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Gifted and Disorganized

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: I am a parent of a gifted child. Every test that my son (Tyrone Ferguson) has every taken he has exceeded the standards, Scoring highest in math and science. He has been in accelerated classes since the 4th grade.

He has always been very unorganized and it is a growing concern of mine because it continues to hinder him, it causes him to be very forgetful. My questions:

  • Are gifted children usually unorganized?

  • What can I do to help him?

Please help!

A: Yes, it is a fact that gifted children can be quite disorganized. This is due to the quick paced minds of these children cognitively, making them busy thinking over thousands of things at one time. This reflects in their actions and behavior and you may even find that their rooms can be very disorganized. They often find school work rather easy and this causes them to do their school tasks quickly without much thought and this causes them to lack skills in time management, organization, studying and sometimes prioritizing.

Your son has been accelerated and is going through advanced programs; hence, he may be having difficulty completing school tasks that makes him appear very disorganized. You have not mentioned in detail the areas he is disorganized, so I am just assuming it is a general area. There is no indication of age as well.

He may be able to benefit from some specific training in time management, study skills, and goal setting - skills that need to be learnt and exercised. You may want to see his counselor at school to help him with some of the skills mentioned. If his teacher is aware of the problem, it would be a good idea to get the teacher to suggest way to help him cope. Depending on his age, he may be rewarded for completing his tasks on time and being more organized. However, schools usually do not teach such skills, therefore, it is up to the parents to help gifted children to be more organized. Organizational skills of gifted children are often their weak point which is why parents should devote time and effort to their development.

This can be the case of the absent minded professor - disorganized and forgetful. You may need to seek professional help for time management; at the same time, perhaps you can devise a system to help him maintain some control to help him be more organized and less forgetful. Please do not expect miracles. He has been like this for some time and it may take a while to improve. Losing your patience on him would only make matters worse.

Has he been tested for ADHD? It is common for gifted children with ADHD to have more pronounced problems in this area. They need extra help learning organizational skills and strategies to help them remember things. Do seek professional help if the problem is getting worse as without help, it may not get better.

The following articles may be helpful:

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/810858/help-for-disorganized-kids

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Help-Your-Disorganized-Child---Seven-Tips-For-Better-Organization&id=2175149 (For any child, gifted or not)

http://giftedkids.about.com/od/schoolissues/a/homework.htm (Specifically for homework)

Hope that helps. All the best!


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