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Signs of Above-Average Abilities

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: I have a son who is turning two in two weeks time. I have checked early signs of giftedness but it still leaves some questions if I am just a very proud mommy.

Comparing to his peers I feel he is smarter and more advanced. At age 1 he could distinguish and point at 24 different animals. Now at age 2, he can name his miniature cars (Benz, Beetle, Mustang, Jeep etc)

He loved books at an very early age. When he was about 10 months old he was often sitting down at one place and turning pages of books. I remember one day I measured the time and it was for 15mins. Now at age 2, he can sit down with me to read books or play with cars at one spot for an hour or so.

He also forms 5~6 words sentences which are grammatically correct (unclear pronunciation). And he is very good at remembering an event which he saw or he experienced. I think his memory is back to January. Though, when he is talking about the events in the past he is struggling to make grammatically correct sentences.

When he plays he sometimes calls his imaginary friend's name who is a principal character in one of his book. He has been very selective on music DVD and books and so on since he was around 17 months old. But he did not do shape sorter by age 11 months or form two phrase sentences by age 14 months. Also, he cannot rote count from 1-10.

Can you please tell me if he is advanced? Especially I am interested on toddler's memory. Thank you for reading my email.

A: Almost all checklists for above average abilities that may indicate giftedness is a mere guide for parents and teachers. Not everyone would have all the qualities listed and that does not mean that the child is not advanced. Different children show advancement in different ways. At a very young age, parents are the best judges for advanced abilities by means of awareness and some comparison to other siblings or peers. If you feel that your son has advanced skills, instead of looking for a confirmation, the best thing to do now is to stimulate and challenge him to the best of your abilities.

From your description, some of his skills do appear advanced, and these are the skills that you may want to nurture, especially if he shows interest in them. For example, if he shows interest in cars, apart from buying miniature cars, expose him to the real ones, watch DVD's on cars (short ones as long as he pays attention), get some car magazines, etc. At this stage, it is not necessary for him to be able to understand everything, but exposure enriches his imagination. Book exposure is a great and fun way to start him interested in books. You may want to read it out to him, but if it's of adult content (as long as there are many pictures); you can make a story out of it or get him to say something.

Every child has a gift; it is up to us to help develop those gifts as soon as they are observed. Fun activities and free play is essential for a bright mind to develop further. So, enjoy your boy, and regardless of whether he is gifted or not, you should always be a proud mummy! Happy parenting and best wishes to you! 


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