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Gifted Child's Qualities Not Apparent

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My child who is now 8, took the Stanford-Binet v5 when he was 4 years and 3 months. We were asked to take the test because his teachers at preschool thought he may not be absorbing information. We knew he was smart but the test results were very good. He scored a FSIQ of 138 VIQ of 148 NVIQ of 126 and ABIQ of 145.

In the verbal section he scored 99.9 in fluid reasoning and knowledge and 99.6 in quantitative reasoning and visual spatial. So it would seem that about 0.4 of a kid did better than he did which seems absurd!

Again I know he is smart and more advanced than a lot of kids, what I am not sure about is the gifted part! He does not seem "gifted" as he has no major sustaining interests, he does well enough at school but mostly he gets into trouble and he spends a lot of time organizing his friends (he is very popular). I did apply to a gifted program but he did quite poorly on the OLSAT which is a requirement in our state and so was denied for gifted placement.

Could the Stanford-Binet test be wrong, I went to a well reputed psychologist who also does evaluations for the hunter program in NYC so I know she was experienced!

I have been reading a lot of pages and blogs about gifted kids and they all sound very gifted to me, I can't say that about my kid, he is smart and I would say he absorbs information very quickly but I don't think I understand what gifted is?? He is my second child, my older is a very highly motivated child who works very hard to maintain an average standard at school. I know he is very different to her but I have always assumed it was because school is hard for her and not him.

Any help would be appreciated, I sort of need to work out what to do with him because the teachers at school seem to be getting more and more impatient with him! Thank you.

A: I believe that the results of the Stanford-Binet v5 do indicate your son's potential. I would consider him gifted. And the scores are certainly evident of his above averageness. It is important to note that the gifted are a rather diverse group and their range of attainment will surely be varied. Amongst them, a good number do well in national exams or meet the cut-off points for national qualifications.

However, giftedness covers much more than the ability to succeed in tests and exams. They may be very capable of demonstrating some unique talent, leadership qualities, high-level practical skills (e.g., interpersonal skills), high capacity for creative thought, talent in performing arts, etc. Your son demonstrates ability in the social field which can also be a leadership quality.

Not all gifted individuals are obvious achievers. They may still be achievers, but very few may actually see it simply due to awareness level of giftedness in society. Some actually underachieve due to learning disabilities; others have their potential masked by factors such as frustration, low self-esteem, lack of challenge, or low parent/teacher expectations. Your son is not underachieving but as you mentioned, is just getting by. He probably finds school lessons meaningless or not stimulating enough for him to have interest. He probably finds some meaning in friendship, hence the socializing skills.

It appears that his school has failed to cater for his needs and this is quite common in schools where gifted education may not be given a very high regard or importance. Additionally, when he did not qualify for the gifted program admission, it is automatically assumed that he is better suited for the regular curriculum. Not all gifted children would qualify for the gifted program, especially when they have not been challenged over the years. Being viewed as a “trouble maker” is his way of getting some attention since that is surely more stimulating than being bored!

I think what you really need to do is to see a gifted specialist to get help with your son and evaluate his strengths and weaknesses. I really feel that he needs a better learning program to help stimulate him. He probably finds his friends more stimulating and rather spends his time with them. If there is a gifted association in your area, please join the network and meet other parents with gifted children.

It is easier to have a gifted child who fits in most of the criteria on a giftedness checklist; however your son is among the few who doesn't. If left on his own, he will just accept being average and his gifts will not be developed. Perhaps, you may want to speak to some at his school for another evaluation and hopefully he will be able to get a differentiated curriculum. It is going to be a long process but you must not give up as he is still very young. Best of luck!


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