Justin and Zoe (parents of Thomas, 5 years): We learnt that Thomas was gifted in a range of ways. Like all parents, we had a sense early on that he thought and acted a little differently to his peers. Thomas seemed to think about things differently and asked questions that you might normally associate with an older child, and just his general level of activity and curiosity, which was insatiable.
Alison (mother of Ruby, 5 years, and Annabel, 3 years): There were indications that Ruby was gifted when she was quite young. She started talking quite early and friends had made comments that she seemed to be doing things differently than other kids that they knew. She was always seeking information and asking lots of questions. She had a lot of interest in learning letters and reading and she used complex language.
Dr Gail Byrne (educational psychologist): Some of the early signs that a child might be gifted are often the verbal ones, so a very broad vocabulary. The child using words accurately that you wouldn’t expect they might use. For a child who might have non- verbal abilities, they may have the capacity to work a video, program the DVDs, play around with computer software, even at very young ages.
Marilyn and Trevor (parents of Matthew, 7 years, and Sophie, 5 years): Around about three years old Matthew basically just started playing the notes on the piano and we were going ‘Wow’. He wasn’t reading any notes. He was just playing the notes and in his mind he could hear that the notes made a different sound, and then he actually formulated the tune, just based on hearing the notes and knowing which notes made which sound.
Dr Anne Grant (educational consultant in early childhood giftedness): Gifted children are identified in two ways. You can do a formal way which is an IQ test, or you can do it informally which is to gather up a lot of information and observations from a range of people, and it may be teachers, the rest of the family and your own observations of your child.
Alison: When she was going to start four-year-old kinder, the four-year-old kinder suggested that she be tested by a psychologist. So I took her off to have an IQ test.
Dr Gail Byrne: If parents think their child is gifted and if the child is perhaps approaching school age, it may well be wise to consider a formal assessment, and then you have a valuable tool to give to the school about what your child might need, and any special requests that you might have. And it’s been objectively assessed for the parents.
Justin and Zoe: We were really weighing up whether we would go to a professional to get him assessed or just send him to school and see how he went, was our thinking. But what really shifted us towards getting a professional assessment from an educational psychologist, was that we were concerned that he wouldn’t cope with the transition to school, because he had quite a few unique issues.
Dr Gail Byrne: IQ tests are tests of innate potential. I explain it to parents that an IQ test won’t tell you how well your child is reading. It won’t tell you the level of maths that they’re functioning at. What it will tell you is something about the building blocks that may make your child a good mathematician. It is about the innate abilities. The potential a child has to do something.
Alison: When I found out about Ruby being gifted, but also having some areas in the kind of profoundly gifted range, I was very concerned and I was a bit upset, because I was wondering what on earth I was going to do with her. The psychologist that undertook the test said ‘This is a big deal and this child’s going to be needing special programming and all those sorts of things’ and we live in the country and I was thinking, how on earth are we going to do this.
Marilyn and Trevor: When we found out that Matthew and Sophie were gifted we were very excited because we thought there’s so much potential and where could this go. We felt that you just don’t know what the future will hold because it’s quite endless in a way.
Dr Anne Grant: When parents realise that they child is gifted, many parents have a great range of feelings, and so it can be a very confusing time for parents, and they often want to reach out to other people and say ‘Well how do I do this? What do I do?’
Alison: Once I’d met with the person who works locally with gifted children and talked specifically about Ruby’s needs, it was easier to work out what she needed. Having a person that has met your child and understands your child is very important.
Justin and Zoe: I went away and did research and I read other people’s stories. I think getting information really helps.
Dr Anne Grant: I advise parents to read as much as they can, both about the characteristics of giftedness, and also the educational needs and what form of education these children are going to need.