Signs & Symptoms of Gifted Children

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Gifted kids can present a dilemma for their parents, teachers and other caregivers. Some of the behaviors of gifted children are similar to the behaviors of kids with issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and mild cases of Asperger's Syndrome. According to a book excerpt from "Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis for Gifted Children and Adults," published at the SENG website, gifted children often are misdiagnosed with learning or behavior problems and medicated and treated for a learning disability that doesn't actually exist. It is a fact that gifted children can be "difficult." It also is true that symptoms of learning disorders often are similar to signs that indicate a child may be gifted.

Symptoms to Age 2

A number of signs during the first two years of life can indicate whether your baby is gifted. One sign is an ability to recognize caregivers in the first four months. Other signs include: an interest in books and enjoyment in being read to; an interest in computers; a high energy level; and an ability to form two word phrases by 14 months. By age two, your child may be gifted if he recognizes letters of the alphabet, counts to at least 10, recognizes specific colors, exhibits a long attention span and likes puzzles.

Age 2 to 4.

A gifted child often exhibits early and extensive language development by the age of four and might speak in grammatically correct sentences. The ability to solve a 20-piece puzzle by the age of three, a vivid imagination that may include imaginary friends, an extraordinary memory, extreme curiosity and an ability to read or add and subtract by age four are other signs of a gifted child.


Many signs exhibited by gifted kids can be seen as symptoms of a learning or behavior disability. For example, the ability to acquire information quickly can result in a child who is bored, impatient with slower kids and rebellious when it comes to classroom routine and rote drills. A child who is creative and innovative might be seen as disruptive and out of step with his peers. Poor handwriting, for example, often is a sign of a learning disability, but many gifted children who have poor handwriting might just be thinking faster than their hands are getting it all down on paper.


A proper diagnosis is essential when it comes to children who may be gifted, especially if they also exhibit signs of learning or behavioral disorders. Parents of gifted children often opt for private schools or home schooling, where the the kids can learn at their own rapid paces. Being gifted can be a curse as well as a blessing. Gifted kids are unusually intense, often impatient, and strikingly idealistic. These traits often put them at odds with other kids, classmates and parents. And sometimes lead to tragic consequences. As the book excerpt in SENG concludes, "Many of our brightest and most creative minds are not only going unrecognized, but they also are often given diagnoses that indicate pathology."