Gifted Children

The Six Types of Gifted Children

According to Dr Maureen Neihart, a licensed child psychologist with more than thirty years’ experience working with gifted children and their families, there are six types of gifted children:

1. The Successful – a level and motivated teacher and parent pleaser who fits the system and learns to underachieve, therefore might not reach their potential. The Successful needs more challenge in a safe environment for risk taking.

2. The Challenging – a divergent and disruptive creative thinker, possibly also a pessimist and introvert. The Challenging can be noisy in class and too much group work may cause distress and an eruption of emotion. Teachers are not keen on too many of these types of students in class.

3. The Underground – previously highly motivated and intensely interested in academic or creative pursuits, the Underground begins to deny their talent as their need to belong rises dramatically. They hide their giftedness to be with peers and simply do enough work to pass but may put time into peer fashion/sport. They appear average.

4. The Dropout – an angry, frustrated student who is bitter with the system that has failed them and causes anguish to everybody. They perceive that they are not accepted for who they are and that society wants to change them. The Dropout will likely refuse any cooperation and any help but counselling can help them. Their problems are not educational but relate to a belief and mindset within them.

5. The Double-Labelled – physically, emotionally or learning disabled as well as being gifted but appears average or even below average. They exhibit symptoms of stress, disruptive behaviours and confusion about their inability to perform school tasks. Society often fails to look past their disability.

6. The Autonomous Learner – independent and self-directed, the Autonomous Learner makes the school system work for them and feels comfortable creating opportunities for themselves. They make up their own minds about how hard to work in the circumstances and what else they have planned. They are well respected by adults and peers and frequently serve in some leadership capacity within their school or community but still need a good coach at the appropriate level.


Only Type 1 – the Successful and Type 6 – the Autonomous Learner are easy to identify in schools.



Betts, George T & Neihart, Maureen “Profiles of the Gifted and Talented” Gifted Child Quarterly Volume 32, No. 2, Spring 1988