Macquarie University
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Toward an inclusive gifted spectrum: attachment, maternal depression, and identification of gifted children

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posted on 2022-03-29, 01:30 authored by Mimi Wellisch
This thesis by publication is presented in three parts. Part I provides the theoretical background to the thesis. The main research questions—whether there are associations between giftedness and attachment, and giftedness and maternal depression, and if so, what implications there are for the identification of gifted children—are explored through analysis of associated interdisciplinary literature. A part empirical, part conceptual, picture is sketched of possible associations between attachment, maternal depression, and giftedness. A proposal is made for a gifted spectrum, inclusive of children unable to fully display their ability because of learning disorders or emotional and behavioural difficulties, perhaps associated with attachment and maternal depression. Part II contains two exploratory studies. Associations between attachment, maternal depression, and giftedness were explored in a quantitative study with 80 children aged 7 to 10 years and their parents. Although the findings were not significant, there was a trend indicating an increased likelihood for gifted children to be securely attached. A follow-up qualitative study consisted of interviews with 11 mothers of gifted children. The interviews indicated that these children tended to be misunderstood by mothers due to their differentness, especially if mothers had reported maternal depression. Misunderstandings were then more likely with peers, were also experienced through inappropriate educational provisions, and these misunderstood children were more likely to have internalising problems. In Part III, Gagné’s gifted model, referenced and implemented by Australian education departments, is analysed and critiqued in relation to its limited application to gifted underachieving children. A proposed new model, the inclusive gifted identification and progression model, is then introduced. The model sets out pathways for all gifted children, including those with learning and other disorders. Parts I and II are drawn on in the last chapter to inform the discussion on educational implications, limitations, including those in the studies, and recommendations for future research.


Table of Contents

Part I. The gifted spectrum : introduction, orientation to the literature, and theoretical approach -- Part II. Exploratory studies on giftedness, attachment and maternal depression -- Part III. The assessment, identification, and education of the gifted.


Thesis by publication. Bibliography: pages 289-341

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jac Brown

Additional Supervisor 1

Alan Taylor


Copyright Mimi Wellisch 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




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