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High Capabilities and Child Giftedness, basic concepts

High Capabilities and Child Giftedness, basic concepts

The high intellectual abilities (AACC) It is the name we refer to to include people who have different cognitive characteristics from the rest of the population. Their intellectual potential and the capacity for learning is much higher, so they are people who require a series of differentiated educational measures so that their cognitive and emotional development is satisfactory.


  • 1 What are High Capabilities or giftedness?
  • 2 Prevalence of the AACC
  • 3 Models and theories about intelligence
  • 4 Why are High Capacities not always detected?
  • 5 Do not confuse with other capabilities

What are the High Capabilities or giftedness?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a person with high abilities as "one that has an intellectual quotient greater than 130", although this scale is less and less used to measure people's intelligence.

Theboys and girls with high capacities are those who learn very differently, not especially the learning styles, but the way of learning that is radically different and differentiates them from others.

All children are special, and have strengths or virtues in certain areas. However, some children have more advanced skills that require adjustments at home and at school to help them grow and learn. As you watch your child grow and develop, you may have noticed certain different skills or characteristics of children of the same age. For example, your child can:

  • Be very curious and observant.
  • Use more adult words and reasoning.
  • Have different unusual ideas.
  • Recognize complex sequences and relationships.
  • Find solutions to problems unexpectedly.
  • Show a great memory.
  • Ask unusual questions.
  • Demonstrate advanced talent in certain areas (such as math, science, writing, art, music or interpretation).
  • Learn letters or numbers early, and read before a formal teaching.

Children can show high capacities in different ways, and parents are usually the first to realize their special abilities. If you observe a large number of these behaviors in your child, it may be a sign that their development is somewhat advanced. "

Prevalence of the AACC

According to the intelligence or IC score ranges observed in the population for years, statistically it is considered that there is approximately 10 to 15% of the population that is above the average, which is known ashigh intellectual abilities (AACC). And up to 2% of the entire population is at the far right of the Gauss bell.

It doesn't seem like much, but the amount is not that low either. It is the first case for example, if we take into account that in a school it is easy to have two classes per school year, which means 25 students per class and 50 per course, we find an average of one gifted per course and school. In a two-line school such as the one in this example, we would have a total of 450 students, of which between 9 and 10 would be gifted (let alone those considered with high capacities). In a city with about 100,000 inhabitants, which in Spain usually has a 15% population between 0 and 15 years, there are already 300 gifted children (and we are leaving aside the adult population). At the level of Spain and in all age groups, we would be talking about approximately one million minds with AACC.

Models and theories about intelligence

Performance based model

In the United States they have a great experience in the education of students with high capacities. There are currently several recognized models for this type of study, such as that created by Dr. Joseph Renzulli, of the Research Institute for Gifted Education (University of Connecticut, USA).

This specialist establishes the Three Rings Model where the characteristics that the gifted individual must possess to be considered as such are analyzed. A gifted person has, according to Joseph Renzulli, the combination of elements of a good information processing system (high intelligence), with high originality and divergent thinking (creativity) and sufficient motivation to ensure the realization of its potential (homework involvement).

Intellectual capacity above average

Although they don't have to be extraordinarily intelligent. It is shown that most productive people do not have IQ scores.

So, A gifted child differs from his peers not so much for his level of intelligence, but for his ability to learn many things and solve problems through novel answers or by their ease in concentrating on the completion of a task.

Educational experts dealing with gifted children propose that the greatest weight on the prognosis of a student's intellectual ability is produced with evidence of a high level of performance in school (performance demonstrated over a period of time along with the results of the corresponding academic tests).

A high degree of dedication to tasks

They dedicate more energy to solve a specific problem or a specific activity than any other person. Perseverance is a significant characteristic common to most gifted.

Normally, this characteristic is not detected in the school, because the tasks that are performed do not force you to be focused on something concrete for a long time. Parents, however, have many opportunities to observe this type of behavior and provide numerous examples.

High levels of creativity

They are usually original, witty, and unusual people. While, normally, we agree on things that connote creativity, the difficulty has always been how to measure it. The specific tests that were dedicated to quantify it have not been very satisfactory or subjective.

However, the type and nature of the work of these gifted students (maps, poetry, scientific experiments, games, dances, costumes, etc.) are much more reliable indicators of the existence of creativity.

The Multiple Intelligence Model

Beyond this theory of the rings, goes the Theory of Multiple Intelligences of H. Gardner (1983), in which there are three fundamental ideas:

  • Intelligence is not a unitary dimension, but rather a set of abilities, talents or cognitive abilities that he calls intelligences. According to this author, intelligence is the ability to see problems and create products that can be valued within one or more cultural fields.
  • Each one of these intelligences constitutes its own system and independent of the rest.
  • These intelligences interact with each other, so that a subject can exhibit them at a given time, but this situation is fluid and changing.
  • This author disagrees with a model that considers intelligence hierarchically and unitarily, nor with the implications of this model in the field of intelligence measurement, especially with the IQ tests. The MI theory was proposed in 1983 and in recent years it has been gaining relevance, especially in the educational and school environment. In this article we want to describe this theory, its strengths and weaknesses in the framework of modern intelligence psychology.

Howard Gardner, has proposed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) according to which the human cognitive abilities are:

  • linguistic intelligence
  • the logical-mathematical
  • body-kinesthetic
  • the musical
  • the space
  • the naturalist
  • and the social one, which is divided into two: the interpersonal and the intrapersonal

Why are High Capacities not always detected?

We must know that in traditional studies, by limiting the concept of giftedness to obtaining high scores on intelligence tests, sometimes confused gifted children with those environmentally enriched, that is, those who are called "awake children", very stimulated by their parents, since traditional tests define only the current level of execution, which can be determined by conditioning factors such as training and not so much by real abilities of the child.

On other occasions we are not always able to detect a gifted child, since we usually think that they are applied students and of brilliant academic record, while, often, accustomed to overcome the first courses without effort and dominated by the boredom of learning at a faster rate than the rest of the classmates, these children do not develop study habits and it is not uncommon for them to have poor school performance in the absence of intellectual stimulation.

At school they feel disconnected from their peers and misunderstood by teachers, get bored in class and consider the contents uninteresting or stimulating. The best known case of this is that of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Albert Einstein, who at 12 was considered unfit for study by his professors.

To all this is added the fact that they can also be problematic children in school, if they reject the authority of teachers or become too restless and active.

Nor should we forget that gifted children are characterized by a high intellectual level, but that each one as an individual has their own personality, they are not all the same. This means that while one can be rewarded a lot for being congratulated and admired by their professors thanks to their academic milestones and is always willing to learn, another may have other not so academic motivations, it can have a more “passive” character. ”So to speak and focus their qualities on other aspects of life and only their true aptitudes are seen when they realize how quickly they acquire knowledge in general or because of their hustlers.

Do not confuse with other capabilities

Giftedness can easily be confused with other intellectual phenomena that, because they are also scarce and extraordinary, lead to the idea that an individual is gifted when he really is not.

Some of these exceptional traits susceptible to confusion may be:


Talent refers to the targeting of a capacity in a cognitive aspect or in a skill for the performance or exercise of an occupation. A talented person performs prominently in a given area of ​​knowledge regardless of the work they can do in other areas. While the gifted person has a cognitive structure and information processing capabilities that fit any content, the talented presents a combination of cognitive elements that make him especially suitable for a given subject. His intellectual structure would therefore be incomplete in relation to that of the gifted, who has a more universal intellect.

Another significant factor is that for an individual to be considered talented, he has to perform an activity that is socially and culturally accepted and recognized as of great value.

Talent is subdivided into areas:

  • Logical-mathematical and verbal intelligence (which are included in general intelligence or convergent thinking)
  • Creativity (divergent thinking)
  • Leadership
  • Academic skills specific
  • Motor skills
  • Capacities in the visual arts and representative
  • Artistic capabilities

The talented person stands out in some of these areas in a prominent way, while the gifted without highlighting in a striking way maintains a constant level.

Different types of talented people can be distinguished depending on the field in which it stands out:

  • Talented subjects in the "general intelligence" variable (convergent thinking). They are characterized by a good general academic adaptation (ability to concentrate, work method, solid structuring of knowledge, etc.). The level of socialization is medium and usually show a normal emotional evolution for their age and social class.
  • Talented subjects in the "creativity" variable (divergent thinking). They have an irregular school profile and tend to be well regarded by their peers, although they can often present abrupt behavior. They usually have good ideas but they lack methodology to develop them.
  • Talented subjects for leadership. They are people with a strong character of leader, social intelligence that allows them to establish relationships with great ease.
  • Ssubjects with specific academic skills. They show high performance in one or more specific areas. Nor do they have problems to relate socially and emotionally mature in a peer way.
  • Subjects with psychomotor skills. They are usually people with great sports skills or with a special ability to dance. They stand out in features such as flexibility, strength, endurance, rhythm, coordination ... Regarding the performance in intellectual and academic tasks so that it cannot be generalized. In most cases they show a very acceptable level of socialization and are highly valued by their peers.
  • Subjects with artistic skills. Despite having a normal academic performance, his socialization is irregular, always depending on the type of artistic talent he develops.


Creativity is defined as the human faculty to identify, pose or solve a problem in a relevant and divergent way.

One of the pioneers who developed a study on creativity was J.P Guildford. In the decade of the 50-60s of the twentieth century, he made, from the scientific point of view, a true theorization on the subject and differentiated four variables that are the most frequently used to measure creativity:

  • The fluidity It refers to the ability to generate a considerable amount of ideas or responses to established approaches.
  • Flexibility It refers to the power to formulate responses that belong to different categories, provoking a search and a broader vision or simply different from what was always had.
  • The elaboration It consists of adding elements or details to ideas that already exist, modifying some of their attributes. It requires managing skills and lots of information.
  • The originality It is the most outstanding aspect of creativity since it involves thinking of ideas that nobody had come up with before or visualizing problems differently.

The concept of creativity is another characteristic that the gifted possesses. You can be creative without being gifted, but not vice versa. To be qualified as a person with high intellectual capacity one must have creativity.

Art is not only the only vehicle of expression of this capacity, since there are other equally valid forms through which to channel this potentiality.

Early maturity

Gifted children mature faster than the rest of their peers who are the same age and show behaviors that are typical of older children.

Many times early development does not have to be identified as giftedness because in most cases children end up matching their age, or their difference is specified in some area, identifying as talent.


Identify individuals with great intellectual superiority who make very relevant contributions to society. The gifted possess this faculty and rise above the average intellectual level.

They perceive the intimate relationships between things, gather and combine materials wisely, invent or discover creating and anticipating in their time promoting a new point of view that exceeds those already established.


The term is understood as a quality possessed by an individual who possesses a high degree of intelligence, compared to other subjects in the environment.

A brilliant person shows greater academic performance and is able to memorize a greater number of data, etc ...

Informative video about High Children's Capabilities:

Links of interest

Detection questionnaire for gifted children. (34 years)
Detection questionnaire for gifted children. (5 - 8 years old)
Detection questionnaire for gifted children. (9 - 14 years old)