I have participated in several conversations about signs of giftedness in young children. I also have to admit that with DS we missed and dismissed many obvious signs of his giftedness when he was really little. It was only in hindsight after his professional testing at age 4 that we realized how far advance he really was and how early he was doing things we thought were just typical. We had a skewed sense of normal due to gifted experiences ourselves, gifted friends, and gifted children of our friends as reference points.
So to get a better understanding of what gifted looks like at early ages, one first needs to understand what is considered typical or “normal” developmental milestones. http://faculty.mccneb.edu/JFAUCHIER/psy121jf/Projects_SS04/Jenni%20Powers/PSY121jf/milestones.html is a decent table of developmental milestones by age from birth to early elementary. Dr. Ruff breaks down giftedness into 5 levels and has a great description of what milestones are done early or how much earlier pending which level. http://www.talentigniter.com/ruf-estimates is the breakdown of the 5 levels and at what age they accomplish various milestones.
Now that that is out there, I’ll list what early signs our son displayed (many of which at the time we thought were normal due to our skewed sense of normal):
- rolling over early, crawling by 7 months, and walking by 9 months
- making recognizable sounds at 3 months, saying mama & dada and other simple sounding words at 5 months
- saying letter sounds of the alphabet in isolation at 10 months, saying recognizable words at 11 months
- stacking blocks at 11 months
- naming animals and their sounds at 12 months
- 20-25 recognizable words at 12 months, understanding via pointing/touching at least 200 words at 12 months
- saying two word phrases at 13 months, singing alphabet and counting at 14 months
- over 50 recognizable words and using three word phrases at 15 months (we stopped counting at this point)
- correct identification of colors and shapes at 17 months
- reading simple words at age 2 (we thought memorization but teachers at mother’s day out demonstrated his ability to read words in books he had never seen)
- had about 100 board books memorized around age 2 years
- used complete sentences around age 2 years
- asked for a pipe organ at age 2 years, settled for a piano
- taking apart toys at age 2 ½ years
- reading fluently at age 3 years (we still were thinking mostly memorization, but teachers pulled out kindergarten level books and he could read them with ease)
- started understanding circuitry around age 3 ½ years and building circuits (snap circuits) at age 4 years
- reading easy readers and beginning chapter books at age 4 years (presented harder books after teachers demonstrated he was really reading)
- reading music notes at age 4 years
- drawing circuit diagrams around age 4 ½ years
- knew addition and subtraction facts before turning 5 years
- reading manuals and guides at age 5 years
- learned he had perfect pitch at age 5 ½ years
On top of those signs listed, our son participated in a 3 year language study at University of Houston Cognitive Development Lab starting on his 3rd birthday, which entailed yearly testing until he was 5 years old. At 3 years old we were told his expressive language was that of an elementary student & his receptive language was that of an older elementary student. At age 4 we were told his expressive language was that of a middle school student and his receptive was that of a high school student. At age 5 he never hit a ceiling on either test but due to more answers correct on receptive we were told he had higher receptive language than expressive language and that both were that of a late high school to adult. Due to being a university study we were not given actual test scores just told his ranges. It was this combined with comments from his preschool which lead us to formal testing at age 4. His preschool informed us that our son already mastered all of kindergarten skills at age 4. Formal testing confirmed what others had told us and that our son was highly gifted. He ranges from Level 3 to Level 5 on Dr. Ruf’s scale pending which academic area. He ranges from highly gifted to exceptionally gifted in educational terms.
So yes, we might have missed some obvious signs of giftedness when he was really young but we knew he was bright and supported him. It just took some prodding for us to see how bright he was. In addition, it wasn’t until in preschool that we became aware of how much faster he was doing things compared to his cohort. He is an only and family history of giftedness skewed our sense of normal. It was on this process we learned how different his educational needs were. We are so glad we pursued testing. We used this information to help with advocating in public school. It wasn’t enough. Our testing helped us secure outside gifted resources from many online programs. And now, we are on our own homeschooling adventures lead by our son’s interests and passions. His educational needs are being fully met at the needed grade level per each subject (currently ranging from 5th grade through high school).