Gifted Children/almost 7 yr old daughter
QUESTION: Hello and Thank you in advance for taking my question.
My daughter will be 7 in December and is currently enrolled at a private Catholic school in the 1st grade. She is amazingly bright! She plays the piano (slightly above her level), sings beautifully, dances and just loves the theatre. She just completed her first quarter of 1st grade. Every week, her teacher provides status reports to the parents regarding the childs social, behavioral and academic performance. She has receives "smiley faces" weekly on academic performance. Only once has she received a "smiley face" on all categories. The period began 08/13 thru 10/13. Obviously, I am in constant contact with her teacher. She states that my daughter is engaged while completing her work. She always completes her work and completes with outstanding accuracy. She has great thinking skills. Her reading is above average as well as math, vocabulary, social studies and writing. Her issues lie in her social skills such as listening and speaking. She seems a bit impulsive at times. She states she struggles to focus and follow directions. AT home, she does not have any problems completing homework, practicing her piano or completing chores that she is asked to complete. I have noticed that at times she does not appear to be listening. Also, some directions need repeated. She gets along well with her friends. She is an only child. My husband and I are older first time parents. We are both 48-49yrs. I am beginning to worry about my daughter. Do you feel it would benefit my daughter to be assessed/tested. I worry that the teacher is leading up to ADHD. My husband and I feel she may be gifted and that she may be bored at school. I look forward to hearing from you.
ANSWER: Thank you for your patience.
It does sound like your daughter may be gifted. Your style of communication tells me that you have higher intellectual functioning than average and that contributes to your daughter's higher intellect.
Nothing in your descriptions is of great concern or stands out as abnormal to me. Some inattention, needing directions repeated at times, or a bit of social awkwardness are normal for your daughter's age. One of the toughest things about raising a gifted child is that, while intellectual ability can be years ahead of calendar age, emotional development stays at calendar age. It's called "asynchronous development." There is such a strong tendency pulling parents and others to have expectations that emotional development is the same as intellectual development, that parents have to constantly be mindful of the difference. Your daughter's world will never run short on intellectual stimulation, but outside home her emotional development won't be given the same attention. It's especially important as parents to help her learn "people skills" such as communication, tolerance, listening, taking turns, cooperation, etc. No matter how smart a person is, if they can't get along with people or manage their own behavior they have little chance for success or fulfilling personal relationships.
I can understand that you worry, but as you did by sending me your question, you're acting in your daughter's best interest to get information. Older parents (I had my daughter at 41) may feel driven to "get it right" bringing up a child, or focus so intensely on their child's development that they start to get diminishing returns, causing difficulty where there is none. It can feel like a great burden to a child to feel like they need to be perfect, so they don't disappoint their parents. I'm not saying that applies to you, but it's good to keep in mind. Gifted children are often their own worst enemies with being self-critical.
I think that it may be a good thing for your daughter to have what's called a neuropsychiatric evaluation, but not because I'm concerned. I'm not suggesting that there is a psychiatric problem - that's just the name given to the testing. I think it will help with guiding your daughter's education, give you and your husband some peace of mind, and if there are any areas in which she can use extra help, it will identify those. It's important for her, as well, to understand that testing is a tool for guiding her education, but her intellectual traits are not who she is or how valuable she is, or alone predictive of her potential. Very often gifted kids have some type of learning difference.
There is a fabulous resource for you - "Free Spirit Publishing", www.freespirit.com, which has responsible, informative materials for and about giftedness, learning differences or deficits, discipline, morals and character, spiritual development and more, for your entire family. You'll find useful material throughout your child's upbringing. Another resource is the "Critical Thinking Company", www.criticalthinking.com, which is about not learning by rote, since there is such a plethora of information available, almost instantly, but teaching kids how to think and problem solve, the intellectual process. It's a fascinating concept I think you'll enjoy.
The next couple of suggestions are under-rated, but vital to all families:
The most important thing parents can do for their child is to make their marriage high priority. The second is to have fun as a family, lots of laughter and making memories. Be as silly as possible sometimes. Write tall tales and ridiculous poetry, have battles with silly string or whipped cream for ammunition, put on old clothes and finger-paint each other - you can find books with suggestions and and have fun making up your own. Write letters to stars and send them off with helium balloons, have an ice-cream only dinner here and there....
I hope this has been helpful. Thank you for letting me serve you.
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QUESTION: Dr. Coleman Hello, As a follow-up question, in regard to the neuropsychiatric evaluation, would you be permitted to provide suggestions? We reside in Southern Ohio; however, Cincinnati or Columbus would not be a problem. If you are not at liberty to make a suggestion, I fully understand. Thank you so much.
Tammy L. Hazelbaker
The fields of neurology, education, and psychology do testing. Not everyone uses the name "neuropsychiatric" for the testing, but you can provide details about your daughter and they'll know what you're talking about.
To start locally,
Ask your daughter's doctor for a recommendation.
Another way is to call the superintendent's office in the public school district, describe what you need, and ask to make an appointment with the superintendent or the person in charge of guidance counselors. Even though your daughter is in private school, she still is entitled to guidance from the public schools. Ask them to make suggestions. Many school districts to the testing within their system.
Not so local,
A university medical center associated with a medical school and other health professions is a real good source for referrals or do the testing themselves. They are usually up to date with the newest info in their fields, and they have each other to talk about cases, brain-storm and hold each other accountable. You would call the main operator and ask for the pediatric neurology department. Once again, things get confusing because different places use different names. You could call the pediatric psychiatry department also, and ask about services.
The Department of Education associated with a university could give you some guidance. In your area, testing starts at $800 or more. Many school districts which do the testing have no fee. In university settings the fee is less, and they often have research ongoing and need subjects for the studies they're doing, reducing fees or sometimes paying the subjects.
The Cleveland Clinic is the most prestigious health center in your state, but you shouldn't have to travel so far to accomplish your testing.
If I think of any others I'll get back to you. You've had a lot to think about and do. Some parents feel overwhelmed with so much at once. Take your time - you've got all the time you need.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: OK, Thank you so very much! I just had one more concern: I was reading about the neuropsychiatric evaluation, I am a little torn as I was thinking more along the line of Stanford-Binet test,ONSLAT or Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. You are the professional and I do appreciate your time and your professional opinion.
There is no one standard for what constitutes a neuropsychiatric evaluation. It varies with school districts, geographic regions, institutions, tester's choice, familiarity, tester's background and education and others. In my experience, the Wechsler has been included in the evaluations. You'll be communicating with the person or clinic before doing the testing, and I encourage you to discuss what tests are used and bring up your preferences and questions about how the results are used, etc,
We have a saying in medicine - a test is a test is a test, meaning tests are useful, but we have to remember that it's a child, a person, about whom we care and tests have limitations, they're just a part of the whole child.
Another resource at your fingertips is About.com/gifted children. It's a free information service. Carol Bainbridge runs the site, she was once in the position I'm in now. The brief articles can answer questions and inform you about giftedness.
There is a previous answer 6/18/2012 "Online IQ tests for gifted" which would be good for you as well.
Return to this site anytime. Please let me know how things go.