or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Parenting the Gifted Child › How do you accurately gauge development in possibly 'gifted' kids?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How do you accurately gauge development in possibly 'gifted' kids?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I guess this is kind of a weird question but it's something I've been wondering about for a while.

I have a 2yo DS and he seems to have some 'gifted' traits, although I know at this point he could just be a really fast learner or something...

But I have some slight concerns about his development in general -- he's not growing very fast (hasn't gained an ounce in over 6mos), he seems to have some sensory issues, and emotionally he seems more on par with a barely-1-year-old kid than a 2yo.

Obviously these are things we'll be discussing with his doc at his next visit.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is how would I determine if he is otherwise developing on track? He reached his major milestones so early... So tracking him on a standard chart of [motor, language, etc.] development shows that he has reached all the milestones he should have by this point (and more, including many of the 3yo milestones) but almost all of that occurred before he turned 18mos. I can't quite wrap my head around whether I should expect him to continue to reach milestones at the same speed, or if I should be concerned that he isn't gaining them as fast now. It's not like he has stopped learning/developing... I just felt like he made so many huge leaps from about 14-18mos and nothing major since then. Is toddler development supposed to be somewhat linear? Is it different for 'advanced' toddlers? Do you worry more about whether they've reached their milestones ahead/on time, or whether they continue to reach them at the same rate as the first year or so?
post #2 of 31

I honestly don't know 'the' answer to this question. What I think based on my experiences with my son and his siblings is that children grow in all different ways in leaps and bounds and then they seem to halt. Sometimes in the halt they are processing and observing..and some are mastering. So I've personally seen what seemed like a stall and then they take a huge leap from no where. I honestly think it's unpredictable in terms of where they are and when. That was impossible for me at least to track because today he'd be at point A and suddenly he'd process right through til .. like point F, which perfectly getting all the points in between. You just don't know where they're going to land when they stall then leap =)  I think that's part of the magical part.   However I will say that his develop is asychronous. He excels intellectually yet can't (snap) button his pants and I still hold my breath at the playground because he's so .. shaky looking. My 3 y/o just zips right up everything while I feel scared for my 5 y/o. Many parents say their children are asynchronous and don't align all of the milestones exactly. 

 

 

I wanted to add that 'until' my son was maybe 4 getting him to eat anything really was a nightmare. It's not 'as' bad anymore. I think because he's playing much harder at the playground at school twice a day so he feels hungrier and less picky. I remember thinking many times that I could make a documentary titled, "Feeding x"  because of how big of a struggle it was. Imagine that at 13 months old he was not eating any food and only drinking milk. Life was hard....then. And it's hard..now but differently. 

 

And I wanted to mention that most children stop gaining weight rapidly around 2. They start getting taller and keep the same weight. My 5 y/o is the same weight for like a year and a half but he's much taller and is perfect in ratio. My 3 y/o is 26 pounds and I wish he'd gain weight but he's just also getting taller. My 15 month old is 28 pounds and a few inches shy of my 3 y/o. But I don't expect my 15 month old to gain much weight. He's running and getting pickier about his food. It's all normal. What you want to look at is the ratio. Is the height and weight matching up according to 'his' growth curve? His dr will be able to tell your right away if there is a problem.

 

post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your response, it is reassuring to know that it can be normal to stall & leap!! Maybe I am just waiting for that next leap.

His height has always been on the low end of the growth curve & is still there, more like 5% now than the 10-15% he was at for his first ~year. His weight has always been around 50% but has dropped down to 10-15% now. We have worked hard on getting him to eat more (love your "Feeding x" documentary, that must've been really really tough for you greensad.gif but I can relate) and just recently he has started eating... he was basically exclusively breastfed until ~14mos and until a few weeks ago still ate very little, but he's doing somewhat better now, not as much as I'd like but much less worrisome. He seems really healthy for the most part... still vomits once or twice a month (not 'sick' though -- when he was under a year, he would vomit massive amounts several times an hour, all day, every day, and I feel like this is 'residual' reflux or whatever the heck it was we were dealing with when he was younger...)

Language & cognitive skills seem to be his strong point, and he has an incredible attention span for things like reading, but while he has great gross motor skills, he doesn't really walk... (He CAN walk, run, etc., he is just so sensitive to things like noises around him that he basically needs to be in arms or worn 40% of the time at home & 90% of the time when we're out). It's weird to have a kid that was taking steps by 7mos old who still needs to be carried more than most 1yo's (nevermind 2yo's!) He is incredibly shy & although he speaks in full sentences, sings songs, etc. at home, he hardly says more than a 'yes' in public (even if the answer is 'no' lol) although he is STARTING to open up a bit and talk a little with the set of grandparents he sees weekly and a few close friends. He has almost no interest in toys or running around outside or many of the other things 'typical' toddlers (if there is such a thing!) seem to be into. He is usually very responsive to me but kind of 'freezes' when we are around other people. Sometimes I have to physically move his body into motion to get him to do things.

I guess the bottom line is, I feel like something is 'off' but I can't quite put my finger on it, and it's hard to explain to a doctor because he IS reaching his milestones, he's not falling off the charts, he is making some progress in areas like eating, socializing, etc...
post #4 of 31

I am not a doctor or anything, but I would be a bit concerned about not wanting to play outside or explore.  Is this just when you are with lots of other people, or even when it is just the two of you?  I would make sure to mention these things next time you have your doctors appointment.  The eating doesn't sound that unusual for toddlers, they seem to go through phases.  My LO has always loved fruit, so I make sure to offer that along side all her meals.  Also, if she is liking something like yogurt, I will serve that along with her dinner.  I don't make her something extra, and she gets what we are having, but I usually make sure to include things that she likes for sure on her plate as well.

post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 
Sometimes he will play outside for about 1/2 an hour on a really really good day. "Playing outside" in that case consists of about 3 minutes of actually playing, and 27 minutes of being carried around & talking. Often after the first 3 minutes (at which point he almost invariably wants to go inside) we just give up and go in. He was a little better when the weather was warmer... he seemed to enjoy being out more, though he still didn't really DO anything and insisted on being picked up. This is when it's just him & me, or him & DH.

If, for ex., we go to the zoo with friends (or without!), he will walk for about 3 minutes. Then he asks to be picked up. This is even if we bring a stroller or a wagon -- he might stay in it a few more minutes because of the novelty (we rarely use either) but then he wants to be held. I attribute this mainly to the 'loud noise' of the highway near the zoo. It's really not that loud (I get very annoyed by noise myself, so I would notice!) but it seems to interfere with his ability to enjoy being there. While his friends are running around and laughing, he is in my arms, and SUPER SUPER serious -- he won't even crack a smile, and seems to really withdraw. He likes looking at the animals but doesn't seem to like anything that goes along with it.

He is pretty much like this everywhere 'public', the zoo is just an example. If we are in a new situation, new place, same place but one or two new people, etc., he just gets so serious & withdrawn & clingy. I deal with this to some extent by trying to arrive early to give him a chance to get used to the environment before lots of people show up... but that just gets him to a 'not freaking out' level, not the level of truly being happy & carefree like other toddlers seem to be. He doesn't like bathrooms that have those fan vents on -- he won't even walk into them. He is often preoccupied with things like heaters, pipes, construction, electrical outlets...

We go to lots of story times because they are one of his favorite things, and he sits very quietly & seriously and listens intently no matter how long the books are and how many kids are running around or running off. He doesn't really participate in the songs/games/questions, even though he's 110% capable of doing so, although sometimes if I start the motion for him (move his hands together for him to clap, for ex.) he will finish the motion, or if I whisper the question into his ear, he'll quietly respond. He completely takes in everything going on & will talk about it later (often talking non-stop!) and asks several times a day to go to story time lol, so I know he likes it. (The way he talks about it is different than how he talks about, say, the vacuum, which he is terrified of but equally obsessed with!)

He is more comfortable in a few settings though. He is OK at home, and will spend about half his 'free time' (which we try to limit since he doesn't do well with it!) wandering around the house singing and pretending to screw in screws and stuff. The other half of the time he needs a lot of attention & interaction (I imagine this is in the realm of normal? Though it seems to me that other kids spend more time actually PLAYING...) and if something unexpected occurs (furnace kicks in, for instance) he runs straight into my arms. He is also comfortable at his grandparents' house (we visit maybe 1-2 times a month). And the children's museum, which we visit once a month or so, and the library, which we visit several times a week.

I would love for him to run around... run away from me... pick things up, throw things, make a mess... throw a tantrum... anything... his 'high-needs' constant whining & crying that we deal with for most of his first year++ has turned into the opposite, to some extent (though he's obviously still high-needs) -- he's almost too complacent???
post #6 of 31

From what you've described, if it were my child I would get an evaluation. It sounds like he's got some sensitivity issues and those can often be treated with therapy. And it's often the sort of therapy where the sooner you start the less time it takes.

 

I don't know that giftedness has anything to do with it, except that it sounds like he's already been able to work out some coping mechanisms. Maybe if he were average he'd still be crying all the time.

post #7 of 31

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I guess the bottom line is, I feel like something is 'off' but I can't quite put my finger on it, and it's hard to explain to a doctor because he IS reaching his milestones, he's not falling off the charts, he is making some progress in areas like eating, socializing, etc...

He is 2, right? Since you are concerned, you could call the Early Intervention in your area and see if they will evaluate him as long as he is under 3 years old. I believe they will do this for free. Or sometimes they will have community screenings scheduled. My son was in this program since he was a preemie and they spent more time with him than his pediatrician ever did at appts.
 

 

post #8 of 31

Well, In my research I have come across stories of children who at 18 months were speaking in sentences, having conversation, knew abcs, could count, who had then by the time they were about four years old "regressed" to the point of not being able to converse normally, and who were being being diagnosed with ASD.  Very anecdotal, but it is enough for me to seriously watch my DD's development for that.  Especially, when she at times can be pretty quirky.  Certainly, the earlier we catch it the better.  And, in the cases I read about it seems early fast development clouded everyone's vision, and the ASD was able to do some real damage before it was addressed.

 

That being said.  Child development is not linear and in my experience definitely happens in fits and spurts.  (So does their growth.  I am pretty sure DD went about 6 months without gaining a pound.) And, I would never bank on a developmentally advanced child at 18 months being a developmentally advanced child at 4 years.  But, I would expect that there be some development over the span of six months in each area.  Sometimes it may be hard to see.  I find it helps to write things down each month.  I write down example of DD's speech each month, and I always shocked by how much better she speaks now than just 2 months ago.  I don't think I would have figured that if I hadn't had the proof on the paper.

 

If you are finding that his development is progressing, not regressing, but that the margin between him and the average is diminishing, that in addition to the above behavior warrants an evaluation in my opinion.   Although, this might just be his learning curve.  Honestly, the behavior in the PP alone warrants an evaluation.  He might really respond to some therapy and able to enjoy all these things he is missing out on.  I cannot imagine my DD not running through the yard, or have fun with friends her age.  She has her many moments of social anxiety, but I have seen so much progress these last 2.5 years.  (She actually lets me leave her at the gym daycare and plays with strangers, smiles and all.)

 

Please, trust your gut.  I feel like you really think something is off.  Good luck.

post #9 of 31

My kids have definitely had spurts and plateaus in their development. However, I'll be honest and say that at age 2 their plateaus were seldom longer than two or three months, and it was always the case that a plateau in one or two areas was the result of a tremendous spurt in another area. I have not experienced the kind of long global plateau you seem to be describing. I also think that picky eating and food issues are very common in babies and toddlers, but a significant drop in percentile like you've described does not happen very often.

 

Go with your gut. If something feels a little "off," I would pursue a detailed developmental assessment. 

 

Miranda

post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

But I have some slight concerns about his development in general -- he's not growing very fast (hasn't gained an ounce in over 6mos), he seems to have some sensory issues, and emotionally he seems more on par with a barely-1-year-old kid than a 2yo.

Obviously these are things we'll be discussing with his doc at his next visit.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is how would I determine if he is otherwise developing on track? ..... I can't quite wrap my head around whether I should expect him to continue to reach milestones at the same speed, or if I should be concerned that he isn't gaining them as fast now. It's not like he has stopped learning/developing.


Have you read anything about sensory issues? The Out of Sync Child is like the Bible for sensory issues. If he has sensory issues related to food, it could be linked to the slow weight gain. An occupational therapist is the kind of specialist who is best with these issues, and you could talk to your dr about your concerns, get a referal, etc. Sensory issues can also relate to emotional difficulties because the child is often overwhelmed and frightened.

 

I don't think it's reasonable to expect ANY child to always progress at the same rate. Many kids go backwards a bit in one area when they are taking off in another one, and many kids go through periods where they are just getting more solid in what they know/can do rather than really do lots of new things. Very normal.

 

post #11 of 31

Also check out a possible food allergy. I just got reminded of a friend's ds with an eating/growth pattern like yours so I came back here to mention it. He kept dropping percentiles and not growing at all, then they figured out he's allergic (maybe sensitive) to gluten. Cut it out and he started gaining weight immediately. It's really common for a kid with an allergy to not eat a lot because of not knowing what food will make them hurt.

 

Oh! And sensory issues are ALSO often aggravated by food sensitivities.

 

There's a chance that everything you're worried about with him comes from diet. I hope so, because that'd be one of the possibilities to fix, but I know he'll be okay whatever's going on.

post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellemenope View Post

Well, In my research I have come across stories of children who at 18 months were speaking in sentences, having conversation, knew abcs, could count, who had then by the time they were about four years old "regressed" to the point of not being able to converse normally, and who were being being diagnosed with ASD.


I have a child who is both gifted and on the autism spectrum and I know a lot of kids on the spectrum. They all had some delays. I honestly haven't met ANY child on the spectrum who met every developmental milestone on time. Even for kids with some what normal speech development (which is rare for kids on the spectrum) they have low muscle tone and core strength problems that show up in gross motor skills. From the little bit the OP said, I didn't see anything that sounded "spectrumy" to me.

 

post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

My kids have definitely had spurts and plateaus in their development. However, I'll be honest and say that at age 2 their plateaus were seldom longer than two or three months, and it was always the case that a plateau in one or two areas was the result of a tremendous spurt in another area. I have not experienced the kind of long global plateau you seem to be describing. 

I agree that a global leveling for 6+ months would concern me. I also wonder, though, if this is the reason that giftedness isn't assessed in all but the most profoundly gifted toddlers. People often talked to me about how some kids are really advanced but then by K are average. I don't know know enough about it to know exactly how it looks, but I wonder if it's what's happening with your son.

 

post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone. I'm really glad to have this sounding board to think through everything so I can make the most of our doctor's appt. (it's an hour long appt.) & get a good idea of how to proceed. You know, I was on the fence 6mos ago about calling Early Intervention... However, I don't feel like anyone else I've talked to has taken me very seriously because he is meeting all his milestones. In a way I feel like his halted growth could be a blessing in disguise because I think that is the only element that will worry anyone enough to further investigate that & his other issues. (This is why I consider it a 'gifted' issue.)

I do not think he is 'spectrumy' -- he just doesn't fit that picture. I have read The Out of Sync Child and parts of it did resonate with me but not 100% and it really seemed to be talking about older kids, so I wondered how much of what we were experiencing is just normal toddler development. I have experimented left & right with food sensitivities but eliminating some things "seems" to help, I find no difference after the first week or two, so it's more likely to be coincidence. I am going to see if we can perhaps have full allergy testing done.

There is only one milestone he hasn't reached -- jumping (with feet off the ground). Other than that, he is around 3-year-old level with regard to milestones (at least based on the charts I've looked at). He hasn't completely stopped developing... Over the past 6 months, his sentences have become more complex & more grammatically correct; his language flows more easily (though he still has to stop and think about expressing a more unique thought). He is becoming more coordinated with drawing, eating neatly, etc. and his gag reflex has largely diminished (6mos ago he was still chewing up food & spitting it out, now he hardly does). He is also starting to be more socially comfortable with very familiar people, and more comfortable in very familiar environments, though he has a long way to go still... 6mos ago he would not spend more than 10% of his time independently and now he's spending about half of it doing his own thing. He also started sleeping 4-6 hour stretches a few weeks ago and finally became capable of falling asleep without nursing -- couldn't have even imagined that 2 months ago. So I guess we are making small strides now that I think it through, even though just by the milestones, nothing has really changed. Maybe I am focusing too much on specific milestones rather than more subtle aspects of development??? Or maybe the milestone charts just don't focus on the things he has issues with??

Honestly he seems almost exactly like me, and that's what makes it hard...
Edited by crunchy_mommy - 3/4/11 at 7:12am
post #15 of 31

Ok, I know we've had this conversation before but I definitely think Early Intervention would be something to look into.  If that would be a possibility for us we'd do it too. Like I mentioned before sleep/eating delays DO count in this regard. One thing we've done is have a very open discussion with our pediatrician over the past year about DD's sensory issues.  At first she was more apt to discount them because DD was so far ahead in many areas but when we last saw her she agreed that it looks like DD does have some issues but they just haven't seemed to affect her development.

 

I will say that DD's development definitely has NOT been linear.  She could barely do insert puzzles for the longest time (actually she was behind all her friends in putting one object inside another) and then went from no jigsaw puzzles before 2 to do large, complicated ones within less than 2 months.  We also thought she might be an early reader because she had some sight words and was very interested in letter sounds but she just hasn't taken off as much in that direction because she's so busy with other things.  So just because a toddler is great at something at a certain period of time doesn't mean they'll stick with it because there are so many other interesting things out there to do and see!

 

Also ditto what PP's said about weight gain.  DD went from always been in the high 90's percentilewise and has been steadily dropping over time (her height has remained fairly constant).  She eats a lot (although she didn't eat solids consistently until she was definitely older than 12 months) but is also pretty active.

 

What I do find strange is that he doesn't want to walk and play outside.  That to me would be something I'd want to check out. 

 

Oh, and we're planning on doing all the allergy testing too next month on DD, so I'm hoping that might explain away some of the things we've been seeing!

post #16 of 31

I had missed one of your post when I posted last time -- when you say "all milesones," what kind of milestones are you including? Are you including any social milestones?

 

How does he do if just one other child comes over to play? How does he do with extended family or close friends? You said how he does at their house, but not WITH them.

 

A lot of what you describe can be explained by sensory stuff. It sounds like he gets sensory overload in most places outside of your home. My DD just shuts down when she gets overloaded. It's like she sinks inside herself.

post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I had missed one of your post when I posted last time -- when you say "all milesones," what kind of milestones are you including? Are you including any social milestones?

 

How does he do if just one other child comes over to play? How does he do with extended family or close friends? You said how he does at their house, but not WITH them.

 

A lot of what you describe can be explained by sensory stuff. It sounds like he gets sensory overload in most places outside of your home. My DD just shuts down when she gets overloaded. It's like she sinks inside herself.


Yes that's exactly it!! He just shuts down.

I'm including all milestones that I've found on various websites... They do seem to focus more heavily on language/motor skills/etc. but he does seem to meet any social milestones I've come across as well (if anyone has a better, more comprehensive list of social/emotional milestones, I'd love to check it out!)

We've never really had just one child over to play, but when we visit others he does OK. Usually spends about 1/3-1/2 his time playing alongside them (less if it's a very new environment), and the rest of the time in my arms or nursing.

With close family/friends (adults) he loves having all the attention & is very into showing off and playing with them. He doesn't have much interest in playing toys with them (to their dismay), but moreso helping with whatever they are doing, looking at new things, etc. He doesn't usually let anyone else read to him and he only recently allowed family to hold him for a few minutes. One thing that kind of concerns me is that now he will let someone hold him (vs. screaming his head off) but he shuts down after a couple minutes. He looks, to me, completely terrified, but he doesn't say a thing. At that point I take him back... I am glad people can enjoy holding him for a couple minutes but I honestly would prefer he cry or ask for me/DH rather than just stiffen up and look scared to death. All that crying that drove me crazy for his first year+ is preferable to him not expressing himself at all. greensad.gif

On that note, maybe another thing worth mentioning is that he just learned how to give a proper hug -- previously, he'd kind of lean his head into the person, arms by his side, and that would be a 'hug', but a few weeks ago his grandparents taught him to give a normal hug with his arms. He only does that with reminders -- he doesn't seem to dislike hugs, he just doesn't give them (or hug back) without prompting. He also has only said "I love you" spontaneously to me/DH once (just recently), although he could of course repeat the words when prompted ("Say 'I love you' to Daddy!") I have no idea if that's in any way meaningful or just normal for toddlers...
post #18 of 31

On the unconventional hugs - DS 23 months does the same thing and calls it "bumpa noggins"  He is a very verbal and bright boy, he just likes to hug like this.  Doesn't seem like an odd behavior to me.

 

Oh, and it also took him till about 2 months ago to want to touch dirt or grass and stop clinging to me at the playground.  He's doing well now, but I think starting at daycare had a lot to do with it.

post #19 of 31

I do remember 24 months being kind of hard because the social differences between DD and her friends was pretty stark at that time.  She was also doing some things with language that were odd albeit advanced.  I did feel a bit alone.  I got upset by toddler books that did not seem to address my DD's strong empathy.  Nobody could relate when I told them how my 24 month old got so upset when I threw away a spent tape dispenser.  I remember being upset that books on anxiety and SPD did not address what my 2-year-old was doing. Things quickly got better around 27 months.  Looking back on it I don't know why I worried so much, but that is just what we do.  DD still won't walk into a new setting and just light up.  She is slow to warm.  She will rarely get overwhelmed and shut down.

 

Still, if you if feel your son's sensory or anxiety issues might be affecting his development, but can't figure what his development should because he is/was developmentally advanced, just go ahead and demand a refferel from your pediatrician.  Get his issues addressed.  Rule out allergies.  Get some OT for him.  Because, there is just no way for anyone to know where he should be or could be without having to deal with these issues.

 

 

 

post #20 of 31

ITA with all the posters who feel that 6 months sounds like a long delay for a just-turned 2 yo. In particular, it is the combination of stagnation in skills AND stagnation in physical growth, together with the obvious feeding issues (reflux for the first year for his life) that would concern me.

 

It is probably easier to get the physical stuff checked out first, as he is on the low end of normal there anyway, and there are some red flags (like the drop in percentiles and the vomiting) to be immediately addressed. I see how it can be hard to have his cognitive and verbal development assessed if he meets all those milestones.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting the Gifted Child
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Parenting the Gifted Child › How do you accurately gauge development in possibly 'gifted' kids?