A three-day conference for those affiliated with gifted children and adults kicks off today at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

About 350 people are expected. Fifty speakers, experts in the field from all over the world, are to present information.

The conference is sponsored by Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted, a nonprofit organization based in Poughquag, N.Y.

Many people throughout Utah use SENG materials to sponsor parent discussion groups that address the needs of gifted kids.

Ruthann Gibbs of Murray, who has three gifted children who are now in their teens, says the program has been her family's "salvation."

"These kids think differently," Gibbs said, adding sometimes gifted children exhibit behavioral problems in class simply because they aren't being challenged academically.

A special highlight of the conference is keynote speaker Josh Waitzkin. He is the chess-champion boy on whom the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" is based. Waitzkin is to speak Saturday night at the gala to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the SENG Conference.

The conference is in conjunction with National Parenting Gifted Children Week.

SENG executive director Amy Price said the goal of the conference is to give answers and support, as well as help people connect with others in common situations. "It's not easy being a gifted child or adult," she said.

At-the-door registration slots are available.

There is a professional development strand for medical and counseling professionals as well as classes for parents, grandparents, teachers, children 7 to 14 and teens 15 to 18.

Conference costs range from $75 for today's 9 a.m. pre-conference session to $175 for one day to $300 for the full three days. Prices include meals.

The children's conference is $150 and leaves on a trip to the Utah Olympic Park at 12:30 p.m. today. There are session classes and activities Saturday and Sunday.

The conference officially begins at 12:30 p.m. today and runs until 8 p.m., including lunch, dinner and two keynotes. The Saturday session starts at 7:30 a.m. There is a gala social hour at 5:30 p.m., then dinner and keynote at 6:30 p.m. The conference culminates Sunday with a final session, from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

For more information, call Amy Price at 845-797-5054 or go to www.sengifted.org.

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