“Children with special needs come into our lives, leaving footprints on our hearts and we are never the same”. ANON

Usually when we mention children with Special needs, we think about children with intellectual and physical disabilities. This is not always the case. Today, I will concentrate on a less recognised class – Gifted otherwise known as  exceptional children with special needs.

Mrs. Nyam  George swings by to pick up the last of her 3 boys – Bambo, from the playgroup he attends.  She finds Bambo who has barely turned 18 months, engrossed in doing sums. After berating the teacher because she finds his peers learning through playing with Plasticine (clay) and crayons as against his doing sums, she then storms out to see the Proprietress – Mrs. Williams to register her displeasure.

Mrs. Williams, a seasoned educationist and experienced child psychologist responds: “Please calm down madam, what we are doing is in the best interest of Bambo.  I have taken time to observe him and have come to the conclusion that he exhibits the characteristics of a GIFTED child”.  She continues, “That being the case, he must be encouraged to sustain his interest in the playgroup through constant intellectual stimulation which requires that he be handled differently from his peers.” She explains further, “ A gifted child is one who demonstrates an advanced ability or potential in one or more specific areas when compared with his peers of the same age, experience or environmental exposure. A whiz kid or prodigy.  Such children become bored with repetitive tasks or repetitive learning, which can make them restless. They are constantly looking for the next milestone to conquer”.  

Mrs. George gasps and exclaims “No wonder!  I’ve observed  the energy and speed at which he picks up words, notices things around him and the like.”

Mrs. Williams explains further “Madam think back to his infancy.  He probably hit developmental milestones earlier than his peers. Milestones such as walking, talking , potty training etc.”

“ Hmmm…yes indeed” Mrs. George replies her head bobbing up and down in agreement. “I returned from work one day and he was walking at 7 months, he spoke quite clearly at 13 months. I found him enigmatic but couldn’t really explain it.”. “ He is obviously different from his brothers, but tell me, how do we handle him ma?”

Mrs. Williams then advises on available options:

“One, today, a lot of traction can be obtained through HOME SCHOOLING. This holds multiple advantages for Bambo as he can be taught at his own pace and can also be introduced to a varied school curriculum, tailored to his needs and interests as against following the rigidity of regular schools. She further explains: “ This option will also help the family bonding as it affords studies within the family circle and allows more time for interaction with members of the family. The love from family will assist him to further actualise his giftings. He should also be enrolled in extra-curricular activities e.g. sports, music, etc to enable him interact socially and gain interactive and interpersonal skills”.

Mrs. George is now calm and quiet as Mrs Williams continues with her advice.

“Two, another option is to keep him within the regular school system while keeping a close watch on his school studies and activities and partnering with his teachers to ensure he is always adequately challenged  thus preventing him from becoming restless, distant or bored with classes.”

“Three, you may also wish to enrol him into a school for gifted children. Such schools are properly equipped to handle the special needs of Gifted children but they  are few and far between”.

“However at or about the age of 5 years, he should do an IQ test to measure his intelligence quotient. This must be done by a Licensed psychologist and the IQ of gifted children usually ranges between 125-140″.

Mrs. Nyam  George leaves the office of Mrs. Williams better informed and consumed in thoughts about holding this conversation with her husband, Paul George.

If you were Mrs. George what would be your preferred option?

Watch out next week for episode 2 on the intellectually impaired child.




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