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I noticed your child...

by Wenda Sheard, with questions by Teresa

This letter, written originally to give to a friend whose child was exhibiting "symptoms" of being highly or exceptionally gifted, was then published in TEMPO Volume XXI, Issue 2, Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.  Editor's note: references have been updated to reflect changes in available resources.

Dear ______________,

I noticed your child is doing things much earlier than average.  Because I care about you and your child, and because giftedness affects more than just the academic areas of a child's life, I want to give you some information that might help you in the years ahead.

If you're not sure this really applies to you, consider these questions:

bulletDo you think that the baby books set the milestones late, so that you don't worry if your child hasn't hit them on time? 
bulletDo the recommended ages on books & games seem too old to you? 
bulletWhen you hear your friends talk about their children, do you think "Gosh, my child did that when he/she was younger"? 
bulletLook at what's being taught/offered for your child's age group in preschool/school -- if your child already knows most of this, will he or she really be happy just learning the "social skills"? 
bulletIf you don't like the word "gifted", does the word "advanced" fits your child? 
bulletDo strangers come up and say things like, "Wow, your child can do _______?!" This is not just an ice-breaker. 

1. First, I suggest you make a cup of coffee or tea and visit Hoagies' "Gifted 101: Guide for First Time Visitors" at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/gifted_101.htm When you're exploring Hoagies, please pay special attention to information concerning highly gifted children: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_gifted.htm and to information concerning to the ceiling effects of intelligence tests: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm

2. If you're not sure your child is highly gifted, you might want to visit the following webpage for a list of characteristics of highly gifted children: http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10210  

3. Please know that children can be both gifted and have special needs (ADD, learning disabilities, Asperger's, etc.) The best cyberplaces for information on twice exceptional children are: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/twice_exceptional.htm, the GT-Special mailing list, and the gifted/special needs at Uniquely Gifted http://www.uniquelygifted.org

The best book on the topic of twice exceptional children is Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, And Other Disorders Recommended by James T. Webb, Edward R. Amend, Nadia E. Webb, Jean Goerss, Paul Beljan, F. Richard Olenchak, and Sharon Lind.  Physicians, psychologist, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that mimic pathological diagnoses. Six nationally prominent health care professionals describe ways parents and professionals can distinguish between gifted behaviors and pathological behaviors...  or Amazon.co.uk

4. One of the best places in the country for testing gifted children is the Gifted Development Center in Denver. Their website has great information: http://www.gifteddevelopment.com

5. If your child is doing things typically done by children 60% older, make sure to visit the Davidson Institute for Talent Development's Young Scholar's Program:  http://www.davidsonyoungscholars.org

6. A great organization of parents of highly gifted children is the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children: http://www.hollingworth.org

7. In order to discuss issues with parents of highly gifted children, you might join the TAGPDQ mailing list: http://www.tagfam.org.  TAGPDQ - a mailing list for families of g/t discussing radical accommodations, for those "more than just gifted" kids. To subscribe, send a message with "subscribe tagpdq firstname lastname" in the body to listserv@maelstrom.stjohns.edu

8. A classic book in the field is Miraca Gross's "Exceptionally Gifted Children," which was reprinted October 2003.  Exceptionally Gifted Children, 2nd edition Recommended by Miraca Gross. This book is a fascinating study of a small group of exceptionally gifted (IQ>160) children, Gross follows these children over 20 years, and includes extensive details about their interests, family background, progress through school, and social and emotional as well as academic status. Gross shows that when these children are not allowed to learn at an appropriate pace and level it places them at serious risk  or Amazon.co.uk.  Or get the 8 page summary booklet, "Exceptionally Gifted Children: What Research Tells Us" that is perfect to hand out at school meetings, from Chapters.caExceptionally Gifted Children First edition, occasionally available used, contains more of the research methods than the new version.

9. Please keep an eye out for a forthcoming book edited by Kiesa Kay and others with chapters by experts and parents on highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted children.

10. One of our favorite people is author and gifted expert Stephanie Tolan: http://www.stephanietolan.com  Make sure to read Stephanie's very special classic "Is It a Cheetah?" 

Your child is unique enough that a small amount of research on your part will probably give you more accurate information about how to help your child than most teachers have learned from their training and experience.

Please call me if you want more information. Parents of highly gifted children need to support one another, because often it's difficult to speak to others about our children's special needs.

Sincerely,

____________________________


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