Most gifted people, children or adults, live fairly isolated lives. This is because of the statistical reality of their gifts. If you are more gifted than one in a thousand people, not many of the people you meet in life will be comparable. If you are more gifted than one in ten thousand, you may not encounter any in your life who are as gifted as you - except if you frequent those places where gifted people concentrate. If you are more gifted than one in a million people, it is almost certain that you will never encounter anyone "on your level" in your lifetime. Giftedness can, therefore, be a lonely affair.
Yet, not all is as it seems. One can have a conversation with anyone, on your level, or not. Furthermore, the "gifted communities" that might be available may not be supportive at all. I encountered one, or should I say one encountered me - an American message board, devoted to the extremely gifted - and too many of the comments received about me and my family were highly unpleasant. This would have been poor behaviour coming from anyone - but from a "gifted community support group" it was entirely inappropriate. However, it taught me a lesson: gifted community is not all that it should be and not all that it purports to be.
Before I go on, I should say that some boards do appear to be more friendly places - so there is great variety in the "gifted community support groups" out there. Some will be supportive, some will be jealous, hostile, embittered places that no-one would want to be.
The question you need to answer is: are you happy in your isolation - or do you need "community"? For many, who are honest with themselves, will discover that they have found happiness without the need for "community". Many gifted people express their talents through some complex productive activity - be it creative or not - and it is in this activity that their giftedness is manifest. There is less need for them, therefore, to have a "gifted community" to relate to. There is another issue which you should note. Contact with the gifted community can alter some parents' perspective on their children in ways which are negative. For instance, what if a gifted parent of a moderately gifted child encounters a support group for the profoundly gifted? How is that parent going to feel when he or she learns that their child is not only not so gifted after all, but, in comparison, seemingly not gifted at all? Are they going to be disappointed in their child? Are they going to expect less of them? Before such exposure to the wider gifted community, such a parent may have been happy with their smart kid and have looked forward to a bright future for them. Afterwards, they may not be so happy, nor have such high expectations. Yet, they are wrong to do so, for what it is very important to realize is that how your child will fare in life is NOT dependent on their relationship to the gifted community - but on their relationship to the NON-gifted community. You see, a moderately gifted child is going to become a moderately gifted adult - and, as such, will be smarter than almost everyone they meet. They will be smart enough to succeed in most occupations - and will be able to make a very good contribution in life, in whatever endeavour they choose. In fact, the moderately gifted child may grow into a better adjusted adult, who is consequently more productive, than their more gifted fellows - for the more gifted one is, the harder it can be to adjust to the world as it is.
(The ideal range of giftedness is an IQ 125 to 150 according to one estimate. This is the range of best fit to the environment, that allows most effective use of one's talents, without communication problems between the gifted person and their environment. A moderately gifted person, at IQ 130, say, fits into that range. So does a highly gifted person, at IQ 145.)
A parent must not lose sight of the reality of their child, in comparison to the wider world. Comparison to the gifted community is misleading. You see, the gifted community comprises a very unusual group of people. They are not the wider world. How successful your gifted child will be is dependent on their merit relative to the wider world - and not in comparison to the gifted community. If your child is smarter than the average person, then they will have better opportunities than the average person. It is irrelevant to know that there is some kid much smarter than your own - because that kid is not really the competition for your child, in most endeavours. There are too few extremely gifted children for them to be considered competition for most endeavours - there are just not enough of them to go around.
Contact with the gifted community may produce a lack of appreciation of your child's specialness, by confronting a parent with many children who are as gifted or more gifted than your own. In such an environment, you may UNLEARN an understanding of how special your child is. Your child is special in relation to the average child. In the wider world, it is the average child that your own will encounter most often. It is the average child who will fill many workplaces. These are the ones to measure your child against. Measurement against a child who is one in a million is laughably irrelevant - because there are so few such children and they cannot, in their numerical paucity, ever be competition for your child, in any real sense. Measurement against them, therefore, can only have negative effects - for it may reduce your appreciation of what is special in your own child.
Any gifted parent of a gifted child, therfore, should cherish the specialness of their child in relation to the world as a whole. Gifted community is for those who feel a need to be among those like themselves - and that is an understandable motivation. But if you do venture into the gifted community, choose well among those available - some are positive places, some are not. Furthermore, understand that no matter where your child is on the gifted scale, they remain special in TRUE terms, because they are unusual in relation to the wider world and the typical human. Any gifted child is equipped to do something special in the world, given a chance to grow and show themselves. That some are more equipped than others, does not alter the fact that all gifted children are more equipped than is usual.
We are not connected to a gifted community here, in Singapore - but we are quite happy in our isolation. We have each other and we have an understanding of our children in relation to the wider world. Our children are accepted by the non-gifted community and we have not had hostility on the personal level. On the whole, that is a lot better than what we encountered on that "gifted community support group". I would say, therefore, in conclusion that gifted isolation can actually be superior to gifted community - it really depends on which community you encounter and what you need from them. We enjoy our quiet lives, here, with no actual direct contact with a gifted community: you can too.
(If you would like to read of my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and one month, and his gifted brothers, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)
Labels: gifted community, gifted isolation, ideal IQ, moderately gifted, profoundly gifted