Gifted and Learning Disabled (GLD)
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Q: My son is 7 and was recently diagnosed
as Gifted / Learning Disabled. He got a WISC IV GAI score of 130 (I'm
not actually sure what that means, but apparently that was the gifted
part) and is also dyslexic, dysgraphia, and possibly has ADHD, the
I'm confused. I know that my job will be to advocate for him, but I'm
not sure how.
His skills are literally all over the board. He shows areas of intense
interest, almost like an autistic child, but it's not limited to one
area. He's intensely interested in many things.
The only books he is willing read are Percy Jackson, Flat Stanley, or
Magic Tree House books. They are what is interesting to him. He can read
them decently well, not great but at least with the later two it's less
than five mistakes on a page. However, he has trouble reading basic
He makes mistakes everywhere in his reading. He skips all the little
words, changes stuff in mid-sentence, and pretty much ignores words that
he doesn't know. But through that, his comprehension is fantastic. On
the reading subtest, he got an eight for the actual reading part but got
a 13, the highest score possible for comprehension.
He can do math, conceptually it just clicks with him, but he'll randomly
forget basic math facts, like 6 4. His handwriting is awful.
All told, he functioned at his grade level as 1st grader for all
subjects, not shining anywhere, except in science (he explained the
concept of omnivores to his reading group and told his teacher that
plasma was really a fourth state of matter.)
How do you advocate for a kid when you yourself are totally stumped?
When he can function very well in some ways, but is truly struggling in
others. What do you do with a kid that is "LD Gifted" who is
compensating well enough on his own to not get help but not well enough
to get him any enrichment? How do we help him get what he needs when we
can't figure it out ourselves?
Thanks for any thoughts on this one.
It breaks my heart to hear of such special children with so many
problems at such a young age. And I can understand how tough it is to
parent this child. It does take a toll on parents and sometimes causes
extreme frustration. One thing is for sure - he is gifted.
First and foremost, he may appear to be compensating well on his own but
he is in fact struggling and there can be a breaking point. He needs
help with each and every of his learning concern. He need intervention
with his dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD. If he has been diagnosed, he
should get educational intervention at school regardless of whether he
is compensating on his own. You may need to speak to the school about
this. He has been able to compensate for his weaknesses because gifted
children learn compensation strategies more quickly than their non
gifted counterparts. Here I would like to quote Dr Silverman (Gifted
"It takes more energy to compensate and when one is fatigued, ill,
stressed, dieting too strenuously, or adjusting to a new situation,
there may not be sufficient energy to support the compensation strategy.
So the individual is likely to experience "good days" when the
compensations work well, and "bad days" when they fail. Twice
exceptional children and adults often believe that the true level of
their abilities is revealed on their bad days, and that they are faking
it on their good days. It is important for their self-confidence for
them to reverse this impression. They need to understand that their high
intelligence is revealed on their good days and that there will be bad
days, when their compensations, like bad brakes, fail to support them.
One school psychologist said that she tests a twice exceptional child at
two different times of day. She tests for giftedness in the morning when
the child is fresh, and learning disabilities in the afternoon, when the
child is tired and less able to compensate for weaknesses".
It was further added that the secrets to reaching GLD children are
teaching to their strengths, assistive technology, and accommodations in
the classroom, such as untimed tests and shorter written assignments.
They blossom and fulfill their potential with supportive teachers. If
this is not happening at school, you may want to intervene and advocate
For home help, you may want to check out the following articles/sites:
Teaching Techniques for Overactive Children, by Linda Kreger
Top 3 Facts on Giftedness and LD - Characteristics and Assess
On Dyslexia Treatment: Hints for Parents (this is really interesting!)
Treatment of Dysgraphia (also see the other articles at the bottom of
I hope the above has been somewhat helpful. My good wishes for your journey.