Let me preface my post by stating that I am very new to the area of giftedness, and am currently at the point whereby I am oscillating in regards to whether my son is gifted. I feel I am going insane and am at an absolute loss in regards to what is going on and what I should do. Here is my story
My son is just under 2.5 years old. He was exceptionally alert as a baby (eyes constantly wide open looking around, and rarely slept). He has always been very active. As a baby his weight was a concern because he constantly slipped down the charts, which was a worry to use and the childhood nurses (he was exclusively breastfeed every two hours at this stage). When I took him to the doctor he took one look at him wiggling around and said that his weight loss was due to his high energy levels and not to worry. From memory he got down to the 3% percentile for weight.
My sonís physical and intellectual development was always in front of his peers. I taught him Auslan at a very young age and he picked up signs quickly and used them appropriately. At five months of age he used to bark when the dogs barked. I canít remember when he spoke his first word, but I distinctly remember him at 8 months of age pointing to a lady who had a tattoo of a baby on her chest. He then did the Auslan sign for baby and said the word tattoo (I donít have tattoos so have no idea where he learnt the word). His day care workers were baffled.
My son seems to pick up things very quickly. He is able to recognise a song from the first beat played, and has a strong preference for certain songs when in the car. His hearing and vision astounds me. He can see things far into the distance, and hear things that I struggle to hear (e.g. we were once in the shower and he could hear the whipper snipper four houses away).
I know this is going to sound really silly, but sometimes it is almost like he has a sixth sense. He wasnít in earshot when my husband and I talked about going to the pet shop to look at the animals on the weekend. This is something we have never done before, but thought my son would like. Half an hour later my son asked to go and see the animals. I have a fairly new car that has a quiet engine, but my son always spins around and points to me when I pull into the car park at day care. At his previous day care then several times mentioned that my son would point to the solid brick wall and say Mummy, and the next thing I would drive in the drive way. There was no way he could see the car through the solid brick wall, and he couldnít hear my car because the road is a main road and very noise.
Whilst physically and intellectually advanced, my son seems to be delayed in regards to his social and emotional development (asynchronous development). He is an exceptionally bright little boy. People have often reported that he has both advanced expressive and receptive communication. His physical ability often surprises me. His amazing coordination has been commented on by strangers. On the weekend he ran up a small flight of stairs without stoping, only stepping on one step with one foot, and without holding any rails or walls. But socially and emotioanly it is the total opposite. He hits, bites and throws toys at other children. We have been excluded from different groups by various parents because of his behaviour. He has significant difficulties interacting with same aged peers, but loves babies, older children and adults.
My son has an ever-growing vocabulary, and this is strength. He has been talking in almost complete sentences for a while now, and is starting to tell us stories that he makes up (e.g. Hey Mum, there is a snake around the corner. My elbow hurts. I think it is broken). He is very interested in feelings, and has strong empathy. He is always asking what is wrong (are you okay Mummy? Do you want a hug?). He is able to identify a range of emotions in himself, his toys, and other people. He has a favourite song about feelings that he likes to sing regularly. He also has a book about feels that we often read. He has a very quirky sense of humour (e.g. calls me Ďdragoní and then laughs Ė got this one from his father). He has no problems with change. These are some of the reasons we ruled out a diagnosis of ASD.
His memory astounds me (in fact sometimes it just plain freaks me out). He remembers people, situations, songs, etc. He can remember an incident that happens months ago. The fact that he is a quick learner and has a great memory is definitely going to be an asset when he is at school.
My son clearly has some sensory issues. He appears to have both tactile hyper and hyposensitivity. He canít handle a hair in his mouth or a runny nose, but had a watermelon seed up his nose for two weeks and didnít tell us!! He really struggles to stay still. At day care he flits from one activity to the next. He struggles to sit still at the lunch table. This does not seem to be as much of an issue at home. He is also extremely loud. The issue is not really screaming, but just loud in regards to all of his interactions (talking, singing, etc). At day care last week he was that loud at the lunch table that the two children either side of him started to cry. Three months ago he was squealing with delight when we were in a shopping centre, and it was that loud that two shops and four separate customers complained about the noise. I was approached my management about the issue and was informed that if we did not leave they would have got security guards to move us on. I am still really annoyed about that one, but just donít have the energy to challenge it.
Due to issues at day care and our recent experiences of being excluded we made appointments to see a psychologist and occupational therapist in order to see what was going on. I was concerned whether my son could have ADHD, autism or aspergers. All of these were ruled out.
The psychologist focused on my sonís issues in regards to his social skills and task completion. She noticed that he flits from one activity to the next, but never finishes one activity. She noticed this during observations at his day care. I always felt that it was because he was bored and needed more stimulation, but she disagreed. She also mentioned that he is not a people pleasers. I interpret this as he is intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically motivated. Isnít this another characteristic that is fairly common in gifted children?
The next part still amazes me. The psychologist glossed over the results from his psychometric testing. He scored superior and above average in all subtests of the Stanford Binet 5, and received an overall score of above average (cant remember actual score). She said that the results were invalid because he didnít sit still long enough to test properly. I found this amazing because it makes me wonder what he would have scored if he did sit still and pay attention!! She didnít mention much about this, and seemed reluctant to suggest that he is gifted (however said that he would likely score in the superior range if tested in a couple of years). I am definitely not looking for a diagnosis, but it all seems really obvious to me. Does anyone else find this bizarre???
The OT who stated she has experience working with gifted children is pretty adamant that my son is not gifted because he does not read copious amounts of books, and does not sit down to do academic like activities such as drawing etc. I found this response really bizarre!!! She observed my son at day care today, and the day care director told me that she made comments about my sons behaviour (throwing objects at other children), and the fact that he targeted and was aggressive towards vulnerable children (those who were a bit younger than him, new to the class, or whose personality was not as strong as his). And also commented on the fact that he didnít stay at one activity long enough to complete it. Couldnít all of these issues be evidence of emotional immaturity and emotional intensity, as well as boredom? I am worried she is going to come up with some other diagnoses, however it is clear to me that these behaviours are consistent with giftedness.
Based on what I have said, does he sound gifted to you? Until I saw the OT and Psychologist I would have bet serious money that he would have been considered gifted. I never said that he would be academically gifted (in fact have more wondered if he is creatively gifted because of his imagination). Now I feel silly that I have gone down a track that people are indicating was the wrong direction.
I am wondering if his diet might be influencing his behaviour and inattention. Has anyone tried the elimination diet that Sue Dengate talked about (e.g. eliminating salicylates etc)?
What other strategies have people used for children with psychomotor over-excitability? I am worried about how my little boy is going to cope at school. What can we start doing to address this so that he is in the better position for when he starts school in 2. 5years.
What sort of enrichment activities have people looked at for young children who are not school aged? Legally he cannot be moved up to the next age group at day-care (but my day-care is fantastic and will try anything they can).
I have gone on a bit. This has been very cathartic!!
I think you'll find that there is nothing illegal about him being in the next age group at daycare but there may be resource implications for the centre to maintain the required ratio for him i.e. extra adult for those sessions.
He certainly sounds gifted to me. I wouldn't be surprised if him was acting out for reaction and interaction i.e. doesn't yet have the skill to engage playmates who are on the level that he needs intellectually so gets responces in other ways. How is he one-to- one with other adults of in small groups?
Daycare is often a loud and distracting place. I would find it hard to stay quiet and concentrate on an activity in that environment.
Have you considered home-based care where the carer has less children and can provide more individualized support?
Remembering that he's only 2 and a half, I wonder if some of the professionals you've seen are setting the bar quite high. It is the age of tantrums, messy play, and learning to use words instead of teeth/hands etc.
I'm very pro-nature for these sorts of problems i.e. long walks, beach play, and areas where children can commune with nature, be loud, learn to be gentle with small animals, etc.
From what I've read, I would tend to think your child is gifted. I'm unsure how much experience many OTs and Ed Psychologists have with children that age (?) as I suspect often giftedness isn't usually picked up until later. That said, research shows that parents are 84% effective at correctly identifying giftedness in their children (apparently this drops to 50% for teachers). I think too there are many stereotypes - some people can't see the wood for the trees (ie they have a limited view of what giftedness 'should' look like). It sounds as though you've done a fair bit of research so, personally speaking, my money is on you rather than the professionals at this point.
When our 3 yo daughter was recently tested, she had a cold and didn't gel with the Ed Psych (who incidentally was lovely). Although she tested well within the gifted range, I too was left wondering how she would have tested on another day with someone she had felt rapport with.
One area I strongly recommend (not that it's my place to!) that you investigate further is around Sensory Integration issues. Our daughter sounds the opposite of your son in that she clearly displays auditory hypersensitivity (whilst your son may display auditory hyposensitivity). Sensory Integration or Processing issues are relatively common among gifted kids (whether they be hyper- sensitive or hypo-). Also a child can appear hyper-sensitive in one environment on one day, and hyper- in the same or different environment another! Our daughter also seems to have a 'sixth sense' at times (though I'm highly intuitive (not in a seeing into the future sense though!) so I'm not surprised).
We found an amazing OT who specialises in Sensory Integration / Processing issues. If you're in the Auckland area I'd happily recommend her. I would also say though that each professional has their own area of specialty (ie I wouldn't be looking for an OT to confirm giftedness).
My overall advice would be to trust your gut instinct (like I say, I trust intuition!). What do you have to 'lose' by treating your son as though he is gifted - give him extra opportunities for stimulation. As long as you do it without applying pressure, whether he's gifted or very bright, either way he'll learn more. I suspect if he is gifted, time will tell.
Firstly, you are not going insane. I always knew in my heart that my daughter was gifted but denied it for a long time. Looking back at photos of my daughter playing chess at 18 months (when I could still beat her) and cooking dinner for us before she was 3, I should have known but everyone else's opinions always pushed the idea away. Believe in your ability as a mother - you know your son and you know he is gifted.
Apart from being very loud in public, is daycare the only place where his behaviour seems inappropriate? He may change a lot over the next 2 1/2 years although I understand you wanting to nip problems in the bud early.
As far an enrichment goes we did correspondence pre-school, although not perfect, it gave us lots of ideas that we could extend on. Lots of visits to places where you could be crazy like the beach and farm and then quiet places like the museum and art gallery. My daughter didn't cope well with other children when she was a pre-schooler as she got very anxious and would withdraw. She needed (and still does as an 11 year old) a lot of personal space.
While from the look of many of the posts on this site, this comment won't come as welcome, I was very taken with this comment in a recent New York Times panel discussion on gifted child programmes (see http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/the-pitfalls-in-identifying-a-gifted-child/):
"Donít test your child for ďgiftednessĒ if he is happy and engaged at school and is interested in learning. Do test your child if he is chronically frustrated, bored or unhappy in school. Moreover, ... the tests arenít reliable until a child is 7 years old."
Children are, as we all come (or should come) to know, all individuals. Unless there's some aspect of their behaviour that is exceptionally unmanageable, attempts to convert our necessarily subjective perceptions under psychological or other headings that - if we can be honest - probably shed more shadow than light, try to engage with your child as an individual, acting as the good parent that you undoubtedly are. and best of luck.
I agree with everything you have said. I have watched him at daycare this week and he has no problems playing with others, however from what I noticed does like to spent equal amounts of time playing on his own. I am very independent, as are many members of my family. I just think he is going to be a little boy who does not necessarily need others to define who he is, and there is nothing wrong with that (in fact that is probably a very good thing).
I have no doubt there are things going on for my little boy, but it doesn't mean that professionals should pathologize his toddlerisms (a word that doesn't exist but proudly created by myself just now!!).
I like the getting in touch with nature idea. When it isn't too cold we ride to work/daycare along the river. Not only do I find this very therapeutic, but I think it is a great calming strategy for my son.
I have also seen that research stating that a parent who suspects their child is gifted is more often than not correct.
I also agree in regards there is nothing to loose in terms of treating a child as though they are gifted and providing opportunities etc. I have certainly learnt to listen to my child. I have learnt to only pursue those activities that he appears to enjoy. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but I had enrolled him in some different activities that I though he would enjoy, but his behaviour indicates those activities were not for him. I chose to return to work full time, and one of those activities were on a Friday morning. Attending that activity during the week with other mothers was more about meeting my need to feel like a 'good' mother, rather than providing a fun developmental opportunity for my son. I now try different things for a couple of weeks before signing up for full terms. I also make sure that I am focusing on his needs first, and looking for other ways to deal with my own insecurities!!!
I am definitely keen to further explore the sensory issues. Last night we went to a fete and they had fireworks. Bless his little cotton socks, my son was absolutely petrified. He was shaking like a rabbit, and desperately trying to open a door to the library to escape from the noise. I have never seen my son scared or so quiet. He was that petrified we left that fete. He has been talking about being scared of the fireworks all day today. No other child seemed to react to the level he did, so there is definitely something going on.
I have asked his daycare to look at the possibility of letting him spend an hour or two in the next daycare room with the older kids. I know they wont do this permanently, but am keen to do it as a bit of a test to see if there is a different in his behaviour.
Whilst he has issues with other kids at time, from what I have seen there are times that he gets along really well with other kids. I am trying to do more enrichment activities at home. I make lots of resources, and constantly google for different ideas. Having a gifted child certainly means you constantly have your thinking cap on.
Hey, developing skills so that our little ones can cook for us. I am really liking the sound of that. My husband does not make breakfast in bed for me anymore, so it is nice to know that there is some hope left in regards to my son doing this!!!
I agree with you point. I do know that there are some parents out there who test their kids for their own benefit. I definitely tested out of necessity and desperation. Our town is small, and he was already being labelled as a 'problem child'. Whilst it has probably resulted in more questions than answer, I am keen to find answers to those questions, and believe that searching for those answers is imperative in terms of my son's developmental trajectory
Sounds very gifted to me, and very frustrated. My guess is that he is 'communicating' in ways that many other children aren't, adding to the frustration. If you encourage his sixth sense, he can keep it open, strengthen it and still have it as an adult.
I'm not sure whether I can add much of use on top of what has already been said, but I'll share a brief summary of our story with you, in case it helps. A quick browse of this forum will alleviate your concerns about feeling you are being silly and going mad. The bad news is that, in my experience, knowing this doesn't prevent you from feeling that way again (many times) as time goes by!
I have three children, currently aged 6y1m, 4y and 2y3m. We were told from VERY early on that our eldest was clearly smart. She was slow on the physical development side, but within the "normal" range. She has been on the 25th percentile of the good old Plunket graph since birth. She has always required a lot less sleep than "normal", was very alert (and awake!) as a baby, very expressive and gesticulates a lot, loved books from a baby, imaginative, empathetic, drawn to older or younger children and adults, and has the freakishly good memory.
I took her to playgroups and Mainly Music as a baby and toddler. She preferred to either observe or do her own thing. She started kindy at 3y4m and it was a spectacular failure! I couldn't leave her, she didn't want to join in or participate in afternoon tea or mat time... and was basically too far from "normal" for the great but busy teachers to work with.
We moved her to a pre-school and were extremely lucky that the staff were both accepting of her and knowledgeable about giftedness. She was happy for me to leave her and enjoyed being there, but again wouldn't participate in group activities, including eating times. She played on her own the majority of the time, but was happy doing so. If she played with another child it was someone younger, or she hung out with a teacher. But... the teachers reported arm-flapping, covering her head with her arms, and sitting and rocking at times. This was balanced(?) by them being sure she was gifted!
The pre-school offered a referral to the MOE Special Education teacher, mainly to rule out Aspergers etc. We were upset to think that she must have felt so out of sorts to "hide", so decided to go ahead. The MOE teacher assessed her and said that she wasn't able to diagnose giftedness, but that she was clearly smart, and gave us information about programmes for gifted kids. She gave the pre-school some suggestions for managing the "meltdowns", which they embraced.
I won't bore you with all the details, but after much angst and confusion, and conflicting information and advice, we decided to have her assessed by an educational psychologist. We did this when our daughter was 4y4m. We were becoming increasingly anxious about how she would handle school. She tested as gifted - twice exceptional. We were relieved to finally have some answers. Because of her challenges (visual/gross motor) we had her assessed by a fantastic OT who works with children. Our daughter had sessions with her until she had been at school for a couple of months. Apart from getting our daughter "ready for school", we also got some great advice about helping her cope generally.
She also went to Small Poppies where she got to mix with other gifted kids. She loved it, and had the opportunity to play her way with kids who wanted to play the same way - with vast amounts of descriptive detail as to what they were pretending!
Now at school for a year, she is still a very keen learner and doing well, but we have had and continue to have some challenges. I sadly suspect that at school she "tones herself down" to better fit in, but she is generally a very happy girl.
Our second child has presented different challenges - presenting mainly as behavioural. He was assessed by the same educational psychologist we had seen with our daughter, when he was 3y4m. Having been through it with our daughter, we wanted a better understanding of his strengths and needs, to figure out how best to parent and help him. Because of his young age and distractability she didn't do a full assessment, but basically as good as said he is gifted too - with some learning challenges. We felt she didn't "get" him as well as our daughter, and weren't convinced about some of the techniques she suggested, so finally (after much contemplation and mental to-ing and fro-ing) had him assessed by the same OT.
She confirmed our suspicions about some dyspraxia/sensory processing issues. He has just started a course of therapy, which will hopefully give him techniques to use his body more easily - in my layman's words!
Child number three... she's bound to be gifted, but I'm not worried about her... yet!
I had a very interesting chat with a paediatrician recently, which confirmed my belief that there is too much focus on expecting children to all be the same, and at the same age. It is mad that we need to find diagnosed labels for our children, just to try and help them receive support at school - most of which is only required because they don't fit the "norm" that the system works to.
I like the comments on this thread about embracing our children for who they are, giving them opportunities to extend themselves in the areas they are interested in and good at - regardless of whether they are the "right" age or gender. It is sad that such diversity can't be accepted and encouraged more, and that parents can't always publicly celebrate their children for the individuals they are (ALL children, that is). I am lucky to have a good friend who also has gifted kids - because it is having someone that I can talk freely with and honestly to about my kids that helps me keep my sanity!
So my advice (finally)... Try and keep your focus on your child's happiness (and therefore yours), celebrate him for who he is, and accept that there will unfortunately be days you will feel like banging your head against a wall. But you can always vent on this forum!
We have a 4yo son who is remarkably similar to your son. Same fireworks issues at 2yrs, also covers his ears with vacuum, waste disposal, running water etc, though is very loud vocally. He has adjusted now and asks me, "Can you stop the noise soon?" We walked past a jackhammer a few months back and he covered his ears while screaming uncontrollably and running in a figure 8. He was shaking by the time a road works co-worker told his construction buddy to stop. DS has trouble relating to others of the same age but now that he's 4 is getting better. We found the best thing for him at 2.5yrs was playing with the older kids in the street. They would help him run off his high energy and stimulate him intellectually.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, your son will settle in his own time. You can help him by acting out situations. Pretend to be him at preschool while he is another child with a toy you want. "Hello, my name is (son's name). That looks like fun. Can I play too?" And then you think out loud, "Hmm, I had better find my own toy to join in the fun, that way my friend will stay happy." This acting out situations made my son laugh and also helped him to know which behavior is acceptable. I also acted out snatching the toy away so he could understand how it feels, then repeated it with a positive interaction.
I am realising now though, that his emotional over-excitabilities are the greatest gift to our family. He expresses such enthusiasm over the smallest kindness or drawing, that it lights up our lives. I took a video of our daughter opening her birthday presents and the squeals of delight were all coming from our son as he became emotionally caught up in the experience and made the entire celebration as exciting as a birthday should be. Without him it would have been a subdued event. He brings love and laughter, excitement and wonder to every day. Though the flip side can be hard to manage, I would never want to decrease his excitabilities, just redirect them in times of chaos.
I hope this helps.
PS. I would be interested in getting the OT who specialises in Sensory Integration / Processing issues name and number from Anon who wrote earlier.
After spending many months wondering, researching, questioning, worrying, stressing and despairing!!! I have finally come accross alot of information surrounding giftedness - including your wonderful posts which I have found very informative and comforting!!!
We are parents of an 8mth old boy and I have so many questions frustrations and to be honest at times we starting to realy struggle to cope day to day with all the uncertainty - but now having stumbled accross all this wonderful info I am feeling hopeful again!
Our son is only 8mths old but after reading so much about giftedness I am finding many similar giftedness signs and frustrations with our son! I could list of many possible signs but I don't want to bore you all! ;-) Although, many lists I have read from parents on here I have found very interesting and helpful!
What I would love to know is - now looking back as parents of gifted children, what signs did your baby show of giftedness? In addition, what would you do differently as a parent of a gifted baby?
I guess your baby is now around 18 mths? My 'highly gifted' daughter is now nearly 9, but looking back at her baby/toddler years, I would say it was clear from before 6 mth that she was very different from the rest of her ante-natal group of friends. Here's a few milestones from that time. At 6 months, she would be in her jolly jumper (the ones that hang from the spring in the ceiling); she'd bounce in time to the music and, when a new track came on, she'd pause and then start bouncing in time with that one. She was incredibly 'talky' and verbal from a REALLY early age and obsessed with looking at and babbling away at books from just two or three months. First couple of words (said several times) at seven months and many words by a year. Counting at 14 or 15 months. Had plastic bath letters and, by 18 months, could tell you each letter and a word that began with it - very self-motivated - it was her favourite bath game and she knew the letters because she asked me. She would always climb out of her grobag sleeping bag and then out of her cot in the evenings. We started pinning the grobag zip shut to try and keep her in. She got out of every pinning permutation we could invent (without ever needing to get the safety closed pin undone!) it was like a hilarious challenge for her and she'd turn up at the door of the living room, looking all pleased with herself for her latest mensa-houdini escape trick! There were times when we couldn't figure out how she did it. Talking in very full and comprehensive sentences by 18 months ("Daddy, get out of bed, put on your trousers and make a cup of coffee"; "I have really lovely knees mummy"; "Did you notice that dogs don't have chins?"). As she was our first child and we had all the time in the world to devote to her, I wouldn't do anything different. I talked to her all the time and answered all her millions of questions truthfully and we spent all our time with her and delighted in her every day and it was a lovely time. The only thing I wish I'd been more aware of (and I did feel that I was mindful of it at the time but there must have been more I could have done, in hindsight) was to help her manage her emotions - she was a very, very happy girl but, if she got over-stimulated or over-excited, she would occasionally grip her little fists shut (even as a little baby) and kind of vibrate with tension. She now gets overwhelmed with rage and frustration sometimes (since about 2.5 years, when the first of her brothers arrived - though I'm not sure if that was entirely causal - or a combination with her age) and I would love to have known that that was to come, so I could have been more mindful of setting up coping strategies for her from a really early age - naming emotions and helping her figure out a way to calm herself through it. I do feel like I missed the boat on that (did enough for a 'normal' child, but not enough for her, I think) and it feels harder to set them up once that inherent response has had time to get entrenched.
Enjoy your wonderful baby - though be prepared for life to feel very tricky for them if you have another baby - a gifted child sucks attention and stimulation like a sponge or vacuum, so it is hard for them when your focus is necessarily split after being theirs for so long. You may also find yourself biting your tongue around your friends who have children of a similar age. It is hard to join in the 'milestone' conversations without sounding like you're bragging or making things up! Don't be afraid to be your son's advocate - no-one else can do that as well as you. Focus on his strengths and beauty and don't get too worried about him if he doesn't fit the norm - the quirks are what makes them so stunning. Sometimes it feels very tough but sometimes you feel like you can't believe you have been given the enormous priviledge of guiding such a special, original, spirited soul.
PS... Leah13 -
I can't remember where I read it - but I once heard the mother of a gifted child say something along the lines of "Everyone has a different response when they hear a child referred to as 'gifted'; I just think - I bet their parents are exhausted and their house is a mess!". That made me laugh - it is so true. Be prepared for exhaustion and mess - and a lot of good stuff besides!
So very true! My house has been a total chaos minutes later I get it perfect! I always thought my children were out of discipline and I am the only one complaining ... but i guess there's quite a few of us with the same problem :)
Sorry - no expert here, but I've had much experience with beautiful, quirky children both within my own family and circle of friends, and in my capacity as a Nanny.A couple of things jumped out at me while reading about your special little boy.
Could it be that he doesn't finish things because he can predict the outcome once he gets to a certain point so he is ready to move on? (Or ... can predict the outcome and is unsure he can get it perfect?) Either way it could be insight that moves him on rather than restlessness.
If you are interested in dietary implications, you may like to look into the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). (http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/p/the-book/)