About Giftedness and Gifted Traits

Peach Colored Rose Representing Giftedness at TheraThrive


  • Gifted children might exhibit behavioral problems at school (or elsewhere) because they are under-challenged or misunderstood. The situation is similar for gifted adults at work (or elsewhere).
  • Giftedness does not mean perfect.
  • Gifted children and adults might struggle, misbehave or act callously because they suffer from a mood disorder, anxiety, ADHD, Sensory Processing Dysfunction, Dyslexia, or other learning disorders, or other problems typically associated with asynchronous development.
  • Gifted people, like everyone, have challenges, strengths and maybe even mediocre aspects tucked in among their gifted attributes.
  • Yet, if gifted people are recognized, nourished, and learn the right tools, they can and will flourish.

Giftedness Is Different Than Typical

Both gifted children and adults often have atypical ideas or ways of doing things. They tend to be highly passionate, very intense and extremely sensitive. At TheraThrive, we offer specialized counseling support for gifted children, teens, adults, couples, and families.

Gifted Differences

Gifted children and adults may think differently, feel differently, and notice how they differ from neuro-typical peers. This can often lead to a sense of isolation or loneliness. Theorist Kazimierz Dabrowski studied traits common in gifted individuals and categorized them into 5 types, which he called overexcitabilities.

This brief video describes asynchronous development.

Gifted Traits

In general, gifted children and adults tend to:

  • Stand-out intellectually, with sophisticated thinking styles that integrate generalizations and complexity
  • Learn quickly and deeply (and do not need as much practice)
  • Be independent thinkers, who do not automatically accept decisions
  • Typically have large vocabularies
  • Have excellent memories and a vast knowledge base
  • Be quite curious (and may ask a lot of questions)
  • Have rich insight into the stakes of a situation, so risk taking is difficult, and some decisions may take longer
  • Develop their own methods of learning
  • Set high expectations for themselves, and then they may feel guilty if they are not met
  • Have many interests, abilities or capabilities (also a tendency towards multipotentiality).
  • Be self-driven to the point of being overwhelmed
  • Crave self-understanding, and may need time for inner experiences
  • Relate best to others who share their interests, and often enjoy intense discussions
  • Be loyal, and may have a small circle of friends (or only one friend), but the relationships are meaningful
  • Have strong moral convictions, and often desire to improve the world
  • Appreciate beauty and wonderment, and deeply experience the richness in relationships, nature, art and literature
  • Have a sense of humor that often differs from typical– often subtle, intricate or full of puns (and may not be understood)
  • Find it difficult to understand the foolishness, unfairness or danger of many people’s actions due to inconsistency or shortsightedness
  • Be non-conformist (such as in clothing, hair-style, beliefs, or practices).
  • Possibly struggle at school or the workplace
  • Be highly sensitive
  • Not experience ageism (enjoy much older or younger friends)
  • Not need sleep (or not sleep the typical number of hours)
  • Lack social finesse (which can impact school, work, and/or relationships)
  • Be keenly aware of current events and global issues
  • Be perfectionistic
  • Have asychronous development and/or ability
  • Struggle with a higher degree of depression, anxiety and other challenges, including feeling very intensely, loneliness or inadequacy

(In part, adapted from the writings of Annemarie Roeper)