Can a late reader be gifted? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know my daughters are gifted this is not about them.

A friend of mine keeps asking me whether her daughter, almost seven years old, is gifted. She seems bright in some ways, but she cannot read at all and does not recognize any letters in the alphabet beyond those in her name. She recently learned to write her own name. Her artwork is amazing, though. And she dictates little booklets to her mom. Her mom wants to believe she is academically gifted -- and asks over and over -- almost weekly -- whether I think her dd is gifted even though she cannot read.

I don't know what to say. For a while when the child was younger I offered reassurance but I don't think it is that bad to be average at reading. I do not intend to tell her one way or the other but all of the asking about it has made me curious.

Can a child who learns to read late still be academically gifted?

What do you think?
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#2 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 03:34 PM
 
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There are many ways to be gifted. I don't think this is going to be black and white.
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#3 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 03:37 PM
 
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yup it's possible

i tested as very gifted whatever that means when i ws in the first grade but did not read much until second. once i learned i progressed very fast though.

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#4 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There are many ways to be gifted. I don't think this is going to be black and white.
The mom knows her child is artistically gifted. That's obvious to anyone seeing the child's work. She is concerned about whether her child is academically gifted as well.
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#5 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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The only way to know for sure is testing. I don't think there's a better way. It sounds like she wants a definitive answer. She'll have to test for that.
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#6 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 04:35 PM
 
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Sure, particularly if she isn't reading because of an undiagnosed learning disability. Though I think that if I had a 7 year old who couldn't recognize letters, I would probably take her to a developmental ophthalmologist for screening of problems like dyslexia.

I'm not an expert, but my gut feeling is that if an otherwise bright child can't learn her letters at that age, it's time for an assessment.

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#7 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 05:34 PM
 
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Does she feel that an academically gifted child will by definition not have a learning disability? I, personally, would be anxious about a seven year old who could not recognize the letters of the alphabet; there are many steps involved before reading can occur, but this is one of the very earliest.

Plenty of people are twice-exceptional, 2-e for short. It's not outside the realm of possibility that this child is gifted and dyslexic. A dyslexic usually will not suddenly just start reading, and I would be surprised by a child who could not recognize the letters of the alphabet who spontaneously began to read. Even gifted dyslexics have to work very hard to learn and memorize the sound-spelling relationship of alphabetic literacy, and they usually require targeted intervention to do so.

If the mom is asking this question every week, I would say she is anxious about a possible learning disability and looking for either guidance or reassurance. Would it be possible to guide her toward seeking a complete evaluation for her daughter? She needs to be evaluated for a learning disability, and having her IQ tested at this time might be a great help in meeting her academic needs.

There are children who don't spontaneously read (or are dyslexic) and also gifted, however, those children are gifted mathematically, or in the visual-spatial realm. There's nothing wrong with being mostly average, or having some areas of weakness, and also being artistically gifted.
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#8 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 05:43 PM
 
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I am not sure why she has not done an evalution ... $$? Maybe your local university can provide affordable testing.

The book A Call to Brilliance should be ordered for her immediately. I believe the author had two children who started reading very late, but at least one was ready for college ... it was something like, didn't read until 9, entered college at 11. My cousin is a university professor, considered very brilliant and important in his field. He didn't read until 6 or pursue his PhD until he was 40.
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#9 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 06:52 PM
 
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Not recognizing letters at 7 is a huge red flag for either a vision problem or a learning disability, at least if she's been in school (homeschool or formal school) for 2 years (I'm assuming she's going into second grade).

Yes, it's possible to be 2E (Twice exceptional - being both learning disabled and gifted).

I would ask the mom "Why do you keep asking? She's clearly artistically gifted, and she seems very bright. Are you worried about her reading?"

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#10 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 07:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
I'm not an expert, but my gut feeling is that if an otherwise bright child can't learn her letters at that age, it's time for an assessment.
I think this is the crux though. Are we assuming that the 7 year old is in a school that teaches academics? I ask because my daughter attends a Waldorf school where they do not start to teach reading until the age of 7. Even a gifted child needs to have some exposure to something before they can learn it.
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#11 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 08:32 PM
 
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In short, yes. My younger dd tests as exceptionally gifted on an IQ test, but she has never been as strong of a reader as her older sister. She's not a "late" reader in that she started reading a little at 4.5 and reads a bit above grade level now (she's 7.75 and entering 3rd grade), but not tremendously above grade level. Her reading is still a bit slower (in terms of speed) than I'd like. Her sister was reading old college textbooks of mine by her age and I did wonder what that meant, but apparently it doesn't correlate with a big difference in their IQs.

In the instance you describe, I would worry about a learning disability as others have mentioned, though. My other worry would be damage to the child's self image if the mom places that much value on the child being academically/intellectually gifted. What if the child isn't? That isn't a problem, but it will be if it is clear to the child that mom wants her to be and I imagine the child is aware of it by this point. We've been witness to a situation like this which has been very painful to watch and has caused a lot of psychological difficulty for the child.
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#12 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 08:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Hannahsmummy View Post
I think this is the crux though. Are we assuming that the 7 year old is in a school that teaches academics? I ask because my daughter attends a Waldorf school where they do not start to teach reading until the age of 7. Even a gifted child needs to have some exposure to something before they can learn it.
I agree that a child needs exposure, but surely a 7 year old has noticed signs and printing on various things -- all that include the alphabet. I would have a hard time imagining a child that hasn't "heard" the alphabet song at least once by the time they are 7, but I could definitely be wrong. I would think that the child would be curious about the alphabet enough to know more letters than those in her name. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a learning disability of some sort.

Regardless, the mother has concerns -- If the dc is in the public school system, the parents can easily request testing, and the child is also eligible through the PS for testing even if they homeschool. If it is a LD, the sooner it's discovered, the better.

ETA: I'm assuming that the mother is reading to this child. If a child has been exposed to numerous books, it seems like questions about letters and words would be inevitable by 7.

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#13 of 25 Old 07-18-2008, 11:53 PM
 
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I think everyone else has covered it: Yes, it's possible, but I'd totally have the child evaluated for other issues. I saw a special on one of the evening news shows once about a young man who was both profoundly gifted and severely dyslexic. At the age of 17, he could not read beyond an emergent level (if that) but he was in college and doing very well. I remember them asking him why he'd chosen to go to Yale, and he said, "It had the shortest name; It was the only one I could be sure I could read." I'm with the others who would ask the question, though-- "Why do you keep asking? Are you concerned about her reading?" It sounds to me like a case of a child's mother not seeking help for a learning disability because they're concerned about the stigma of such a disability, or because they're heavily invested in the notion that their child is gifted... and that seems kind of sad to me.

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#14 of 25 Old 07-19-2008, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your info. I want to be very sensitive about this and your information gave me alot of help.
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#15 of 25 Old 07-21-2008, 11:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Treasuremapper View Post
I know my daughters are gifted this is not about them.

A friend of mine keeps asking me whether her daughter, almost seven years old, is gifted. She seems bright in some ways, but she cannot read at all and does not recognize any letters in the alphabet beyond those in her name. She recently learned to write her own name. Her artwork is amazing, though. And she dictates little booklets to her mom. Her mom wants to believe she is academically gifted -- and asks over and over -- almost weekly -- whether I think her dd is gifted even though she cannot read.

I don't know what to say. For a while when the child was younger I offered reassurance but I don't think it is that bad to be average at reading. I do not intend to tell her one way or the other but all of the asking about it has made me curious.

Can a child who learns to read late still be academically gifted?

What do you think?
I haven't read the other posts, but this is tell-tale dyslexia. My brother didn't read until he was around 8 but he is the most amazingly gifted artist/graphic designer. My parents were proactive about getting him help and although, my mom still read him many of his textbooks even in high school, he ended up getting degrees from VERY prestigious universities and now works for a big architecture firm. I would definitely urge her to get her child evaluated, because there are a lot of great ways to guide and teach learning disabilities. Learning disabilities and intelligence seem to go hand-in-hand but in reality they are two different things.

, , , , , to DD1 (4.5 years old) and DD2 (7 months) and 2
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#16 of 25 Old 07-21-2008, 12:32 PM
 
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Maybe you could - very gently - bring up dyslexia with your friend? My brother was dyslexic and had a tutor by age 8 or 9. And this was 40 years ago! There is no stigma attached to it, as far as I know of.

I also agree with so many pp's, the alphabet comes up, even if you are no where near a school. The alphabet does not come up here until age 6 at the earliest, and reading not until age 7 or 8. But both my kids, both much younger, see letters in books, letters on signs at the store, numbers on houses and license plates.... so they comment on them and know their letters and numbers. It is going to come up, even if it is not something of immense interest to her. Unless she is literally in a bubble. If it hasn't, I would be beyond surprised.
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#17 of 25 Old 07-23-2008, 08:14 AM
 
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My childrens Montessori Teacher told me that no matter when a child learns to read (at 4 or at 8) on average most children are at the same reading level by age 12.
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#18 of 25 Old 07-23-2008, 10:53 AM
 
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My childrens Montessori Teacher told me that no matter when a child learns to read (at 4 or at 8) on average most children are at the same reading level by age 12.

We're not talking about average children. What "most" do doesn't really apply.

That's an interesting statement, though. I'd like to see some evidence to support that, becuase it sounds like another excuse not to differentiate academics.

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#19 of 25 Old 07-23-2008, 12:22 PM
 
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My childrens Montessori Teacher told me that no matter when a child learns to read (at 4 or at 8) on average most children are at the same reading level by age 12.
And did this strike you as a silly statement?
It makes no logical sense. We don't look at the basketball skills of kids and note that some learn to dribble as three year olds and some as 13 year olds but they will all be at the level to play in the NBA by the time they are 16. That would be a ridiculous suggestion.
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#20 of 25 Old 07-23-2008, 12:54 PM
 
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My childrens Montessori Teacher told me that no matter when a child learns to read (at 4 or at 8) on average most children are at the same reading level by age 12.
I've heard similar comments before from teachers and parents, but mostly that reading skills start to level out around 4th grade, not that most kids are at the same level. I think the real point is that the difference in reading levels is not as wide once children on average reach 4th grade and beyond. My interpretation is that typically by that point _most_ children know how to read by then which shortens the teaching gap.
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#21 of 25 Old 07-23-2008, 03:30 PM
 
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I've heard similar comments before from teachers and parents, but mostly that reading skills start to level out around 4th grade, not that most kids are at the same level. I think the real point is that the difference in reading levels is not as wide once children on average reach 4th grade and beyond. My interpretation is that typically by that point _most_ children know how to read by then which shortens the teaching gap.
I don't disagree with the general sentiment, just wanted to comment as I had a 4th grader last year who is, and always has been, a very strong reader. Yes, all of the 4th graders knew how to read. However, there was still probably a 10 yr span in what "grade level" these kids were reading at which is still quite large. Even assuming that the whole class reads at least at grade level, my dd was reading things like an unabridged copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Stanley Milgram's Obedience to Authority in 3rd grade which are probably late highschool books in terms of concepts and vocabulary difficulty. There is still a huge span there.

In terms of the Montessori teacher's comment, I can't say from personal experience as my oldest isn't quite 10 (one month away), but I'd be extremely skeptical. We haven't seen the gap narrowing in terms of reading proficiency or general academic proficiency at all as the years have passed. If anything, it has been the reverse.

That's not to say that there aren't later readers who take off like mad and catch up with earlier readers. That is entirely possible. However, the reality is that everyone will never be at the generally same place at any point in time even if we look at 80yr olds.
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#22 of 25 Old 07-23-2008, 10:41 PM
 
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Even assuming that the whole class reads at least at grade level, my dd was reading things like an unabridged copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Stanley Milgram's Obedience to Authority in 3rd grade which are probably late highschool books in terms of concepts and vocabulary difficulty. There is still a huge span there.
I totally agree, and I can see where this train of thought can become a disservice to advanced readers as someone else mentioned. I experienced this first hand throughout my school career. I was accelerated pre-K thru 2nd in reading/writing. My 3rd grade teacher believed everyone more or less 'evened-out' and did not agree with acceleration. She would sit at her desk while we sat at ours listening to her read "James and the Giant Peach" (which I had read many times years prior). Oh yes, this started my years of misunderstood, talkative, non-attentiveness. Every year it was tradition for the 4th grade class to do a Shakespearean play, the school rotated through 6 plays. Each year the teachers asked if anyone wanted to read and report on a new play they liked that wasn't in the rotation. Apparently no one had ever taken them up on that, until I came along. I guess I presented "A Comedy of Errors" (my favorite of his plays at the time, we had this great and wonderfully heavy compilation of his works that I tore up) so well that my class voted to do it instead of the traditional play. This resulted in a huge drama and breaking of tradition, and created a huge rift between myself and one of the teachers who was really into the traditional aspect of it all.

So yes, you can have advanced readers in higher elementary and the general line of thinking that you can't can be harmful to everyone involved (even the teachers, as in the above example ).

Goodness, my freshman year of high school we had to do a report on a journalist in journalism class. I was appalled when the teacher told me I couldn't do one on Hunter S. Thompson because he wasn't a journalist and she'd never heard of him. I had to take her to the librarian to prove his validity. She tried telling me he was too advanced, but I pushed my way through. I could cite many more examples, even into college but I won't bore anyone with that. Many of us probably have similar stories.

My point really is that while the gap may close there will always be some who may fall outside the norm, either behind or ahead. 7 seems a little old to me though and would cause me to raise my eyebrows in the direction of another possible issue if she isn't able to recognize letters. But yes, I've seen some late readers who ended up being advanced readers. We do have a friend whose DD was way behind grade level entering 1st grade, but within a 4 or 5 month span she went from almost being diagnosed with a LD in reading to reading at a 3rd grade level (she was 6 at the time, and I wouldn't say this was average).
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#23 of 25 Old 07-24-2008, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I agree with the mamas who say they do not really even out. It's so weird people are often really uncomfortable with some kids being smarter at reading or math than other kids, but Ok wth some kids having almost any other kind of difference.
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#24 of 25 Old 08-11-2008, 03:59 AM
 
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I grew up in a Scandinavian country where children were routinely taught the alphabet and reading at age 7. Yes, very late by American standards. And yet, I never heard of a single child with reading problems growing up. When we started school, everyone figured out how to read withing the first couple of months. In the U. S., I have seen parents and teachers struggling to get 5 year olds to read, even gifted ones. Yes, some 5 year olds can read... but some can't. No matter how hard you try. In my opinion, it's like babies and walking. Some babies walk at 10 months or 11 months, most walk at 12 months, and a few don't walk until they are 15 months or so, no matter what you do. They are not less smart than other babies, they are just developing at a different, and natural, pace.

I believe a 7 year old can be gifted, and yet not ready to read. Yes, by all means, check her vision, etc., but bear in mind that not reading till age 8 is not necessarily a sign of a slow child.
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#25 of 25 Old 08-11-2008, 09:37 PM
 
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My son is 2e-- gifted and dyslexic-- and very clearly so. He is now almost 7 and has been helped tremendously by vision therapy (with an optometrist, not opthamologist) and intensive tutoring. He is also highly creative, and artistically gifted. Sounds a lot like this girl. Reading is a struggle each day for him, but I am glad we caught it early. All research indicates that early intervention is key. I truly believe that if a bright 7-year-old (who has been exposed to lots of reading and books) is showing no interest in letters or reading, there is probably some sort of learning disability there. I would recommend IQ testing with someone familiar with dyslexia, and an evaluation with a developmental optometrist. Feel free to PM me or refer the mom to me.
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