Intellectually gifted is not the same as “really smart.” This is something I wish I knew earlier. Honestly, I thought I was only problematic and not gifted. I thought I was not “smart enough” to be considered as such. However, the result of my IQ test years ago had proven that I was, in fact, gifted.

Intellectually Gifted

An intellectually gifted child is defined as “a child whose intellectual abilities, creativity, and potential for achievement are so outstanding that the child’s needs exceed differentiated general education programming, adversely affects educational performance, and requires specifically designed instruction or support services.”

IQ scores may fall according to the following range:

115-129: Mildly gifted

130-144: Moderately gifted

145-159: Highly gifted

160-179: Exceptionally gifted

180+: Profoundly gifted

Take note though that the American Mensa generally considers scores above 115 as “High IQ” and those above 130-132 as “Highly gifted.”

Intellectually Gifted Characteristics

Another way I came to terms with being intellectually gifted was the problems I encountered are typical for those who are in the said range.

The following are some key characteristics of gifted children:

1. Asynchronous development. The mind is often ahead of physical development while specific cognitive, emotional, and social functions are also at different stages of development. It is important for gifted children to receive intervention so that emotional and social functions may normalize to at least the physical age. This asynchronous development makes normal life more difficult for intellectually gifted children, i.e. to think at a level of a 22-year-old but to look at the body and realize it is 16.

2. Feeling different.Intellectually gifted children do not understand their same-aged peers and may opt to talk to older people. However, they may also feel out of place because they’re physically much younger than the adults.

3. Being misunderstood. Due to their capabilities, they have the tendency to stand up and speak to adults. This can be misinterpreted as arrogance or disrespect. Their ideas may also not be considered as much as their older peers.

4. Unique social and emotional issues. Examples are unrealistic expectations, being very self-critical due to perfectionism, and not understanding same-aged peers. Intellectually gifted children are also emotionally intense, making them appear highly sensitive.

  • Hyper-focusing.Since intellectually gifted children are over-excitable, they can hyper-focus on a certain skill/subject when they are interested. However, as I personally experienced, this can lead to burnout.
  • Demotivation.A skill or a subject may no longer be challenging or interesting. They may find it easy and stop aiming for excellence. A good way to prevent this is to have another outlet such as competitions to redirect their energies.
  • Emotional Breakdowns.Due to emotional intensity, an intellectually gifted child is actually more susceptible to being affected by negative emotions.
  • Cognitively rigid.Intellectually gifted children have a hard time switching between mindsets, i.e. being frustrated because of having to put away the unfinished science project because the next subject is starting.

Physical versus Online Classes

As a child’s IQ veers from the average 100, the more specialized the education has to be. Below are some of my experiences as a gifted child in a normally-paced school with classmates in the same physical-age-group:

1. Pacing

  • Face-to-Face: I find the classroom pacing too slow. There are times, as well, that I feel we do not cover the topics thoroughly in class.
  • Online: Since I learn at my own pace, I have more free time to spend after classes to pursue my own interests (e.g., music, poetry, drawing, etc).

2. Exposure to peers

  • Face-to-Face: I have to deal with people of the same age and learn to work with them. Being a high-performing student, I am usually put in the leadership position so I also had to learn how to be a good leader.
  • Online: Communication with classmates are needed for group work. However, I notice that some correspondences can be faster/slower online.

3. Learning Style

  • Face-to-Face: I can keep up with class even when I am out for extracurriculars because I am capable of self-studying. I do not always prefer self-studying but it helps me when I feel that it was taking too much time as it allows me to use my time productively. I can find the usual discussions/lectures slow.
  • Online: Pros of online class outweigh the cons in terms of achieving my academic goals. However, some classes like SLGE (Social Studies) are more fun in the classroom.

Ways to Help Gifted Children

Like any person, gifted children also have different learning styles and different experiences. A giftedness subtype is “twice-exceptional” wherein a person is gifted and has a learning disability.  For example, Tom Cruise is a gifted actor who has dyslexia.

1. Provide the required intervention. This includes being supportive of their interests and intervening with any issues that may hinder them from integrating into society as adults. With proper intervention, asynchronous development can even out as gifted children age. Intervention also includes allowing the gifted child to struggle. This means challenging them intellectually, and/or having to socialize/attend normal classes even when they don’t want to.

2. Make the household and conversation safe. This includes making a safe environment for the gifted child to grow into their gifts and informing them of what being gifted might entail. For parents, I suggest preparing to help a child with their likely social and emotional issues. As for any child, the upbringing is important.

Although these children can seem to “have it easy,” special needs are special needs, and I personally believe that this topic does not get spoken about enough. I am not in any way a licensed psychologist but I do have first-hand experience which is why I thought of sharing this with you.

If you would like to learn more about intellectual giftedness and/or giftedness in general, there are many sources on the internet today.


American Mensa. (n.d.). Interpret your supervised test score. Retrieved from

Bainbridge, C. (2019, November 27). How to Identify a Gifted Child. Retrieved from

Science Daily. (n.d.). Intellectual giftedness. Retrieved from

TN Department of Education. (n.d.). Intellectually Gifted. Retrieved from

Walling, S. (2018, August 6). Raising Gifted Kids? Some Strategies You Should Know. Retrieved from


Gwyn Tangog is an incoming International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP. She has represented the Philippines in math competitions in China, Vietnam, and Singapore, to name a few, and she is the first Filipino to pass the Suken Pre-first Kyu (Grade 12) Japanese certification exam. This summer, she is offering online tutorials for mathematics. For more details, please contact her through e-mail: [email protected] or FB/Messenger: Gwyn Tangog.

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