Quirky gifted traits or something to worry about?? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 7 Old 03-14-2013, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi there...I'm looking for some input from some experienced mommas! DS is 4 years old and while he has not undergone formal testing I am quite certain he is gifted. He just started junior kindergarten this year and his teacher feels he likely is gifted and has recommended testing since he is working well above all the other children in the class.

DS is my first child so I'm very new to this developmental stage! There are many things about his personality that I know are different from his peers but I'm struggling to figure out what is a "quirky" gifted trait and what is something to worry about. Here are a few examples:

1. DS becomes intensely interested in different topics and enjoys learning everything about it.It will be the subject of interest for days or weeks and then he drops it and moves on to the next thing/topic. During the time of interest he will talk about the topic, read books about it, draw pictures on the subject, look at websites on the topic and ask me a million questions about it.
2. He has an AMAZING memory - he can remember the details of everything and it often shocks adults that don't know him well.
3. He has an incredible ear for music and memorizes songs quite easily. Consequently he sings ALOT and enjoys watching himself in the mirror while he sings and "plays" his play guitar or drumset and sings.
4. He loves playing with other kids and really does great playing gross motor games with children (e.g. tag, hide and seek, chase, duck duck goose etc.) But isn't so great at pretend play with other children...I've often noticed that he is re-creating something we read about or watched on tv with his toys so the other child doesn't know what he is doing and then they end up doing their own thing beside each other rather than truly playing with each other.
5. He asks me for definitions of words all the time and gets upset with me when I can't provide him with one (I.e. when I truly can't answer his question because I don't know!)
6. Sometimes when he is deep into an activity he enjoys he is so engrossed in it that I have to say his name 3 times before he will turn and look at me.

Are these qualities just part of being gifted or something more I should look into? He is such an amazing little boy who constantly amazes me every day but I must be honest that being around other parents at school who repeatedly point out his differences (e.g. his reading, his memory, his writing or the facts that he knows) has me always second guessing whether I should be looking into any of these things.
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#2 of 7 Old 03-14-2013, 03:53 PM
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This sounds just like my son at that age. He is highly gifted, but also on the autism spectrum. You haven't mentioned any of the more common indicators of autism, though, so I wouldn't worry about anything but giftedness unless he begins to struggle with emotional, behavioral, or interpersonal issues or something. 

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#3 of 7 Old 03-14-2013, 04:32 PM
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Sounds like my son . While I know he seems exceptional in many ways, I couldn't say if he is technically gifted or just clever and precocious. This is an age for lots of emotional exploration and moodiness, as I am told and experience. Sounds normal in relation to my family, and many kids that age. Just let him explore those interests. He is learning and growing. I dont see a reason to be concerned. Enjoy!
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#4 of 7 Old 03-14-2013, 05:17 PM
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He sounds exactly like my DD (almost 4yo) .  Like the same kid, except she isn't reading yet :) Nothing you mention stands out as worrisome to me, and nothing on that list has had a negative impact for her yet...except yes, it is sometimes frustrating for her when the playmates don't "get" the game or aren't on the same level of play as she is.  But it hasn't stopped her from having good friendships so far!

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#5 of 7 Old 03-15-2013, 10:54 PM
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I have a child who is both gifted and on the spectrum, and I don't see any red flags in your post for special needs.


I would continue to encourage pretend play because imagination is good thing, even for kids very grounded in the real world. But there are too many things that AREN'T in your posts, such as sensory issues, motor delays, problems with transitions, etc. for a strong interest in one subject to mean anything other than a nice bit of focus.

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#6 of 7 Old 03-24-2013, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses - I really appreciate it!  I have had these nagging questions in the back of my head ever since he started school because I have noticed that he is not like all the rest.  I always find myself second guessing whether his traits are indicative of some type of diagnosis and it certainly doesn't help when people like my "well meaning" neighbour down the street outright asks me if he is "on the spectrum" simply because he knew all of the brands of cars that were in her driveway!  I did talk to my doctor about things as well and she did not feel there were any red flags to be concerned with.  She spoke with my son and felt they had a very appropriate conversation with good eye contact.  She also observed him playing with his younger brother and felt their social interaction was again very appropriate. That being said she said that I can make an appointment to check-in any time I have any further concerns. 


Also, I have had the opportunity to meet with his teacher on several occasions and she does not see any concerns.  She has been really focusing on using his interests to advance him even further in his reading, writing, math and drawing and has started having him help others in his class.  I thought it was a great way to engage him to hear that she had him working with other children in the class who are not able to write yet to scribe sentences for their artwork.  She is also working on story writing with DS and hopes to enter him into a Young Authors competition by the end of the year!  I think her observations are quite important - particularly as a seasoned teacher and she likely would have noted some social concerns by now if there were any....but I will continue to check in on this as he moves on in the program.


Linda on the move - thank you for pointing out the things that are missing in my post...that helps me. Truly we never have any issues with transitions and in fact we never went through any tantrum stage with DS at all (DS#2 is another story! LOL).  However, there are a couple of sensory issues I have noticed - e.g. he doesn't like tags in his shirts and can't have his hair cut with clippers because the noise scares him...not enough to classify him with a sensory issue but I will definitely keep my eye on this.  I have just started reading "Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children" and was interested to find that there are many traits of other diagnoses often seen in true giftedness making dual diagnoses a very tricky thing.  When I read through the list of solely gifted traits I saw a lot of my son in the descriptions e.g. being hyper-focused and sensory sensitive (a dislike of tags in shirts was actually noted as a common trait of gifted children).  I am doing my best to really encourage and help with pretend play with others.  When I play with DS I try to model how to play with another person and will give him some guidance on how to play with others...seeing as he never went to daycare/preschool and spent almost all of his time with adults until he was 4 I feel that perhaps he is missing a bit of the "how-to" when it comes to pretend play with others.   Also - definitely no motor delays, in fact he was quite early with most of his gross and fine motor skills.


I appreciate all the help!

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#7 of 7 Old 03-25-2013, 02:43 AM
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Sounds like my kid - only yours plays better with others at this age.

DS1 had all those traits plus some mild red flags for autism. Had a profesional evaluation and scored way off the cutoffs for ASD. his imaginary play has only been taking off during the last two years, also true interactive play with other children who are roughly the same age and not appreciably older or younger, which always worked better (interestingly, he seemed to develop in imaginative play alongside his sister who is younger by more than three years). I would not worry at this point. The intense intellectual needs, such as the Needd To Know Right NOW! appear to me to be typical giftie traits.


Enjoy the ride and welcome!

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