Intellectual giftedness is most often discovered in childhood because children are constantly in environments where their developmental advancement is being assessed and their educational progress is being monitored.
“Giftedness,” when assessed by a psychologist, means that an individual’s intellectual abilities are in the top 2.5% or 3.0% of the population when measured using a standard intelligence test. The intelligence tests most often used for assessment are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). The Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale is also used but much less frequently than the WISC or the WAIS.
In my practice, I often work with clients whose intelligence is in the top 2.5% to 3.0% of the population. Sometimes these individuals have not achieved the level of professional success they believe they should have achieved in order to be called ”gifted.” Others have achieved high levels of professional success but feel uncomfortable with this term, believing it is reserved for someone whose accomplishments are superior to their own.
Many adults are unaware that they were gifted as children because they were not properly assessed. For others, they remember being quite bright as children but believe their giftedness somehow disappeared when they reached adulthood. Giftedness is not something that disappears or is lost, however. It remains stable over the lifespan. One of the remarkable things about intelligence tests is that the scores individuals receive remain stable until late in life in the absence of dementia or brain trauma.
Coming to terms with being gifted but not having achieved their “full potential” is a topic I often work on with clients who are “gifted adults.”
— Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta