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Characteristics of Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: We have 3.5 year old son, and we see him is different than his peers. We would like to know whether he is gifted or not? Here is something about our son:

He is a late talker, he started babbling when he was around 1 year old and really talked (we understand) when he was 2 year and 3 months. Since then, his speech improves gradually but if I compare with his peers he is behind them. He has a really good memory, and has a great ability in numbers. He can count until 20 (in 3 languages) when he was around 2 years. Now he can do his numbers until hundreds and able to find pages (in hundreds as well), he can do his simple addition and understands position of numbers.
He knows the entire alphabet and around 120 words (in written), all the colors, shapes and very good in memorizing road (mapping).

He is expert in puzzle. He can play piano (2 children songs and copying the sounds). But than he is not verbal and seems "lazy" to have conversation and sometimes he seems doesn't understand when we ask something to him. He is a loner and happy with himself, will not play with his peers and prefers to play with us or family (grown-up or much older) or himself.

When he is doing something he seems being absorbed with the activity and doesn't care with his surrounding. He is very sensitive and will become sad quickly when we talk hard to him or even when he watches unfair/sad movie or news (e.g. war casualty, bad luck). He is sensible (we knew since he was not even 1 year). He loves books, reading and very good with computer. He is starting to read now. He remembers stories and tells them (mostly to himself) quiet often. But he also uses the words and tones from the story/film to comment about something in daily life. He is also very determine and knows exactly what he wants and will get angry easily when the thing doesn't go the way he wants (most of the time). Please help me and thank you for your attention.

A: It is hard to tell definitely if he is gifted but has above average characteristics based on his age. Having said that, from the limited description, he surely shows some signs of giftedness especially heightened sensitivity and early reading ability. You may want to do a checklist on his characteristics to have a better idea.

Talking late is fine; but gifted children who are late talkers usually improve tremendously once they start talking. Perhaps he needs more time. For now, expose him to a lot of different conversation (audio or visual) to help him with his speech. Donít worry if you think he is not responsive for a while; he should after some time. If you feel that he is not responding well and is quite far behind his peers, you may need to get some help. See a professional.

Since he is interested in numbers, expose him to activities that have numbers to further strengthen his ability. At the same time, gradually expose him to other learning Ė he needs to move on and not stay within his interests areas only. You may need to be very creative in exposing new learning as this may be tricky and if it is not meaningful to him, he will easily lose interest. Please read the past issues on enrichment activities suitable for him and try out some to determine the ones that may work well for him. Best of luck!


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