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The Association for Bright Children (ABC) of Ontario is a provincial association whose mandate is the healthy development of bright and gifted children and youth. A significant part of our mandate is advocating for gifted children in the education system – through support for families, representation on school board SEACs, and participation in provincial level committees including direct advocacy to the Ministry of Education. ABC Ontario has consistently been represented on the HCDSB SEAC for a number of years. Your current reps are Maria Lourenco and Jessica Lim. Both Maria and Jessica are HCDSB parents, and between them they are parenting an HCDSB Gifted elementary student, secondary student and alumnus, have experienced private as well as school-based assessments, and regular class as well as special education class placements. They haven’t seen it all, but they have seen a lot! Jessica brings her experience as a special education teacher herself to the table. Maria has served on the board of ABC Ontario as well as several provincial level committees, including the Consortium for Ontario Gifted which she currently chairs.

Some people are surprised that gifted students are included in “special education”, but if you are the parent or teacher of a gifted student, you will understand that their intellectual needs do in fact require interventions “beyond those normally provided in the regular school program”, as per the Ministry’s definition of Intellectual Giftedness. But that’s not all. Gifted students have complex needs that often need to be addressed by more than just a challenging curriculum. One of the key characteristics of gifted children is known as “asynchronous development” – meaning that their cognitive and/or emotional development is out of sync with their physical development. Gifted students also tend to have heightened sensitivities, so that they are acutely aware of how they are different from other students – and that other students and adults notice it, too. This combination creates the potential for unique social and emotional issues for gifted children and youth. While there is no universal definition of Giftedness, one that sums up these characteristics, and the resultant needs of these students, is as follows:

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counselling in order for them to develop optimally. (Columbus Group,

The journey as parent or teacher of a gifted child has its unique challenges….as well as its unique and incredible rewards. As your HCDSB ABC reps, we are always here to help! Some of the areas in which we can provide assistance include:

  • understanding the characteristics and needs of gifted students
  • the process of formally identifying your child, including the Identification, Placement and Review Committee
  • (IPRC) process
  • programming options and strategies for your child, including the development and ongoing review of an
  • appropriate Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • how to advocate for your child
  • additional resources on all of the above, and
  • connecting with other parents of gifted children

For more information or assistance, please reach out to us anytime at