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Your time with each patient is limited. So, if you’ve never been taught how to spot potential giftedness, you may not notice it, especially if the child is twice exceptional (2e) or multi exceptional.
It can be harder to tell than you think. Plus, countless myths have skewed people’s perceptions; even those of many teachers and physicians.
Why identification is important
Schools’ gifted programs don’t typically start until third grade. It may not seem necessary to spot giftedness before then, but in some cases, it’s critical. Gifted children can experience considerable challenges before then, and I don’t mean academically.
What I’m referring to is social dynamics. Both inside and outside school, these kids can be targets. Other kids bully and exclude some of them, no matter how hard they try to fit in. (My son began experiencing this shortly after his fifth birthday. I didn’t know he was “highly gifted” until after he turned eight. By then, he had experienced peer rejection for nearly half of his life!)
So, needless to say, spotting it early can be essential to a patient’s social-emotional well being.
What it can look like
Here are some characteristics you may notice. (Keep in mind, there are many more. And all of them relate to asynchronous development or one of the five types of intensities.)
- Advanced vocabulary, grammar and sayings for their age.
- Walking encyclopedias who know countless facts and statistics about various subjects, especially those that are of particular interest to them.
- A seemingly insatiable curiosity that, after a while, can drive adults nuts. (I sometimes implement “No Questions Time” to maintain my sanity.)
- Unusual interests for their age. (See examples in my Possible Clues I Missed article.)
- More comfortable around adults than “age peers.” (This probably won’t be as obvious if the child is an extrovert; here’s why.)
- Self-directed motivation in the areas they’re interested in (which may or may not, be what’s on a teacher’s lesson plan).
- Allergies and/or asthma (recent study).
- Loves puzzles, problem-solving, anomalies and puns.
- A sense of humor most other kids don’t understand or that they just plain find annoying.
- Notices details others don’t, and has a strong sense of cause and effect (intellectually, but often, not socially).
- The counselor’s “friendship group” didn’t help much, if at all.
And if the patient is twice exceptional (2e), may only notice his weaknesses.
Keep in mind, too, there’s no guarantee the child’s parents will realize he’s gifted. Often, they won’t – especially if he’s in preschool or early elementary school, or he’s the oldest child in his family.
Needless to say, this can get complicated. Here are a few suggestions for applying this knowledge.
In addition, here are some resources if you’d like to learn more.