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    #250460 - 09/04/23 06:44 AM Help understanding my child!
    moonpie Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/26/21
    Posts: 2
    Hi all, first poster.

    My DD 9 is a bit of a mystery. She’s in fourth grade and has always been highly erratic at school. I’m posting to get some advice about how to support and understand her.

    Some background.
    This lovely kid has been quirky since birth. She was an unusually self-contained newborn - she studied the world with great seriousness and attention at a few hours old. By a few weeks old, she was showing preferences re who held her and when, and how she spent her time.

    She hit some milestones early, but not all. She would play involved imaginative games by herself for many hours by age 2, and had a sophisticated early vocab. At the same time, she wouldn’t really engage in activities imposed by others. She wasn’t interested in children’s books or songs, and bounced around the room when read to. She was listening though.

    By 2-3, she was interested in adult concepts and adult themes - justice, conflict, belief - and we were trying to match the factual content to her emotional development!

    Fast forward to school. She was very quiet at school but content and making friends. She did so-so in early class work, and was quiet enough to fade into the background. I began to notice that she was giving school the same attention as she gave many things that didn’t interest her. So we tried some class work at home. She rapidly (in 20-30 mins) demonstrated an ability to do maths work years ahead - and then she went back to doing her own thing. The whole exercise seemed to annoy her.

    Reading-wise, she acquired reading in a matter of week or months at 5 without really ever reading a book. She was years ahead within months of starting, and remains years ahead in reading and comprehension. And still won’t usually read by choice. Although she does love to be read to.

    Maths-wise, she underperformed to age 7, then started getting perfect scores on standardised tests (>99pc). Most of the time.

    Fast forward to now. She performs >99pc in both literacy and maths in standardised tests more often. But it’s still hit and miss. She does not like multiple
    choice, especially in literacy. She’s more reliable in maths than literacy. She’s happy, sociable although introverted, and feels mostly positive about school. She has a range of passions she pursues at home, which has always been her preferred place for really being herself.

    At 7, we had WISC V (core sub tests only) done out of desperation to lobby the school (who believed her to be of average ability, and ignored occasional outlier results). From our perspective, DD was clearly under challenged and completely disengaged from the class work

    The psychologist who did the WISC was lovely but had no recent experience with WISC administration and no experience with gifted children. She (the psych) found the experience a bit overwhelming (by her own admission) and said DD was pretty hard to keep on topic. The outcome was a fairly even spread, with relative strength on VCI, relative weakness in processing speed, and an IQ in the mid 120s.

    We have family peppered with HG, PG and above. However, the erratic performance and selective engagement of DD is unfamiliar territory.

    Her school is doing much better at acknowledging her capacity and she has Maths pull-out. They are considering other ways to engage her.

    I didn’t want to get a WISC in the first place - although it was necessary for advocacy. And I don’t really want to do another now she’s older. But i don’t really understand her capacity, her learning needs or the best way to support and advocate for her. I also don’t know if there’s a problem to solve, given she’s pretty happy and slightly less erratic over time.

    I don’t really know if the wisc was accurate, given how unwilling she has been to engage in externally imposed tasks. I don’t really understand what she needs from school to help her feel excited and engaged. Should i be doing more, or should I let my lovely kid sort out her relationship with school in her own time? Is there a problem to solve?

    Thanks for your insights!

    #250518 - 09/17/23 05:36 PM Re: Help understanding my child! [Re: moonpie]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5228
    Welcome, moonpie.

    Your child sounds delightful!

    And you've found the right place, as most members on this forum are some combination of
    - currently raising gifted littles, and/or
    - have raised gifted offspring, and/or
    - are gifted adults.
    Lots of BTDT experiences to draw on.

    Below is a brief roundup of links describing common behavior characteristics and early milestones which may indicate giftedness in infants, toddlers, preschoolers, young children. (This list may be especially useful before IQ test scores tend to stabilize, around 8 years old.)

    You may already know... persons may be gifted, and also have one or more learning differences or learning disabilities in addition to being gifted. This combination is called twice exceptional or 2e. Some websites which may be of interest:
    - Hoagies, 2e ( )
    - ( )
    - Davidson Database ( )

    A few lists of milestones... typical development... clues of giftedness... possible clues of 2e:

    1- Characteristics of intellectually advanced young people,

    2- Parenting Gifted Preschoolers (Milestones - typical development compared with 30% advanced)

    3- Archived list, formerly NAGC's list borrowed from the book A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children
    ((The first item on the NAGC list of Common Characteristics of Gifted Individuals is: Unusual alertness, even in infancy)).

    4- Characteristics and Behaviors of the Gifted

    5- Characteristics checklist for gifted children

    6-Tips for Parents: Helping Parents Understand Their Profoundly Gifted Children,

    7- Profiles of the gifted and talented which lists 6 different types, categorized by personality/temperament and achievement

    8- Bertie Kingore, Ph.D.: High Achieving, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker? (hat tip to sanne)

    9- A common trait in gifted children, often listed amongst identifying characteristics, is alternately described as: "advanced moral reasoning", "well developed sense of justice", "moral sensitivity", "advanced ability to think about such abstract ideas as justice and fairness", "empathy", "compassion". Links to lists of gifted characteristics include several articles on the Davidson Database here and here, SENG (Silverman), SENG (Lovecky).

    10- Different from birth, behaviours of young gifted children, "Strengths or admired traits vs Possible Problems" (archived, Canada) This list compares/contrasts positive and negative views of different traits and characteristics typical of gifted children. Think: Synonyms - Antonyms.

    11- thread about Early Milestones - what do they mean?

    12- SENG video: The Misdiagnosis of Gifted Children

    13- book: Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults

    14- old post with link to article comparing gifted characteristics and ASD characteristics

    15- post with checklist comparing gifted and ASD traits (hat tip to BananaGirl)

    16- post with link to Gifted Resource Center of New England (GRCNE) article comparing gifted and ASD traits (hat tip to Nolepharm).

    When a website or webpage is NOT FOUND or has been changed and no longer contains the described content
    , check the WayBack Machine (internet archive) for a backup copy.
    - Link:
    - Example in this 2018 post, which describes use of the WayBack Machine.

    Back to thoughts in reply to your original post...
    hopefully aeh and others may lend their expertise!

    #250519 - 09/18/23 03:32 PM Re: Help understanding my child! [Re: moonpie]
    Eagle Mum Offline

    Registered: 02/24/20
    Posts: 190
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: moonpie

    I didn’t want to get a WISC in the first place - although it was necessary for advocacy. And I don’t really want to do another now she’s older. But i don’t really understand her capacity, her learning needs or the best way to support and advocate for her. I also don’t know if there’s a problem to solve, given she’s pretty happy and slightly less erratic over time.

    I don’t really know if the wisc was accurate, given how unwilling she has been to engage in externally imposed tasks. I don’t really understand what she needs from school to help her feel excited and engaged. Should i be doing more, or should I let my lovely kid sort out her relationship with school in her own time? Is there a problem to solve?

    Thanks for your insights!

    As Indigo commented, aeh is the expert on this topic.
    I am merely commenting from my experience as a parent, that in my observations, the assessed IQ can be affected by the child’s willingness, and/or ability, to cooperate.

    My eldest was assessed at age 3 for early school entry, before SBV was published, however I can’t recall if WISC or WPPSI was used. There was a brief interview before the session, wherein the psychologist advised both of us that she would perform a school readiness test as well as an IQ assessment and if my daughter got tired, the testing could be continued at a later date. I left the room and it is my understanding that she proceeded to perform the school readiness test before the IQ test. Three hours later, I was called into the room as my daughter had stopped cooperating. My three year old was arguing that she had been answering questions for three hours, she was tired and she wanted the psychologist to keep her promise that testing be continued on another day, whilst the psychologist was arguing that there was only one more section to go and it would be better to just ‘finish it’ (from what I’ve since observed of the attention spans of 3 year olds, I now think the psychologist was unreasonable, but at the time I trusted her as a professional). My daughter stood her ground and refused to even look at any more question material, but the psychologist pushed on with a few more questions and recorded my daughter’s refusals as inability to answer (these were questions which I knew she could answer).

    The test report placed her in the 98th or 99th percentile for all sections except the last, in which she was assessed as being in the 68th percentile, with FSIQ of 138. At the time, she just needed an IQ of 130+ to start school early, so we left it at that for several years, but nearly six years later, circumstances required us to obtain a more accurate IQ assessment and I took her to a psychologist with an excellent reputation for working with gifted children and her IQ was assessed as 160+ on this second occasion.

    The second psychologist also assessed my son (age 4) and volunteered her suspicions that although his FSIQ was measured as 148, his poorest performance was in quantitative reasoning (99.9th percentile for most other sections) and she had a ‘hunch’ he was much stronger than the test revealed. He has since proven to be an outstanding mathematician, so we have not bothered to get a more accurate IQ assessment for him. Our youngest was tested at age 3 (also for early school entry) by a third (local psychologist) and again this psychologist commented that she was slow to warm to the assessor (scored lowest in the first section) and the FSIQ may have been an underestimate, but since it was between the first reported FSIQ values of her two older siblings, we didn’t bother to get her reassessed.

    Therefore, IME, the interaction between the child and the assessor is very important for an accurate IQ assessment.

    #250534 - 10/07/23 03:14 PM Re: Help understanding my child! [Re: moonpie]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 4039
    moonpie, sorry for the delayed response!

    Really, I don't have much to add. I think you have already identified the value of the evaluation you already had (ID'd as intellectually advanced-->school responded with academic advancement), and the indicators that it is a likely low estimate of ability (inexperienced evaluator, inconsistently motivated/engaged examinee, divergent/unconventional response style). As you note, if your child is happy, growing, adequately challenged and developing holistically, then there is not necessarily a problem to be solved. I love that she pursues her passions at home, and clearly finds home and family to be a secure, safe place to be fully herself. For someone as internally motivated as she is, academic acceleration will have to be as joy-led as everything else she does so evidently is.

    My thought would be simply to continue monitoring and listening to her as you have, taking seriously any changes that suggest that she is becoming distressed or feeling constrained...and give yourself permission to enjoy the journey. FWIW, despite being a professional evaluator, I have never had my children formally evaluated.

    If additional testing does ever become relevant, do some research in your community first, to identify evaluators with experience and appreciation for intellectually gifted learners, and with any other exceptionalities that might be in play at that time.
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

    #250536 - 10/08/23 11:07 PM Re: Help understanding my child! [Re: moonpie]
    moonpie Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/26/21
    Posts: 2
    Thank you everyone 😊

    I am reassured that I can continue to gently advocate for her at school, but otherwise let her continue to explore the world in her own “joy-led” way.

    One more quick question. She is a reluctant reader, which I think is informed by her early experiences at school. She is also very selective in her enthusiasms and greatly enjoys her own imaginative world. She does like being read to, during which time she bounces around and “imagines”. She’s impatient with the act of reading itself and has told me “my head doesn’t like being told what to do”!

    She is beginning to find more books that appeal to her, and is already accomplished at both reading and comprehension.

    Any advice on how to engage her more in reading? Or do I simply relax and assume that she will find her way to books, led by interest and in her own time?

    I am an avid reader and wish she could share this wonderful world.

    #250548 - 10/23/23 06:22 PM Re: Help understanding my child! [Re: moonpie]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 4039
    I too am an avid reader, and understand your eagerness for her to share the world of books. But I'm going to respond by telling you a little story from a different field of joy.

    Music has always been a very big part of my life, and a source of much delight, both as a listener and as a creator. So I started teaching our kids piano when they were very young. Our oldest showed early signs of both interest and talent, but adamantly refused to sit for any kind of instruction until a very specific self-determined (although very appropriate beginning lesson) age. Even before that (exact) date, they spent copious amounts of time sitting at the piano, playing, singing and composing. But for years, it was a struggle to teach specific pieces (either sung or played) to them, and they practiced only because of their compliance. All the while, hours were devoted to their own material. Eventually, I gave up on formal instruction, figuring that sufficient basic technique had been conveyed (if not the classical repertoire that I love and would have liked to share with them), and let them play and sing whatever they wanted, which turned out to be mostly things in their own head--which is the point at which their skills really began to take off. After which DC started picking out advanced classical pieces on their own to learn, and even (gasp!) occasionally asked me for technical tips.

    In case you're wondering, the point at which I released my ambitions for lessons was when DC had enough proficiency to progress independently (so, able to read music--if slowly, solid finger technique, probably late elementary-level pieces), but wasn't necessarily at an advanced level.
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

    #250551 - 10/24/23 10:24 AM Re: Help understanding my child! [Re: moonpie]
    millersb02 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/16/19
    Posts: 35
    Your daughter is of a similar age as my son. At school, people tend to think he's distracted or not focused. From my point of view, he seems under utilized and misunderstood at school. He's mysterious to most. Although his grades are good, his standardized testing is high and he was identified as gifted at school, we still saw frustration in his output in writing and poor direction following and teachers reporting behavior problems. We pursued testing and he was diagnosed with a writing learning disability and some executive functioning problems - working memory and writing fluency. We're still very much on the way to figuring out how to support those skills and also keep him learning at a high ability level. But, this insight has been tremendously beneficial. It has helped us to understand him, helped us to advocate for him at school and helped him understand himself. We are just starting to get therapy and accomodations in place and I'm already seeing anxiety lifting and grades going up and better representing is actual abilities.

    Here's a few thoughts that might be helpful for you moving forward:

    • Read about what it means to be 2e. Read about how 2e kids present symptoms... some will present more as disabled, some more as gifted and some average out in the classroom. Also read about how you would go about getting a child diagnosed. If possible, taking the child to an accessor who's famililar with gifted and 2e is best. You would need a comprehensive evaluation that looks at intelligence, academic performance and behavior. If a child is 2e, their full scale IQ might not be a good representation of their true abilities, the administrator can generate a general ability index score instead. I can't say if your child is 2e or not, but there might come a point where something seems off or there's a sudden crash/burn and you need to recognize it and act on it. Don't expect that school will catch a 2e kid or quickly put support in place. I am definitely glad that 2e was on my radar as a possibility, otherwise I think he probably would've either had a misdiagnosis from the school or he would've just flat out refused to go to school or write.

    • My son had a similar reading experience. Had many baseline reading skills at 3, but didn't really put it all together until 6. He then shot through reading instruction at lightening speed and now scores really high on school assessments. He loves being read to. For many years he listened to audiobooks for hours a day plus me reading to him. It wasn't until he was about 9 that he started reading a ton independently. Now he'll wake up and read a 100-200 page book before breakfast or a 400 page book over a weekend. I think there was a bit of a gap between what kind of content he wanted to read and his reading ability/endurance. It took a while for those to line up.

    There are 2 things that I think make my son hard to understand at school:

    1. His biggest strength is visual/spatial. This is basically not used at school. Other maybe than doing math, which he excels at. There's some material out there about visual spatial strengths not being understood and supported within the school environment.

    2. He has a working memory deficit. It's starting to look like he has poor verbal working memory, but excellent visual spatial memory. This isn't commonly known or understood (whereas I think most schools and people are somewhat familiar with things like ADHD or dyslexia). But now that I know this, I understand him so much more and there's less frustration from both us and him.

    I don't necessarily think that your child has the same diagnosis as him… but I wanted to show you how a child's strengths and weaknesses can both make them feel like a square peg in a round hole.

    I don't have any possible diagnoses suggestions for you, who am I to say… but, I just wanted you to see how having a full assessment could be a benefit. I am totally glad had it done. A bit of a relief to have more understanding. Having hard data from an outside expert is helpful for advocacy at school, works much better than me as a mom saying "he really needs differentiation"


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