Gifted Assessments EdmontonGifted Child Assessment Edmonton

As a parent, you may notice your child’s advanced development prior to school entry. Some children show early language skills and vocabulary that is well above what is expected for their age. Other children process information quickly, have an exceptional memory for facts and details, or show a remarkably high level of creativity for their age. These differences often become more pronounced as your child enters into their formal school years.

Most experts recognize different types of giftedness. Most commonly recognized is intellectual giftedness (I.Q. in the top 2% of the population). This is what a psychologist will assess for in order to determine whether your child would benefit from advanced schooling options. However, the term giftedness may also be applied to children who show exceptionalities in other areas such as academics, creativity, art, music, or kinesthetic (physical) ability. Your child may show giftedness in one or more areas.

Some common signs of intellectual giftedness in children:

• Remembers information with little effort or practice
• Works quickly
• Strong verbal skills/vocabulary
• Vivid imagination
• Easily grasps new ideas and concepts, and understands them more deeply than same-aged peers
• Teaches him/herself new skills (e.g., reading)
• Recognizes patterns and connections more quickly than same-aged peers
• Generates theories, ideas, complex explanations, or solutions
• Comes up with new ideas and concepts on his or her own, and applies them in creative and interesting ways
• Show strong curiosity and inquisitiveness; asks a lot of questions, and then questions the answers
• Has strong interests or unique talents

While the above traits tend to be more common in gifted children, it’s not necessary for your child to check all these boxes to be exceptional. All children (gifted or not) have their own unique profile.

Many gifted children also show uneven development across areas of intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development. For instance, your gifted 5-year-old may be able to recite impressive details about the solar system, but then he continues to struggle to get dressed each morning, or has a meltdown when he realizes his sister ate the last of the cereal. This unevenness can feel frustrating for both gifted children and their parents.

Many parents and teachers are also surprised to learn that children who are gifted may face a variety of other challenges, such as under-achievement or low motivation to engage in learning tasks in a regular classroom setting. Gifted children may also appear highly sensitive and perfectionistic, and they may show disruptive behaviors, inattentiveness, or social difficulties at school. In these situations, it is important that your child receive an intervention plan that helps them develop their talents while also overcoming the challenges they may be experiencing.

Some Common Difficulties in Gifted Children:

• Appears easily bored
• Wants to know the reason for everything, which may present as oppositional
• Impatient and critical of others views
• May struggle to interact and relate to same-aged peers
• “Sloppy”/inaccurate work because their thoughts are faster than the ability to write
• Hyper-focuses on tasks of interest or escapes into fantasy
• Goes off in own direction rather than following instructions
• Spends a lot of time daydreaming
• Makes up elaborate excuses to avoid responsibility for own behaviours
• Needs constant stimulation (appearing restless and over-active)
• Gets easily frustrated and may act out
• May have difficulty falling asleep due to over-thinking
• May feel “different” than peers, leading to difficulties with self-esteem
• Unusually high sensitivity leading to greater emotional outbursts

Notably, not all gifted children will excel in all areas of school curriculum. Your child may show exceptional strengths in specific subject areas (e.g., math and science), and may have relative difficulties in other areas (e.g., language arts). In these cases, a specific learning disability may be overshadowing your child’s level of giftedness, and their intervention plan may require advanced learning opportunities to support their academic strengths, while also requiring accommodations to support areas of academic weakness.

Some gifted children may be perceived as unmotivated and underachieving all together (i.e., their potential is much greater than how they perform at school). These children are often identified as gifted after they are referred for assessment for other reasons. This is often the case with children who are gifted yet also struggle with attention deficits. Alternatively, it can be the case that children who are gifted become easily bored when they don’t find schoolwork challenging and are then misdiagnosed with ADHD. A comprehensive assessment is helpful to clarify these differences, and to help develop a plan that meets each child’s unique learning and behavioral needs.

By correctly identifying giftedness early on, it’s more likely that your child’s learning strengths and talents are developed and fostered. With that said, most experts agree that accurate determinations of a child’s intellectual functioning is more difficult prior to age 6. For younger children, we then rely on parent/teacher surveys and interviews, observations, and portfolios of work, in addition to standardized tools.

What Specialized Services Can Look Like:

With access to the right resources and emotional and academic support, every gifted child can achieve their full potential at school. Gifted education may include specialized programs for advanced learners (e.g., a Challenge or Academic Alternative program). Otherwise, instructional strategies and enrichment can be incorporated into regular educational programming to help meet the learning needs of gifted children. This may include:

• Content differentiation (providing more advanced tests and resource materials to introduce new topics or explore topics in greater depth and breath)
• Curriculum compacting (eliminating previously mastered work or streamlining work to match a child’s ability and interests)
• Acceleration (permitting a child to master content material at a faster pace)
• Independent projects (allowing a child to identify topics of interest, and learning content areas in more depth)
• Open-ended questions (providing additional questions that draw on more advanced levels of information, and promote critical and creative thinking)

If your child is academically gifted across subject areas, you may want them in a gifted program, which may require switching schools. If your child shows exceptional strengths in specific areas, and they are happy in their regular classroom setting, it may be best to work collaboratively with your child’s school to develop an Individualized Program Plan (IPP) that provides your child with more advanced learning opportunities. You can also enroll your child in extra-curricular activities to focus on their area of giftedness outside of school.

If you are the parent of a school-aged child who has been, or may be, identified as being gifted and having exceptional learning needs, additional information can be found in the Alberta Learning’s Handbook for Parents of Children who are Gifted and Talented (https://education.alberta.ca/media/464613/the-journey-a-handbook-for-parents-2004.pdf) [Source]