Uneven Development of the Gifted
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I'm contacting you with regard to my 18 month old daughter.
Since she was born she has been highly alert and gave her
first smile at two weeks old. At this stage she has
approximately 150 words and is highly communicative. She
applies many of these words to associated objects. For
example she calls the grater, cheese and all human form
sculptures are called Buddha. She also connects many words
to make her point, e.g. every morning she says Molly, dirty,
bath, bubbles then throws a towel over her shoulder and goes
to the bathroom.
She also responds accurately to complex requests and seems
to understand most conversation. She comes from a long line
of extremely bright people including my brother who has
highest IQ ever recorded in Ireland. Unfortunately his life
was very difficult because of his brightness.
My question is do you think my daughter might be similar and
if so what action do we need to take about it? Your advice
is greatly appreciated.
A: Chances are that your
daughter may be above average and this is not surprising
with the family history on IQ that you have indicated. I can
understand the difficulties that your brother had gone
through, especially then when there was so little awareness
You daughter may turn out to be similar in terms of her IQ
but that does not translate to life being difficult for her.
The myths surrounding highly gifted children may have been
so due to the lack of research, understanding, knowledge and
awareness of the distinct characteristics of these children.
The most important educational aspect for a gifted child is
recognition and provision for appropriate learning based on
ability, not chronological age. This may see some highly
gifted children accelerating very quickly and perhaps being
the youngest in class, or a few grades younger in terms of
The problem that may come about here is uneven development
between advanced intellectual development and development of
physical and social skills. Studies have indicated that
intellectually gifted children's performance in the physical
domain may only be advanced to the extent that the physical
tasks involve cognitive organization. Even though these
children tend to possess some advanced social-cognitive
skills due to their giftedness, they may not necessarily
demonstrate those skills in their social behavior. In simple
terms, they may understand and be able to relate to how to
solve social conflicts and interact cooperatively, but not
know how to translate their understanding into concrete
behavior. This in turn can be extremely frustrating leading
to acts of giving up or throwing tantrums. It is here that
they require adult guidance in developing coping strategies.
As a parent, it is crucial to understand the unique
developmental patterns often present in gifted children.
Today, the education has changed so much and in most
advanced countries giftedness is recognized and given
appropriate attention. With a highly gifted child, the
journey may not be a bed of roses, but with the right
guidance it can lead to very favorable results. For parents,
support is important to understand your child so you may
want to join gifted associations or support groups. The
following link may be helpful. Good luck!
Irish Association for Gifted Children
Carmichael House, 4 North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7.