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Gifted Vs Bright

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son is now 13 months old and since he was born people (family and strangers) have commented that he is a very bright boy. Well my husband and I just thought it was normal whatever his development milestones are but realized he might be showing signs of giftedness.

Physical development

Birth: Able to lift his neck and turn left and right by himself. Has a strong neck and back structure

3 - 4 month old: attempted to crawl but not on fours. But what they call a "leopard" or "army" crawl

4 to 6 month: roll over and crawled on fours

7 1/2 months - 81/2 month: stands and hold on to sides to walk

9 months: Walked

10 months: Ran (Quite a fast transition from just learning to walk. I was shocked to know he actually ran. :S)

Now - 13 month old: Learning to go up and down the stairs. However I'm a super protective mommy and I kept thinking he'll fall off. Yes, I know falling is necessary and normal but it freaks me out. Rayn would ask me to let go of his hands as he wants to do it himself but honestly I don't think he is stable enough.

Cognitive Development

My bad - I just realized after reading all these articles on gifted children I should have documented his milestones in terms of cognitive development.

Here's a brief review of what I can remember.

1 month old: "Hello" and "Go" I actually video-ed it because none believed me!

My son has a good understanding and comprehension of things starting from 3 months old.

For eg: For some reason whenever we say the word "playpen" he would cry and protest.

So we tried doing it a few times and say "Let's put Rayn in the playpen" and he would cry even before putting him in there. And guess what, we never put him to sleep in his playpen ever since.

At about 8 months coming to 9 month old we asked him - "Where is your pacifier?" he would look around the floor as though to "look for it" as he always will take it out and threw it away.

He knows how to throw and kick a ball at 11 month old. So we said Rayn "Kick the ball" and he will. We say Rayn "pass Mummy the ball. Pass Daddy the ball" he will pick it, walk over to me or my husband and smile and tease us! He would stretch out his hand as though he is giving it to us but he doesn't and walked away. :)

At this point where the ball is his obsession, when we ask him -" Where is the ball, he would say to us "Where is it" and then face up his palms and said "where is it" usually twice. And look around the floor and search for it.

Apart from "Where is it" he knows how to point at things and ask "What's that" sounds more like "Whatche dat".

And at 12 months, my mother said "Rayn your hair is messy, go into grandma's room and take the brush" He actually went to the room took the brush and gave it to his grandpa who put it away instead of brushing his hair. Rayn went to get the brush again and this time my mother had to tell my dad "Rayn wants you to brush his hair" and then Rayn smiled.

Last week after turning 13 month old, Rayn showed me a crushed up paper in a shape of a ball and said "Ball Ball" and I corrected him and said" No it is a piece of paper"

Then 2 days ago, he went in front of me crushed the paper into a ball, showed and told me "Ball Ball" and then put it on the floor and kicked it! OMG! All this while he was trying to tell me that he created a ball out of crushed paper! I found that really creative. I don't know whether that is advance but I don't see many kids his age do something like that.

In term of vocabulary, he can say hello, go, tree, drop, where is it, what's that, grandpapa, daddy, bird, c, d, e, g, apple, says "oh oh" when something is wrong or when he poo poo, why (especially when he cries).

Oh yes! I also wanted to tell you that my son has recently learnt to tap his fingers on his thighs (like how us adults tap to the beat) whenever he listens to music. Surprisingly sometimes he follows the melody/rhythm of the music.

And my son is very very extremely sensitive little angel. Plus we have to force him to SLEEP. I can tell you that he can make do with little sleep but I would force him to at least clock in 10 to 12 hours. He'll toss and turn and wake up and wants to get off the bed but I would just try my best to put him to sleep. This has been going on since birth. He just wants to be awake and play and explore. Honestly it is very tiring for my husband and myself.

He is sensitive to emotions. When he hears a melodramatic or melancholic music, you can see him in thoughts and distant. And happy songs he would dance. When I'm sad or other kids are crying, he'll be super worried. You can see it in his face which will be accompanied by a frown and he'll walk over to the sad kid as though "checking how the kid is".

There was one incident when he was 11 month old, I cried because I do not know how to handle him especially being a first time mother. He actually swept my hair aside , looked at me in the most heartwarming way, kissed me at my nose cheek area and hugged me. I was overwhelmed I cried even more. My husband explained to him that "Mommy is sad, Rayn must behave".

I was surprised he understood such emotions. Last week his grandpa just said "Rayn do not play near the door" in his normal tone not in an angry tone whatsoever, Rayn cried and cried! It was weird. It's like he suddenly became super sensitive.

We've always known our son to have a very good comprehension with situations and his environment but never thought he would be superbly sensitive.

He has also began being all freakish when it comes to furry and hairy textures. He will be all squirmy.

And he loves books but doesn't want us to "teach" him though. For e.g.: We would read out to him once or twice and then he wants to hold the book himself and "make some noises" and point at the words as though he is reading.

Gets bored easily. He would play with a toy MAXIMUM 3 times and that's it. -_-

and of all TV shows, he likes "Hi 5!" A 3 year old and above kids show. He doesn't like those baby TV shows. I don't know why Hi 5! He likes it (I guess) because it has musical elements. He can really sit for an hour to watch Hi 5!

Honestly I think he practices selective attention. He only give full attention to things he really likes. I can give him any toys or watch any shows in the world but if he doesn't like it, he won't spare even 3 minutes on it.

He loves the outdoors and loves making friends. He'll go over to the kid and smile and say some words. I always notice that he prefers older kids like 3 years and above. He also love swimming and is an adrenaline junky.

He likes it when my husband swing him around and hang him upside down. He likes being put in high places and when he looks down he gets all excited. Honestly scares me but my husband says "Let a boy be a boy".

Anyway, sorry for the long long post but would be nice if you can enlighten me whether my son really is a potential gifted kid or is just bright. This would help me and my husband select what kind of schools would be good for Rayn or activities I can nurture him with to fully maximize his potential.

At this moment, my husband, mother and I are exposing him to whatever things to explore and let him be. But I must say disciplining him is not easy as he understands things and therefore is very stubborn.

2 months ago a friend sister who is studying early childhood education had a project to chart milestones of babies and chose to access Rayn. Her lecturers gave her an "A" and noted that Rayn has some special qualities as a 11 month old and his cause and effect skills are high.

This report led me to actually read more on gifted children and motivated me to pose this long long entry. :) Thank you for your time

A: Your detailed description definitely places your son in the gifted range. He has definitely demonstrated some very distinct characteristics of gifted children. A gifted child is born gifted; a bright child can be nurtured to be brighter, but not gifted. I believe your son to be gifted and from now on you have a lot of work to do to help him develop his potential to the maximum!

It is going to be an uphill task but well worth it. You are already doing the right things to nurture him, so you are definitely on the right track. Keep up the good work and just monitor his progress. If he appears interested in something, e.g., music, expose him to it and maybe use music to teach him other learning that he may not be too fond of. Gifted children have different interests and may totally disregard some learning but we need to help them with their weak areas as well. This can be done by using what interests them to teach subjects that are less interesting to them.

Send him to a playschool and expose him to as many environments as possible. He would need a variety of activities that are meaningful and this would enhance learning. If he gets bored with one activity, make it more challenging for him instead of just disregarding it and moving to another activity too quickly. He would also need to mingle with other children to develop his social skills and gain confidence. Disciplining him may not be very easy since gifted children may not take "no" for an answer. They need to rationalize instructions, so you may need to explain why some things are possible and some are not. However, this may not be easy since he is very young but you can try to explain in ways that he understands best (which you would know as parents). Also read up on asynchronous development of gifted children as he may well go through that much to the frustration of parents and other people around him who may not understand his development. If there is an association for the gifted, it'll be very helpful to join and share your experiences with other parents.

For now, you are doing a great job, so keep up with the great work and surf the net to look for activities for him. You may also want to read the previous newsletters for ideas on how to help your son further. Best of luck in your interesting journey!


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