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Developmental Milestones of an Advanced Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My son's name is Chase, and I've been wondering for quite some time if my son is gifted. When my son was born he could hold his head up after 2hrs or so. When he was two weeks old he could lift his head up, arms straight. He could look at you in the eye while laying on his belly. The pediatrician told me that it was rare for a two week old to do something a six month old does. He has done other things physically early for him between when he was a few hours old until now. He's done the following since 11-16months. Asking me what something is, knows between 20-30 words, including his name and others, emotional when he does something incorrect, or feeling like he did something wrong, puts toys away, very independent, touches and feels everything and looks as though he studying it, takes things apart and puts them back together, takes 1 nap a day, picky eater, takes clothes off, opens and shuts cabinets, understands directions, brushes his teeth, helps me clean. He can do other things as well.

A: You did not indicate the age of your child, so I assume that he may be around 16 months. There is very little information to determine if he is gifted so I would just give a general view of the developmental milestones of a child in comparison. Though, he does appear to be advanced for his age. As a rule of thumb, a gifted child would show about 30% advanced development of some skills and abilities by weeks, months or even years.

An interesting research on developmental milestones of gifted children is presented in the following tables. It is a fact that gifted children tend to gain skills faster and sometimes with more ease than the average child with normal development. Naturally, the advanced development can and does show up in early life, making acquisition of other skills and abilities also at a faster pace. The following milestones have been gathered over many years of research on giftedness.

Please note that these figures are just guidelines. There are other factors that may influence development such as general health, specific sensory disabilities, motivation, etc.

General Motor Examples

Ability Normal Age (months) Gifted Age (30% Advanced)
Sits up alone 7 months 4.9 months
stands alone well 11 7.7
Crawls upstairs 15 10.5
Walks upstairs 18 12.6
Turns pages of a book 18 21
Walks on tiptoes 30 33.6
Skips with one foot only 48 33.6
Throws ball 48 33.6
Skips with alternating feet 60 42

Fine Motor Examples

Ability Normal Age (months) Gifted Age (30% Advanced)
Plays with rattle  3 months 2.1 months
Pulls strings adaptively 7 4.9
Holds Object (Finger+Thumb) 9 6.3
Holds crayon adaptively 11 7.7
Scribbles Spontaneously 13 9.1
Folds paper 21 14.7
Draws a person with 2 parts 48 33.6
Copies a triangle 60 42
Draws a person with neck, hands and clothes 72 50.4

Cognitive-Language Examples

Ability Normal Age (months) Gifted Age (30% Advanced)
Social smile at people  1.5 months 1.05 months
Searches with eyes for sound 2.2 1.54
Vocalizes 2 different sounds 2.3 1.61
Says 'Dada' (or equivalent) 7.9 5.53
Responds to name and 'no' 9 6.3
Looks at pictures in a book 10 7
Has vocabulary of 4-6 words 15 10.5
Follows directions to put object on chair etc. 17.8 12.46
3-word sentences 24 16.8
Gives full name 30 21
Counts object to 3 36 25.2

(Source: The Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre [GERRIC], The University of New South Wales, SYDNEY Australia).

Hope the above helps to determine his level of cognitive and physical advancement. Do read the previous newsletters for suitable activities based on are age group. Wishing you a happy parenting journey.


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