Not sure what it means if they draw a bunch of dots when they're meant to be drawing people.
Not sure what it means if they draw a bunch of dots when they're meant to be drawing people. Katy McDonnell

Gifted child? Well, that depends on what they draw

FORGET IQ tests, researchers have come up with a new way to tell if your kid is a genius - and you might want to start by taking a second look at their scribbles.

According to a new study from Radboud University in the Netherlands, there are 30 "exceptional items" only gifted children include when they're drawing people.

For example, details like eye make-up, freckles, hair on the arms, fingernails or characteristics like having hands in the pockets can indicate high intelligence.

You should also keep an eye out for adornments like a ring, braces, a bow tie, shoe zippers and techniques like using straight lines and drawing a frame.

It may not sound like it, but even pictures showing stick figures urinating or with mucus running down their face could indicate your kid is seriously smart.

The study, called "Identifying Highly Gifted Children by Analyzing Human Figure Drawings", suggested giftedness was about more than just having a high IQ.

"The role of creativity - in the form of generating novel ideas, thinking flexibly and out-of-the box - is considered as a part of some models concerning giftedness," said co-author Sven Mathijssen.

Traditionally, gifted programs have required children to achieve high results on some kind of standardised intelligence test before they can enrol.

However, he warned that poses the risk of overlooking so-called "underachievers", who may perform poorly due to being so intelligent they are simply bored.

"It is ... possible that a child may score at a relatively low level on an intelligence test despite high potential," he said.
Nerves are another factor that may affect performance.

"Test anxiety is a possible cause for academic underachievement," he said.

"When a child is asked to 'draw a person,' that child is likely engaging in an activity that he or she has done many times and is therefore often not threatened by this task."

The research compared the drawings of 120 children aged seven to nine, 47 of whom were highly gifted and 73 of whom measured average.

"Closer examination showed that different items were present in the (human figure drawings) of highly gifted and non-gifted children," he said.

His team of scientists is now investigating further.

First, they'll replicate the study to see if results are consistent, then conduct a similar test with children aged between four and six.

They're hoping to develop a new diagnostic screening instrument.

"The present study does not aim to measuring intelligence, because identifying giftedness goes beyond measuring intelligence," he said.

"Looking beyond regular testing seems advisable".

So next time your child proudly presents you with artwork containing toes, nose piercings or things like wings or a tail, take note.

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