A Late Bloomer
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Q: I was wondering if giftedness is
clarified to come at a later stage. My child, now 15 years old, has
somehow just sprung into life in terms of academia. There has always
been something about the way she acts, she has always had rational and
logical thoughts, and has a repetition to be quite upheld about her
views on things, taking no care what others say unless they prove they
know better. She has also been diagnosed with mild obsessive-compulsive
disorder, and it is clear to both the family and to her peers and
teachers at school that she has always had overwhelming thoughts which
provoke her to have a certain way in a situation.
The thing that strikes me most is how much she seems to worry, about
everything, and cannot miss an opportunity to hint at a possible
worst-case scenario, even at the slightest and most moderate things.
From a very young age she has seemed to write these thoughts down on
paper, and draw the images in her mind to store the situations she has
been in. As well as this, she has always had an ability to solve mental
mathematics, and understand scientific and humanitarian problems and
issues and this was clear in primary school. Despite this, she has never
seemed to pay attention to others or in class, and often failed tests in
her early years simply out of rebellion and lack of focus. This had put
her in a bad state up until recently, when something has sparked into
her mind, a light switch has been flicked on and it's like she has never
thought differently. She has acted out of free will by organizing
meetings with senior staff and asked to move accordingly, as she
believed that if she was going to start attempting to achieve in school
then it was never going to happen in the classes she was in at that
Over the space of the next 3 months, she had re-sat every modular exam
at GCSE level, and had been noticed by teachers to have astonishing
talent in all areas of school, moving from C predicted to straight A*
predicted for the results series this August. She constantly works at
home, and finds any free time useful to do 'fun' Maths as she calls it,
or speculate over the both the worlds governmental, religious and
environmental state. She has been certified to study at college under a
gifted program, but is still not recognized to be gifted at high school
simply due to past assessments.
I would love for you to be able to respond and comment on her situation.
This is indeed a very interesting case. It is obvious that she showed
her abilities late but it is also obvious that she had them all along,
just waiting for a trigger. Unfortunately, ability is viewed as a static
property determined by the genes and should be activated immediately at
birth. As simple as it may seem, this is not really the case. It is true
that in most cases gifted children demonstrate abilities at a very early
age, at the same time, for some people, ability may take time to
develop. Genetic contribution takes time to unfold and it does so
differently with every individual.
Intelligence in fact changes across the lifespan as some genes are
automatically turned on and some turned off. It is a play and
interaction of certain genes that determine intelligence. Abilities such
as leadership and creativity are only seen and appreciated later on in
life, and is an attribute of success – as opposed to the kid who read at
3, who may even average out by 10 when other kids are reading just as
well! Child prodigies (e.g., in mathematics, music chess, etc) draw on
relatively delimited knowledge and skills.
You did notice that your girl has been a little different and thinks
differently, and especially her advanced thoughts in knowledge and her
heightened sensitivity proves that she has been a gifted child all
along. Regardless of whether she is in a gifted program, something must
have triggered her – something within her I believe and she has decided
what she wants to do and is doing just that. This could not have
happened if she were forced to do it. She had the abilities all along,
just never had a reason to bring it to surface.
I totally understand about late bloomers as I was one myself, was
dyslexic but never knew till I went on to graduate school! School was
tough initially; especially the primary years when I was so far behind
everyone else and totally unaware that I had a learning disability.
However, parental support and encouragement changed everything.
Therefore, keep encouraging her and sharing her ideas and opinions and
providing her the mental stimulation she needs. Allow her to make
decisions for herself with some guidance from adults and help her find
purpose in life. I foresee a young lady flourishing and achieving great
An interesting quote: "I made a decision that I wanted to be world
class at something at a very young age; I just had to find that one
thing that made me realize this is my arena, this is where I want to
play," says Chris Gardner, founder and CEO of the stock brokerage
Gardner Rich & Co.
My very best to both of you!