“Gifted” means (As defined in the Texas Education Code) those who perform at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience or environment and who:
- exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative or artistic area;
- possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
- excels in a specific academic field.
If you or someone you know exhibits many of these traits, you may wish to take this survey for a more in depth analysis: Comprehensive Giftedness Survey If at least 75% of the survey content is relevant, giftedness is likely afoot!
When looking at Giftedness in adulthood, it is critical to note the word “potential” in the definition above; potential does not necessitate outward markers of achievement to be present for giftedness to exist later in life. In fact, many of the positive traits associated with Giftedness in youth have costs that can be incurred. Often these costs intensifying across development and create significant problems for gifted adults. They can even become deterrents to social and occupational success, and contribute to poor psychological functioning with higher incidence of anxiety and depression.
|1. Acquires/retains information quickly||1. Impatient with others; dislikes repetition; irritable; may mistakenly assume that others can function similarly to the gifted or not accept themselves as gifted|
|2. Inquisitive; searches for significance||2. Asks embarrassing questions, can be dismissive of new ideas from others, search for meaning may lead to cynicism and hopelessness|
|3. Intrinsic motivation||3. Strong-willed; resists direction; not driven by money or reward (particularly in matters related to occupational identity)|
|4. Enjoys problem solving; able to use abstract reasoning||4. Resists routine practice; questions use of abstract reasoning procedures; may find themselves in conflict when faced with dilemmas that have no clear choice and be unable to make decisions in these moments|
|5. Seeks cause-effect relations||5. Dislikes unclear/illogical areas (such as traditions or feelings), may rationalize to avoid feelings, may struggle with existential matters (morality, life/death, etc.)|
|6. Emphasizes truth, equity, and fair play, strong moral code||6. Worries about humanitarian concerns, may be unforgiving to self and others for moral transgressions; may have difficulty not relating to human error as the norm|
|7. Seeks to organize things and people||7. Constructs complicated rules; often seen as bossy; may develop or seek out labyrinthine hobbies/games|
|8. Large vocabulary; advanced, broad information||8. May use words to manipulate; bored with school/occupation and age-peers; may seek novel stimulation to ward of boredom|
|9. High expectations of self and others||9. Intolerant, perfectionist; may become depressed and/or anxious; highly critical of self and others|
|10. Creative/inventive; likes new ways of doing things||10. May be seen as disruptive and out of step, may feel asynchronous (out of step with the times)|
|11. Intense concentration; long attention span; persistence in areas of interest||11. Neglects duties/people during periods of focus; seen as stubborn; can get swept away by passionate thinking which can inccur high relational costs|
|12. Sensitivity, empathy, desire to be accepted||12. Sensitivity to criticism or peer rejection may make living with giftedness difficult to tolerate; high need for belongingness but often does not feel a sense of belonging|
|13. High energy, alertness, eagerness||13. Frustration with inactivity, may be seen as hyperactive or viewed as a distraction|
|14. Independent; prefers working solo; self-reliant||14. May reject parent or peer input; nonconformity, may have difficulty working with others particularly if not in a leadership role|
|15. Diverse interests and abilities; versatility||15. May appear disorganized or scattered; frustrated over lack of time; may have difficulty settling on identity due to constantly changing or plethora of interests|
|16. Strong sense of humor||16. Peers may misunderstand humor; may become “class clown” for attention; may use sarcasm or derisive humor at inappropriate times|
If you or someone you know is gifted, they may want to take this assessment to evaluate the impact of giftedness in his/her life: Gifted Issues ASSESSMENT
When To Seek Help
If you have felt misunderstood for years; or struggle with persistent bored, or feel plagued by self-doubt; or struggle with loneliness, you may want to seek help. In addition, if you feel subjected to persistent and uninvited commentary about your difference, support may be an important part of your personal growth. Other problems associated with giftedness in adulthood that benefit from treatment are identity confusion and distorted self concept. The best description of these problems comes from a reknowned author on adult giftedness —Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, PsyD:
” Identity formation occurs gradually and becomes a central task during adolescence. Teens are on a mission to figure out who they are, what they stand for, and where they are going. A formidable task for everyone, it is an even greater challenge for the gifted. This wouldn’t be so if giftedness were better understood by teachers, parents, and peers. The characteristics of the gifted that are the underpinnings of excellence (e.g., extrasensitivity, intensity, complexity, and above-average energy and drive) are the same ones so often criticized by others as excessive or annoying.
Gifted people often grow up with a pervasive sense of being considered an extremist—having too much of just about every personal trait to fit everyone else’s definition of acceptable. The criticisms they face often are leveled not at their performance but at their personhood. A performance complaint sounds like this: “That essay is not acceptable, because it does not address the topic I assigned.” A personhood attack sounds like this: “Once again I see that you decided to make up your own assignment. Why do you think you always deserve special treatment?” The first statement implies the student has done something unacceptable; the second, that he or she is unacceptable. Paradoxically, such criticisms are often mixed with praise like “You’re so smart; you can do anything!” It’s no wonder that gifted people, faced with conflicting information, find it nearly impossible to develop an accurate self-view.”
Importantly, gifted adults can learn to accept their characteristics and use them to help manage interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts more effectively, making them feel more like gifts. In fact, many gifted adults respond well to therapy and counseling from mental health care professionals. When seeking treatment for giftedness issues, it is best to find a therapist knowledgeable about the gifted experience. To help evaluate therapist readiness, formulate some interview questions. Ask something like “What do you believe are some of the more significant problems gifted adults encounter?” Or “How do you think asynchronous development affects the interpersonal relationships of gifted people?” In other words, come up with questions that only someone who genuinely knows and understands gifted adults would be able to answer. The relationship you foster with the therapist can serve as a model for how you wish to relate to others in your life so choose carefully!
|Practical Lessons For Gifted Adults|
|C-120 Inner Conflict as a Path to Higher Development|
|THE CRUCIBLE OF PERFECTIONISM|
|The Universal Experience of Being Out-of-Sync- An Expanded View Linda Kreger Silverman|
Triggers are stimuli that cause a psychological response, such as people, places, events, or sensory conditions. Typically, when therapists talk about triggers, we are referring to an undesirable psychological response but it is worth noting that the same neural mechanisms can induce positive responses. Since we tend to want to repeat positive responses and decrease negative responses, triggers serve an important function in our lives.
You can discover your triggers if you practice awareness, or mindfulness. When you notice yourself reacting intensely to some minor event, that is a clue. Try to focus in on your thoughts, feelings, and expectations surrounding the event. Maybe even dig deeper and look at your activated values (see Personal Iceberg for how to do this effectively). If you are aware of your triggers, you can utilize your reaction to them to facilitate growth.
Positive triggers help us learn about our preferences, our talents, our hidden desires and dreams. For instance, if I feel unexplainably happy one morning, exploration of the self may reveal that I like it when there is rain in the early morning to wake up to because it reminds me of a favorite tropical vacation I took with someone who made me feel good about myself. Thus, when I wake up to rain, I feel good about myself and and therefore happy. I can capitalize on information such as this to notice that being around people who lift me up has a positive effect and I may set some new boundaries regarding friendships or other relationships.
All of us have negative triggers, things that cause us to react negatively in certain types of situations. These triggers provide warning to pay attention, things could get difficult! For example, if an alcoholic at Thanksgiving dinner with difficult, drunken relatives and noisy children is going to respond with an increased a desire to drink, they can use that knowledge to stay sober. They can attend extra meetings to prepare for the holiday. They can choose not to attend. They can arrive late and leave early. They can attempt to minimize the unpleasantness by focusing on the least annoying relative there. In other words, as the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed”. When our trigger is a person, we might say that the person is “pushing our buttons”.
Where do triggers come from? What caused the “buttons” (that some people push) to be there in the first place? The answers probably lie in our past, perhaps even in childhood. Here are some examples of negative triggers built across time:
Teresa was raised in extreme poverty by a stressed, difficult, and angry mother who insulted and diminished her constantly. Teresa’s mother mocked her desire to achieve. You will never get ahead, her mother said. You are wasting your time in school. You’ll be lucky to get a job waiting tables. Teresa worked hard to overcome her background and to make something of herself, to disprove her mother’s predictions. A lawyer, she holds a high position in a large corporation where the Chief Operating Officer is a difficult and high-strung woman who constantly triggers Selena’s childhood fears of failure.
Kelly was an only child in a single-parent home. His mother often told him that he was the “man of the house” and that she could not get along without him. He was his mother’s mainstay. He never disappointed her. When Kelly was 18, his mother was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. He did everything in his power to save her, but after a four-year illness, she died. Kelly was treated for depression. At 27, he married a fellow graduate student. They have a happy marriage for the most part; but whenever something is bothering his wife, Kelly must “fix” it. When he can’t, he becomes depressed. Any situation that Kelly can’t “fix” triggers him – any situation in which he cannot help a loved one.
Tyrone had an aggressive and sometimes violent father who was always “laying down the law” to his sons. If anyone standing close to Tyrone jabs at him with their index finger outstretched to make a point, his father’s habitual gesture, it triggers Tyrone. In the past, he has reacted suddenly and aggressively to two men who did that. One was a supervisor who called the police. Tyrone spent several days in jail.
Jenna’s mother was fragile, unhappy, clinging, and dependent. Early in life, Jenna got the idea that it was her “job” to make her mother happy. She became a “people-pleaser” – someone who cannot rest until everyone else is happy, someone whose guilt is triggered when they are not. The problem is that Jenna has five children. What are the chances that all five of them are going to be consistently content?
Bonnie grew up as the only child of older parents. They supervised her every move for years. Bonnie does not like for people to “stand over her” and tell her what to do and how to do it. It hits too close to home. It triggers her early discomfort with her parents’ behaviors. It pushes her buttons, and she will tell you so in no uncertain terms.
Here are questions to ask yourself to help identify triggers:
- What am I thinking right now?
- What is this feeling I am having?
- What did I think would happen?
- What do I wish had happened?
- What are my needs in this moment?
- Is it safe to ask for help or should I meet them myself?
- When has this happened to me before?
- What does this remind me of?
- What does this reaction say about me?
- Am I overreacting?
- Am I underreacting?
- What behavior best fits my values?
How can you capitalize on the power of triggers? When you know what you are reactive about and underlying processes related to the event, it is easier to be authentic in a situation and link behavior to our personal values. All it takes is practice and the willingness to go through some psychological discomfort while you learn to relate your experience to the self – as opposed to the event that triggers them. Understanding your triggers is a key element in emotional stability and can lead to a more satisfying, authentic life.
People with social phobia become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They have an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary
activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends, let alone have a romantic relationship.
Social phobia is different from shyness. Shy people are able to participate in social functions. Social phobia affects the ability to function in work and relationships. Some of the most common fears of people with social phobia include:
- Attending parties and other social occasions
- Eating, drinking, and writing in public
- Meeting new people
- Speaking in
- Using public restrooms
Although many people with social phobia realize that their fears about being with people are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome them on their own. Social phobia can be limited to one situation (such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others). Or, it may be so broad (such as in generalized social phobia) that the person experiences anxiety around almost everyone other than family members. Physical symptoms that often occur with social phobia include:
- Difficulty talking
- Profuse sweating
The goal of treatment is to help you function effectively. The success of the treatment usually depends on the severity of the phobia. Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications are
sometimes used to help relieve the symptoms of phobias. Cognitive-Behavioral treatment and experiential learning appear to have long-lasting benefits.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you understand and change the thoughts that are causing your condition, as well as learn to recognize and replace panic-causing thoughts.
- Systematic desensitization or exposure therapy may be used to treat phobias. You are asked to
relax, then imagine the things that cause the anxiety, working from the least fearful to the most fearful. Gradual exposure to the real-life situation has also been used with success to help people overcome their fears.
- Social skills training may involve social contact in a group therapy situation to practice social
skills. Role playing and modeling are techniques used to help you become more comfortable relating to others in a social situation.
Lifestyle changes and self care may help reduce how often the attacks occur.
- Get regular exercise, enough sleep, and regularly scheduled meals.
- Reduce or avoid the use of caffeine, some over-the-counter cold medicines, and other
- Relaxation, meditation, deep-breathing, and mindfulness training can also help
- Increasing self esteem can also help a great deal
The outcome is generally good with treatment, and antidepressant medications have been shown to be very effective.
- 001953/Stein MB, Stein DJ. Social anxiety
CT, Pollack MH, LeBeau RT, Simon NM. Anxiety disorders: Panic,
social anxiety, and generalized anxiety. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum
JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital
Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia,
Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 32.
someone experiences a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there are often
changes in the person that present tremendous challenges to
family members. Typical
changes individuals with TBI include not
being able to control their temper, not being aware of proper
social behavior, not obeying directions, as well as restlessness
and agitation. These issues can create safety problems and
difficulty socializing with others, which disrupts family
functioning. It is crucial for family members to recognize these
changes as SYMPTOMS caused by the neurological disruption. The TBI
individual IS NOT purposely misbehaving. However, safety has
to be a concern for all family members including the TBI
individual. Here are a collection of tips on living with TBI and
keeping the family system healthy
1. Understand the
The symptoms of TBI can be varied and complex.
Patients can suffer from headaches, seizures, dizziness, memory
problems and difficulty focusing. Many times, families have the
most trouble coping with the complex emotional and psychological
changes a brain injury brings. These are some of the problems faced
by patients with TBI:
- Chronic fatigue
– TBI patients sometimes seem to sleep all
the time, but never feel rested. Rehabilitation takes a lot of
energy. Just completing the routine tasks you take for granted —
like brushing your teeth — can be exhausting for your spouse. The
brain injury may also disrupt sleep cycles. To help, make sure your
spouse has a strict bed time and wake time. Try to keep to
a schedule as much as possible.
– Some TBI patients can seem angry all the time.
They may be frustrated doing what used to be simple chores. They
may also be frustrated because they can’t remember things or can’t
stay focused on a single project. Try your best to be patient, and
don’t overwhelm your spouse with too much to do at one
- Too much emotion – Many patients
have trouble controlling their emotions. They may shed tears of joy
or anger, which can be upsetting to family members. Some patients
have trouble sorting out different stimuli, such as sound, touch
and visual information. To help your spouse, try to filter out some
of the stimulation. Turn off the TV or radio when
talking with your spouse. Keep visits with family and friends low
key, with just a couple of people at a time. Help your spouse learn
to handle emotions by pointing out ways to express them more
– Patients sometimes don’t respond appropriately in
social situations and may seem insensitive or unkind. Usually, the
patient doesn’t understand there’s anything wrong. Brain injury
patients tend to verbalize their private thoughts without even
realizing it, causing them to make inappropriate statements. You
can help by speaking your feelings directly and not making your
spouse rely on nonverbal cues.
of focus – Brain injuries can cause patients to lose
some of their ability to organize their thoughts. This can be
especially difficult for patients who used to be multitaskers. They
often move from one thing to another, leaving unfinished projects
around the house. Help your spouse by establishing routines. Many
patients need to carry around a notebook or agenda to help them
keep on track.
- Agitation and
Restlessness – Agitation and restlessness
displayed by individuals with TBI are the result of injury to the
brain. This type of injury can cause them to have a
limited attention span, poor reasoning skills and limited memory.
This makes it difficult to stay focused on a particular event or
topic and to figure out what to do if a problem arises. All of
these factors contribute to agitated and restless
behaviors. Agitation and restlessness are sometimes described
as a stage in the recovery process following TBI. However, it is
difficult to predict who might experience agitation and
restlessness and if it will be a short or long-term problem. The
length of time that individuals experience these behaviors varies.
Often you need to “ride the storm” for a few days to see if the
behavior will be short-lived or if interventions, such as
medication, are needed. This means that you must be very patient
and know ways to manage agitated and restless behavior.
2. Have a safety plan
not take the behavioral outbursts of individuals with TBI
personally, even though they may behave in a very offensive manner
and direct their comments or actions towards you. Try to distance
yourself emotionally from this. Recognize that
it is a neurological problem and not a personal
issue. Remain calm and avoid reacting
emotionally to what is occurring in that moment as it is not in the
control of the TBI individual. This loss of control males a safety
plan a MUST. Safety plans are contracts for
individuals and families with safety issues that outline a tailored
plan of action when safety is threatened. These need to
be written down with copies for everyone involved and
posted near the exist of the house and in cars. Do not rely on
memory here, and this is a good time to inlist a mental health
profession, if you haven’t already, to help design the
safety plan. Other tips for safety are:
- Create a safety place. Call
this something like the “SAFE ROOM” and make sure everyone knows
this is the place to go when TBI disrupts safety. This may mean
asking the individual with TBI to go to a quiet room, closing a
door, or turning off the television. It may mean going there
yourself until the anger has passed in the TBI
- Stay in control of
your behavior. Remember, you need to stay calm and
speak in a low, calm voice.
for any obvious reason for the temper outburst.
Remove the cause if at all possible or direct the individual away
from the stimulus.
- Do not try to
reason or get into an argument with a person
with TBI. This can create more difficulties since many individuals
with TBI do not have good reasoning skills. When arguing, these
individuals are very emotional. Wait until the temper outbursts are
over before trying to talk about what caused the outburst and how
it might have been handled differently.
- Learn “the aura” or signs of safety
you get to know how your loved one reacts to situations, you may be
able to tell when she or he is getting anxious or confused. You can
then intervene before a temper outburst occurs by activating the
time out and the safety plan.
- Design a Timeout. This is a
break in conversation that is meant to help manage high emotional states, which robs
us of our ability to reason and handle conflict. This state is
sometimes called flooding and may be increased
in frequency and intensity for TBI individuals.
Rules of timeouts need to be negotiated when not in conflict so
everyone is on the same page. Some good rules of thumb are, setting
a time limit, scaling the importance of the topic upon
return, defining the need for space.
- Use nonverbal cues, such as a time-out
signal. This can let them know that there is a
problem with their behavior without having to use words, which can
be helpful in not increasing tension.
- Medication. This should
be a final choice to help decrease temper outbursts. These drugs
can be expensive and they usually result in some clouding of mental
- Speak slowly and clearly during
difficult conversations. This gives the person time
to process what you are saying if his or her cognitive (mental)
processing is slowed by the TBI. Be very direct and brief in what
- Avoid repeatedly
disagreeing or using negative language. It is
important to correct inaccuracies and confusion, but not to an
extent that an argument occurs. A good rule of thumb is to correct
an error when it first occurs, but do not insist on your viewpoint
if an individual with TBI claims he or she is right. It is usually
not effective to logically reason with an individual who has a
tendency towards agitation. At that point it is helpful to change
the subject or make comments that neither agree nor disagree. For
instance, he or she may tell you something is lost when you know it
is not. If a person is not willing to accept that the item is not
lost, just assure him or her that the lost item will turn up
shortly. USE I-STATEMENTS! These start with an “i” instead of “you”
and lower defensiveness and reduce irritability in listeners.
Example: When (situation), I feel (or think, or expect) whatever,
and I would like (solution),
for meaning. This is when a person
checks in with another to see if they are on the same page. For
example, “I think we are going to have a fun night, what are you
expecting to happen?” Dont solve problems or deny the other’s
meaning, just listen and support. It is good to find common ground
and this can be done by affirming your understanding
of what something means to another.For instance, “I hear
you are worried about being around others, is that right?” And then
affirm, “I can appreciate your concern.”
- Redirect the attention of a person with
TBI. When a person with TBI shows signs of becoming
upset, you can change topics or activities to something less
disturbing or confusing. Humor can also be a helpful distraction.
Laughter shows that you are not too rigid or formal. It is
important, however, that a person with TBI not feel that others are
laughing at him or her. You can even call a time out on a topic,
tabling it for later.
end your contact with a person with TBI.
Although we do not commonly do this in our everyday contacts, it is
an important step. Often individuals with TBI are not aware of cues
that suggest that you intend to leave or end a conversation.
Therefore, it is important to state your intentions, “I have to
leave now (name).” Or if you are not leaving but want to change the
topic, singla with words that you wish to do this. For example, “I
want to switch topics, are we good here?”
- Avoid embarrassing a
person with TBI by commenting on his or her
behavior in front of others. An individual with TBI is still an
adult and wants to be treated like an adult. You need to talk about
the improper behavior, but do this one-to-one and in a sensitive
criticism. It does not help to correct or criticize
the behavior without giving the person some ideas of a better way
to respond. If you have a complaint, just make the complaint, don’t
personalize it. For instance, say “I dont like _____” Instead of
defensiveness. This is hard in the most advantaged
circumstances but learning it will serve you well. Defensive
language includes blaming others, whining, guilting, yes-butting,
and denying personal responsibility. Listen for these in your own
language and make the necessary corrections.
- Create a positive lens instead of
a negative lens for
the relationship. Note positive exceptions
to the current trouble, Use positive language and self
talk about the interaction, externalize the situation (not about
you), avoid globalizing (never and always , and stay in
the present (no laundry lists of grievances).
outings. Try to schedule outings in the morning,
when your spouse is rested. If you’re planning on having family or
friends over in the evening, schedule an afternoon rest
- Treat each other
normally. You may have gotten used to taking care of
everything while your spouse was in the hospital. Now is the time
to give back some of the duties your spouse took care of before the
injury. This will ease your burden and make him or her feel
- Try new
things. It will take time, but a brain injured
patient needs to learn tasks. Although it may be frustrating at
first, let your spouse take the time to learn routine chores and
help around the house. You will want to pay particular attention to
safety as new tasks are added.
- Remember Good Moments. Try hard
to stop thinking about how things used to be, and try to focus on
what you have together now. In the midst of being a caregiver, it
can be difficult to remember your role as spouse. Try to take time
to nurture your relationship.
- Find a
TBI survivors group. A TBI survivors group will put
you in touch with other families facing the same difficult times as
you. Attending as a couple will help you get involved with new
friends and cope with the long-term challenges of living with a
- Have a self care plan for every
family member involved in care of TBI individual. I have designed
an evaluation to help track self care needs, click here.
Online Support groups: http://www.traumaticbraininjuryforum.com/index.php?board=18.0
Traumatic Brain Injury & Post Concussion
General Mental Health and Emotional Support:
Caregivers Support: http://neurotalk.psychcentral.com/forum56.html
Resources for this article:
4, May, 2002, http://main.uab.edu/tbi/show.asp?durki=50770
Guide to Traumatic Brain Injury
Resources By: The National Center for the
Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR) and the Research and
Training Center (RTC) on Community Integration of Individuals with
Traumatic Brain Injury. 2002 http://www.ncddr.org/du/products/tbiguide/
This Guide includes resources produced by NIDRR Grantees, including
the TBI Model System Centers. Home
Based Cognitive Stimulation Program By: Tom Novack
& Jacqueline Blankenship 2002, UAB Model TBI Care System,
Birmingham, AL http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=49377
Booklet of activities to use with individuals following their brain
injury designed to assist in the recovery of thinking skills.
Activities grouped by levels of difficulty and different thinking
skills. 56 pp. $3. Living with Brain Injury: A Guide
for Families, 2002 By: Richard C. Senelick, MD and
Cathy E Ryan, MA This book will help families, persons with brain
injury or professionals. Topics include: Causes and treatments;
physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms; & questions
family members commonly ask. 145 pp. To order call 800-321-7037
$10.95 Management of Behavioral Problems during Acute
Rehabiliation of Individuals with TBI By Tom Novack,
PhD 2002, UAB Model TBI Care System, Birmingham, AL http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=47778 A
paper for rehabilitation staff who work with individuals with TBI
that suggest ways to manage their own behavior in relation to
behavioral problems of individuals with TBI.
Understanding Brain Injury: Guide for the
Family By: Mayo Clinic Model TBI Center, Rochester,
MN http://www.mayo.edu/model-system/navpos5b.html A booklet to help
families adjust including topics such as: the structure and
function of the human brain; causes of brain injury; the recovery
process and behavior and communication changes after TBI. 34 pp.