Skip to main content

A different kind of normal

This blogging business is a bit hard sometimes. I have a bunch of stuff I'd like to tell you, share with you, but I have my teens' privacy to take into account.

So today I want to be a bit nerdy and talk about bell curves and IQ and levels of giftedness, because those things are impacting on my kids, and as a result, on us as a family. And I think we need to talk about these issues because sharing is caring, right? And I know that if I know someone else is going through the same sorts of things that we are, I feel a bit better. A bit more "normal". Whatever the hell that is!

And therein lies (today's) problem. Most of the population falls within the "average" range of intelligence. And most people think of "average" as "normal". Those people in the middle of the bell curve are not significantly different from each other. They find it relatively easy to find people to whom they relate, who are similar to them in their thinking.

If you are in the top 1% of the scores, the range of scores (from about 135 to over 200) is as broad a range of scores as is encompassed from the 2nd percentile (IQ 64) to the 98th (IQ 132). In terms of intellectual capacity, a profoundly gifted child of IQ 190, differs from moderately gifted classmates of IQ 130 to the same degree as the latter differs from intellectually disabled children of IQ 70 (Miraca Gross - Exceptionally Gifted Children 2004).

But IQ scores are no longer derived from a ratio, they are scored on a curve, so we don't get the fine detail of the upper end of the spectrum. For those that think in pictures, here's a close-up:

Now I'm not saying how far my kids are to the right or that curve. We don't really know HOW gifted they are because the newer IQ tests don't test that high - the waters start to get muddied around the 140-145 mark. Those scores of 160, 170, 180, 190, 200, 200+ plus are derived from an older IQ test that doesn't get used much now (the Stanford-Binet LM form - check out info on IQ tests and what they mean for highly gifted +  here). We do know that they are in that grey area from the top graph. Somewhere on that line that contains very few people on the bottom graph.


My point is, they ARE different to the vast majority of the population. Maybe really, really different. And note I said DIFFERENT. Not better. Their brains are wired differently - their intellectual capacity lets them learn differently, faster, with a desire to think more complexly than the rest of us (probably myself included).

Is is any wonder they feel "abnormal"? Add the fact that they both experience Executive Functioning Issues. Also add in that with high intellectual capacity, usually comes high emotional intensity.

I feel sad that (at least) one of my kids considers themselves "abnormal". Because that means they think of themselves as something annoying or bad - the negative connotation usually associated with abnormal, whereas all they want to feel acceptable or good. What I want for them (both) is to consider themselves as part of the big normal, a different normal, but normal nonetheless. I want them to know I will do everything I can to nurture their potential and their intensity, but I also really want them to believe in themselves.

This teenage business is hard enough - finding your authentic self in a sea of hormones, peers, media and family. Tough times, people! Most of us would not go willingly back to those years! And here they are also dealing with being fundamentally different from those peers.

How do we deal with this? A LOT of patience, tea and tissues, I find helps. Knowing that this too shall pass. Talking about what being different means. That in this case, yes, it's different and not easy, but it's not a bad thing. Taking the pressure off - no expectations of cures for cancer here! But talking about what the differences are and why they are just different, not worse or better for that matter. Just different.

A different kind of normal.


  1. IQ has been tested at 145. I've always felt completely normal and not particularly clever. I'm a bit weird sure, but isn't everyone? I struggle socially but its absolutely zero to do with my above average IQ. Maybe 145 is low enough to be normal. I dunno.

    1. Well, we are all different. Why is it you struggle socially, Alyson?

    2. Well, we are all different. Why is it you struggle socially, Alyson?

  2. I was always an odd ball at school, but at uni I found my happy place. The bigger pool made a big difference.

  3. As a kid I scored over 150 on an IQ test and I DEFINITELY felt different. I still do today.

    I expect great and interesting lives for those guys!

  4. Rhetorical question: why try to make them feel "normal" when they can clearly see they aren't? Doesn't that make them feel like perhaps you may see different as bad? I've always subscribed to the idea that perhaps everyone is genius in their own way. The cheerleaders / football star are genius in social skills etc. Everyone is different except that no one is immune to suffering these days sadly. Maybe when your young ones realize they don't suffer alone then they will see where everyone is the same.

    1. I don't try to make them feel "normal" - as you say, they aren't, but I wish that the wider society saw "normal" as something a lot wider - with much more variety and I wish that we valued that a lot more.

  5. My oldest kid is a PG adult now (the tippy top) while my other *children* are more "normally" gifted. When talking to parents of other normal gifted kids, they have no idea what I'm talking about when I say that DS1 thinks differently - they can't imagine this huge gap in intelligence.

    1. Exactly! They think fundamentally differently - at a recent parent teacher night (god, help me!), Wombat Girl's advanced maths teacher said "she doesn't think the same as the rest of us" - it was a good comment, but shows how different they are!

  6. Are you able to provide any source information for the bell curve graphs you've included with this post? Many thanks!

    1. I think I got the coloured one from here: and the other one from here:'.html


Post a Comment

Bloggers LOVE comments! We are pretty needy that way, so go on, leave some love :-)

Popular posts from this blog

I see...

We've had a couple of interesting weeks here. Video Boy has inherited his mother's shocking vision - he has myopia (commonly known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness). It occurs when the eyes focus light in front of the retina, leading to unfocussed vision.

Close up is usually OK, but distance vision is pretty fuzzy:

For me, even the couple would have been blurry! I was "medically blind" which meant I got my optometrist fees covered by Medicare (yay!).

So, Video Boy has had glasses for a couple of years now - he has broken one pair and then lost the replacement pair (grrr) and so for a couple of months, his world has looked like the picture on the right...and he was squinting to watch TV, read signs, pretty much all the time.
So, we went off to the optometrist last week to get us some new glasses!
The optometrist is up on all the latest research - with Wombat Girl, we bought a software program with special "lenses" and she had to do a practice session…

Creating order from chaos...

We have been diving headlong into an amazing rabbit trail of maths, and science and art and if I don't share with you some of these thoughts and experiences and links they will be lost forever like much of the mists swirling through my brain!

And there is SOOO much good stuff whirring through my brain that I don't know where to logically start and how to group it all so it might make some sense, so instead, I think I will just let you follow our story - our rabbit trail that led to so much good stuff...and maybe, you will like some of it too!

After viewing Vi Hart's diatribe on parabolas, the kids were keen to actually graph some parabolas. But before we actually got to that, Hubby wanted see the video, so we watched it again, and that led us to reviewing the ones on spirals and fibonacci:

As we were watching, Video Boy grabbed the graph paper (because you always have spare graph paper lying around, don't you?) and started experimenting with the fibonacci spirals shown…

52 Ancestors - So Far Away

This week's #52ancestorsin52weeks is Father's Day - but of course, it's not Father's Day in Australia, so I'm going to do the theme we had a couple of weeks ago when I was away - So Far Away.

When you first start doing your family tree, it's exciting to see how "far back" you can go with your branches. Until last weekend, the furthest back on my direct line was Benjamin Broome, my 9th great-grandfather born in 1646 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England (grandfather of John Broom in my carpet story), which I thought was a long way back!

Last weekend, I was searching back to see if I could see a link between the Freemans on my Dad's side and the Freemans on my Mum's side (spoiler alert - not yet). Anyway, I was having a search on Joseph Freeman (my 5th great-grandfather born in Gloucestershire, England in 1765) and his wife - Sarah Arkell (my 5th great-grandmother also from Gloucestershire, England, born in 1767). Well, I had her father John…