Deborah L. Ruf, in her new book Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind (Great Potential, 2005), contends that far more intellectually advanced students exist than is commonly thought and that to educate them effectively, degrees of giftedness must be understood. Ruf defines five levels of giftedness and identifies the typical IQ score range and the age at which children typically exhibit milestone behaviors. Her book describes each level in depth and provides real-life examples.
The chapter “What These Kids Are Like” describes the personality, social, and emotional characteristics of gifted children and explains how these characteristics can cause difficulties for the gifted among their same-age peers and in school. Ruf does not make broad generalizations but takes into account variability among individual children.
Ruf asserts that the focus on social adjustment in middle school and the American system of grouping children by age are responsible for the problems many gifted children face in school. She presents a prescriptive method for meeting the academic needs of gifted children by setting forth educational options that work for each level of giftedness at various ages.