Special Need Child
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son will be 4 in Jan 2006 and has mild cerebral palsy.
His memory skills, vocabulary, powers of observation and
sense of humor are all advanced of his age group. Of course,
his motor skills are delayed, specifically walking which he
just began to do independently and falls often.
My question is, is he gifted and if so, how do I find
programs in my area that will nurture this? Because of his
disability, I am afraid that he will be earmarked for
"special needs programs" that may not answer all his special
A: For the benefit of other
readers, briefly, cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition caused
by damage to the brain, usually occurring before, during or
shortly following birth. It can range from mild to severe.
Most commonly it is characterized by an inability to fully
control motor function, which is no surprise when you
mentioned that he had just learnt to walk independently.
I am not able to tell if he is gifted for sure, but your
description does indicate early signs of above average
development, especially when compared to age-peers. You may
want to get professional help to evaluate his mental
capacity to be able to decide what would work best for him.
In schools, unfortunately in most cases, their disabilities
often mask their giftedness. In fact, there is chance that
these students may never be recognized as gifted.
When diagnosed, naturally early intervention is a key to
ultimate success for such cases. In reality, mild CP
diagnosis is hard to live with when your child "appears"
normal to most people. People often wonder why children with
CP are unable to do many physical tasks as well as
educational tasks. This is a rather complex situation and
many teachers are not well versed in how CP manifests itself
in the classroom. Chances are that if there are not enough
appropriately trained professionals in his school, he may be
marked for special needs program.
Therefore, it may a good idea to get him evaluated to have
some form of "proof" of his mental ability; this is of
course if the school does not have such facilities. Being
diagnosed as having mild CP, he would need treatment that is
available only in special programs, and at the same time he
would also need to enhance his strength in ability-based
program. Find out from his school how they may want to treat
him educationally to maximize his potentials. You might also
want to get in touch with the local branch of United
Cerebral Palsy and ask them for a consultation (you did not
indicate where you are from so I am not able to suggest
where to go).
However, the following are lists of sites you may want to
have a look at on gifted children with disabilities. My very
best wishes to you.
Internet Resources (http://ericec.org/fact/dualexep.html)
Gifted But Learning Disabled: A Puzzling Paradox
For parents of gifted students with learning disabilities
or other special needs (ADHD, Asperger's, Tourette, etc.)
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Discussion of issues in education for gifted students who
may also have learning disabilities
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