Common questions asked include, “Is Cadence ‘gifted’ or “What is Cadence’s IQ”? The answer to this is, every child is special and every child is gifted and unique in their own way. The challenge for all parents, all educators is to find meaningful ways to ‘tap into’ and support each child’s individual strengths and challenges, to enable them with opportunity to be all that they can be; intellectual knowledge or perceived giftedness, is only one area of who a child is; and who they can become.
As with all children, how Cadence perceives and interacts with the world is based on a number of factors – personality, intellectual and physical strengths and challenges, nurture (how those around her respond to and support her), environment and educational opportunities.
Some confuse silence and conditions such as Autism, with intellectual disability, but while many children with Autism do have co-morbid intellectual disability; just like aggressive and disruptive behaviour has no relationship to the diagnostic criteria for Autism, Intellectual disability is also not a component of the Autism Spectrum diagnostic criteria.
Cadence is a bright little girl who loves to learn – by 9 months of age she knew and could identify all of her ‘colours’, at 11 months of age she was creating basic counting and subtraction games using much loved punnets of strawberries. At three, she recognised a range of words, was working on the early development of her writing skills (though not with impressive quality!); and, developing her general knowledge base of random facts. She is blessed with an exceptional memory, which equally serves to be challenging.
In many ways, given both her strengths and challenges, it makes sense that Cadence has a long term, keen interest in how the mind and brain works – an interest that first showed itself just prior to her third birthday when she self-initiated a project at Child Care – “What makes Cadence Cadence; What makes Cadence’s mind different” (communicating in the ‘third person is a common trait of Autism).