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Gifted Child with Behavioral Concerns

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter was tested for the gifted program in Kindergarten and they decided that while she didn't test gifted - she probably was gifted. She had a seventh grade vocabulary and a fifth grade comprehension - (tested 135 and 128, but on the third section of the test she got a 74 and needed a 130 average to test gifted). They concluded that her fine motor skills and inability to relate to time (It was a time test and she was suppose to fill in circles of sequenced numbers - she drew triangles instead and erased answers that touched each other) was what held her back and that they would test her again in second grade.

She is now in second grade and has no desire to be "smart". She refuses to write punctuation on her papers (Told the teacher she has "dot-a-phobia"), writes all her math problems backwards (01 for 10) or adds the digits (8 8 = 7 which is 16s added digits), leaves answers blank on her tests because she only wants a "B", and writes her vocabulary sentences in mirror image. She goes to a small school (64 kids in Kindergarten thru 3rd grade) and the teachers all know her and sort of cater to her needs. (She makes research books on different cultures, studies horse anatomy, and reads biographies about the presidents).

Her teacher says that he doesn't feel she will test gifted if we have her tested again because he thinks that she will purposely screw off on the test - which I agree with, but my concern is what will happen once she goes to the bigger school in fourth grade and the teachers don't cater to her and she isn't able to be in the gifted classes or accelerated classes b/c her grades are only average.

Are IQ tests the only standards for getting into the programs?

A: From your description, your daughter is definitely above average. I can understand your concerns when she goes to a bigger school in the fourth grade.

Different schools use different methods in their identification procedures for gifted programs. Intelligence tests are one of the primary (and preferred) measures used to assess giftedness; however many schools these days incorporate more than one measure of giftedness that may include achievement test scores; parent or teacher recommendations; leadership, creativity, or talent in a specific area. Having said that, this is usually done sequentially in which, upon failing one, the rest is not considered. Since your daughter is already showing some signs of disliking being "smart", there is a chance for her to fail on purpose. Though, you may want to give it a try.

There is perhaps a bigger issue that just wanting to be in a gifted program, which you need to find out from her. Then, persuade her on taking the test. You need to explain the rationale behind it and help her dismiss her fears. You may also want to talk to the staff from the other school which you plan to send you daughter to see what can be done to cater to her needs. Get a recommendation letter from her present school as evidence of her abilities. Perhaps, at some point if all fails, she may need some kind of counseling to deal with her fears and some "rebellious-like" behaviors. Hope she will cope better with some help from all sides. Good luck.


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