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Possibly Twice-Exceptional

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have a 3 year old daughter, initially I was concern that she might have learning disability, because she can't seems to be focus in preschool, she is always not paying attention. But we also belief that she is extremely bright, she have extraordinary memory, especially great in remembering details, most of the time we didn't realized that she was paying attention to details. For example, she remembers things months later if where I place an object when I was searching high and low for it. Her teacher is very impressed by her, often expressed that she seems to be more mature than most kids of her age, she expressed herself very well, but she just can't seems to sit still and concentrate for a long time.

I am considering taking her to see a specialist but I cannot find any resource, she have been taken care by my parent in Singapore currently, while me and my husband works in United states, and she can only speak Chinese cause that's the only language my parent spoke to her. But she speak very good Chinese and she can recite Chinese poem just by reading it once or twice to her. My concern is to find out how to better educate her if she is different, gifted or not, so she will not missed out anything. Please kindly advise, and I would love to know any specialist in Singapore if you came across any. Thanks.

A: Twice exceptional means that the child has very advanced cognitive abilities and yet one or more learning disability which usually masks their strengths and in turn depress their IQ scores so that they appear less gifted than they really are. Giftedness can be combined with visual and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, other physical disabilities, and psychological dysfunctions. Being gifted provides no immunity against physical diseases and accidents that impair functioning. In this case, you may be suspecting ADHD but this can only be diagnosed after proper testing.

Children who are both gifted and learning disabled may exhibit remarkable talents or strengths in some areas and disabling weaknesses in others. Such children display vast gap between achievement level and potential which can often be observed in the discrepancy between the qualitative level of oral and written work. For now, she is a little young to determine but if you can help her focus better, it would certainly help her unleash her potential to a greater level. For more information on this area, do visit Hoagies' Gifted website.

Since your parent is the main carer and you are not with your daughter, you could suggest to your parent to take her to a centre in Singapore that does testing to start with. Please look at this link for support centers for ADHD. It would be best to go to Child Guidance Clinic (CGC) at the Health Promotion Board Building for an initial diagnosis of any learning disability.

As for her early learning, you may want to consider IGenius where there is right brain training for young children. I am the consultant for this centre but currently not based in Singapore although I go a few times a year. Whilst I do not endorse any program on this site, I suggested this centre as we do have a few very bright kids with some learning issues and the program appears to help them. It would be a good idea to speak with the management to determine if it suits your child.

Please do not wait and I hope you are able to act as soon as you can since you have a very special child. If it is possible, it may be a good idea to take her with you as there is no substitute to parental care and bonding takes place in early childhood. I wish you my very best wishes.


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