Feeling Color

An Insight into a Bright Mind

An Atlas of the Gifted Mind translates neuroscience, physiology, and psychology research for a wide audience through compelling scientific evidence that gifted individuals perceive and respond to the world differently, experiencing heightened emotional, sensory, motor, imaginational, and intellectual processing.

by Nicole Tetreault

Not better, not worse, but neurodiverse

In our society, there are many misunderstood aspects of the gifted experience, as well as myths and misinformation.  Gifted is a part of the spectrum of the human experience: not better, not worse, but neurodiverse.


I intend to open a discussion, by providing accurate information and appropriate language, that engenders compassion for the gifted experience by interpreting the latest scientific findings in neuroscience, psychology, and physiology, that evidence unique sensory processing in gifted individuals.

My son, Spenser

Here is my personal story, when my son, Spencer, was in third grade I learned he read at college level, and he was gifted. I was not surprised, he was a bright kid. But there was another story there. I as a neuroscientist and as his mother, I knew he saw the world differently. That same year, I learned that most of his recesses and lunch times were spent in the library where he read.


My heart sank, because I thought he suffered from social isolation and exclusion. And when I asked him about it he said, “Mom, sometimes I need a break from the kids they are too much and too loud and the library is quiet.” He also did not enjoy participating in team sports at the time because he was afraid of running into other kids and injuring them. Again, I was worried, I thought he should be socializing with other kids that he should be an athlete like his father and me. I was filled with anxiety because I did not understand.


I feared he would be alone and not connect with other kids. I had an expectation of what was perceived as normal. And I felt we were not that. Then the light bulb moment hit me during a parent teacher conference, when his third grade teacher said to me insightfully, “Spencer knows how to self regulate, if he needs quiet at lunch time and the library relaxes him, let it be his way to recharge.”


I was struck by how simple and true it was. He did not need to change or conform to what anyone thought a third grader should be doing. He is perfectly right being exactly who he is going to the library and reading during lunch time and socializing with the librarian and teachers. Spencer had his own speed and navigating in the world and it was exactly right for him.


The most humbling part of being a parent is when your child challenges you to step out your comfort zone and see them, accept them, and advocate for them to be exactly as they are. During that same conference, my husband and I learned that his reading goal of the time was to read at appropriate times, since his desk was filled with eleven books and he still to this day can be caught reading for hours and playing legos.


Now in 8th grade, Spencer came into sports later, he plays on basketball and soccer on multiple teams and holds the school record for the fastest mile. Still to this day, he is cautious on the field and court and opts out on scoring if it means injuring another player and I would not have it any other way. He came into his own on his own terms and his own time and I learned from him, how to understand and accept difference in diversity.


Spencer continues to teach me to be better and open my eyes to gifted and human diversity.


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Questions for Nicole:

What is your idea worth spreading?

Gifted people are unfairly tagged as freaks, geeks and weirdos. Our study shows high IQ is a risk for psychological and physiological conditions. Originating with a unique neuroanatomy and physiology, gifted people experience elevated intellectual, sensory and emotional processing. With our data, and that of others, we can understand that “Gifted” are not better, not worse, but neurodiverse.