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Gifted Children/Is my 3yrs and almost 7months boy gifted?


QUESTION: Hi Dr.Coleman,
I have read lots of you answers and then I am not sure wether my
3 year old and almost 7 month boy is gifted or not. Questions: 1. He
Started talking about 2 years old, which seems late for gifted children.
2. He started to walk at twelve months, which also seems late for gifted
Childre. 3. He does not ask advanced questions such that why people die.
However, he does seem gifted academically and both my husband and I do not push him.
His academically developmental stages: knows alphabets and phonic at 22 months.
Knows color and shapes about 13 months. Started to sound out words at 24 months.
Read 2.4 equivalent books at 2 year and 9 month. Knew all times table and skip counts about
2 years and 9 months as well. He is almost 3 years and 7 months. He knows all the basic facts about solar systems. He has very good memory. He not only sings many songs but also tells you what number is what song in the CD that has 51 songs and he will tell you in other CDs too. We have 26 sesame books with each alphabet on each book cover. He will tell you which book has which letter from the back cover. The back covers of all these book is the map of sesame street map. Lots of people said that " he is quite gifted in language and math". He started to spell words about 2 year and half. Now his print is very good now. He printed all the names of planets and he put happy face on all the planets. He loves to read and used to be crazy about numbers. Now, he is crazy about solar systems. His math level is scattered from grade 1 to grade 3. The reason both my husband and I want to know whether he is gifted or not is that we want to buy a house that closes to the right school he will go.
Thank you,

ANSWER: Stephanie, I just now found your question from 10/28. You did the right thing by writing and I'm working on your answer.

Dr. Coleman

It sure sounds like your son is gifted.  Testing doesn't become reliable until 4-5 years of age. That's usually when the term "gifted" may be applied.  Starting to talk at age two is not late, especially for boys, who start talking later than girls.  Often, a gifted child likes to feel a sense of control, and will wait to talk until they know they're going to speak well with few mistakes.  Walking at 12 months is not late. For most kids, they can't understand death as a concept until age 6-7.  You're doing well with letting your son learn at his natural pace, and encouraging him in the topics which interest him.

A gifted child may have particular skills in some areas, but not necessarily all areas, and to different degrees in the areas in which he is gifted.  You'll find an answer from 2/18/2012 "very interested in books"; the children's ages are different but the information is well-suited for your son, too.  You've probably read in the answers how very important it is for parents to take care with the emotional maturing of a child, as much or more than  intellectual maturation.

I encourage you to examine again your decision to buy a house close to the school he'll attend. Schools, public or private, start up, close down, lose or gain funding.  Leadership changes, staff and teachers come and go.  The "personalities" of schools change.  Change is the nature of life. Sometimes the relationship between a family and school just isn't comfortable. Employment changes, relocation happens.  There may be conflict with a school in goals or values.  Gifted children are often very critical of themselves. It's a great burden for a child to feel like they are somehow responsible if things don't go well with the family-school combination, knowing his parents chose their home to be close to the desired school. They may blame themselves and fear they are a disappointment to their parents.  Even when parents are not critical at all, a gifted child may judge him/herself very harshly.  I encourage you to find a home in a good location that's a good fit and makes sense for everyone in the family.

Two of the best things for everyone in the family, that are important for academic success, are having lots of fun and laughter, and for parents to make their marriage high priority.

Addendum: re: bowel movements

I've been looking for something well-written that I could recommend for you to read and I'm amazed by how little there was that really did a good, thorough job but this is good:, go to "How does constipation affect a toddler?" by April Sanders. There are several sections you'll want to read, especially the parts that start with causes and prevention of constipation during toilet training.

A couple bits of my advice:

Your son's body does know what to do.  It may take some time and that's ok. You can let go of worry; I promise you that he won't start kindergarten in diapers.  With this problem there is never a place for shame or punishment.  Gifted children are often older than the average age for kids to be trained. They're so interested in what they're doing that when they get the urge to have a bowel movement they just keep on playing, rather than responding to the urge and the stool gets harder and very dry, then there's pain when they go, as you've observed.  My son, who's quite gifted, was just past his 4th birthday when completely trained. Sometimes relatives or friends, whoever, make rude comments or shame him or criticize you as parents. Don't let them make you or your son feel bad.  You can tell them Dr. Coleman said parents and child are all just fine.

Please let me know how things go.

Dr. Coleman

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much Dr. Coleman for the advice.  Now, I just remind him to go to bathroom whenever I see the cues.  I will not get frustrated now.  However, I am still puzzled about his many behaviors.  Sometimes I find that he is not smart at all.  For example, I turned light on for him in the middle of night because he needed to go voiding by moving his bottom in the bed.  He got out of the bed, turned bathroom light on, and then came back to the bed without voiding.  This situation happened twice.  He needed to go pee for sure, so I had to remind him that he had not peed yet.  Regarding his bowel movements, we got him a stool to put him feet on and his arms can also hang on it whenever he needs to.  Bowel movements seem to get better now, but he still has accidents such that he would dirty his underwear a little bit just like before.  
Both my husband and I sometimes think that he doesn't comprehend what we say.  For example, when he was about 3yrs old, we asked him to push a button or turn a nod to right, he seemed that he did not know what we meant.  He is almost four and now he knows.  However, sometimes he seems too smart.  For example, when he was 2yr and 10months, i asked him a question.  I said, "Alec, there are 7 days in a week. Mom goes to work 5 days. How many days mom stays home with you?", he told me 2 days.  I do not have that work schedule to help him answering that questuion.  I just use it to test him comprehension.   Today, my husband asked him a question, "Alec you are 4 now and dede is 2. When you are 10 yrs old, how old will be your dede?"  He told him dede will be 8.  We find that is pretty amazing.  Another amazing fact about him is that he is a little expert in solar system.  He knows it all.
Alec is our first boy.  It is either he is different from typical or as parents we don't know what a typical child is.  Therefore, your advice will guide us through parenting him.  I really appreciate your dedication and time.  

Thank you for your patience.

I'm glad to hear that your son's bowel concern has improved.  When you find his underwear slightly soiled it usually is not that he's had an accident, but that kids his age are not very skillful with wiping. Gradually he'll catch on better about wiping, but it may be quite a while.  Just let that happen, rather than more instruction for him.  Some parents scold their child for that soiling, or force the child to scrub his/her own underwear, but that just makes things worse.

"Giftedness" has a very broad range of traits, and degree of giftedness.  Some children have just one trait in which they seem superhumanly brilliant. We use the word "savant" for that.  In other ways a savant may be quite impaired.  In the movie "Rainman" Dustin Hoffman's character was superhumanly skillful with numbers, able to do complex math problems instantly, or when a box of toothpicks was spilled on the floor, he could instantly tell you the number of toothpicks. The character was very impaired, needing to live in a residential facility for people with profound intellectual disabilities, because he couldn't take care of his basic needs.

Most gifted kids have several types of thinking and functioning in which they are gifted, but not all abilities are advanced, or to such an extreme degree.  Your son probably is gifted in some ways, but not all.  My daughter is fascinated by the solar system , too, and never tires of the shows at our local planetarium, and naming and describing constellations. She's gifted artistically, such as in drawing and sculpting, but doesn't show unusual ability in math.

Your son's abilities will emerge more clearly as he grows up.  Formal testing becomes useful at ages 4-5 years.  This site is associated with the web-site "" which is also a free service of the New York Times.  There you'll find many in-depth articles about lots of topics within giftedness.

An excellent source of materials of all kinds and topics, that you can use throughout your son's upbringing, is "Free Spirit Publishing" (  For health and development info, for children of any age, an excellent source is, which is a free service of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

I'm glad you returned to this site. It's my privilege to serve you.  Thanks again for your outstanding patience.  Please let me know how things go.

Gifted Children

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Faith A. Coleman MD


No questions are off-limits. My strengths are understanding what questioners are really trying to ask, knowing the right questions to get to useful answers, and putting complicated, subject-specific words and concepts into language accessible to lay-persons. The topic is fascinating and can be surprising, the opposite of what might logically seem expected of giftedness. I am skilled in identifying giftedness at any age, including very early in life.


Children constitute about one-third of the patients in a Family Medicine practice. I was Director of Children's and Women's Public Health Education Programs with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. I have two highly gifted children, one of whom attended Roeper School, listed first in this site's Sponsored Links. I was the health expert for Roeper's board of directors; I maintain contacts there. I'm on the board of directors of several organizations of which I'm a member. I spent a summer as the Medical Director of a camp for kids with ADD, ADHD, and psychiatric disorders. Editor, Medical Economics Publishing Co. licensure to teach K-12 in Oklahoma, with added qualification in Journalism

Champions for Children: Advocacy, resources, quality assessment, for early childhood daycare (Board of Directors). American Academy of Family Physicians. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. READ: Advocacy, education, resources for teaching and encouraging literacy in adults. East Texas Network for Children (Planning Board).

Journals: Medical Economics, Contemporary OB/Gyn, Diagnostic Medicine. Albuquerque Journal Daily, Tyler Daily News, New Mexico Daily Lobo, New Citizen Weekly, Alpena News, daily.

BA, Journalism MD University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Internship, Detroit Medical Center. Family Practice Residency, Top-100 Hospital - Beaumont. Clinical Faculty appointments to three medical schools. Faculty, Family Practice Residency, Detroit area.

Awards and Honors
Two official commendations awarded by United States Army for service and contributions to young soldiers and families. Publishing Internship, Medical Economics Publishing Company. Research Internship, Hastings Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. Woman Medical Student of the Year. Numerous others.

Past/Present Clients
As above in experiences, publications and awards. Many thousands of patient/family encounters.

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