Giftedness – TENDENCIES: Summary from the literature. A point of the situation. What the most recent research tells us.

Giovanni Galli
Psychologist, educational Psychologist, specialized in giftedness

Taken from:
Alto Potenziale e dintorni.
Quaderni su giftedness, talento, alto potenziale cognitivo, plusdotazione:
Numero 1, in press, 2019, Locarno, zetapiesse-apc

Note: In Italian there is no WISC-V test. The reference is WISC-IV.

  1. The higher the FSIQ, more is the heterogeneity between the various indexes.
  2. Two big groups can be hypothesised:
    • The one characterized by a harmonious and synchronous evolution of all areas of development (intellectual area, socio-emotional development, psychomotor development), 
    • The one characterized by a heterochronous evolution in the various areas of development, we therefore have different profiles in different neuro: ADHDs, learning disabilities, Asperger’s.
    • These two groups can be highlighted with a full evaluation, not limited to the FSIQ only.
  3. Heterogeneity of FSIQ tends to be the norm and not the exception in the gifted population (Orsini). Cut off 2sd (standard deviation), ≥ 130 FSIQ. 
  4. With 130 FSIQ points the great majority of subjects present a great heterogeneity, the interpretation of the total FSIQ is not possible.
  5. Some subtests are more relevant in the assessment of talent. Knowledge of the factors loaded by the subtests improves the examiner’s ability to identify specific strengths and diagnose subtle weaknesses.
  6. In gifted subjects, the highest value in the WISC is the VCI index, the lowest is the PSI index. The least successful subtest is the “cipher”.
  7. In the WISC test, approximately 70% have a profile of VCI>PRI>WMI>PSI. (my data follows this trend, see Galli G., Differenze Inter individuali E differenze Inter individuale alla prova WISC-IV di 30 Giovani Gifted
  8. GAI>CPI is constant, denoting the discrepancy between intellectual potential and instrumental values.
  9. In gifted subjects, GAI is the higher value. The GAI is the best index of potential.
  10. GAI values are more stable, CPI values are much more variable.
  11. According to the CHC model we will have a prevalence of “fluid intelligence” values over “crystallized intelligence” and “short-term memory” values.
  12. The more disharmonious the profile, the greater the probability of a neuropsychological disorder, or of a neurodiversity (the greater the disharmony, the greater the frequency of “twice (double exceptionality)”). A heterogeneous profile is a sign of possible disorders.
  13. Discrepancies significant to the FSIQ reflect heterogeneous development patterns associated with an increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems.
  14. Behavioural and emotional problems can be the result of internal dissynchronies (differentiated developmental rhythms) and/or of external dissynchronies (distance between needs and growth needs and environmental supply).
  15. Adaptive difficulties can also occur in gifted children with a homogeneous profile.
  16. In the WISC test, when we have significantly higher PRI>VCI values, we can expect expressive and/or social difficulties.
  17. The discrepancy that appears on the instrumental values (ICC) must be investigated with other neuropsychological instruments. The WISC alone is not sufficient to precisely determine the nature and the entity of the instrumental competences.
  18. In terms of neuro-motor sense maturity (Vaivre Douret), there are various early developments in the acquisition of motor skills, in the early disappearance of primitive reflexes, on the Brunet-Lezine scale.
  19. It is important to consider not only the statistical aspects, but also the clinical ones. See the analysis of differences.
  20. Liratni M., Pry R. (2012), indicate 87% of uninterpretable FSIQs (with a threshold of 23 points) in the gifted population.
  21. Silverman suggests that when the discrepancy between VCI and PRI exceeds 22 points (1.5 GAI standard deviations NOT interpretable) both VCI and PRI are independently appropriate for the selection of gifted programs.
  22. Orsini and Pezzuti (2016), indicate that the threshold of non-iterpretability of the FSIQ to be considered is statistically 40 points. 
  23. It is therefore up to the clinician to weigh which percentage of rarity of a profile he wants to choose in order to define this threshold (the higher the percentage, the lower the threshold).
  24. The widening of the threshold of the gifted definition (from ≥130 to ≥120), involves a substantial change in the “typical” descriptive characteristics, or usual to the reference group. With ≥ 130 we have 2.28% of the population, with ≥ 120 we have 9% of the population. With ≥ 115 we have 15%. The statistical (numerical) lowering of the threshold leads to a greater presence of homogeneous profiles, an increase in the g-factor, as well as the significantly lower presence of related problems.

Note: The reference threshold for the gifted definition is aligned with the 2SD definition (FSIQ ≥ 130).

Giftedness and ADHD

  1. Similar symptoms are:
    • inattention (inattention errors, bad listening, distractibility)
    • hyper activity
    • impulsiveness
  2. Misdiagnosis, too many gifted not detected but diagnosed ADHD; whereas gifted detected but not diagnosed ADHD.

Giftedness and learning disabilities

  1. Gifted children with dyslexia can mask literacy problems, such as masking the role of possible compensation mechanisms.
  2. The result indicate that phonology is a risk factor for dyslexic gifted children; these compensate with lexical skills, vocabulary, instead fall into RAN (rapid automatized naming).
  3. Pay attention to PSI and WMI.

Giftedness and Asperger’s

1) The gifted + Asperger’s diagnosis can be indicated (will be indicated) when there are socio adaptive difficulties.
For example, the Asperger’s diagnosis may indicate lower values in the sub-scale “socialization”, “communication”, “daily skills” in the Vineland test.
2) Anxiety traits at the two groups are revealed to CBCL, RCMAS-2.
3) Atypical sensory processing is reported, with lack of reactivity (hypo-sensitivity) or hyper-reactivity (hyperesthesia). These elaborations do not depend on the FSIQ level.
4) Explosive emotional reactions are a clinical sign of Asperger’s.

Giftedness and other associated conditions.

  1. There are various disorders that can be associated. The scientific literature on this subject is not unanimous. One strand associates disorders, another does not.
  2. In general, indications are given, indications related to a higher statistical frequency (gifted group > witness group):
    • Depression
    • Self-esteem
    • Anxiety
  3. A significant discrepancy in the FSIQ reflects a heterogeneous developmental model, associated with an increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems.
  4. In the light of the contradictory data, the pathological danger can/should be considered, but moderately, and however verified with the appropriate tools, if necessary.
  5. Other syndromes are also described: 
    • PASS (Prolonged Adaptive Stress Syndrome)
    • Pygmalion
    • Under achievement
    • Intellectual inhibition
    • Impostor syndrome
  6. The research on this subject is mainly carried out in the USA. Cultural differences?
  7. The research suffers from a statistical defect. They can only refer to the declared gifted, i.e. generally those that have turned to a service.

Internalizing or externalizing reactions?Self-esteem deficits can lead to reactions on various registers:
– on the personal register: with negative self-evaluation and with inhibition, with sadness, somatization, depression;
– on the operative register: with a lack of initiative, decision, motivation, with discouragement and inhibition of action;
– on the relational register: with aggression and violence, or with influence, marginalization, victimhood.

As a momentary synthesis

Giftedness, or high intellectual potential, is a cognitive profile that crosses the whole axis of norm-pathology. 
Giftedness groups together different profiles, often disharmonious. Giftedness is not a disease, it is not a symptom, it is not a disorder. Giftedness is often accompanied by other conditions.

These conditions deal with difficulties of the order:

  • ADHD (attention and concentration, with or without disruptive behaviour),
  • Learning disabilities (instrumental aspects),
  • Asperger’s (social, communicative, hypersensitive)
  • anxiety – self-esteem.

The relationship with knowledge implies the possibility of using their qualities for the benefit or to the detriment of their relationships; their knowledge, the peculiarities of their language, the discrepancies in development, speed, intuition of thought, hypersensitivity, etc., make it difficult to relate with peers, prompting the young gifted to address adults and/or to distance himself from relationships.

Bibliographic references:

  • Amend E., e all., A Unique Challenge: Sorting Out the Differences Between Giftedness and Asperger’s Disorder, Gifted Child Today, SAGE, 2009, Vol. 32, No. 4
  • Antshel K. M., e al. . (2007). Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a valid diagnosis in the presence of high IQ? Results from the MGH Longitudinal Family Studies of ADHD, J. Child Psychol. Psychiatry 48, 687–694.
  • Berninger V. W., Abbott R.D., Differences between Children with Dyslexia Who Are and Are Not Gifted in Verbal Reasoning, Gift Child Q. 2013 Oct; 57(4)
  • Bessou A., Montlahuc C., Louis J., Fourneret P., Revol O. (2005), Profil psychométrique de 245 enfants intellectuellement précoces au WISC-III,Approche Neuropsychol. Apprentissages Enfant 17, 23–28.
  • Boschi A., e all., From High Intellectual Potential to Asperger Syndrome: Evidence for Differences and a Fundamental Overlap. A Systematic Review, Front Psychol. 2016; 7: 1605.
  • Chiang H.-M., Tsai L. Y., Cheung Y. K., Brown A., Li H. (2014), A meta-analysis of differences in IQ profiles between individuals with Asperger’s disorder and high-functioning autism, Autism Dev. Disord. 44, 1577–1596.
  • Corbin L., Camos V., Dissociation mémoire de travail-vitesse de traitement chez les enfants intellectuellement précoces au travers de deux études de cas,Enfance, 2012/4 (N° 4), p. 373-387.
  • Dare L., Twice-Exceptionality: Parents’ Perspectives on 2e Identification, Roeper Review, Volume 37, 2015 – Issue 4
  • Doobay A. F., Foley-Nicpon M., Ali S. R., Assouline S. G. (2014), Cognitive, adaptive, and psychosocial differences between high ability youth with and without autism spectrum disorder, J. Autism Dev. Disord. 44, 2026–2040. 
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  • Guénolé F., Louis J., Creveuil C., Baleyte J.-M., Montlahuc C., Fourneret P., et al. (2013a), Behavioral profiles of clinically referred children with intellectual giftedness, Biomed. Res. 
  • Guignard J.-H., Jacquet A.-Y., Lubart T. I. (2012), Perfectionism and anxiety: a paradox in intellectual giftedness?, PLoS ONE, 2012; 7(7)
  • Guignard J.-H., Zenasni F. F. (2004), Les caractéristiques émotionnelles des enfants à haut potentiel, Psychol. Française 49, 305-319.
  • IDA, Gifted and Dyslexic: Identifying and Instructing the Twice Exceptional Student Fact Sheet
  • von Hahn E., When diagnosing ADHD, consider possibility of giftedness in some children, APP News, 23, 7, 2012
  • Huber D. H. (2008), Clinical Presentation of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Intellectually Gifted Students, Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest Information & Learning, US.
  • Jambaqué I. (2004), Contribution de la neuropsychologie développementale à l’étude des sujets à haut potentiel: une revue de questions, Psychol. Française 49, 267-276.
  • Katusic M. Z., e all, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children With High IQ: Results from a Population-Based Study, J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2011 FEB-MAR; 32(2): 103–109.
  • Koyama T., Tachimori H., Osada H., Takeda T., Kurita H. (2007), Cognitive and symptom profiles in Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism, Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 61, 99–104.
  • Lareng-Armitage J., Trouble déficitaire de l’attention: diagnostique différentiel et comorbidité en référence à la surdouance intellectuelle, Entretiens de Psychomotricité – Bichat 2009
  • Liratni M., Pry R. (2011), Enfants à haut potentiel intellectuel: psychopathologie, socialisation et comportements adaptatifs, Neuropsychiatr. Enfance Adolesc. 59, 327–335. 
  • Liratni M., Pry R. (2012), Profils psychométriques de 60 enfants à haut potentiel au WISC IV, Prat. Psychol. 18, 63–74.
  • Lohman D. F., Gambrell J., Lakin J. (2008), The commonality of extreme discrepancies in the ability profiles of academically gifted students, Psychol. Sci. 50, 269–282.
  • Lovecky D. V. (2003), Different Minds: Gifted Children with AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Mann Kiefer C.,Hauts potentiels et Troubles Spécifiques des Apprentissages : étude de la présence de TSA auprès d’une population de collégiens à hauts potentiels, memoire, UNIVERSITE DE STRASBOURG, FACULTE DE MEDECINE, CENTRE DE FORMATION UNIVERSITAIRE EN ORTHOPHONIE , 2015 
  • Mullet D., Rinn A., Giftedness and ADHD: Identification, Misdiagnosis, and Dual DiagnosisRoeper Review , vol. 37, 4, 2015
  • Neihart M. (2000). Gifted children with Asperger’s syndrom, Gifted Child Q. 44, 222–230. 
  • Neuhaus C., TDAH: sans hyperactivité – Le «petit reveur»,Medice, Salmon Pharma GmbH, 
  • Noterdaeme M., Wriedt E., Höhne C. (2010), Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism: Language, motor and cognitive profiles, Eur.Child Adolesc. Psychiatry 19, 475–481.
  • Orsini A., Pezzuti L., L’interpretazione clinica della WISC-IV alla luce della taratura italiana, Giunti Os, Firenze 2016
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  • Romand M., Weismann Arcache C., Haut potentiel intellectuel et syndrome d’Asperger: à la rencontre des nouveaux spectres, L’Évolution Psychiatrique, Volume 83, Issue 1, January–March 2018, Pages 194-202,
  • Rommelse N., e all., An evidenced-based perspective on the validity of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the context of high intelligenceNeurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Dec;71:21-47
  • Simoes-Loureiro I., Lefebvre L., Vaivre-Douret L. (2013). Contribution of intellectual, psychological, developmental and socio-econimic data to highlight specific profiles of highly gifted children, in Intellectual Quotient: The role of Genetics and the Environment and Social Outcomes, ed Joseph C. K., editor. (New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.), 169–183.
  • Skeide M., e all, Learning to read alters cortico-subcortical cross-talk in the visual system of illiterates, Science Advances,  24 May 2017, Vol. 3, no. 5
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  • Thongseiratch TWorachotekamjorn J,Impact of the DSM-V Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Criteria for Diagnosing Children With High IQ, Psychol Rep. 2016 Oct;119(2):365-73.
  • Tordjman S., Enfants surdoués en difficulté : de l’hyperactivité avec déficit attentionnel à la dépression et l’échec scolaire, Rev. Med. Suisse 2006; volume 2.
  • Vagni D., 2E – Cosa significa? L´eredità del ghepardo…,
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Other references in relation to anxiety disorders, self-esteem, depression:

  • AAVV, Lien entre dépression et estime de soi scolaire chez les enfants intellectuellement précoces, 2007 L’Encéphale. Published by Elsevier Masson, 
  • Addor N., Adolescents surdoués. Une étude exploratoire de l’anxiété, la dépression et l’échec scolaire, Mémoire de Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées en Psychologie Clinique, Université de Genève, 2002,
  • Acevedo B. P., e all., The highly sensitive brain: an fMRI study of sensory processing sensitivity and response to others’ emotions, Brain Behav., 2014 Jul; 4(4): 580–594.
  • Catheline-Antipoff N., Poinso F., 1994, Gifted children and dysharmonious development, Service de pédopsychiatrie, hôpital Sainte-Marguerite, Marseille, France, Archives de Pediatrie : Organe Officiel de la Societe Francaise de Pediatrie, 1, 11, 1034-1039
  • Fletcher K., Speirs Neumeister K., Research on perfectionism and achievement motivation: Implications for gifted students, Psychology in the Schools 49(7), 668-677, 2012
  • Goetzad T., Preckelb F., Zeidnerc M., Schleyerc E., 2008, Big fish in big ponds: A multilevel analysis of test anxiety and achievement in special gifted classes, Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal – Volume 21, Issue 2, pp. 185-198
  • Goubet C., L’impact du contexte familial et du contexte scolaire sur l’estime de soi des enfants à haut potentiel.
  • Guénolé, F., Louis, J., Creveuil, C., Montlahuc, C., Baleyte, J. M., Fourneret, P., & Revol, O. (2013), Étude transversale de l’anxiété trait dans un groupe de 111 enfants intellectuellement surdoués, L’Encéphale, 39(4), 278-283.
  • Guignard, J. H., Jacquet, A. Y., & Lubart, T. I. (2012), Perfectionism and anxiety: a paradox in intellectual giftedness?, PloS one, 7(7), e41043.
  • Jackson S., Peterson J., Depressive Disorder in Highly Gifted Adolescents,The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 2004 14(3) 175–186.
  • Harrison, G. E., & Van Haneghan, J. P. (2011), The gifted and the shadow of the night: Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities and their correlation to insomnia, death anxiety, and fear of the unknown, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 34(4), 669-697.
  • Lamont R.T., 2012, The Fears and Anxieties of Gifted Learners: Tips for Parents and Educators, Gifted Child Today, 35, 4, 271-276
  • Morin P., Estime de Soi et sudouement, PMSEIn60,
  • Norman, A. D., Ramsay, S. G., Martray, C. R., & Roberts, J. L. (1999), Relationship between levels of giftedness and psychosocial adjustment, Roeper Review, 22(1), 5-9.
  • Osborne M.S., Kenny D.T., Development and validation of a music performance anxiety inventory for gifted adolescent musicians, J. Anxiety Disord., 2005;19(7):725-51.
  • Padilla A.L.,L’estime de soi chez les enfants à haut potentiel intellectuel,Mémoire de recherche Master 1, 2009, Université de Provence
  • Pufal‐Struzik, I. (1999), Selfactualization and other personality dimensions as predictors of mental health of intellectually gifted students, Roeper Review, 22(1), 44-47.
  • Shechtman, Z., & Silektor, A. (2012), Social competencies and difficulties of gifted children compared to nongifted peers, Roeper Review, 34(1), 63-72.
  • Zeidner M., Schleyer E.J., 1999, Test Anxiety in intellectually gifted school students,
    in Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal – Volume 12, Issue 2, 163-189
  • Zeidner, M., & Shani-Zinovich, I. (2011), Do academically gifted and nongifted students differ on the Big-Five and adaptive status? Some recent data and conclusions, Personality and Individual Differences, 51(5), 566-570.