Recently I was puzzling over the difference between those identified as gifted and talented and those with learning differences/difficulties. I believe that many if not all of the students we meet, at Empowering Learning, could well be identified as gifted and talented.
Then I discovered that “There is a widespread phenomenon, that as many as 50% of gifted kids, hate writing”. Teaching these children to spell visually in whole words is often very simple.
So I ran a short video to explain, which you can access here. In addition below is my checklist for identifying strengths displayed by neuro-divergent learners. See how many of these you think your student/child has and brighten up their day.
This article also has some useful tips, I found during my inquiry.
Some of the strengths displayed by neuro-divergent learners.
By Olive Hickmott, Empowering Learning UK
Creativity, imagination and generation of new ideas
- Painters, artists, designers, musicians, film makers, photographers, writers, comedians, etc, etc – there is reputedly a design house in New York that only employs those with these skills.
- Artistic talents are abundant and new ideas appear at lightning speed, sometimes too fast for others to keep up with them!
- Inquisitive, creates new designs, even wacky solutions, thinking out of the box.
- Thrive on solving problems, puzzles, jigsaw, chess and strategy games. With an interesting problem to solve they won’t be able to drop it until they have found a solution.
- Original ideas: Will find creative ways around their learning challenges.
- Understands cause and effect, likes to get things right.
Hyperfocus, Drive and Energy
- Hyperfocussing enables learners to have single-minded focus on what they consider to be an interesting task or subject.
- Concentration on small detail and any changes in detail. Those who focus on minutiae can switch off their peripheral vision, avoiding overload.
- Given an interesting project to work on, they are completely absorbed, there is no stopping them!
- In order to overcome challenges experienced within a conventional learning environment, some will develop a high level of resilience that allows them to focus on their strengths and excel.
Ability to see things from different perspectives, sometimes at the same time.
- Can not only imagine what physical objects look like from different perspectives, including cross sections, they can see, without any difficulty, the other side of an argument, business opportunities that others may not see, etc.
- Olive Hickmott has coined the term “Perspectius”, meaning an exceptional ability to see different perspectives simultaneously.
- Ability to turn 2D images into 3D images, e.g. reads maps, charts and images easily, when looking at an Ordnance Survey map, which is flat, some people can turn the 2D contour lines into a 3D image of the mountains and hills in their mind’s eye.
Memory, collecting, concentrating and connecting facts
- Exceptional memory, especially long term
- Noticing patterns in things that others may not see.
- A quick thinker, with high speed ability to make connections between different facts.
- This enables them to make unusual and unique insights very quickly, without going through a more traditional, slower linear process.
Thinking and learning visually
- Thinking in still pictures and videos – This is invaluable for rapid recall and is particularly useful when working in the media.
- Extraordinary ability to recall visual memories from movies, video games or actual events.
- Drawing in advance of age
- Understands pictures more than words.
Exceptional interpersonal skills.
- Their creative verbal communications with rich and interesting advanced vocabulary. May have been developed to make up for their lack of ability with written communication.
- Compassion; tremendous powers to connect with other people and in addition an advanced ability to empathise and see different perspectives.
- Intuition; they can guide themselves by just knowing, seeing through any façade to the essence of things and people. With intuition goes being highly sensitive, warm hearted, they see inside people and tend to share their suffering.
- Sense of humour; many love to laugh and may have a knack of making others laugh too.
- Many people with dyslexia present with above average intelligence.
- Clarity and radical authenticity; A compulsion to be authentic and express their true selves that maybe others find it hard to hear. Saying exactly how it is. They see things as they really are, have a strong instinct to question and dismiss information that conflicts with their instincts.
- Demonstrates strong opinions / feelings
Exceptional number skills
- Ability to quickly perform complex mental calculations.
- May have incredible recall of large amount of data such as dates, timetables and facts and figures around anything that they are interested in.
The bigger picture
- Needs to understand the bigger picture and the reasons why, searching out the rationale behind an instruction, needing to verify that it has an authentic purpose or will work to change it.
- Asks “big questions”, “life’s larger questions”, challenging questions and questions about how things work.
- They believe that everything should be given creative thought, rigid ritualistic systems are considered anarchic. Their insights fuel “system busting”.
- That “something special, a unique way of looking at the world, a perspective that others just don’t understand, until they meet another – it takes one to recognise one.