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Very Advanced 15 month old

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I was wondering if you could please give me some guidance. I would like to know if my child is developing normally, a little bright or advanced. A little background, her father has ADHD and is a little dyslexic so I'm also not sure if she has these traits. I have been very involved in trying to help her enjoy learning in fear that if she has learning disabilities then hopefully with the right nurturing she will find it easier than her father.

So I'd just like an experts' opinion on whether she seems on track or not so that I know how to continue to bring her up in the best environment. She is very active and I'm not sure if that is because she needs lots of stimulation or if she is showing signs of ADHD.

She is very curious and notices things. Like at 10 months, she would always turn a picture or book upright if it was upside down. She also likes to put things back in its place even though we haven't pointed it out to her.

At 10 months I wrote down the number of words that she understood and there was a little over 100, where she would get it right about 80% of the time e.g. I would say "where's the satellite dish?" or "where's the fridge?" or "which one is..." and she would point to it. She also loves the park and if I said let's go to different areas of the park e.g. swing or rocking horse at 10 months, she understood and would point to or go to that area.

At 12 months she could point to her body parts e.g. Nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair, knees, toes, chin, elbow. She also knew a lot of fruits and animals e.g. Frog, giraffe, bear, dog, cat, fish, elephant, turtle, rabbit, horse, cow, duck etc. She understood instructions like 'throw the nappy in the bin', 'put back the tissues' (after she pulled out half the box! ), 'do you want to watch your DVD?' or 'Let's put your duck back in the bathroom' etc.

She has recently turned 15 months. She knows how to navigate the iPad and go to her apps. She likes her shapes app and will put the correct shapes in the correct place. Also where to find photos of herself on the iPad ...a little vain maybe...haha.

She doesn't say 2 word phases, except hello and then name of person. She likes to point out clothes and shoes and say the name of the person it belongs to, even though we didn't tell her who these things belong to. She surprises me with some of the things she takes notice of, like around 9 months, when I took out the nail clipper, she would put out her index finger for me to cut. At 5 months, her father and I would count 1, 2, 3 before swinging her in the air and by the time we counted to 3 she smiled in anticipation. Lots of other similar examples of things I didn't expect her to notice though it may be normal but I don't know as she's my first child :)

She is slow with her walking, is walking on her own but still rather unsteady. Her fine motor skills are good because I think it's quite difficult for a toddler to unlock an iPad, go to an app and play a game. She does stumble because with the iPad if another one of her small finger touches the screen it doesn't work, so she's worked out she needs to be rather delicate.

She doesn't really like to play with things for very long so it's quite exhausting trying to find things to entertain her. And I don't know if this is because she wants new stimulation or has a low attention span due to ADHD.

So I was wondering if these are in the 'normal' development range because obviously I'm her mother and bias and will always think she is advanced ;) though at the back of my mind, I'm also watching out for signs of learning abilities or disabilities so I help as soon as possible. Oh I also recently learnt of right brain training like Shichida, do you think these are good programs or could be harmful? I also strongly believe in physical development so we are also looking into play type of programs like gymbaroo.

Many thanks.

A: Your little one does appears to be developing at a higher pace compared to her peers. From your description, it is possible that she has shown many signs of advance development. There is much more to ADHD than what you have mentioned so although I am not in a position to rule out anything, I am not really seeing signs of ADHD or dyslexia for now. Furthermore, she is indeed very young.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria used to diagnose ADHD include symptoms such as, “out of seat during school,” “does not follow through on instructions,” “avoids tasks with sustained mental effort,” and “fidgety and restless while sitting” - describing behaviours that may be developmentally appropriate for some preschoolers. These are indeed quite normal behaviour for most preschoolers. And at 15 months, I think it is far too early for such a diagnosis.

From your letter, I believe that she is growing at a higher developmental pace and that she is getting the right nurturance - so you are indeed on the right track. The fact that you are aware that there may be concerns (genetically), your daughter is indeed in very good hands. Hence, continue doing whatever you have been doing and monitor her progress. Add in activities bit by bit with increasing levels of difficulty and keep her stimulated, challenged and exposed to a variety of activities.

Any enrichment programme would be suitable to enrich her - some may be better than the other but would really depend on her interests. Well researched programmes for right brain development are indeed helpful so go on with them. At this age, exposure is the key. Active programmes are very suitable for all kids - the playground is a great place for physical activities; if you want a more organised physical activity programme, do by recommendations in your area. Most such programmes are great for kids - the better ones are usually dependent on the skill levels of the staff engaged.

So go on with everything you are doing now and try not to think or worry too much - just go with the flow and enjoy your child. Good luck in your parenting journey.


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