What Happens to Gifted Kids? They grow up to be gifted adults.
While I often lament the lack of appropriate resources available to our gifted kids, those same lacking resources far surpass any resources available for gifted adults. We have programs for gifted children so that they can navigate their own gifts and grow into their fullest potential. But it's not like once they hit 18 years of age, a magic switch is thrown and they are now ready to take on the world alone! The magic switch still doesn't flip at age 30 or 40 or even 50.
More than 3 million children are enrolled in gifted education in the US alone, and many more gifted children are not enrolled in gifted education. That means that in the US alone, there are more than 3 million gifted children who will grow into gifted adults. We know that gifted populations face common challenges like social connectedness, existential depression, and perfectionism. Yet, there are virtually no systemic supports in place for gifted adults.
The lack of programs and supports for adults is more lost opportunity. Research shows over and over again that gifted adults need meaning in their lives. They crave social justice and contributing to something larger than themselves. They are often in search of something....more. Imagine the collective power that could come about if these incredibly bright individuals had additional supports and programs in place.
Before I sound too harsh, I will point out that there are some resources out there. Specifically, SENG is a great option for connecting folks of all ages around social and emotional issues within the gifted population. Also, MENSA is well known for its chapters. These are great options, although they require membership fees, which may deter some folks from participating. There are also family programs for parents of gifted children, where parents get to go along on gifted outings (e.g., Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth).
That said, I firmly believe that we are in need of additional programs to support gifted populations throughout their lifespans. Imagine a gifted program for young adults who are going off to college where they could access specialized college advising from counselors who understand giftedness! Or a program for new professionals where they are matched with a gifted mentor or a program for new moms or dads...or one for grandparents...I think the possibilities are endless and could help to ensure both connectedness to others and help adults navigate their giftedness. What programs would you like to see?
Read more about Gifted Adults here.