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  • Autumn Quiles, LCSW

Gifted Kids

Gifted kids are wonky. I can say this because I have known, and loved, many gifted kids. Gifted families (gifted kids usually have gifted parents) are a specialty of mine. They have unique needs, not because they can score high on school tests, but because they are often misunderstood and their emotional needs are often too loud in a non-gifted world.

Gifted kids' advanced reasoning can send them down a rabbit hole of anxiety or worry. They are perfectionists who run themselves, and others, through The Ringer. They are less concerned about social propriety and more concerned about social principles. They are acutely aware that they are socially different, but they can't "think" their way into friendships. They feel very deeply and their emotions are often front-and-center when they are problem solving, often overwhelming them. Gifted kids, when they are Not Okay, often present pretty extreme behavioral problems.

Gifted kids pose a unique challenge to a therapist. Many gifted kids "con" or "manipulate" their therapist because they are very good at intellectualizing their problems- using their thinking to avoid their feelings. They believe they can reason their way out of a problem, or at least using reasoning to justify their problem. Also, the passions of gifted kids (space, dinosaurs, engineering) can sometimes be viewed as freakish or unsettling by a therapist who does not understand this hallmark passion.

I have met many gifted parents who have been disappointed with a prior therapy experience. They know their child needs help- more help, or different help, than they can give- but they can't seem to find a therapist who won't "fall for" their gifted kid's charm or brilliance. They lament that their child "ran circles around" the last therapist. The unique personalities of gifted kids often leave their parents wondering, "Is he normal? Or is his behavior indicative of a problem? Should I be worried?"

I am fantastic with gifted kids and their families. I can tease out what parts of your child's behavior is completely normal, given her advanced reasoning skills, and what part is sideways and needs attention. I am great with explaining problems to parents, so you can work on it daily and we can put it to rest sooner. I am good at over-thinking your over-thinking kid, and helping them to re-focus on the (oftentimes) simple task at-hand. If you are a gifted family and you need a gifted therapist, you have found the person to call!

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