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Speech Problems in Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My child is 3.5 years old and is highly intelligent, he can speak sentences, however has difficultly with questions like "How was your day?" "Did you eat your lunch today?" "Did you take a nap?" "How did you get hurt?". He does great with questions like "what is this" "How many are there". He has a remarkable memory. Knows our home address, phone number, has memorized several books and songs in multiple languages. Loves to play the piano, can count beyond 100 and can do simple additions and subtractions.

He is very physically coordinated and can write numbers beyond 100 and some alphabets, but can't use scissors. He attends Kumon (An enrichment course) and does homework on his own everyday for 15 to 20 minutes. The day care thinks he is autistic, but he is very loving to all of us at home, with relative and friends and has eye contact with us.

Day care says that he is rejected by his peers and that has broken my heart. He enjoys the company of older kids and adults and he used to run into the 5 year old class without telling the day care teacher and after being corrected now he asks for permission before going to the 5 year old room. I'm worried sick is he gifted and/or autistic and/or hyperlexic and/or OCD and/or hyperactive or is he just a normal 3 year old? I consulted his pediatrician and she ruled autism out, she said that he may just be a bright kid who needs more challenge. However she has asked us to contact local school district to get his speech and social skills evaluated. In the meantime any help from people who've been through similar issues will be of great help to me, because I've worried and very upset!.

A: I can understand your concerns especially since he appears to be advanced in other areas. However, from what you described, he certainly does not sound like someone with autism and I'm glad you got that professionally ruled out.

He may be rejected by his peers as they may not understand him and kids prefer to play with other kids who communicate better. The fact that he may not communicate as well may also prompt him to use more "hand signals" which may appear aggressive, thus causing further rejection.

He may well be a very bright kid with some speech difficulties. Your pediatrician is right in suggesting that he gets his speech and social skills evaluated. You may want to consult his school for this. Usually, speech therapy and his own maturation would surely help. His poor articulation of language may be due to dyspraxia/dysphasia (which can also affect his listening, organization skills, and social skills. Dyspraxia (developmental verbal apraxia or developmental apraxia of speech-DAS) is a neurologically based speech disorder. This is caused by subtle brain impairment or malfunctioning. You may want to do a search on this condition. Perhaps because he is bright it was hard for him to communicate his ideas with others, as they are more advanced than would be expected for his age. (this is just a suggestion, so please get professional advice)

I hope you get him checked as soon as possible as most speech disorders can be treated and early intervention is usually very helpful to reduce, if not eliminate the problem. You may also want to get his hearing checked as some speech problems are caused by problems in hearing.

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Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, And Other Disorders
James T. Webb Ph.D, Edward R. Amend Psy.D, Nadia E. Webb Psy.D.

Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD, or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and inappropriate counseling as a result.

  • Written for parents and professionals

  • Characteristics of gifted children and adults

  • Diagnoses most commonly given to gifted children and adults

  • Traits of diagnoses incorrectly given to gifted children and adults

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  • Parent-child relationship problems

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Gifted Children

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