Gifted children are considered special education students: smarter than 95% of the population, with an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of 130 or higher. An IQ of 100 denotes average intelligence. There are also qualitative measures of people's abilities. Howard Gardner conceptualizes people's strengths in terms of multiple intelligences. Gifted adults are also characterized by quick mental speed, sophistication of thought, high levels of sensitivity, drive, and a sense of humor.
Streznewski interviewed 100 adults, ages 18-90 years, with open-ended questions in order to determine how extraordinary abilities affect people's lives. Very bright people are oftentimes considered to be weird and are ostracized by peers who feel threatened by their talents. As kids, they do not feel sufficiently challenged by school. Interestingly enough, the high school dropout rate for gifted kids may be three times as high as those kids of normal intelligence levels.
Gifted adults are frequently bored at work, and they continually seek ever-greater challenges. They have innovative ideas for use in the workplace.
It is estimated that up to 20% of inmates may be gifted due to their marginalization in society and the fact that school does not appeal to them. Certain crimes, such as embezzlement and others, require high levels of intelligence to carry out.
It is difficult for some gifted folks to find mates who have comparable levels of intelligence, and some do not want to retire in their later years because they are filled with such energy for the world.
Gifted Grown Ups: the Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential by Marylou Kelly Streznewski, 1999
This was a fascinating read, which includes enlightening anecdotes and excerpts from interviews with the gifted adults. I devoured this one.