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The gifted child: Educational interventions and primary care management

L Erik von Hahn, MD
Section Editor
Carolyn Bridgemohan, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Gifted individuals have exceptional abilities in a particular domain or domains (eg, mathematics, music, athletics). In addition, they typically have high degrees of self-motivation, curiosity, perseverance, and enjoyment in developing and expressing their talents [1].

This topic review will discuss educational interventions for and the primary care management of gifted children. The characteristics and identification of giftedness are discussed separately. (See "The gifted child: Characteristics and identification".)


There is no universally accepted definition for giftedness, which can manifest in a variety of ways. Other terms that are used to describe giftedness include "outstanding talent," "gifted and talented," and "high-ability." (See "The gifted child: Characteristics and identification", section on 'Terminology'.)

The United States Department of Education (DOE) definition for giftedness is the most widely accepted by researchers and practitioners in the field of giftedness (table 1) [2]. The DOE definition is similar to that provided by the National Association for Gifted Children [3]. In the United States, most state boards of education provide definitions for gifted/giftedness, but the definitions may differ from the DOE definition [4]. The definitions used by individual states are available from the National Association for Gifted Children.


Overview — The development of intellectual or school-house giftedness, like any form of giftedness, is a long-term endeavor, fostered by early identification, supportive and encouraging parents, and teachers and mentors who place high expectations on the student [5]. Gifted students need to be challenged to maintain interest and high achievement [6]. Those who are not sufficiently challenged may develop maladaptive behaviors, mental health conditions (eg, depression), and/or academic failure [7-9]. Lack of challenge can inhibit the development of self-confidence that comes from mastering difficult material and can lead to poor study habits, which may be difficult to overcome in higher education [7].

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 21, 2016.
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