Where can I take my 18 month old to see if he's gifted?

A toddler happily playing piano.
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Question: Where can I take my 18 month old to see if he's gifted?

My son seems very advanced. He rolled over when he was one week old and was walking with support at five months and walking and running on his own at seven months. He is now skipping and jumping and can mimic children dance steps on TV. He was putting two words together when he was 15 months old, so his speech seems to be advanced too.

He draws circles and even holds his pencil correctly! I need help keeping my child's mind stimulated!

Answer: It certainly looks like you have a gifted toddler on your hands. Gifted children do usually hit developmental milestones earlier than other children. It's not unusual for parents of young gifted children to want to know if their child is gifted and what to do about it.

Parents with children who reach developmental milestones early often want to know where to get their child tested for giftedness. There are many good reasons for getting a child tested, but there really should be one. For example, you may want to get your child admitted to a special program for gifted and talented children or you may want to understand your child's educational needs.

Some parents want to get their child tested just for validation. They may have a hard time accepting or understanding that their child is more advanced than other children.

Or maybe other people keep telling them that all parents think they have a gifted child. They may even be told they need to let their kid be a kid and warn them about the "dangers" of being a pushy parent.

The answer to the question of where to go to get an 18 month old tested for giftedness starts with another question: why do you want to get your child tested?

Even if you have what you think is a good reason for testing, there are other considerations to keep in mind. One consideration is the validity of tests done on such children. A child's IQ score will not be very stable until around age 5. That means the score can vary quite a bit and you may not get the kind of understanding of your child that you are looking for. Private testing can be quite expensive, so unless you have a really good reason for intelligence testing of a toddler, it's really best to wait for a few more years.

What you want to do at this point is ask yourself if you would treat your child any differently if you had your child tested and the test indicated that he is gifted. Would you love him any less? Would you love him any more? Would you start trying to teach him more than you are now? Would you be trying to provide him with more opportunities to learn and explore the world? Would you enroll him in every kind of class you could find? I don't imagine that you would love him any more or less than you do now.

I also imagine that you would continue to try to find ways to stimulate his mind.

If you know your child needs mental stimulation, then you definitely want to provide it. All children need some mental stimulation -- it just seems like gifted kids demand it. It's why so many parents of gifted kids, far from pushing their children, feel as though their children are dragging them behind them. Providing the stimulation is not as difficult as it may seem right now, but it does take some effort and sometimes a little creativity. There are some basic approaches to nurturing your gifted child that are helpful for parents of gifted children of all ages, but there are some specific ideas for providing mental stimulation for gifted toddlers and preschoolers.

Just follow your child's lead and enjoy your time with him. That will help keep you from pushing your child when you simply mean to nurture him. When your child is older and you want to get him tested, then you want to make sure you know about testing your gifted child.

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