Sunday, December 29, 2013

Giftedness Across a Lifespan

Gifted individuals go through the stages of life in many of the same ways as others. Their development has parallels with those in the bell curve but there is some uniqueness in terms of the level of development in each stage. Their expectations and capacities are higher which leads them to unique perspectives. A fundamental component of this is whether they have spent their lives in acceptance of giftedness or in denial of their special talents. A paper in the journal Advanced Development by Ellen Fiedler describes this groups life’s transitions. 

 It is first beneficial to define giftedness.  The Columbus Group defines it as, “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advance cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.”  Because they see the world different they have spent time criticized for their mannerisms and perspectives and may have buried their talents. 

As an example, a gifted person by the name of Karolyn Kottmeyer (2007) describes her life experience as, “I know too much. I remember too much. I learn too quickly. I make people uncomfortable. And it is hard to hide these things. I try. But it is also hard to spend your life hiding…”.  It is seen as a prison and a mask whereby one’s true feelings, true identity, and true abilities are buried under everyone else’s needs.

For those who accept their traits the path is one of greater awareness and understanding of why they are different. They move through stages much like a seeker, explorer, navigator, actualizer and cruiser. This represents their ability to understand themselves and the world. 

Young Adulthood (18-35): The search for people like them who can provide companionship and friendship. They try and find a career that matches their abilities. It is difficult because their speed of thought and complexity of understand create difficulties with others. 

Middle Adult (35-65):  Generative personalities that seek to connect the big picture on what things will make the biggest difference. 

            35-50: Authenticity, do more, concern with the nature of the world, and blending of the past with the present.  Moving onto the road of self-actualization. 

            50-65: Introspective and taking care of themselves without all the previous obligations. 

Late Adult (65-Death): Advanced multi-level development whereby the individual matches their ideas with their lives. They are fully capable, creative, and fully utilized in skill. They make things happen and have little concern for other’s criticisms. 

The primary difference is their level of development that reaches beyond most others. Throughout their lives, they will maintain their curiosity, need for constant stimulation, and drive to do things. However, each stage offers greater insight into themselves. At this advanced age, some get involved in politics while others may find ways of influencing the environment. With acceptance and perseverance, this group can accomplish and contribute to the world in ways others cannot realize. 

Fiedler, E. (2012). You don’t outgrow it! Giftedness across the lifespan. Advanced Development, 13

Kottmeyer, C. (2007). Optimum intelligence: My experience as a too-gifted adult. Advanced Development, 11, 125-129.

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