (998). Bright star—black tional difficulties as compared to gifted-
sky. Roeper Review, 20, 25–22. The purpose of this study was to de- ness. High intelligence did not serve as a
termine if there is a difference between protective factor on social relationships in
Jackson conducted a qualitative study gifted and nongifted adolescents in terms young children. Being gifted and ADHD
examining the experiences of gifted de- of number and perceived stressfulness “seemed to increase emotional intensity
pressed adolescents. She interviewed 0 of life-changing events, depression, and and internal dysynchrony” and may cause
gifted adolescents ages 6–9 with cogni- suicide ideation. Seventy-two seventh “more emotional distress than is typical
tive IQ scores of 30 or above and who and eighth grade gifted (n = 34) and non- for gifted children” (p. 237).
were self-referred as having experience in gifted (n = 38) students in an inner-city
a depressive state and by staff members as school district were selected. The sample Neumeister, K. L. S., & Hébert, T. P. (2003).
emotionally intense. The self-referral group consisted of 30 boys (42%) and 42 girls Underachievement versus selective
indicated three or more symptoms listed (58%), with 43% White, 40% Hispanic, 8% achievement: Delving deeper and
in the Diagnostic Criteria for Depression Native American, 4% African American, discovering the difference. Journal
(DSM-IV). The length of the depressive 3% Asian American, and % other. The av- for the Education of the Gifted, 26,
state reported by each of the students erage age of the gifted sample was 3, and 22–238.
ranged from 2 weeks to 2 years. Using the average age of the nongifted sample
phenomenological research approach, was 4. Both groups were administered This qualitative research design
Jackson reported that gifted adolescents the Adolescent Life-Change Event Scale examined underachievement in a gifted
need a “haven” where they can express (Yeaworth, McNamee, & Pozehl, 980), university student. The subject was se-
themselves without judgment and educa- modified by Ferguson (98), and the Beck lected due to his demonstration of be-
tional programming, allowing for healthy Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, 978). haviors typical of underachievers, such as
interaction with other gifted students. Gifted students were found to experi- not purchasing textbooks, minimal class
ence fewer life-changing events. Suicide attendance, and sleeping through class.
Jarosewich, T., & Stocking, V. B. (2003). ideation was positively correlated with Sources of data included four in-depth
Medication and counseling histories the level of depression and past and recent interviews, observations, photographs,
of gifted students in a summer resi- stress. Drug or alcohol usage significantly and archival data. The data were managed
dential program. Journal of Secondary predicted suicidal thoughts among gifted through coding and identifying themes
Gifted Education, 4, 9–99. and nongifted students. and relationships across themes. The
authors found that Sam was self-directed
This study examined the incidence Moon, S. M., Zentall, S. S., Grskovic, J. and developmentally advanced. His self-
of psychological disorders, medication A., Hall, A., & Stormont, M. (200). regulated learning preference did not
requirements, and counseling histories Emotional and social characteristics conform to the educational system. The
of ,762 gifted students in grades 8– of boys with AD/HD and giftedness: authors recommended an online course
who were enrolled in the Duke University A comparative case study. Journal for students like Sam.
Talent Identification Program (TIP). The for the Education of the Gifted, 24,
sample students were –7 years of age, 207–247. Orange, C. (997). Gifted students and
with ,29 (67%) White, 325 (7%) Asian, 89 perfectionism. Roeper Review, 20,
(5%) African American, 85 (4%) Hispanic, This multiple case study examined 39–4.
0 (<%) Asian American, and 28 (6%) the emotional and social characteristics
other or not reported. In reviewing medi- of gifted boys with ADHD as compared The purpose of this study was to
cal information forms, the authors re- to nongifted boys with ADHD. Three refine the construct of perfectionism by

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
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administering the Perfectionism Quiz A comparison group included 48 sixth and students with emotional/behav-
to 09 students from 8 different high graders from a nationally gathered sample ioral disabilities. Roeper Review, 25,
schools attending an honors conference of students not identified as gifted. This 73–77.
in southwest Texas. The sample included second group contained 237 boys (56.7%)
56 boys and 200 girls with a mean age of and 8 girls (43.3%). The Multidimensional This article examined future teach-
6 years old. The ethnicity included 60% Perfectionism Scale (MPS; Frost, Marten, ers’ stereotypical perceptions of gifted
White, 30% Hispanic, and 0% African Lahart, & Rosenblate, 990) was used to students and students with emotional or
American. The Perfectionism Quiz has 30 measure perfectionism, and the Standard behavioral disorders (EBD). The sample
Likert-type items, and 89% of the students International Occupational Prestige Scale included 33 graduate and 59 undergradu-
scored in the top two categories, suggest- (Treiman, 977) was used to measure the ate students from teacher preparation
ing that perfectionism is a characteristic socioeconomic status (SES), of the subjects’ programs. In the graduate group were 27
prevalent in this sample. parents. The gifted students did have par- (29.3%) women and 9 (9.8%) men, with 82%
ents with higher SES but the effect size of Caucasian, 3% Hispanic/Latin, 9% other,
Parker, W. D., & Mills, C. J. (996). The this difference was only 2% when compar- and 6% missing data. In the undergradu-
incidence of perfectionism in gifted ing fathers’ SES and 3% when comparing ate group were 47 women and 2 men,
students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 40, mothers’ SES. Chi-square analyses were with 76% Caucasian, 2% Asian American/
94–99. computed by group and by gender. Healthy Pacific Islander, 7% Hispanic/Latin, and
and unhealthy perfectionism were found to 5% African American. Participants in this
This study examined whether per- be independent constructs. Girls were more study were asked to categorize character-
fectionism is a common characteristic of likely to be healthy perfectionists as com- istics and behaviors as associated with
gifted students as opposed to the general pared to boys, and boys were more likely to gifted, EBD, or gifted/EBD students. The
population. The sample included 600 be nonperfectionists. The researchers did sample “clearly exhibited stereotypical
academically talented students from a na- not find a statistically significant difference thinking” when categorizing the most ex-
tionally gathered sample of sixth graders in the frequency of perfectionism between treme characteristics in the survey. Gifted
who were part of a longitudinal study con- the gifted and nongifted. students were viewed more positively and
ducted by the Institute for the Academic EBD students were seen as having the
Advancement of Youth at Johns Hopkins Rizza, M. G., & Morrison, W. F. (2002). most negative characteristics. The authors
University. There were 399 boys (66.5%) Uncovering stereotypes and identify- warned of the risk of misdiagnosis or a
and 20 girls (33.5%) in the gifted group. ing characteristics of gifted students self-fulfilling prophecy if students’ oppo-

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
sitional behaviors are viewed with nega- may not be as prepared to deal with it. Self- tionism in gifted rural middle school
tive prejudice and stereotypical thinking. expectations may become problematic students enrolled in accelerated math, sci-
Preservice teacher programs may need to when demanding perfectionistic levels of ence, and English courses. The Goals and
better address issues of students who are success for themselves and may be setting Work Habits Survey (Schuler, 994) and
both gifted and EBD. themselves up for a “dysfunctional, nega- an adaptation of the Multidimensional
tive emotional response if those levels of Perfectionism Scale (Frost et al., 990)
Roberts, S. M., & Lovett, S. B. (994). success are not achieved” (p. 254). were administered to 66 gifted girls and
Examining the “F” in gifted: 46 gifted boys in grades 7–8 (n = 2). Of
Academically gifted adolescents’ Sauders, C. L. (2003). Case study: A gifted the gifted sample, 2.5% was non-perfec-
physiological and affective responses child at risk. Journal of Secondary tionists and 87.5% (n = 98) was perfec-
to scholastic failure. Journal for the Gifted Education, 4, 00–06. tionistic, with 29.5% (n = 33) of this group
Education of the Gifted, 7, 24–259. being perfectionistic at the neurotic level.
Jason was an 8 year old who was re- A cluster analysis of the scores from the
This study investigated whether ferred for psychological evaluation by his Goals and Work Habits Survey indicated
gifted children were subject to perfec- grandparents due to  documented inci- differences in both gender and perfection-
tionism and irrational beliefs and if they dents of misbehavior at school, including istic characteristics. More boys (64%) than
were prone to more negative reactions to pushing, hitting, kicking, and carrying a girls (35%) were in the nonperfectionistic
an experimentally induced failure. The pocketknife to school. His family life was cluster, while more girls (68%) than boys
sample included 60 junior high students stressful, with his father being incarcer- (32%) were in the normal perfectionis-
from a predominately White, middle-to ated, his mother commuting from work an tic cluster. The neurotic student cluster
upper-middle–class school district. The hour each day, and his stepfather recently contained almost equal numbers of boys
students were split into three categories, diagnosed with a tumor on his leg. The (48% or n = 6) and girls (5% or n=7).
academically gifted, academic achiev- counseling psychologist collected infor- These students were in a continual state
ers, and nongifted, based on the school’s mation using school records, interviews, of anxiety over making a mistake. Normal
placement. Each of the three groups con- diagnostic questionnaires with family perfectionists had a main theme of order
sisted of 0 boys (50%) and 0 girls (50%) in members, and instruments including the and organization along with striving
seventh and eighth grade. The nongifted WISC-III, the Wide Range Achievement for their personal best. Twenty students
students were selected at random in the Test–Third Edition (WRAT-3; Wilkinson, were then selected for the multiple-case
general student population. The instru- 993), and The Conners Rating Scales for study. Semi-structured interviews and
ments used included the Common Belief Hyperactivity (Conners, 989a, 989b). The detailed explanations of responses to
Inventory for Students (CBIS; Hooper results of the study were that Jason was al- the Goals and Work Habits survey were
& Layne, 983), the Multidimensional ready underachieving at age 8. His scores conducted with the students. In addition,
Perfectionism Scale (MPS; Hewitt & Flett, on the WISC-III indicated above-average teachers, counselors, and parents of the
99), School Failure Tolerance Scale (SFT; intelligence, but below-average processing 20 students completed the Empowering
Clifford, 988), a Current Affect Measure speed. Although Jason exhibited some be- Gifted Behavior Scale (Jenkins-Friedman,
designed by the researchers, and an ef- haviors similar to children with ADHD, Bransky, & Murphy, 986). Fifteen stu-
fort expenditure scale. The students were tests did not indicate the presence of the dents (75%) reported that at least one of
administered the CBIS, the MPS, and disorder; rather, Jason “could be diag- their parents had perfectionistic tenden-
the SFTS in a group setting. Then, they nosed as having an adjustment disorder cies. The author points out that since many
were seen individually and given difficult with mixed emotional features” (p. 04). of these gifted perfectionists are model
anagrams to complete. Baseline tempera- Also, Jason showed signs of anxiety and students, many educators and parents are
tures and a current affect measure were depression, “which can further interfere surprised when the stress of perfection-
taken before and after the intervention. with learning, mental effort, and social ism drives students to harmful behavior
The results from ANOVA indicated that functioning” (p. 05). The school district such as suicide or eating disorders.
academically gifted students reported sig- later placed Jason in a gifted program,
nificantly more irrational beliefs, higher Jason’s stepfather resumed full-time work, Schultz, R. A. (2002). Illuminating reali-
levels of self-oriented perfectionism, and and he was attending summer enrichment ties: A phenomenological view from
larger negative reactions to academic fail- classes. His family felt that the evaluation two underachieving gifted learners.
ure than the other two groups. This group influenced a more positive perception of Roeper Review, 24, 203–22.
also experienced a significantly greater Jason, which in turn caused more appro-
decrease in positive affect and greater priate behavior. This study used a phenomenological
increase in negative affect after the in- approach to gain insight about under-
duced failure, along with a larger physi- Schuler, P. A. (2000). Perfectionism achievement among gifted students. The
ological response. The authors concluded and gifted adolescents. Journal of focus was on two 0th-grade students,
that the perfectionistic tendencies of the Secondary Gifted Education, , one boy and one girl. A case study de-
highly gifted were internalized rather 83–96. sign was used. Data sources included
than socially prescribed. These students classroom observations, interviews, and
have higher self-expectations, do not view This study was a multiple case re- archival documents. Kate had an exten-
failure as an option, and therefore may or search design used to examine perfec- sive network of friends at school that con-

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners
tributed to her self-esteem and was more Highly gifted boys did show levels of be- onstrating characteristics described by
interested in staying in a comfort zone havior problems similar to the learning Dabrowski. The researchers collected data
and fitting in with her peers than excel- disabled. from classroom observations, IQ tests (ei-
ling academically. Shawn “prided himself ther the Stanford Binet or the Wechsler
on having the correct answers” and would Siegle, D., & Schuler, P. A. (2000). Intelligence Scale for Children),an
not be likely to participate in a situation Perfectionism differences in gifted achievement test (usually the Kaufman
where he felt he was not in control, such as middle school students. Roeper Review, Test of Educational Achievement), an
a class discussion or an oral quiz (p. 209). 23, 39–44. Individual Educational Plan (IEP) written
The fear of failure and high expectations for the child by the classroom teacher, and
for his performance sometimes caused The purpose of this study was to teacher interviews. Data were coded us-
anxiety. Shawn did feel underchallenged explore perfection differences of gifted ing the themes from Dabrowski’s theory.
in his classes and thought that it was ac- young adolescent students among differ- If a behavior characteristic was exhibited
ceptable to slack off if he could keep good ent grade levels, gender, and birth order in three out of the five data sources, the
grades. Another interesting insight from positions. In the sample were 39 gifted authors concluded that the child had a
this student was that he knew how to work students in grades 6 (n = 54; 39.3%), 7 (n pattern of behavior characteristic of that
the system: sit all day in school, not learn = 35; 34.5%), and 8 (n = 99; 25.3%), with overexcitability. All 5 children were found
anything, but still get good grades. 3 (0.8%) not indicating their grade level. to exhibit these three overexcitabilities:
A variety of SES levels were represented intellectual, imaginational, and emotional.
Shaywitz, S. E., Holahan, J. M., Fletcher, among the 223 girls (57%) and 64 (42%) Only 2 children exhibited psychomotor
J. M., Freudenheim, D. A., Makuch, boys, with 4 students (0.%) who did not and sensual overexcitability behaviors.
R. W., & Shaywitz, B. A. (200). indicate their gender. There were 89 first- Intellectual overexcitability can manifest
Heterogeneity within the gifted: born or only children (48.3%), 59 middle itself by curiosity, asking “Why?” along
Higher IQ boys exhibit behaviors children (5.%), and 37 last-born chil- with theoretical thinking. Imaginational
resembling boys with learning dis- dren (35%). Six children did not indicate overexcitability can be characterized by
abilities. Gifted Child Quarterly, 45, birth order. The Goals and Work Habits daydreaming, animistic and imaginative
6–23. Survey (Schuler, 994), adapted from the thinking, and fantasy play. Emotional
Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale overexcitability can be manifested in
This study compared behavioral, cog- (Frost et al., 990), was used to measure timidity and shyness, fear and anxiety,
nitive, attentional, and family history di- factors affecting perfectionism. The find- difficulty adjusting to new environments,
mensions among four groups of boys cat- ings indicated an increase in girl perfec- intensity of feeling, and a concern for oth-
egorized by intelligence and/or learning tionism throughout middle school and ers. Psychomotor overexcitability can be
disability (LD). In the sample were 87 boys that boys reported higher parental expec- evidenced by a surplus of energy, marked
in grades 4–7. The four groups included tations. First-born adolescents reported enthusiasm, and rapid speech. Sensual
8 highly gifted boys (IQ 40–54; 20.7%), the highest levels of parental criticism. The overexcitability is manifested in the ex-
7 low gifted boys (IQ 24–39; 9.5%), authors found that adolescent concerns of treme appreciation of sensual pleasures.
26 boys with LD (29.9%), and a normal organization and personal standards were The authors pointed out that these behav-
control group of 26 boys who were not more problematic as compared to concern iors must be viewed first through the lens
identified as gifted or having a learning over mistakes and parental criticism. of Dabrowski’s theory before concluding
disability (29.9%). Each boy was admin- that children have ADHD or other neu-
istered the WISC-R and the Woodcock- Tucker, B., & Hafenstein, N. L. (997). rotic or behavior problems.
Johnson Psychoeducational Battery, Psychological intensities in young
Part II–Reading, Math, and Written gifted children. Gifted Child REFERENCES
Language. The teachers completed the Quarterly, 4, 66–75.
Abbreviated Conners Teacher Rating Lombroso, C. (89). The men of genius.
Scale (ACTRS; Conners & Barkley, 984), The purpose of this study was to doc- London: Robert Scott.
and the students’ parents completed the ument the manifestations of Dabrowski’s Tannenbaum, A. (983). Gifted children:
Yale Children’s Inventory (YCI; Shaywitz, overexcitabilites (psychomotor, sensual, Psychological and educational per-
Holahan, Marchione, Sadler, & Shaywitz, intellectual, imaginational, and emo- spectives. New York: Macmillan.
992). Using a MANOVA, the authors tional) in young gifted children. The Terman, L. M. (925). Genetic studies of
reported that both highly gifted and low sample included 5 young children ages genius, Vol. : Mental and physical
gifted groups did not differ significantly 4–6. Two children were girls and 3 were traits of a thousand gifted children.
when compared to the normal group in boys. They were nominated by early child- Stanford, CA: Stanford University
either behavioral or cognitive domains. hood teachers on the basis of their dem- Press.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

(Continued from Page ) ing him, and he has blamed himself for comments, illuminates how the Gifted
of change here, the fact that during this ineffective communication. Identity Formation Model (Mahoney,
session he has been able to come to this I helped the client explore significant 998) can be applied in therapy with
level of awareness—that he does not have feelings of loneliness and isolation early in gifted individuals—in this case, with
to change himself to be acceptable for af- the session, using open-ended questions an emphasis on social affiliation. The
filiation—means that I can automatically and comments to encourage expression transcript (unabridged), comments, and
assume that the potential is there for him and examination of feelings. As a result, subsequent discussion help to clarify
to integrate and continue this growth. The the client was able to acknowledge that therapeutic strategies for addressing
fact that he has been able to come to this few people can relate to him easily, a real- loneliness and isolation in gifted individ-
point so quickly may in some ways be de- ity he has attempted to deny in the past. uals. The presentation also demonstrates
ceiving. With the gifted client, the change In addition, through examining his need how the model can help counselors and
might be somewhat more deceiving than for affiliation and the feelings that result therapists who work with gifted clients
with an average-range client. In actuality, from his lack of connection, he is finally to acknowledge the impact of giftedness
the gifted client may be able to integrate able to affirm his differentness, essentially on problems with social affiliation and
this change as rapidly as it appears to have validating himself as a gifted person. to explore gifted identity development
been integrated in this session. For an av- Ironically, by embracing his differentness, in terms of various constructs, such as
erage-range client, a counselor would have the client feels “released” and optimistic. affiliation. When highly able individuals
to be concerned that the change occurring In his future relationships, he will likely are able to embrace their giftedness, they
in this session would not be thoroughly be able to be more authentic and conse- have increased potential for authentic
integrated so immediately.) quently more affiliated. communication and satisfying, mean-
A. Now that you’re acknowledging I was faithful to basic counsel- ingful relationships. Therapists who have
this or are more aware of this dynamic ing tenets in my work with this highly awareness and understanding of gifted-
process that you’ve been involved in, why gifted individual. The focus was on client ness and gifted identity development can
aren’t you falling back right at this mo- strengths, not limitations. I reflected the help gifted clients struggling with lone-
ment into your feelings of abandonment client’s feelings, thereby validating them liness and isolation to gain insight into
and isolation and helplessness that you as real and important. I also paid atten- their struggle and ultimately experience
were expressing at the beginning? tion to the positive movement the client more meaningful social affiliation.
J. Because I’ve realized that I don’t was already experiencing. I respectfully
need those things, and I don’t need to be and collaboratively helped the client to REFERENCES
hugging those things into me like some become no longer “stuck” in an ineffec-
evil teddy bear. Those feelings are just tive and unsatisfying pattern of behavior. Cohn, S. J., & Kerr, B. A. (200). Smart
things I’m creating to hurt myself. They’re Most important, I recognized the high boys. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential
not real things that serve any purpose. ability of the client and encouraged his Press, Inc.
They’re just me undermining myself and self-direction. Mahoney, A. S. (998). In search of the
hurting myself. Now that I realize what Also important to note is the appli- gifted identity: From abstract concept
I’ve been using them for, I have no desire cation of fundamental concepts related to workable counseling constructs.
to feel them any more, and therefore I to the Gifted Identity Formation Model Roeper Review, 20, 222–226.
don’t. (Mahoney, 998). Recognizing the cross- Webb, J. T., Meckstroth, E. A., & Tolan,
matrix intersection of the construct “af- S. S. (982). Guiding the gifted
DISCUSSION filiation” and the system “social” in the child. Columbus: Ohio Psychology
client’s frustrations and intense feelings Publishing.
Until now, the client’s identity as surrounding social contact helped me to
a gifted individual has been affected by maintain focus on these two elements Portions of this article will appear in
feelings of isolation and loneliness in his as they relate to gifted identity. I did not Mahoney, A., Martin, D., & Martin, M.
social context. He has sought out people need to identify these, per se, in the ses- (in press). Gifted Identity Formation: A
who are unable to communicate with him sion. However, the sustained attention to therapeutic model for counseling gifted
easily, fundamentally denying his gifted these areas, including the feelings related children and adolescents. In S. Mendaglio
identity. He has then attempted to adjust to them, moved the client to being able to & J.S. Peterson (Eds), Models of counseling
his behavior to fit their expectations, embrace an identity that includes being the gifted. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
“hiding” himself in order to be accepted gifted. The client’s integration of his new
and understood and focusing on others’ awareness into his sense of self will likely
needs, while ignoring his own. However, help him to relate authentically to others
his inauthentic behavior, unreal self, and and find the affiliation he craves.
the accompanying superficial level of
communication has left him feeling lim- CONCLUSION
ited, unconfident, lonely, unsatisfied, dis-
appointed, unworthy, and disconnected. The presentation of a transcripted
He has blamed others for not understand- session, with accompanying therapist

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners


Jennifer L. Jolly, Ph.D.

he commonly held view at the turn of the 20th century during my fifth- and sixth-grade years without trampling on
characterized gifted children as peculiar, frail, and my creative streak or imagination. In a self-contained gifted
mentally unstable. Due in large part to the pioneer- and talented classroom, Mrs. Wade and my fellow classmates
ing research of Lewis M. Terman and Leta S. Hollingworth constantly challenged me. During my own years as a public
,such myths were dispelled. Still, Terman’s work led educators school teacher and later as graduate student and university in-
to assume falsely that gifted children were so well adjusted structor, the 2 years I spent with Mrs. Wade vividly remained
that social and emotional issues were relatively non-existent. in my memory as an example of what an environment for gifted
Hollingworth, however, cautioned that gifted children, espe- and talented students should be both intellectually and socially.
cially those who were highly gifted, faced special issues with Thank you, Mrs. Wade, and to the other teachers like her!
socialization and emotional development.
At the turn of the 2st century, gifted children are as well
adjusted as any other group. Social and emotional issues occur
when academic and intellectual needs and/or individual per-
sonalities are ill matched with the educational environment.
Issues include, but are not limited to, asynchronous develop-
ment, dyssynchronous development, perfectionism, and under-
achievement. Strategies and models can be implemented to help
prevent these behaviors or help those students cope if problems
already exist. Robinson, Reis, Neihart, and Moon (2002) offered
several ways in which parents, teachers, and counselors can
work together to provide educational and emotional support
systems for gifted children. These include offering a qualita-
tively differentiated education, training those who work with
and parent gifted children, recogniting the variance among
gifted children, helping the gifted develop coping mechanisms
in the face of challenges both intellectually and emotionally,
offering support systems from early childhood through college,
and advocating on behalf of gifted children.
As you’ve made your way to the end of this issue of Tempo,
you’ve probably noticed that the journal has undergone some-
thing of a transformation. We’ve worked hard over the past few
months to make changes to the design and format without los-
ing the quality of articles relevant to practitioners, researchers,
and parents. There are several changes still to come. I encourage
teachers, graduate students, researchers, parents, and gifted and
talented students to submit articles. Your contributions con-
tinue Tempo’s service to and advocacy for gifted and talented
children. Along with the changes to the format and design, the
editor of Tempo has also changed.
As I write my first column as the new editor of Tempo, I
am reminded of why I entered the field of gifted education. As
a product of public education, I had one teacher, Mrs. Betty
Wade, who managed to maintain a level of rigor and challenge

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners

Guidelines for Article Submissions

Tempo welcomes manuscripts from 4. In addition to a title page, a cover page Fall 2005
educators, parents, and other advocates of must be attached that includes the CONFERENCE ISSUE
gifted education. Tempo is a juried publication, author’s name, title, school and program “Marvels of the Mind”
and manuscripts are evaluated by members of affiliation, home and work address, Deadline: August , 2005
the editorial board and/or other reviewers. email address, phone numbers, and fax
number. Winter 2006
Please keep the following in mind when 5. Place tables, figures, illustrations, Advocacy for the Gifted: Education and
submitting manuscripts: and photographs on separate pages. Legal Issues
Illustrations must be in black ink on Deadline: November , 2005
. Manuscripts should be 5–2 pages on an white paper. Photographs must be glossy
upcoming topic: prints, either black and white or color, or Spring 2006
2. References should follow the APA style transparencies. Each should have a title. Service/Delivery Models for Gifted Services
as outlined in the fifth edition of the 6. Authors of accepted manuscripts must Deadline: February , 2006
Publication Manual of the American transfer copyright to Tempo, which holds
Psychological Association. copyright to all articles and reviews. Jennifer L. Jolly, Ph.D. Tempo Editor
3. Submit two copies of your typed, 2 pt. TAGT
font, double-spaced manuscript. Use Upcoming Issues: 406 E. th St
a  ½" margin on all sides. One copy Summer 2005 Suite 30
of the manuscript must be submitted Measurement and Testing Austin, TX 7870-267
electronically to the editor. Deadline: May , 2005 jenniferjolly@mac.com

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented

Membership Application
See www.txgifted.org for additional information
Mailing Address________________________________________City________________________________State____________Zip__________________
Business/School District_________________________________ School________________________________________________ESC Region_________
Telephone (home) ________ / ____________ (work) ________ / _____________ Fax __________ / _______________
Email address:_________________________________________________


❏ Teacher ❏ Administrator/Coordinator ❏ Business/Community Member ❏ Counselor ❏ Parent ❏ School Board Member ❏ Student

______ BASIC MEMBER $35

BENEFITS: • TAGT Newsletter (online) • Perodic Email Updates • Reduced Fees at All Conferences
______ FULL MEMBER $55
RECEIVES BASIC BENEFITS, PLUS: • Tempo Quarterly Journal • Access to Members-only Section of Web site • Insights Annual Directory of Scholarships and Awards (available online or mailed upon
request) • TAGT Pin with Annual Conference Attendance
______ SCHOOL MEMBER $100
RECEIVES FULL BENEFITS, PLUS: • Two additional copies of Tempo and Insights, • Electronic overview Presentation of TAGT Scholarships and Awards (School must designate a primary contact
person as the member to receive these benefits on behalf of the institution)
RECEIVES FULL BENEFITS, PLUS: • Web link Posted to TAGT Web site • Preferential Marketing Opportunities throughout the Year

In addition to your regular Membership, you are invited to join a TAGT Division for a small additional fee.
______ G/T Coordinators Division $10 ______ Dual Language Multicultural Division $10
BENEFITS: •Networking Opportunities Bi-annual Newsletters • Division Membership Directory

DOLLARS FOR SCHOLARS: Make a tax-deductible contribution to the TAGT Scholarship Program!
___Friend ($5-24) ____Patron ($25-99) ____Benefactor ($100 or more)

TEXAS LEGACY ENDOWMENT: Support gifted learning needs for years to come!
____Tutor ($50-99) ____Mentor ($100-499) ____Scholar ($500-999) ____Master ($1,000-4,999) ____Professor ($5,000-9,999) ____Savant ($10,000+) ____Other Amount ($_____________)

PARENT AFFILIATE GROUP MEMBERSHIP: ______Please contact me with more information on this group.

$_________ TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED ❏ Check/money Order #______________ **Prices vald through 12/31/04
*No purchase orders accepted. No refunds*
Signature:__________________________________________________________ *By applying for membership, you hereby authorize TAGT to inform you periodically via fax, email, or mail of news, updates, or other notices related
to gifted education that TAGT dems pertinent to its Mission.
Card Card Payments: ❏ Visa ❏ Master Card ❏ Discover ❏ American Express
Card Number _______________________________________________________________________________________ Exp. Date __________________
Card Holder Name ____________________________________________________________ Signature _________________________________________
Cardholder Address ___________________________________________________________ City ______________________ State _______ Zip________

Return form and dues to: Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, P. O. Box 200338, Houston, TX 77216-0338.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders in Gifted Learners


TAGT Executive Board Positions
Elections will be held in Summer 2005 to fill openings for Regional Director and Officer positions on the TAGT 2006 Executive Board.
Individuals elected to the Board will take office in November 2005.

Regional Director Positions to be Filled: Regions I, III, V, VII, IX, XI, XIII, XV, XVII, XIX
Requirements for Regional Director Positions: Current TAGT membership; must reside in the region where a vacancy exists.
Officer Positions to be Filled: President-Elect, First Vice-President, Third Vice-President
Requirements for Officer Positions: Current TAGT membership; served at least one year on the Executive Board or on a TAGT
Standing Committee; a Texas resident.

To be considered for nomination to the TAGT Executive Board, please complete the information below and return by May 1,
2005 to: TAGT Elections Committee, 406 East 11th Street, Suite 310, Austin, TX 78701-2617.

Name: __________________________________________________ Phone: _______________________________

Address: __________________________________________ City: _________________________ Zip: __________

Fax: _______________________ E-Mail: __________________________________________ Region: _________

I. Position for Which You Wish to be Considered: _______________________________________________

II. Previous and/or Current TAGT Service (if applicable):

Officer on the TAGT Executive Board: _________________________________________________________

Name of Office Dates of Service

Regional Director on the TAGT Executive Board: _________________________________________________

Name of Office Dates of Service

TAGT Standing Committee: __________________________________________________________________

Name of Committee Dates of Service

III. Current Position and Affiliation: _____________________________________________________________

(district/campus, university, business, parent, etc.)

IV. Formal Education:

Degree(s) Special Certificates/Endorsements Credentialing Institutions



V. List five current or past activities, jobs, offices, etc. (professional or volunteer) which you believe will
contribute to your success in carrying out the obligations of the position for which you wish to be


VI. On a separate sheet of paper, provide a statement of 50 words or less indicating what you hope to
accomplish, should you be elected to the TAGT Executive Board. Your statement, or a portion of it, will
appear in the June/July issue of the TAGT Newsletter.

VII. Attach a brief resume or curriculum vita (not to exceed two typewritten pages.)

VIII. Attach a photograph of yourself, preferably wallet-sized.

(956) 984-6237
(817)428-2269 EDITORIAL BOARD
(281) 578-2710
4003 Sand Terrace
Region I ESC
1900 West Schunior
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1020 Timber View Dr. TEMPO EDITOR
Katy, TX 77450
Edinburg, TX 78541
Bedford, TX 76021-3330
(512) 300-2220 ext. 202
(361) 362-6000, ext. 223 (254) 501-2625 406 East 11th St., Suite 310
RAYMOND F. “RICK” PETERS A.C. Jones High School
(817) 283-3729 1902 N. Adams
Killeen ISD Austin, TX 78701-2617
902 Rev. RA Ambercrombie Dr.
2104 Shady Brook Dr. Beeville, TX 78102 Killeen, TX 76543 jenniferjolly1@mac.com
Bedford, TX 76201 khumes@beevilleisd.esc2.net
r.f.peters@ieee.org jan.fall@killeenisd.org
Yoakum ISD (512) 464-5023 BOARD MEMBERS
SHERI PLYBON P.O. Box 797 Round Rock ISD
(972) 758-1384 Yoakum, TX 77995 1311 Round Rock Ave.
2205 Parkhaven Dr. alexs@yoakumisd.net Round Rock, TX 78681 KAREN FITZGERALD
Plano, TX 75075 Michelle_Swain@roundrockisd.org (713) 365-4820
(281) 332-2259 XIV DR. CECELIA BOSWELL 10670 Hammerly
SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT Clear Creek ISD (254) 893-2628
Houston, TX 77043
2136 Lakewind Lane P. O. Box 316
PATTI STAPLES League City, TX 77573 De Leon, TX 76444 kmfitzgerald@academicplanet.com
(903) 737-7543 cboswell@tarleton.edu
Paris ISD laura@texasmackays.org
1920 Clarksville Street
Paris, TX 75460 V MARIBETH MORRIS (936) 931-2182
pstaples@parisisd.net (409) 951-1722 (325) 896-2479
ESC Region V Grammardog.com Windswept Ranch, TWHBEA
2295 Delaware P.O. Box 299 13227 FM 362
THIRD VICE-PRESIDENT Beaumont, TX 77703 Christoval, TX 76935
Waller, TX 77484
JOANNA BALESON morris@esc5.net fifi@grammardog.com
(281) 474-7904 tforeste@tomballisd.net
P. O. Box 792
Seabrook, TX 77586-3306 (936) 588-0509 (806) 274-2014 DR. JOYCE E. KYLE MILLER
Montgomery ISD Borger ISD (972)613-7591
juce@hal-pc.org 14 Adobe Creek Trail
1404 Woodhaven Dr. 2600 Motley Drive
Montgomery, TX 77316 Borger, TX 79007
paula.coleman@borgerisd.net Mesquite, Texas 75150
DR. KEITH YOST joyce_miller@tamu-commerce.edu
Spring Branch ISD (903) 984-7347 (806) 766-2088
10670 Hammerly Longview ISD 4906 Strass Dr.
Houston, TX 77043 7508 Albany
2801 Chandler St.
yostk@springbranchisd.com Lubbock, TX 79424 Austin, TX 78731
Kilgore, TX 75662 claireking@cox.net
jamesjstokes@msn.com gryser@teachnet.edb.utexas.edu
JUDY BRIDGES (903) 737-7400 (432) 561-4349
(432) 689-1420 Paris ISD ESC 18 (830) 792-7266
Midland ISD/Carver Center 2811 LaForce Blvd Schreiner University
2400 Jefferson Rd.
1300 E. Wall P. O. Box 60580
Paris, TX 75460 2100 Memorial Blvd.
Midland, TX 79701 Midland, TX 79711
jbridges@esc18.net llynch@esc18.net Kerrville, TX 78028
IX CHESTA OWENS mlseay@schreiner.edu
(940) 696-1411
JENNIFER L. JOLLY Wichita Falls ISD (915) 434-0548
(512) 300-2220 ext. 202 4102 Ruskin (806) 935-4031
9600 Sims Dr.
TAGT Wichita Falls, TX 76309 El Paso, TX 79925 Dumas ISD
406 East 11th St., Suite 310 cowens@sw.rr.com smaxsom@yisd.net
Austin, TX 78701-2617 PO Box 715
jenniferjolly1@mac.com X ANN STUDDARD XX JOSE LAGUNA Dumas, TX 79029
(469) 633-6839 terrie.turner@tomballisd.net
(210) 637-5684
7159 Hickory 7703 Rohrdanz
Frisco, TX 75034
(512) 499-8248 jlaguna@satx.rr.com
406 East 11th St., Suite 310
Austin, TX 78701-2617

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