The assessment begins by meeting with the parents. They are the “experts” on who the child really is. This includes knowledge of their child’s history, family background, and the issues that bring them into the office. A thorough assessment depends on understanding how the school setting, family dynamics, relationship with peers, and general developmental issues interact with the child’s giftedness to create the current problem. This allows us to put the child’s giftedness and his/her problems in context. These meetings inform us about what to look for in our subsequent meetings with their gifted child.
Before we actually meet with the gifted child, we might begin with a school observation to determine how she/he engages with classmates, teachers, and the demands of a structured situation.
We then meet with the child in the office for several visits. For the young, gifted child, we want to see how freely she/he can separate from their mother and observe their level of curiosity: is she/he inhibited or free to explore the office and use the play equipment. Does the child make good eye contact? Can the gifted child engage the therapist in play and/or discussion or does she/he seem quiet and remote. What is the content of the play? What does the child know about our visits? Does she/he have a sense of the problems that brought him/her for an assessment?
The meetings with the parents and the child provide the therapist with the raw material needed for a preliminary formulation, which establishes the cause of the problems and is the beginning focus for treatment.