Becoming Gifted

By Dr. Christine Deitz


Today’s public schools do more than a respectable job of identifying children of advanced ability for gifted and talented programs and services. Gifted services are typically decided on a case-by-case basis, and on a child’s need for creative and critical learning experiences beyond the traditional classroom. In short, gifted children require special services and supported opportunities to fully develop their potential.

Beyond a Number

Traditional thought suggests giftedness begins with an IQ of 130. In the past, high IQ scores were an indication that a child required acceleration or enrichment options. Giftedness today is assessed differently—not by the speed at which blocks are rearranged into specific patterns, but by documenting the way children create and solve problems, and by the rate in which they master content. For adults, however, there is no committee of GT professionals to decide they have an advanced ability for baking, creating spreadsheets, or selling used cars.

We know talents and gifts develop over time. Is it possible to for adults to become gifted?

As adults mature and experience life, skills sharpen and attitudes deepen to the extent that individuals gain expertise in creative problem solving. As an adult, you may feel smarter, quicker and wiser than you did as an adolescent or young adult. Even decades after you have completed your formal education, your mental capabilities continue to grow. Perhaps you feel a heightened sense of awareness. Perhaps you are more funny or clever than you ever were as a teenager! What parent cannot re-engineer a jacket zipper or help a child produce a science fair project over night? Is it possible you are becoming gifted?

The answer is, “Yes!” Having a propensity to be truly good at something, a fascination in a particular area of interest, or a passionate focus on a topic is more than likely an indication of some advanced ability. As adults, we definitely benefit from having the time and opportunity to develop expertise in an area that may or may not be work related. As our mature selves, we also have more resources available that allow us to follow through with an area of interest. So, yes, you may be becoming gifted!

Growing Giftedness

How can adults develop their area of potential? Find a mentor and engage in projects with other adults who have sharper skills than you. Whether it is on the tennis court, at work or at the card table learn from someone who challenges you and helps you sharpen your edge. It is important to know that you do not have to be accomplished in everything in order to be gifted. People often excel in one particular area like math, writing, sports, communication or technology.

You may not have been identified as an advanced student in school, but as an adult, you can set your own agenda to develop your specific talents and abilities. I do not recommend online surveys or quizzes that indicate if you are gifted, smart or otherwise advanced. These surveys are designed for entertainment purposes and do not offer meaningful insight regarding your capabilities. Rather, trust yourself. Appreciate how you’ve grown and developed over the years. What are your passion areas? Are you a budding or accomplished artist, orator or people person? Recognizing your area(s) of strength(s) is a good indication of where your gifts and talents lie.

Daily Think Tasks

Because your brain behaves like a muscle, it requires lots of water and frequent exercise. Increasing an awareness of your daily creative and critical thinking time will grow those dendrites! I recommend the following:

  • Solve puzzles (crossword, Sudoku, logic, etc.)
  • Practice your passion
  • Discover how something works
  • Learn something new (many universities offer courses online!)
  • Ask “what” and “how” questions; figure out the “why”
  • Create something
  • Fix something
  • Improve something
  • Read for pleasure and for information
  • When faced with a problem, create more than one solution
  • And… Be forever curious

I hope you will continue to think about your potential and your giftedness. Advanced and talented individuals play an incredibly critical role in today’s society. Please continue your exploration of gifted issues by visiting these awesome resources:

For a better understanding of the traits of giftedness in individuals, visit
Dr. Howard Gardner explained the concept of Multiple Intelligences.

There are many books and resources available on this topic. I think this is a good starting point to learn about MI. Go to:
Let your gifted voice be heard! Join your state and school advocacy group for gifted children. Go to: Membership includes quarterly newsletters.

Authors’ Note:
Christine Deitz, Ed.D. is the Associate Director of the Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Prior to this position, she was the specialist for gifted secondary programs for the Little Rock School District and a consultant for College Board in social sciences. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, author, speaker, consultant and gifted child advocate. She has received numerous recognitions from the National Association for Gifted Children and is a regular presenter at state and national conferences on curriculum, teacher effectiveness, and needs of gifted children. Email Christine at