Did you hear what he just said?” Many parents see every word their child utters or every squiggle he draws as evidence of his being gifted. Though most children aren’t identified as gifted until they begin school, some show signs of being gifted at a very early age. This post is about the 7 signs your baby is gifted and how to develop it.

Gifted child Ben Hellerstein of Larchmont, New York, for instance, was actually reading nonfiction books and memorizing facts by the age of 4. His mother wishes she had realized that he was academically advanced at that time. “If I had,” she says, “he could have gotten the help he needed in school earlier than he did, and his first year of school wouldn’t have been so unhappy.”

Ben’s mom learned what many educators know: Identifying a child as gifted isn’t about gaining bragging rights, it’s about getting your child the education that best suits his needs.

Signs of your baby is gifted

Your 2- to 4-year-old may be gifted if she has some of these characteristics:

  • Has a specific talent, such as artistic ability or an unusual ease with numbers. For example, children who draw unusually realistic pictures or who can manipulate numbers in their head may be gifted.
  • Reaches developmental milestones well ahead of peers.
  • Has advanced language development, such as an extensive vocabulary or the ability to speak insentences much earlier than other children of the same age.
  • Is relentlessly curious and never seems to stop asking questions.
  • Is unusually active (though not hyperactive). While hyperactive children often have a short attention span, gifted children can concentrate on one task for long periods of time, are passionate about their interests, and like to be challenged by difficult activities.
  • Has a vivid imagination. Gifted children often create a vast and intricate network of imaginary friends with whom they become very involved.
  • Is able to memorize facts easily and can recall arcane information learned from television shows, movies, or books.

Other signs of giftedness may be a little harder to discern. Some gifted children realize that they are “different” from their peers. This can make them feel isolated and withdrawn. It may also make them likely targets for bullying.

They may begin to experience intense frustration because they can think more rapidly than they can express themselves, verbally or physically. If your child appears unusually angry or frustrated, you may want to consult a mental health professional.

Testing your preschooler for giftedness

Although you may want to know if your preschooler is gifted, most children don’t need to be tested for giftedness before entering elementary school. However, consultations with a mental health professional may be appropriate if your preschooler appears to be unusually bored in school or shows signs of emotional or social problems, such as severe worry or anxiety, refusal to take part in school or other activities, or persistent nightmares.

If your child is enrolled in preschool, speak to the teacher or school director to find out whether the school is affiliated with any mental health professionals who specialize in working with gifted children.

If your child isn’t in school or the school isn’t receptive to your concerns, ask your child’s doctor to refer you to a child psychologist who conducts tests for giftedness. Private testing can be expensive – several hundred dollars or more. Check with your insurance plan to see whether your policy covers the cost.

Children as young as 3 can be given IQ and ability tests. Children whose IQ scores are at or above 130 are usually considered gifted (the range for average intelligence is 85 to 115). Sometimes a child with an IQ score of 120 will qualify for a gifted class.

Today, IQ is often just one factor among many that are looked at before a child is considered gifted.

Often parents and teachers will be asked to write their impressions of a child, and this input is considered along with test results.


When giftedness is hard to diagnose

You might be surprised to learn that a child can be both gifted and learning disabled. In most cases, the disability is recognized while giftedness goes undetected. Giftedness in children from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds, and those who speak English as a second language, is often overlooked as well.

If your child falls into any of these categories, it’s best to find a psychologist who is sensitive to these issues. It is also important to ask your child’s teacher to observe him and look for talents that conventional tests cannot detect.


Team work: Building teamwork in Children