6 Types of Giftedness

6 Types of Giftedness

ADHD and highly gifted can be a gift or a burden, it depends on the person who experience life as it is, the situation, and much more than we can imagine.

As I was a young girl and being gifted, for me it was easy to follow school, getting excellent grades without much effort, sometimes without any effort at all. For my mother it was a luxury that she had not to push me for being good at school. By attending my High School at a school lead by sisters of god ( Edith Stein Gymnasium), only girls allowed, and getting structure,   I experienced that I was supported a lot by the environment where I studied.  We had a lot of freedom too, being rebellious as girls,  as the boys were missing to play that part, being funny  and  dominant, but above all excelling at my school work. I was probably lucky to have the freedom of not being distracted by boys.

Nowadays gifted children taking a big chance of being misdiagnosed with ADHD or other terms and I preach for better diagnosis and other schooling systems.

Due to overlapping symptoms it makes it very difficult to see the details that differ in behavior sometimes, and even makes diagnosis complicated.

A useful way to understand the feelings, behaviors and needs of gifted students has been developed by Neihart and Betts (2010) in the form of six different ‘Profiles of the Gifted and Talented’.

4 out of the 6 types of giftedness could be misinterpreted as ADHD or ASS e.g.

Gifted children share some distinct characteristics generally but can be quite different in many others. However, there is no clear cut of the types; and a combination is always possible. This is an objective guide should you want to understand the different types of gifted individuals that exist.

Typically the 6 types of giftedness includes:

  • The successful (Type 1)
  • The challenging (Type 2)
  • The underground (Type 3)
  • The dropouts (Type 4)
  • The double labeled (Type 5) and
  • The autonomous learner (Type 6)

The summary of each of the profile is briefly discussed below:

The Successful Type 1's are the most easily identifiable, and may account for up to about 90% of the identified gifted students in schools. They are the students who have learnt the system and are well adjusted to society with a generally high self-concept. They are obedient, display appropriate behavior, and are high achievers, therefore, loved by parents and teachers. However, they can also get bored at school and learn the system fast enough so as to use the minimum effort to get by. They are also dependent on the system, thus less creative and imaginative, and lack autonomy.

The Challenging Type 2 gifted are the divergently gifted, who possess high levels of creativity. They do not conform to the system and often have conflicts with teachers and parents. They get frustrated, as the school system does not recognize their abilities. They may be seen as disruptive in the classroom and often possess negative self-concepts, even though they are quite creative. This is the group of gifted students who are at risk of dropping out of schools for unhealthy activities, like getting involved in drugs or exhibiting delinquent behavior.

The Underground Type 3's refers to gifted students who deny their talents or hide their giftedness in order to feel more included with a non-gifted peer group. They are generally females, who are frequently insecure and anxious as their belonging needs rise dramatically at that stage. Their changing needs often conflicts with the expectations of parents and teachers. These types appear to benefit from being accepted as they are at the time.

The DropOuts's Type 4 gifted are the angry and frustrated students whose needs have not been recognized for many years and they feel rejected in the system. They express themselves by being depressed or withdrawn and responding defensively. They are identified very late; therefore, they are bitter and resentful due to feelings of neglect and have very low self-esteem. For these students, counseling is highly recommended.

The Double Labeled: Students identified as Type 5 are gifted students who are physically or emotionally handicapped in some way, or have a learning disability. This group does not show behaviors of giftedness that can identify them in schools. They show signs of stress, frustration, rejection, helplessness, or isolation. They are also often impatient and critical with a low self-esteem. These students are easily ignored as they are seen as average. School systems seem to focus more on their weaknesses, and therefore fail to nurture their strengths.

Finally, Type 6 gifted are the autonomous learners who have learnt to work effectively in the school system. Unlike Type 1, they do not work for the system, but rather make the system work for them. They are very successful, liked by parents, teachers and peers, and have a high self-concept with some leadership capacity within their surroundings. They accept themselves and are risk takers, which goes well with their independent and self-directed nature. They are also able to express their feelings, goals, and needs freely and appropriately.

Types 1 & 6 - generally identifiable.
Types 2, 3, 4, 5 - risk of not being identified or misdiagnosed

So please let’s search for the strengths and capacities in each and everyone to empower the unique potential that lies within us, to make this world a better place, above all diagnosis.


Feel free to share this article, and be welcome to my Busy Professionals Talent Meet UP.



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8 Reacties

  1. Auke Attema

    Geweldig Martina!

    Eindelijk kunnen kinderen en volwassenen worden gezien in hun kwaliteiten en daarmee zijn wie ze zijn, dank voor je belangrijke werk!

    • Martina

      Dankjewel 🙂 ik ga hiermee door !

  2. Martina

    Thanks dear I will post at least every second week 🙂

  3. Douglas Eby

    Thanks for this helpful overview. Much of this still applies to us as adults, of course. For example, psychologist Kenneth W. Christian, PhD talks about styles or patterns of thinking and behavior that we probably developed in school and early in life, and that solidify into ruts that can limit our fulfillment, achievement and creativity.

    One pattern and group, related to perfectionism for some people, is Self-Doubters / Self-Attackers – who “block their success by holding high standards they feel they can never possibly meet and for which they therefore seldom strive.” – In my post “Talented, But Insecure” http://developingmultipletalents.com/71/talented-but-insecure/

    • Martina

      great site Douglas, and worthy posts 🙂 we stay in touch!

  4. Mathobela

    Thank you so much for your insight, I know I’m gifted…I identify more with successful type and underground….underground at home ,church,generally around people…it makes it worse that i am an introvert. But I am glad I know where my strengths & weaknesses lie…now I know why i feel frustrated at myself and its affecting my work…camouflaging

  5. Diane Sharp

    Love it. My daughter would be your type 5. Extremely smart, but saddled with ADHD, dysgraphia, a fine motor skills delay, and slow processing speed. She does everything slowly, and people tend to interpret this to mean she’s a slow learner. She’s not. She taught herself multiplication in the first grade. She learns concepts in math/science in a heartbeat, but can’t memorize facts and formulas. She can’t express her thoughts on paper, but reads 3 grade levels ahead and has an emotional intelligence level that blows my mind.

  6. Abraham

    Thanks Martina.
    I am a school teacher and I find this is enlightening.


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