Gifted Children

Gifted Children

Reasons for Referral

  • Gifted children are most often referred for the assessment of reading and writing disabilities
  • Referrals are generally made after previous assessments and interventions Have been ineffective

Causes of Learning Disabilities in Gifted Children: Two Perspectives


  • Within this framework no distinction is made between learning disabilities in gifted and non-gifted children
  • learning disabilities are thought to be specific cognitive weaknesses or Vulnerabilities caused by some– as yet to be demonstrated– neurological Defect or deficit
  • Neuropsychologists appear to consider the emotional component of all Types of learning disabilities to be a secondary phenomenon- simply the Child’s emotional response to his or her disability
  • Common emotional responses to learning disabilities include:
    • Inattention
    • Hyperactivity
    • Acting out behaviors
    • Underachievement


  • In more than 30 years of  therapeutic  work with gifted children who have Learning disabilities, we have been impressed by the intensity Of   children’s emotional responses to their learning disabilities And equally impressed by how intense emotional responses to being Gifted can be indirectly  expressed as a learning disability
  • This means that the emotional component of the gifted/learning disability Syndrome can be both a reaction to the learning disability as well as its Cause
  • Common emotional causes of learning disabilities in gifted children
    • Normal developmental issues
    • Family dynamics
    • Inadequate teachers and curriculum
    • Peers and social issues
  • Another frequent but often overlooked emotional cause of a learning disability is  a  gifted a child’s unresolved emotional conflicts about his/her “inner experience” of giftedness. Surprisingly, these internal  unresolved Emotional  conflicts  can occur even in environments that are fully supportive  and  encouraging of gifted development.

For a clinical example of an emotionally based but Neurologically Diagnosed learning disability please read the Eric Case Report.

Assessments for gifted children with learning disabilities

  • Psychoeducational  assessments: can indicate areas of academic weakness Strength
  • Neuropsychological assessments: identify specific cognitive weaknesses and Strengths. These are thought to be located in the areas of the brain Responsible for “central processing” and “executive functioning”
  • Psychodynamic assessments:
    • Differentiate a true neurologically based learning disability from an Emotionally based learning disability
    • Differentiate a specific learning disability from a child’s larger failure to achieve normal emotional and intellectual growth and development
    • Separate the emotional components of the gifted/learning disability Syndrome and determine:
      • Which are the emotional responses to the learning disability
      • Which are the emotional causes of  the learning disability
      • Which are the  emotional/psychological reactions to the Giftedness that are expressed as a learning disability

For a more complete explanation of the psychodynamic assessment Process please see our Services Section.

Interventions for Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities

  • Remediation techniques: repetitive efforts to correct the basic cognitive Problem
  • Compensation Strategies: using gifted strengths to work around cognitive weaknesses
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: Facilitates the use of remediation and compensation strategies
    • Helps resolve different  psychological  conflicts that inhibit Cognitive functioning and prevent the full use of remediation And compensation strategies.
    • Helps resolve the psychological conflicts about giftedness that may Be the cause of  the  gifted/learning disability syndrome

For a complete description of the Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Process please see our Services Section.