How reading comprehension may be misunderstood in gifted and twice-exceptional learners
By Teresa Currivan, LMFT, Parent Coach
I work with parents of highly to profoundly gifted and twice-exceptional children who are being assessed for reading comprehension. What I find gets missed is that many of these kids have reading levels that do not match their comprehension levels because they know more than their teachers assume they do. Because of this, these children are being assessed with poor reading comprehension skills.
One example I give in my article Why It Is Vital To Know If Your Child Is Gifted is of a first-grader named Clara who is being assessed for reading comprehension.
“Once when Clara’s mother happened to be watching Clara’s first-grade teacher assessing Clara’s comprehension skills, there was a misunderstanding about whether water ran ‘over,’ or ‘under,’ the ground. The teacher thought Clara didn’t understand the words ‘under’ and ‘over,’ and said, ‘No, water runs “over” the ground,’ pointing to the very simple book with a picture of a river. Her mother tried to explain that Clara was probably referring to aquifers, where water runs under the ground. She didn’t want to be seen as uncooperative, so she didn’t press the issue.”
Additionally, because of this mis-assessment, Clara was later thought to be defiant by the school psychologist for running down the hall when it was time for her remedial reading tutoring. You can see how this can all snowball. But if parents, teachers, and psychologists only knew….
“Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (The Columbus Group, 1991)
Asynchronous development means that the child is not following the developmental milestones that we expect from a typical child. He may say his first word at four months, but not read until age 10. She may hold a calculus book in one hand and a teddy bear in the other at age 9. In Clara’s case, she may be at kindergarten level reading while at high school level comprehension. Understanding this can help to more accurately understand the child, and possibly open up a world of possibilities in their education.
©2019 Teresa Currivan
Teresa Currivan is a mother, licensed marriage and family therapist, and coaches and consults with parents by phone at Help My Child Thrive Coaching. She runs parent support groups both privately, and for Big Minds Unschool, a school for twice-exceptional learners in Pinole, CA. Teresa has been published on sites such as fb.me/TeresaCurrivanCoaching. ***Not sure if your child is gifted? Or maybe you have a question about your gifted child or family. Teresa offers free 20 minute consultations. Email her to set up a time to talk. She’d love to hear from you. TeresaCurrivan@gmail.com ***, Filter Free Parents, and is a blogger at GHF and Hoagies Gifted Education. She specializes in giftedness, twice-exceptionality, educational fit, and family dynamics, as well as gifted adults. She lives in the San Francisco, California Bay Area with her husband and son. You can find more articles on this website. Follow her on Facebook at
You might also be interested in:
This is part of a blog hop over at the amazing Hoagies Gifted Education Page. Check them out, Hoagies Blog Hop: If You Only Knew….on the theme of professionals and others dealing with gifted children. If only the doctor knew, if only the psychologist knew, if only the teacher knew, if only the Scout parents knew…