A Little Background on Deborah Ruf, Author of the Ruf Estimates Kids IQ Test
Why did I think it a good idea to develop an online assessment to determine "how gifted" young children are? Why does that matter? And, what kind of person is trying to give parents this kind of guidance? Personally, I would want to know where a person is coming from before I took their advice. My YouTube video (http://www.talentigniter.com/ruf-estimates-kids-iq-test) explains it, but what do I really think and believe?
I'm often asked, "What first got you involved in working with gifted children?"
I got involved working with gifted children in much the same way a lot of us specialists did: I became a parent. I originally trained as an elementary school teacher, but until I had children of my own I really didn’t know what the needs of gifted children were. As my children started school, I learned that they each had different needs, different ways of coping with what they encountered in school, and they each required different kinds of attention and support both at home and at school. So I decided to get a doctorate in educational psychology so that I could learn more about what intelligence is, where it comes from, and how it affects people. I only started working with gifted children professionally when my own children were leaving the nest.
I am no longer accepting new clients. I want more time for writing, working on public policy changes in education, and product development that will help families and educators recognize and meet the needs of highly intelligent individuals.
I am also often asked this question: "What do you feel is primary: the social, emotional, or cognitive needs of the gifted?"
When my own children started school, I was primarily concerned about their cognitive needs related to academics. I wanted them to be challenged in school and to learn to their capacity, not limited by grade-level expectations. I realize now that these three attributes you mention are equally important. Social and emotional needs cannot be met if we ignore academic and cognitive needs. When we support the gifted child with appropriate intellectual stimulation and academic pacing, the child often finds him- or herself among true peers and their social and emotional needs are more likely to be met. It is when we do not fit in with the group with whom we spend the majority of our time that we can feel awkward, lonely, and generally out of sorts.
I have a way to explain what I mean by ‘‘true peers’’: One thing I tell parents is that, if we were to stretch out the IQ continuum to its original 200+ points (as on the old Stanford– Binet, Form L–M scale), we find that the average IQ distance between two people who marry each other or become soul-mate best friends is only 12 points on that 200-point scale. Beyond that distance in intellectual capacity, people don’t often get each other’s jokes or find themselves on the same ‘‘wave-length.’’ They feel lonely and misunderstood. In the typical classroom that is based on age rather than readiness to learn, there is usually an IQ range (using that old ‘‘mental age’’ compared with chronological age of the 200 IQ point range) of more than 100 points. The children in the average range (where the majority lie) find it fairly easy to find true peer friendships, people who get their jokes and share their interests. For children who are in the very high or low ranges of thinking and problem-solving ability, there are fewer children like them, fewer children who share their humor or their interests. It’s harder to find someone else who is like you if you are too unusual in your own capacity or talent.
I also tell parents that, when they select summer classes from various university programs for young gifted students, not only is the range of ability narrowed, but choice of project narrows the peer-group further. When we choose something based on our own interests and readiness for a topic, we find that the other kids who signed up did the same thing!
Often, children aren’t identified as gifted until they’re in their teens. This leads to many problems, in my opinion. Sadly, a great deal of emotional, social, and academic damage has already been done if a gifted child is identified late. For example, many of these kids have learned to underachieve—they learn to accept the slower, easier work and pace and learn less than they could have and should have—and have a very distorted view of themselves and their abilities. The common quote ‘‘Even though he’s smart, he hasn’t amounted to anything’’ is always about someone whose needs weren’t met. And yet we blame the individual instead of the system that let him or her down. A lot of very sad adults contact me about their own ‘‘wasted’’ or ‘‘confused’’ experiences and lives. I highly recommend Douglas Eby’s websites on adult giftedness and the issues surrounding wasted talent: http://www.educationaloptions.com/resources/resources_ruf_ar.php
So, my hope is to write a follow-up book, a sort of "Where are they now?" for my 5 Levels of Gifted book (http://www.greatpotentialpress.com/five-levels-of-gifted), wherein I revisit the 78 children profiled throughout the high ability range to see how things are going for them after ten years. These were all children whose families had worked with me, so their parents knew the children were gifted and what they needed in order to thrive. Let's see what happened.
I also want very much to write a book about gifted adults. Too many adults weren't ever definitively identified during their school years and struggled mightily to understand who they were. Am I smart? Am I not smart? Is there something wrong with me? If I'm so smart, why isn't my life going better?