Special Education/Am I "gifted"?

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Question
I've been wondering for a while if I am "gifted."  I have never been officially tested (I've only completed a 60 question self-scoring IQ test in a book written by Dr. Alfred Munzert which I scored a 132 on, but other than that, I've never been officially evaluated and wonder how good of a predictor that self-scoring test is for performance on a clinically administered one), but I would like input from a professional.

When I was young (about 2 or 3) I had a pretty good ability for understanding cause-effect relationships (e.g. I questioned my mom one time about how Santa could get in the house if the door was locked and I use to wonder how Santa could travel around the world in one night; I never inquired much further, but an explanation of "magic" did not satisfy me).  When I was 11 months I correctly placed the shapes in their appropriate spots without instruction (I was told this by my mom).  I also had a Jumpstart Advanced Kindergarten CD that I used when I was 2 or 3 and began independently using a computer when I was 2.  I used the words "actually" and "oscillating" correctly at age 2 among a few others that I may have missed and could speak in grammatically correct sentences at age 2.  I could read some words and sound out pretty much any word when I was 3. I also learned how to play monopoly (not the children's version) when I was 4. I was also very empathetic (I assisted a baby out of a ball pit one time when I was 4 because there were bigger children carelessly jumping all over the place) and I still am.  I would often cry at the sight of an injured animal and sad movies can nearly move me to tears.

I entered a Montessori school and my instructors wanted me to learn multiplication.  I don't think I completed learning it because I saw it as unfair since none of the other kids had to learn them.  I also had an enfatuation for dinosaurs and knew probably over 100 species when I was 7 years old.  I entered a private school my 2nd grade year and they gave me the WJ-III Tests of Achievement to see if I was ready for the 2nd grade.  I scored in the average range, however, I notice that I score much better on practice tests for achievement tests or any test where I'm not bothered by time limits.  Also, a psychologist signed the papers on the test, but one of the teachers from the school administered the test and they only gave the achievement test for "educational planning" and no requirement for any test of cognitive ability in conjunction with the achievement test was in place.  This kind of bothers me because I know I'm more capable than that (I know I shouldn't dwell on the past, but it still bothers me).  I worked in a 4th grade math book in 2nd grade and could read high school to college level text books when I was in the 5th grade, however, my scores on any achievement test did not reflect this.  Throughout most of elementary I was interested in astronomy and read books and watched documentaries about it or other areas of science that I found interesting(which I preferred because I never really had the patience for reading).  I also taught myself Calculus during the summer between my 9th and 10th grade year and I'm currently in 11th grade and plan on teaching myself Linear Algebra and multi-variable calculus along with Lagrangian Dynamics, however, I don't have the time since I'm in high school which unfortunately is a priority.

I sometimes think wondering about this is stupid since I feel there's really nothing I can do about it now.  Duke TIP has sent me e-mails inviting me to partake in their program, however, it's really expensive and I'm saving for a trip to Europe next year.  I was also wondering if you know of any cheap summer enrichment programs in Michigan and what I would have to do to apply for one.

Thanks!

Answer
Nick,

You make a good case in your history for you being "gifted." Mensa.org has a good test online for $18. In a quick look on Google for "IQ Tests" there are many to choose from. To really measure intellectual ability requires a long test with many questions. The test you took does not seem long enough to be very reliable. Unfortunately, Intelligence Quotients (IQ) are not the only way of quantifying intelligence. There are all kinds of tests including some that measure a variety of intelligence factors. For example, people with great memories may score high on some tests that emphasize remembered knowledge, and not so high on others that emphasize problem solving, reasoning, and logic.

I don't know of any summer enrichment programs in Michigan, but I encourage you to search internet for some -- I'm sure they are out there. Their websites will tell you their requirements. You might even get paid to lead some summer enrichment programs for younger kids. You might contact the psychology department at universities near you because they might have some research programs looking for volunteers that involve extensive testing.

I wish you the best,
Tim Runner, Advocate
Advocates for Kids
Email: timrunner@gmail.com
Phone: (949) 582-3601
You can learn more at my web site:
www.special-education-answers.com

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Tim Runner

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Questions concerning special education: IEP, assessments, Due Process, mediation, resolution conference, federal law, state law, qualifying for services, residential treatment, special day classes, resource specialists, procedures, having your child assessed, adaptive PE, speech & language, non-public school, FAPE, and tuition reimbursement.

Experience

I have been an education advocate representing students and parents for six years. My experience includes: representing my clients in IEPs, SSTs, Due Process, review assessment results for my clients, and mediations. I have represented clients with learning disabilities, autism, Downs Syndrome, cognitively challenged, emotional problems, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and physical disabilities. I have also represented clients to County Mental Health Departments and Regional Centers. My clients range from pre-school to college students in many states.

Education/Credentials
I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of California with minors in Psychology and Physics. I also studied applied statistics in psychology at the graduate level. I have taught college classes, conducted seminars, written articles for various publications, and testified as an expert witness.

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