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Should We Have Our Three-Year-Old Tested?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: We have a three-and-a-half-year-old son who was adopted from Ukraine nine months ago. My wife and I have noticed that he is a very quick learner, he is a perfectionist, and he can demonstrate skills after being shown only once. His long-term memory is excellent and astonishing. He learned to speak English with great fluency in less than 90 days (his previous language was Ukranian with no exposure to English). He is also quite mechanical and linguistic, and is very sensitive to others. Is he talented or gifted? We, as his parents, think so, but perhaps we are "blindfolded" because he is our son.

A: Congratulations on your new son! Your little boy certainly sounds quite bright. In this case, I really think it's too early for any formal evaluation of giftedness. I would advise that you wait until he is ready to enter kindergarten. Make sure he has lots of books, opportunity for word play with games, and building toys for his mechanical skills.

Point out when you and his mom make "mistakes" and gently laugh at yourselves. Make sure he knows it is okay for him to make mistakes. Perfectionism can cause problems for little ones, as no one can be perfect all of the time, and children can get easily frustrated with themselves. I do not know what your son's pre-adoption situation was. I have had several clients who came from his birth country area as preschoolers who had group-living circumstances. They were often fearful of making mistakes. They also learned to be very visually alert, as that was a survival skill. Your son sounds as if he is adjusting and developing well. I wish you all the best.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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