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Advanced Toddler

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My 22 month old gal has the following milestones. Could she be possibly gifted? She's also very sensitive to pain and seemed hesitant to engage in much physical activities unless she is sure that it's safe.

4 months

  • only takes 10 min nap unless I give her milk again to put her back to sleep. Sometimes, she'll go back to sleep after having more milk, sometimes she'll refuse to go back to sleep.

9 months

  • started to sign when we sing songs to her

  • used her finger to point to the things she wanted

  • started saying "a ball" and few other words

  • teases her daddy every morning by tapping on his shoulder to wake him up then roll away, pretending it wasn't her

  • loves playing with older kids

12 months

  • insisted on learning to feed herself with spoon and started to do it since then

  • could already understand at least 80 words

  • could recognise many farm animals and make their corresponding sounds ( cow, horse, dog, cat, duck )

  • naps for 20 min, after which, I need to give her more milk to encourage her to sleep another 25 min. On a normal day, she can sleep 45 min ( waking at the 20th min mark then give milk to sleep another 25 min ). On a good day, she can sleep 1.5hr but usually requires me to be by her side and give her more milk.

  • knows and can say her own name, mummy's name and daddy's name ( ari, Jewel and heng, respectively )

  • loves watching hello kitty show ( 45 min ) though we hardly shows it to her

15 month

  • could feed herself very well with fork and spoon

  • could understand and implement 2 step instructions. (Eg. Take your shirt and put it in your laundry basket)

  • didn't crawl till 14th month and started to walk barely a month later

  • could repeat all the alphabets after me

  • still enjoys playing with older kids but tends to walk away from them quickly if they seemed too rough for her liking.

  • one time, she got really scared and cried, even refused to nurse when I told her it hurts when I nursed her. Had to convince her that it's ok if she is gentle.

  • knows by memory "A for Apple, B for ball, C for cat and Z for zoo "

  • refers to herself by her name

18th month

  • doesn't like the tablecloth in restaurants to touch her legs

  • can swipe thru ipad, locate YouTube icon and find her favourite hello kitty show by herself. And we dun even own an ipad, she only gets to use it briefly when my mum in law comes from overseas to visit her.

  • understands the concept of "now, later, run, walk, jump, fast, slow" and uses them in her speech

  • could do a 9 piece puzzle (comes with picture guide at the base of the puzzle board). Took her a while to learn it but she was very focused and determined to conquer it.

22 months

  • sings/recites "twinkle star... How i wonder what you are.... like a diamond in the sky" and quite a few other songs like " five little ducks ... went out one day.... mother duck says quack quack quack... three little ducks came back"

  • wakes me up and asks me to read to her " mama read please. Ari open book for you " ( Her name is ari for short and she looooves books since 6 months. She'll pay attention every time we read to her. Now, she'll always ask me to read to her)

  • explains herself very well. She said, "Daddy's driving, cannot drink water" as the water from her bottle was spilling when the car started to move. Or she'll say " mummy's having papaya, ari's having papaya also "

  • knows her colours well

  • can do 4 piece puzzle (with no picture guide) within 3 min easily. Loves to play puzzles.

  • wears her own shoes and sandals. Has Never lost any shoe, she was able to tell us "shoe drop" since 14 months.

  • if we are carrying her and she wants to walk, she'll ask "mama, may i go down please? "

  • extremely clever and cooperative in following instructions. eg. We were in a shop selling glassware and even though she was very fascinated, she didn't touch a single piece of display after I explained to her that the items are fragile and will break if she's not careful.

  • got very tickled and laughed really hard when she accidently said " grandma, tofu " instead of " grandma, careful "

  • can hear a baby cry without being in line of sight and tells me "baby crying"

  • recognises 1,2,3 and letter "O".

A: It is hard to tell at this stage if she is gifted, but she does show rather advanced skills for some activities, which is much ahead of her peers. She may be potentially gifted.

For a 24 month old child, the average development would see the child being able to feed oneself with a spoon, drink from a straw, recognize parts of the face and points them out when asked, take things apart, ability to build tower (with about three to four building blocks), disassemble toys, ability to open/close and explore drawers/cabinets, pretend play, walk on stairs with help, follow directions and instructions, has a vocabulary of several hundred words, use of two to three word sentences, enjoys looking at same books many times, refers to self by name, etc. A gifted child would show about 30% advanced development of some skills and abilities by weeks, months or even years. Your girl definitely showed above average development.

An interesting research on developmental milestones of gifted children is presented in the following tables. (Source: The Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre [GERRIC], The University of New South Wales, SYDNEY Australia). 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

Hope the above would help you gauge the developmental milestones of your child. Best of luck!


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