Possible Stigma of the Gifted Label
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Many years ago when I took the Stanford Test, my scores came back and
gave my parents a huge shock - from my memory, the numbers across the
top of the page were mostly 98, 97, 99, or like that, with a dip towards
a little bit lower in perhaps the 3d column from the right.
Across my entire life I have always felt that I was somehow "different",
in ways I cannot describe with words - but the truth of what those
numbers meant was and remains some kind of a deep dark secret which my
parents refuse[d] to tell me - they skipped me thru the 5th grade, which
meant that a young boy who already felt terribly isolated and achingly
lonely, became an adult who is even more so; in my life now I am among
other things a symphony oboist in not one but TWO! orchestras, I am also
a self taught jazz guitarist [ thank you Barney Kessel].
I have by a bit of good fortune acquired both a tenor and alto sax (they
were both GIFTS) and I'm learning how to play them - I am also a pianist
- I have perfect pitch - I have been tested in my vocabulary at 3& of
the population - I am wondering whether you might be able to tell me
what those numbers really mean - what IS this deep dark secret about my
life, of which my parents have for all intents LIED TO ME since I was a
gradeschooler? can you help ? who [ what ?] am I, really ?
By the time I was about 13 I had memorized a lot of the contents of the
Mendeleev Periodic table, I had a chemistry set and was amazed by the
nature of matter and how all of Creation was inter-related and linked by
You did not mention how many years back, so it is possible that it was
at a time when being gifted was a label that may be associated with a
host of mental concerns which may have scared off parents, hence the
In reality, children tend to tease one another and any label put on a
young child is an invitation for teasing and scorn by others. Your
parents may have been aware of this and possibly advised by someone
significant to leave things as they are. Also, the social stigma of the
gifted label seems to increase in higher grades, so perhaps it was best
to keep it away from you.
Having said that, and as you have experienced in your growing years,
avoiding the gifted label for the sake of avoiding the stigma attached
to it may lead to years of being left behind. For the sake of helping
you fit in the system, what was not realised is that you were indeed
different and could not understand the reason behind it. This only made
things worse and you grew older and further confused. Perhaps your
parents were not aware enough of the importance to be recognised as
gifted. Indeed, it is often the giftedness itself that sets a child
apart from most other same age peers, not the label. With or without the
label, what you needed to know then was that many bright and gifted
children connect more easily with other adults and children that share
their intellectual capabilities and sometimes unusual interests and
passions. It is also to realise that there is nothing wrong with it -
just that not everyone would be like that and that you would need to be
with like-minded peers or adults.
You are without any doubt highly gifted. You need to accept that you are
a little different from most people but there are others like you.
Rather than being confused, try to use you gifts to help others and
contribute to the world. It would be good for you to join a gifted
association and relate and share your experiences - you may just find
others in a similar situation.
These articles may be of help to understand your inner self better:
All the best!