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Amazing memories, what do I do with them? **UPDATE**

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'm really in awe of how Jesse and Davin can remember things. I'm sure they're gifted (haven't tested them yet), but can't figure out how best to teach them things.

They're 4yrs and 10mos old. They can read on about a 3rd grade level. They're loving geography. They can recite all 50 states and capitals, label all the states on a blank map, label all the countries on a blank map of the Americas and Europe, and are currently learning the countries of Africa and Asia.

My concern is that their ability to memorize information seems to take the place of actually learning. They can recite their numbers from 0-100 and even some of the times tables, but can't actually count. You hand them six blocks and they recite their numbers to 10. I've been trying to teach them to actually count (as opposed to recite) for months, and, while they'll imitate me when I count something, they still don't comprehend the concept. All of my other kids, even Melanie who didn't test as gifted, could count small groups of things by this age. Are my expectations too high?

One other oddity I'll point out. They're learning to write, and don't use creative spelling. Seriously, their spelling is perfect. I assume they've memorized the spelling of all the words as they read.

Is there a name for this learning style? Does anyone have any advice on how I can help them understand concepts instead of just memorizing information?
post #2 of 30
Are they showing any red flags for autism? Asperger's is very difficult for an untrained person to identify in young children, but hyperlexia and strong visual memory and thinking skills are part of it.
post #3 of 30
Maybe they are verbally gifted but not mathematically? My DS does not have a photographic memory, but he doesn't forget written/verbal things like spelling.

You've heard the term asynchronous, right? Where skills can be very uneven?
post #4 of 30
Proponents of Classical Education feel that children below about age 9 are best at memorization and recall. It's sometimes referred to as the "poll-parrot" stage of learning. I enjoyed reading, "The Well-Trained Mind" to get a sense of what capabilities were strongest at different ages.

You might try a very holistic math program with them, something like Miquon Math, if you want to help them build a number sense independent of memorization.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Sorry about not getting back here sooner. I forgot I'd actually posted a thread on this (gotta love pregnant brains).
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenOfThePride View Post
Are they showing any red flags for autism? Asperger's is very difficult for an untrained person to identify in young children, but hyperlexia and strong visual memory and thinking skills are part of it.
I've wondered about autism, but they don't have any of the classic symptoms, and my ped didn't think there was anything in their behavior to warrant an evaluation. Maybe I should go poke the special needs board for more info. When I was researching strong visual memory never came up as a symptom.

There is SOMETHING different about them, though. The only concrete things I can point to are their extreme attachment to each other and the fact they've never gone through a 'limit testing' phase of any kind. They're almost too obedient for 4yos. They're also very shy (though this is starting to improve).

Quote:
Maybe they are verbally gifted but not mathematically? My DS does not have a photographic memory, but he doesn't forget written/verbal things like spelling.

You've heard the term asynchronous, right? Where skills can be very uneven?
I'm sure this is part of it, and I do know about asynchronous learners. My son Trent has the same advanced language but poor math skills. He could count by this age, though.

Jesse and Davin's lack of comprehension with numbers is actually starting to present problems in daily life. You can't ask them how many of something they want, because they don't understand the meaning of the numbers. I have to get by with the concepts of 'more' and 'less'. It's not a huge problem, but it's starting to worry me.

Bird Girl, I'll get that book, and I'll look into some kind of a math program, though I feel like they're still on the young side to push a subject they're clearly not interested in.

I mean, even if I don't push, they'll have to figure it out eventually. There's no such thing as a gifted 10-year-old who can't count . . . right?
post #6 of 30
The total lack of understanding number concepts seem out of step with the other ways they are developing, but isn't in and of itself unusual for a 4 yo (http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdeve...thematics.html) However, if it were me I'd look into testing. Understanding them better just seems helpful. The unusually cooperative behavior would actually worry me more than the lack of number sence, but maybe that just b/c DS went through a phase like that when my mother (who he was very fond of) became very ill.
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinsTwicePlusTwo View Post
I've wondered about autism, but they don't have any of the classic symptoms, and my ped didn't think there was anything in their behavior to warrant an evaluation. Maybe I should go poke the special needs board for more info. When I was researching strong visual memory never came up as a symptom.

There is SOMETHING different about them, though. The only concrete things I can point to are their extreme attachment to each other and the fact they've never gone through a 'limit testing' phase of any kind. They're almost too obedient for 4yos. They're also very shy (though this is starting to improve).
Asperger's is kind of a 'new' diagnosis, and it is mild, so there aren't any really strong, widely accepted symptoms seen in young children. It's more about what they DON'T do than what they DO do, so it is really hard to identify.

Their attachment to each other, is that like separation anxiety? Of course they are attached to each other, they are twins! (My sisters are twins too) But I recall that as a child, I would cling to and hide behind a parent when in social situations. Not because I really liked my parents, but I was really freaked out by people I didn't know, and at least I knew my parents, they were more like a security blanket to me. (I actually didn't even really like my parents, but that is a whole other issue!) Are your twins clinging to each other because of anxiety over interacting with strange kids or new situations?

Shyness is a marker for possible AS. Of course lots of people are shy and don't have AS. Also it needs to be differentiated from Selective Mutism.

The obedience thing is ambiguous. I've had this vague idea of a connection between obedience and AS rolling around in the back of my head for a while. I was a very obedient child. I was very scared of doing anything wrong. People with AS tend to avoid confrontation and competition. We avoid confrontation because we don't have the emotional knowledge to participate in the give and take of strong unpredictable emotions coming from another person. The words come at us too fast to think of a response. We don't know what it even means to win or lose an argument. And we avoid competition because it's just illogical. And I think we don't like the uncertainty of not knowing what's going to happen.

I think children tend to be compliant when they have trouble talking, because it requires far more effort to speak than to just go along with requests. But children can have trouble talking for many reasons - autism, selective mutism, physical or neurological problems of the mouth and throat, a speech impediment like stuttering, expressive language delay, emotional problems like low self-esteem, etc.

I encourage you to look into learning disabilities and the milder side of the autism spectrum. But also gifted people do often have asynchronous development. I never thought about it, but it's probably possible to be gifted and have learning disabilities at the same time. My toddler appears to have very mild AS and is possibly gifted too.
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenOfThePride View Post
I never thought about it, but it's probably possible to be gifted and have learning disabilities at the same time.
It's quite common actually.
post #9 of 30
My advice would be to set a time in the future to revisit worry about this. Perhaps in six months. And, if nothing terrible and new happens in that tine leave it alone until you hit the deadline. When you do try new and different ways of introducing number concepts and I bet they will be more developmentally ready for it.

Honestly I would not all entertain Asperger's based on the symptoms of being well mannered and not being good at math concepts. Trust me if it was really Asperger's you have a whiole list of more serious concerns about anxiety, attention, social interaction, etc.

It is great that they are reading so well and that they have each other. From you description I think they sounds bright, complex and perhaps a bit unusual. Nothing wrong with that! Some kids appear a lot quirkier at four or five than they will in a few years because they are developing a lot really quickly. While I would by no means set up tasks to encourage them to memorize more - I would not dismiss that memorization as just a trick and not as evidence of real learning. Memorization was really the first most obvious sign of our son's high intelligence. It wasn't the kind of learning I would have chosen, but it was certainly real learning. Oh and he also was a perfect speller from the beginning and had no creative spelling. I think it was that he was a really strong reader before he started to write and he has a good visual memory.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post
Honestly I would not all entertain Asperger's based on the symptoms of being well mannered and not being good at math concepts. Trust me if it was really Asperger's you have a whiole list of more serious concerns about anxiety, attention, social interaction, etc.
Yeah, use your best judgement. But I'm an information fanatic, I love knowing everything. So I get an idea in my head and hang on like a pit bull until I've learned everything possible about it. When I was a tween, I spent several weeks staying up at night trying to figure out the structure of time...trying to make a visual image of it.

Anyway, I just like researching stuff, even if it doesn't relate to my daily life. Some people are like that, some aren't. It's all good.
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenOfThePride View Post
Asperger's is kind of a 'new' diagnosis, and it is mild, so there aren't any really strong, widely accepted symptoms seen in young children. It's more about what they DON'T do than what they DO do, so it is really hard to identify.
After doing some research and them doing something yesterday that really freaked me out, I'm starting to think I might need to get some kind of an evaluation. I talked to my ped (he's a family friend) and he offered to get me an appointment with a developmental pediatrician. I told him I would have to think about it. It's their complete inability to distinguish fantasy from reality (combined with some other strange behaviors) that's worrying me. Reading about all the different possibilities online and trying to match their behaviors just scared and confused me even more.

Quote:
Their attachment to each other, is that like separation anxiety? Of course they are attached to each other, they are twins! (My sisters are twins too) But I recall that as a child, I would cling to and hide behind a parent when in social situations. Not because I really liked my parents, but I was really freaked out by people I didn't know, and at least I knew my parents, they were more like a security blanket to me. (I actually didn't even really like my parents, but that is a whole other issue!) Are your twins clinging to each other because of anxiety over interacting with strange kids or new situations?
They get hysterical if they can't see each other. It doesn't matter where we are, they act basically the same way at home and in less familiar situations (though they'll add hiding behind me on top of clinging to each other in some situations). I remember the time last summer when we were going into the house and the wind slammed the door shut with Davin inside and Jesse outside. I had it open again in 30 seconds, but it took them hours to stop crying. Then for a few weeks they insisted on going through doorways together at the same time. I know that's way beyond 'normal', but I'm just so used to making sure they're together at all times that whole weeks go by without me even thinking about it . . .

Quote:
Shyness is a marker for possible AS. Of course lots of people are shy and don't have AS. Also it needs to be differentiated from Selective Mutism.

The obedience thing is ambiguous. I've had this vague idea of a connection between obedience and AS rolling around in the back of my head for a while. I was a very obedient child. I was very scared of doing anything wrong. People with AS tend to avoid confrontation and competition. We avoid confrontation because we don't have the emotional knowledge to participate in the give and take of strong unpredictable emotions coming from another person. The words come at us too fast to think of a response. We don't know what it even means to win or lose an argument. And we avoid competition because it's just illogical. And I think we don't like the uncertainty of not knowing what's going to happen.

I think children tend to be compliant when they have trouble talking, because it requires far more effort to speak than to just go along with requests. But children can have trouble talking for many reasons - autism, selective mutism, physical or neurological problems of the mouth and throat, a speech impediment like stuttering, expressive language delay, emotional problems like low self-esteem, etc.

I encourage you to look into learning disabilities and the milder side of the autism spectrum. But also gifted people do often have asynchronous development. I never thought about it, but it's probably possible to be gifted and have learning disabilities at the same time. My toddler appears to have very mild AS and is possibly gifted too.
They don't seem to have any trouble communicating. My ped's been saying they're both verbally advanced since they were 30mos or so. Jesse in particular can be a real little chatterbox when his older siblings aren't around to drown him out. They actually like talking about feelings. Today, when I was getting them out of the van, Jesse asked me 'why are you so tense?' (exact words). That left me scrambling to think up a lie (I can't very well tell him I'm tense because I'm worried there's something wrong with him). I don't think they bought the lie either. If I did take them to the dev. ped what on Earth would I tell them? They'd want to know why they were going, and they're not going to take kindly to being examined by a stranger. They'll probably get freaked out, refuse to talk, and end up with dx of selective mutism.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinsTwicePlusTwo View Post
Today, when I was getting them out of the van, Jesse asked me 'why are you so tense?' (exact words). That left me scrambling to think up a lie (I can't very well tell him I'm tense because I'm worried there's something wrong with him). I don't think they bought the lie either. If I did take them to the dev. ped what on Earth would I tell them? They'd want to know why they were going, and they're not going to take kindly to being examined by a stranger. They'll probably get freaked out, refuse to talk, and end up with dx of selective mutism.
Try not to think of it as their being something wrong with them. I don't veiw my dyslexia as something wrongwith me, it's just one of the ways I am unusual. Just view the testing as a way to understand their uniqueness, and help to understand their needs better.
post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post
My advice would be to set a time in the future to revisit worry about this. Perhaps in six months. And, if nothing terrible and new happens in that tine leave it alone until you hit the deadline. When you do try new and different ways of introducing number concepts and I bet they will be more developmentally ready for it.

Honestly I would not all entertain Asperger's based on the symptoms of being well mannered and not being good at math concepts. Trust me if it was really Asperger's you have a whiole list of more serious concerns about anxiety, attention, social interaction, etc.

It is great that they are reading so well and that they have each other. From you description I think they sounds bright, complex and perhaps a bit unusual. Nothing wrong with that! Some kids appear a lot quirkier at four or five than they will in a few years because they are developing a lot really quickly. While I would by no means set up tasks to encourage them to memorize more - I would not dismiss that memorization as just a trick and not as evidence of real learning. Memorization was really the first most obvious sign of our son's high intelligence. It wasn't the kind of learning I would have chosen, but it was certainly real learning. Oh and he also was a perfect speller from the beginning and had no creative spelling. I think it was that he was a really strong reader before he started to write and he has a good visual memory.
The thing is, once I started researching and writing out lists of all the 'weird' things they do, there is a LOT more. So many of their quirks have been going on for years (or forever) that I guess I'm just so used to them I don't even think about whether it's unusual. I still don't think they fit any of the descriptions of Asperger's I've read (or seem to have anything in common with the two kids in our playgroup who are dx'ed as on the spectrum). Now I'm really getting scared that it might be something worse (in the grand scheme Asperger's doesn't sound bad at all). Or maybe they're perfectly fine and I'm the one who's crazy.
post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
Try not to think of it as their being something wrong with them. I don't veiw my dyslexia as something wrongwith me, it's just one of the ways I am unusual. Just view the testing as a way to understand their uniqueness, and help to understand their needs better.
I'm sure you're right. I know that's how I should feel. But what if it's something more serious than a minor learning disorder or Asperger's? Right now I'm afraid to get them evaluated. I'm actually stressing worse about this than I have about anything for quite a while. I don't feel like I can tell my partners either. They'll insist there's nothing wrong with Jesse and Davin, and probably prevent me from pursuing anything. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. And, if I do take them, how can I be sure the dev. ped and his evaluations are right (regardless of what the eval. says they have)?
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinsTwicePlusTwo View Post
. Now I'm really getting scared that it might be something worse (in the grand scheme Asperger's doesn't sound bad at all). Or maybe they're perfectly fine and I'm the one who's crazy.
I have a quirky ds. I spent hours and hours researching, as well as multiple specialist visits trying to determine what was going on with him. It *can* make you a little neurotic. Or a lot neurotic. Know that your dc's are young, and there is time. Truly, there is time. The last thing you want to do is to rush into a misdiagnosis.

I agree with Roar -- put this aside for 6 months, mark it on your calendar to reassess then. If you don't feel like you can truly put it aside to wait it out, then do go ahead with scheduling something with the developmental ped.
post #16 of 30
Please, I strongly urge you to read about misdiagnosis of gifted kids before you get an evaluation for your boys. http://www.sengifted.org/articles_co...Children.shtml

http://www.amazon.com/Misdiagnosis-D.../dp/0910707677

Yes, there are gifted kids with Asperger's. There are also a lot of gifted kids, especially preschoolers, who are very quirky and seem like they have Asperger's when they don't. If you take them to someone who doesn't special in gifted kids you may get an inaccurate diagnosis. The fact that you don't think Asperger's seems like a perfect fit and your pediatrician doesn't think there is anything wrong are both good signs to me that you may want to spend more time first reading about gifted kids and if you do decide to take them to see somebody it would be good to start with someone who specializes in gifted kids.

I would expect highly gifted (and I'm guessing they are with that reading level) twins who are introverted to appear a bit different from the average preschoolers because THEY ARE! It doesn't mean though that they have a life altering permanent social skills disability.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinsTwicePlusTwo View Post
It's their complete inability to distinguish fantasy from reality (combined with some other strange behaviors) that's worrying me. Reading about all the different possibilities online and trying to match their behaviors just scared and confused me even more.
Very intense fantasy life that seems real is not that atypical for highly gifted preschoolers and I imagine the twin thing could add a whole other layer to that. Really read about HG kids and you'll find lots with intensely complex fantasy lives.

The ability to accurately perceive and talk about your mood would be VERY ATYPICAL for a kid this age with Asperger's.

Even the fact that you feel very aware that they'd be concerned about a visit to the developmental pediatrician because they'd know they were being evaluated again points away from Asperger's.

I'm not saying at some point in the future if you are concerned that you should rule out evaluations but I would slow way down in your worrying about this right now.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinsTwicePlusTwo View Post
I'm sure you're right. I know that's how I should feel. But what if it's something more serious than a minor learning disorder or Asperger's? Right now I'm afraid to get them evaluated. I'm actually stressing worse about this than I have about anything for quite a while. I don't feel like I can tell my partners either. They'll insist there's nothing wrong with Jesse and Davin, and probably prevent me from pursuing anything. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. And, if I do take them, how can I be sure the dev. ped and his evaluations are right (regardless of what the eval. says they have)?
Forgive me for smiling, but I find it reassuring to know that there are other people out there who are seriously overthinking things. I do it all the time. Constantly.

Are your boys clearly "different?" Yup. You might even go so far as to say "neurologically atypical," but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're on the spectrum. As Roar said, their awareness of your emotional state really points away from that.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was research regarding twins that would shed some more light on this for you. I'd be willing to bet that many other pairs of twins have gone through extreme separation anxiety, for example. It sounds familiar to me, though I haven't got twins of my own and it's been years and years since I researched the subject. In any case, yes-- relax. Easier said than done, I know, but the suggestion to revisit in six months is an excellent one.
post #19 of 30
Def. put it aside----

re:the numbers: I am curious if you give them 2 cookies are they able to count that? Or if you say we need four forks for dinner? I think that is hw I would handle that, practice with life stuff.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinsTwicePlusTwo View Post
I'm sure you're right. I know that's how I should feel. But what if it's something more serious than a minor learning disorder or Asperger's? Right now I'm afraid to get them evaluated. I'm actually stressing worse about this than I have about anything for quite a while.
From what you've described so far, I don't think there is anything really serious going on. Asperger's or hyperlexia at the most, but very likely not even one of those, since as others have pointed out the emotional awareness doesn't fit aspeger's.

Mostly I think going and seeing someone, might help you deal with their extreme anxiety before you are faced with them needing or even just wanting too do seperate things. It would also help you understand them and be less anxioius about it.
Quote:
I don't feel like I can tell my partners either. They'll insist there's nothing wrong with Jesse and Davin, and probably prevent me from pursuing anything.
Again, I wouldn't view it as there is something wrong with them. It is reasonable to seek help b/c you want to understand them better and help them be happier people, not b/c you fear somethings wrong with them.
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