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Gifted or Not?

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Hi Dr. Sandhu, I' m curious to know whether my child is gifted or not.

  1. 5 months old he said many words like papa, abc, dada.

  2. At the age 7 months he started telling about potty.

  3. At the age 11 months he started walking & 13 months he started kicking his football.

  4. At the age 9 months he started operating iPad.

  5. At the age 12 he knew all vegetables name, fruits name, animals, transportation name.

  6. When he was 19 months old he could identifies all colours very well.

  7. At the age 19 months he knew all the alphabets very well, he can tell A to Z, where ever am wrong he corrects me, he knew 1 to 10 very well.

  8. Again at the age 19 months he started reading car numbers very well.

We really get surprised how he operated iPad very fast and correctly. We just need to tell him once and he will never forget. On iPad he fills India map, all puzzles very fast and he knows well to all icons. Please I want to know how I can encourage him for better future.

A: Your child does appear to be advanced but the above description is not sufficient to tell if your child is gifted. The common distinct characteristics of a gifted child is usually exceptional reasoning abilities, rapid learning and abstract thinking, strong creativity and imagination, advanced analytical skills and empathy, excellent humour superior insight exceptional problem-solving abilities high degree of social responsibility, early and avid reader and the list goes on. Every gifted child may have some of most of the characteristics.

It is not clear what your child's age is but I am assuming below 2 years. The following is a normal developmental milestone that applies to any child from birth to 2.

Birth - 2 years
Check this checklist as a rough indication of what you may want to look out for after your child is born up to 2 years of age.

  • Ability of recognize carers early (within a few months after birth)

  • Early expressions (e.g. smiling)

  • Unusual alertness

  • Interest in books (turning pages of books before 1 year of age and paying attention when read to within 6 months)

  • Interest in computers, smartphones, ipad

  • Unusually active and high levels of energy (but not hyperactive)

  • Playing with shape sorters by about 11 months.

  • Ability to form two word phrases by 14 months

  • Ability to understand instructions by 18 months

  • Ability to say and understand many words before 18 months

  • Could stay still and enjoy a TV programmes (e.g., Sesame Street) by the age of 1

  • Has favorite TV shows/VCD/DVDs by age 1

  • Appears to require less sleep (yet not sleepy or irritable due to lack of sleep

  • Recognition of letters/alphabets by age 2

  • Recognition and rote counting of numbers 1 – 10 or higher by age 2

  • Recognition of colors by age 2

  • Recognition of first word by age 2

  • Interest in puzzles by age 2

  • Has long attention span in interest areas by age 2

  • Ability to form at least 3 word sentence by age 2

  • Interest in time by age 2

The above checklist is at best regarded as a rough guide and bear in mind that not all of the skills and age guide mentioned is absolute. Some children may demonstrate these abilities at a younger age and some may be older and yet classified as advanced learners. However, this can be a good guide to look out for signs of early advanced development in children and provide the necessary platform for them to flourish.

The iPad is a very interesting medium learning for children, as the colours on screen are bright, there is movement on screen touch - all of which impresses and gains attention from the child. However, this is for any child; not only gifted children. Having said that, the engagement of advanced children could be different depending on the activity. They get bored with similar monotonous activities that have little stimulation. Please limit use of any smart technology (screen) to around 2 hours or less for very young children. For more educational plus fun activities on the iPad, do check this link:

At this stage, it would be good to allow him to do more exploration kind of activities and free play. Spend time talking to him (not baby talk) to help him with his conversational skills. Start reading to him and help him read words. Early reading is very important to enable him to be able to look for information without depending on adults. It also teaches independence and feeds a child's curiosity.

For now, it does not matter if a child is gifted - what you need to do is give the best educational experiences to your child and monitor his progress. Gradually increasing levels of difficulty would further stimulate his interests. And bonding is very important. Spend time with him but also allow him time for free play. You will notice his interests and take that lead to move further. Wishing you all the best!


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