Plusdotation: What Does It Mean and How Is It Discovered?

Have you heard of plusdotation or gifted children and are wondering what it means?

In this article, we discuss what plusdotation means, what gifted children look like, who makes the diagnosis of plusdotation, when to make the diagnosis, and what tests are needed.

What is plusdotation?

What did you think of when you first heard about a gifted child?

Maybe the stereotypical genius child you saw on some TV show?

To the expression of some neurodivergence?

Or to those rare stories you hear about kids finishing school in record time?

Well, let’s say that in reality it’s not quite like that; it’s all a little bit more complex.

So let’s find out together what plusdotation is!

What does giftedness mean?

Giftedness affects nearly 3% of the population and is characterized by atypical functioning, characterized by both strengths and weaknesses, compared to those of typically developing peers with average IQs.

This means that about one boy or girl in every two classrooms is gifted, a significant percentage that cannot and should not be ignored.

What do gifted children look like?

Plusdotation is NOT a disorder, and it has no standard diagnostic criteria.

Despite this, there are common characteristics, which distinguish it, including:

  • strong curiosity
  • above-average reasoning processes
  • extreme emotional sensitivity
  • high language skills
  • marked imagination and ease of learning

The gifted child, compared to peers, shows-or has the potential to show an exceptional level of ability at a given time and in specific areas, considered prominent in his or her home culture.

Among these abilities, we have math, music, language, painting and sports.


Who makes the diagnosis of plusdotation?

In most cases, it is the psychologist who assesses the presence of this characteristic.

In order to provide a correct and comprehensive procedure for the recognition of plusdotation, the National Council of the Order of Psychologists (CNOP) has produced specific guidelines.

These guidelines have as their goal the individual well-being of the child who will be able, following a “diagnosis,” to receive the appropriate opportunities for the development of his or her abilities.

When to make a diagnosis of plusdotation?

Gifted children achieve autonomy early on various developmental tasks, often appear motivated and learn very quickly, but conversely, are extremely emotionally sensitive.

This asynchrony between the development of intellectual and emotional and social-relational skills can give rise to anxiety, perfectionism, stress, relational problems with peers, and low self-esteem.

If we notice that our son or daughter may identify with this description, then it may be of great help to refer you to a competent specialist who can support you.

What are the tests for plusdotation?

A necessary, but not sufficient, element for the detection of plusdotation is a high performance on intelligence tests.

Indeed, IQ cannot uniquely define plusdotation, posing merely as a likely indicator of its presence.

Intelligence level tests provide an estimate of a child or youth’s cognitive abilities.

Other intellectual level tests (the WISC test and the K-ABC) are then used, and for practical purposes further insights through neuropsychological testing may be useful.

The final assessment will be given only following observation of the child and interviews that the child and his or her parents sustain with the specialist.

A few practical examples of signs of plus-dotation.

Rapid LearningAbility to quickly understand new concepts and apply them.A 4-year-old child who starts reading children’s books independently.
Advanced VocabularyUtilization of a richer and more advanced vocabulary compared to peers.A 5-year-old child using words like “phenomenon” or “complicated” correctly in sentences.
Exceptional MemoryAbility to remember detailed information after brief exposure.A child who remembers details of a story heard months ago.
Intellectual CuriosityDeep and often intense interest in one or more fields of knowledge.A child asking detailed and technical questions about how a computer or an airplane works.
Critical ThinkingAbility to analyze and evaluate information and arguments in a more complex manner.A child discussing the implications of a decision made by a character in a movie.
CreativityAbility to think in an original way and produce innovative ideas or products.A child inventing a game with their own rules using everyday materials.
Emotional SensitivityIncreased emotional reactivity to environmental stimuli or interpersonal situations.A child who easily gets emotional while watching movies or reading stories.
PerfectionismTendency to be unsatisfied with their own performance if they don’t meet very high standards.A child who gets frustrated if they can’t complete a complex puzzle perfectly.
Preference for Adult CompanyOften preferring the company of adults or older children.A child who spends time discussing with teachers rather than playing with peers.

We are with you.

We at Parentalife are by your side throughout the parenting journey, from the childbearing period to preparing for life with children.

We support you with personalized guides, classes and counseling.

Remember, you will never be alone, we are with you.


  1. What is plusdotation?

    Plusdotation is atypical functioning involving about 3% of the population, characterized by strengths and weaknesses compared to typical peers, with no standard diagnostic criteria.

  2. What do gifted children look like?

    Gifted children often show strong curiosity, above-average reasoning processes, extreme emotional sensitivity, advanced language skills, and strong imagination.

  3. What are the tests for plusdotation?

    Intelligence tests provide an estimate of cognitive abilities, but diagnosis requires observation of the child and interviews with specialists, with parental involvement.


Pezzuti L, Farese M, Dawe J, Lauriola M. The Cognitive Profile of Gifted Children Compared to Those of Their Parents: A Descriptive Study Using the Wechsler Scales. J Intell. 2022 Oct 24;10(4):91. doi: 10.3390/jintelligence10040091. PMID: 36412771; PMCID: PMC9680488.

About the Author

Chiara Fabbiano - Psychologist