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Gifted, but Bad Speller

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: Our daughter has tested into gifted programs in three different states, using three different tests and criteria. She is a voracious reader and a marvelous and creative writer. But, her spelling is terrible -- really bad, obvious mistakes. Is this common? How can we help her? Should she be tested for dyslexia?

A: There is no doubt that your daughter is gifted -- and the spelling may indeed indicate a learning disability. I, myself, have dyslexia. Are there any other indicators for you daughter: Organization or sequencing problems? Handwriting or Reading-speed issues? Talk with her about your concern and see if she would feel comfortable with a further assessment to learn more about her needs. Assure her that you already know that she is bright, but want to know if she needs any additional support. This could become even more important as she moves through school and college. If she is agreeable, ask your pediatrician about a reputable psychologist who is familiar with gifted children and learning problems. I will be doing a full day session on this topic at the Council for Exceptional Children's Conference in Kansas City, April 18th. Come if you can!

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Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.


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