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Some Issues on Unrecognised Gifts

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Hello, I have serial questions which are interconnected.

What are the symptoms of the severe under-challenge for an exceptionally gifted person (19 years old, who never had any acceleration because "staying with age mates is better." nor supporting family environment)?

What may be the solution(s) to continue study even after two successive dropouts?

It is possible to an exceptionally or profoundly gifted to have growing bad schools results and to become year after year unable to give an answer to questions as: "How make 23 18 - 2?" without difficulties? If not, how to manage the myths that such a person should excel even in tasks which are less complex than what she's usually managing?

How to proceed when the imagination and the intuition are so prolific that it becomes impossible to interpret and respond well at basic questions as: "What do you do?" or, more disabling, "Where this force F can apply itself ?"?

How are the learning disabilities the more severely disabling for such young person? Can you give me an explanation about high-functioning autism or/and Asperger when this is correlated with a exceptionally or profoundly gifted person?

Can you give me an explanation about exceptionally or profoundly gifted people who are feeling stranger and unhappy so strongly that they completely leave the desire to learn (until feeling adequate again?)?

Is it frequent that such a person becomes to think that she's finally profoundly stupid?

Then, ultimate question: Where can I have information about the exceptionally or profoundly people who are so shifted in interaction with the norm that they severely suffer with hard outcomes to find? Do you know websites or books talking about it?

A: That is indeed a lot of questions! I would try to briefly explain your concerns overall. You do appear to be pretty sure that you are highly gifted; have you been tested? Or did someone identify your gifts? Now, the worst thing that can happen to a gifted individual is not being recognised since that would lead to not being given the proper challenge and stimulation that is crucial for their learning needs. Accrelation would have worked as you may have been given a chance from your letter but it appears that someone significant decided that it was better to stay with age mates. Family support is crucial and it appears that you did not get much. And that is the intensity of the gifts, which leads people to cope and manifest their gifts differently.

Unfortunately, two decades ago, giftedness is still a new area and there are so many exceptionally gifted individuals who went unidentified and unrecognised simply due to lack of awareness. Some were able to do well on their own, others blended in and fitted with the rest and some were overtaken by emotional intensities that they could not comprehend. The higher the level of giftedness, the further the individual would be from the norms and the more the issues. You mentioned being exceptionally gifted, therefore the possible emotional effects may be far greater.

There are not specific symptoms but if you feel severely under challenged and are not doing anything about it or have no option (no guidance), I imagine you may be feeling low and possibly depressed. There is always a possibility to continue studying after even 100 failures! It's will power and determination. But that may be hard if this has been happening for years. When you train your mind to accept and fit in, that is exactly what it would do. If you are capable of a lot more but have resigned to the fact that you are incapable, subconsciously you would accept it and “fit in”. It is due to lack of exposure and training. Even the most intelligent person in the world would need some help, guidance and a lot of hard work and determination. I feel that you have resigned yourself to the situation you are in. But the fact that you have been thinking about your gifts and written this letter, I surely see a lot of hope - nothing much is lost and it can all be retrieved especially since your are still young.

On the disability and gifts - we call it twice exceptional. It is very possible for a gifted individual to have a learning disability at the same time. Some gifted people are able to overcome their disabilities and do well; some may need intervention. There may be minimal awareness in the past but today there is a lot of help out there for twice exceptional giftedness. On Asperger's Syndrome and giftedness, I would like you to read this link on Twice Gifted Asperger's Syndrome. It would help you understand this condition and also if you think you may have it.

The cognitive differences in adults can lead to high levels of career success in many. These are the specific abilities that often produce the “recognised gifted adult” – which may be the ground-breaking physicist, the great philosopher, or the successful entrepreneur. However, research have indicated that for the gifted adult whose life circumstances do not readily provide an arena for the positive use of these abilities, the result may be a feeling of frustration (thinking one is stupid), lack of fulfilment, a nagging sense of being tied down, and imprisoned. The worst scenario is that they are unable to understand their dissatisfaction with life. This may be happening in your case.

I think more than anything else you need some help from a professional. You appear to have lost the zest for life and in order to get your life back or to feel some positivity; you need to change your thoughts (Cognitive behaviour therapy may be helpful). A psychologist may be able to help inject some positive thoughts in your life, which you need badly. The tone of your letter is rather depressing and to even answer most of your questions, you would first need to get up and help yourself.

What I believe you need to do now is to consult a professional in this area (would be good to have someone who is an expert in giftedness) and seek some advice. Another thing that can be done is to get in touch with one of the experts in giftedness in the universities who may be able to refer you to an expert in adult giftedness. Also get in touch with the gifted association in your area. Although they appear to be more for younger children, you may be referred to someone who can help.

You may want to check out these sites and contact the person in charge:

There is a lot more to read on the internet but what you really need is someone to listen as well, reading is one sided and meant for the masses. Your case may be quite specific, so are your needs. Talk to someone and get help as soon as you can. This is not a lost cause at all. I believe you are able to stand up and look for the gifts that have been lying dormant for years and waiting to be utilised. So do yourself a favour and stop questioning for now; rather start acting. The sooner you intervene with your life, the better the outcome.

Hope that helped a little. My very best wishes to you.


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