Testing for Giftedness: Is it necessary?
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I am writing because my oldest son is 3.5 years old I am
believe he may be gifted. He has been able to speak in
sentences and carry on a conversation since about 1.5 years
of age. He has a comprehension that is unbelievable. He
remembers things such as minute details of an event that may
have happened a year ago with astonishing detail.
He has always been aware of other people's feelings, is
compassionate beyond his years and understands many of the
complexities of an adult relationship (e.g. He is going to
marry his girlfriend at school and he will have to pay the
guy for the food and they will have a big party and drink
wine. Then they will have children but he must first give
her a ring etc.)
He has the speech patterns of an adult and prefers to be
with older children but is very caring when with younger
ones. He easily picks up other languages, and knows how to
spell his name, his sister's name and a few other things. He
knows his address. He knows what street signs say. He even
understands what the colors on a stoplight mean. He can
count as well. He also role plays. He pretends to be his Dad
and does it in such a way you'd think you were watching an
actor. His imagination is remarkable. He loves music. He has
been able to keep a beat as long as we can remember. He
knows things that I don't even know! Everyone always says
that he reminds them of a little old man. It is difficult to
explain but he is wise beyond his years.
Now the reason I am pondering getting him tested is that me
and my mother were both evaluated as children and both of us
were gifted. We both had a hard time in school even though
there was more opportunity for me, it still wasn't enough
and at one point they wanted to put me in a class for slow
learners with disciplinary problems. I was basically bored.
My mother was even left back because she used to "read"
whole essays to the class from a blank piece of paper.
I don't want my son to feel like we did. If he is gifted
then I want to be aware of it so he can be challenged and
the proper steps are taken early in his educational career.
Do you think that he is possibly gifted or just an average
3.5 year old? Also, where would I have him tested and what
should I expect from the tester? Thanks.
A: Your son does appear very
bright from your description and it does not matter whether
he is tested as gifted or not; every parent should be aware
of their child's learning needs and take appropriate steps
to cater to their needs. As mentioned before, it is
generally recommended that IQ testing for gifted children be
done between age 5 and 12. The important question you need
to ask yourself is the reason for testing and the difference
it would make. Most parents test their children as they feel
that the results can make a difference. The difference may
vary: e.g., admission to a specific school, admission to a
school's gifted pull-out program or gifted class; perhaps
its just a matter of proving to the teachers and
administration that the child is different, and needs
something different in their education or even perhaps test
results are required for participation in some
extra-curricular experience for gifted kids.
Having said that, if the results of the test are only to
satisfy parental curiosity, there may be no reason to test
the child. The reason we have our gifted children tested is
so that we will fully understand their capabilities and so
that the school will hopefully provide an appropriate
educational plan for them. For gifted children, the best age
to test is when knowing the test results can make a
difference and only the parents may be able to understand
this. If you have gone through some of the checklists on
gifted characteristics, and you believe your son
demonstrates the distinct characteristics, and that it would
help you plan his educational needs, then have him tested.
What your mother and you have gone through educationally may
not be the same today. There is a lot more awareness and
provision for gifted children today; hence you should not
have to worry about your son having a hard time. Especially
since you have gone through it, you would be able to
understand his needs better than anyone else and to provide
him with what you were not given then.
It is best to see a qualified and experienced educational
psychologist, preferably with experience testing gifted
children. S/he will be the best person to advise you on what
your son's needs may be and what kind of educational
challenges would be appropriate for him at this point. Good