Many people are of the opinion that special education programs for gifted children are an unnecessary burden on tightly-budgeted and under-funded school systems, but this is actually far from the truth. The gifted are perhaps the most neglected group of special needs children in almost every school district. Because many people assume that the gifted do not need extra attention, gifted programs are often the first program to be cut when budgets are reduced, but I suggest that they be the last to go. These children have profound talents and are just as deserving of extra attention as children who are physically or mentally handicapped.
Gifted children experience many difficulties, including loneliness and ridicule. They suffer from lack of friends of their own age for many reasons, but mainly because they communicate on a completely different level than other children. They find it impossible to relate to children their own age but they are not yet adults, able to function on their own in society (Tolan 1). Gifted programs give them exposure to other children similar to themselves, and regardless if any friendships develop from being involved in one of these programs, they are made aware that they are not alone.
Perhaps we can recall the "smart kid" in our own class - the brain, the egghead, or the geek who was often ridiculed for getting good grades. Children like these often will try to make mistakes or get poor grades in an attempt to fit it with the rest of the children. But "fit in" is exactly what they cannot do. Gifted children are actually considered to be a deviant intelligence and it is practically impossible to find a gifted child who does not experience socialization problems (Campbell).
One of the most devastating areas of unsupported giftedness is their failure to succeed. School systems unwilling or unable to provide gifted programs leave these children in the regular classroom and they soon become bored or inattentive. Gifted children have a different learning style that allows them to absorb vast amounts of material much faster than the average child. The current trend in education of introducing a new idea and then building upon it is simply too slow for them. It has been likened to "feeding an elephant one blade of grass at a time - he will starve before he realizes someone is trying to feed him" (Tolan 3). These children may demonstrate what appear to be poor academic skills, causing them to appear to be less capable (Oettinger 11). Sloppy handwriting can signify that a child's hands cannot keep pace with his quick mind; some are poor spellers because they do not see words as collections of single letters and some may even have trouble with memorization (Tolan 3). Gifted programs allow them to use their skills in ways that are better suited to their learning style.
Many parents and educators are intrigued to note that gifted children often function on several different levels of...