Sensory Sensitivities of Gifted Children


Douglas Gere

Date of Graduation

Spring 2002


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Steve Capps


To parents and teachers, gifted children often display behavioral characteristics that appear quite different from the general population. Research on the gifted has focused on topics such as emotional sensitivity and creativity. However, very little has been reported regarding the study of the sensory sensitivity of this group. Many reports from those who interact with gifted children suggest that these children possess increased sensitivity to physical stimulation (tactile, visual, and auditory). Data was gathered from parents of gifted children 6 to 11 years of age who attend a public elementary gifted program. Parents were asked to complete a sensory questionnaire (Sensory Profile) about their child (125 questions). These data were compared to the norm population data provided with the testing instrument. One-sample t-tests were conducted for each of fourteen categories of sensory sensitivity. Across the fourteen categories the gifted children were found to be more sensitive (p<.05, adjusted to p<.003 for each category) in the areas of auditory processing, vestibular processsing, touch processing, modulation of movement affecting activity level, modulation of sensory input affecting emotional responses emotional/social responses, and behavioral outcomes of sensory processing. Thus, gifted children were found to be more sensitive to their physical environment. Further, it is suggested that gifted children respond to their physical sensitivity with heightened emotional and behavioral responses. Professionals working with gifted children may benefit from applying this information to classroom management, counseling sessions, and parent training. A brief discussion of how this information can be applied is presented.

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© Douglas Gere