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The gifted child: Characteristics and identification

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 the terminology, characteristics, and identification of gifted children. Educational interventions and primary care management are discussed separately. (See "The gifted child: Educational interventions and primary care management".)


Giftedness – There is no universally accepted definition for giftedness, which can manifest in a variety of ways. However, there is broad consensus that giftedness cannot be defined solely by an intelligence quotient (IQ) score on a standardized test [1,2]. IQ scores do not take into account creativity and practical intelligence.

Other terms that are used to describe giftedness include "outstanding talent," "gifted and talented," and "high-ability." (See 'Presentation and characteristics' below and 'Identification' below.)

The United States Department of Education (DOE) definition for giftedness is widely accepted by researchers and practitioners in the field of giftedness (table 1) [3]. The DOE definition is similar to that provided by the National Association for Gifted Children [4]. In the United States, most state boards of education provide definitions for gifted/giftedness, but the definitions may differ from the United States DOE definition [5]. The definitions used by individual states are available from the National Association for Gifted Children.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 03, 2016.
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