I have two daughters. The oldest was a typical first gifted child; there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was gifted. She read and did multiplication before kindergarten. Her vocabulary was advanced and her thought processes were sharp as a whip; she picked things up with ease and passed every test with flying colors. Of course she qualified for the gifted program! (She is old enough that Illinois still had gifted programs in most districts. These programs were systemaically dismantled starting in 2002, but that is the subject of another post!)
Along came child number two. She is four years younger than her sister and has always adored her! She did not read or even add before kindergarten. She was shy and quiet. One day in preschool she announced, “My sister is the smart one and I am the cute one.” Instead of academic pursuits, she engaged in every sort of imaginative play. She put on plays with her friends. She played with “guys,” building elaborate scenes that could not be dissassembled until the story had played itself out. She told stories and later wrote stories and poetry.
I figured I had a gifted child and a “normal” child, okay by me! I had both girls tested when the youngest was in Kindergarten when we briefly considered switching from our local public school to a private gifted school. I was amazed to learn that she and her sister were both not just gifted, but profoundly gifted! I have since learned that it is quite common for giftedness to present completely differently in siblings and uncommon for siblings to be more that about 10 IQ points apart.
When I asked her second grade teacher for a letter of recommendation so she could take classes at the Worlds of Wisdom and Wonder, the teacher said, “But she isn’t gifted.” Unlike her sister, she did not qualify for the local gifted program at the end of second grade. One of the many tests they required for admission was a picture test, which she did not do well on. On one of the questions they were given four choices for what goes with a dolphin. These were something like a fish, a swan, an elephant and turtle. I asked her why she chose the swan and her explanation was priceless, “They both move with same undulating motion.” Definitely not gifted.
Now she is at the top of her class in high school, has taken scads of APs and is a National Merit Finalist. She can compete academically with the best of them, but her real strength continues to be her creativity and imagination. She writes fantasy, plays and creative non-fiction. She composes music and writes songs. She writes and performs slam poetry. She draws and creates games. And she sees connections between things and bridges across things that are novel and exciting. She is extremely imaginationally overexcitable. And she is clearly gifted!