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Nonverbally Gifted -- Can't Beat them at Tetris!

One Prominent Characteristic of Nonverbal Ability

I once heard there are six septillion events occurring in the human body at any one moment. Imagine all the unique responses and unique individuals this is likely to produce! With this in mind, no one child will exhibit all the characteristics of nonverbal ability detailed below, and the nonverbal ability itself will be expressed in a variety of ways—perhaps, even, within the same individual.

“These thoughts did not come in any verbal formulation. I rarely think in words at all.”

--Albert Einstein

Visual Orientation

Individuals who rely on nonverbal ability tend to orient their world visually either through physical objects or mentally by “picturing” things in their minds. Not only do they picture these things, but nonverbally gifted individuals can readily visualize relationships, movements, and manipulations of objects as well. So not only do people strong in nonverbal ability remember things simply by the way they look, they can also easily imagine how objects will look or fit differently together through rotations, flips, and turns. These are our future surgeons, mechanical engineers, inventors, and interior decorators . . . and you’ll have trouble beating their score in Tetris.

Many people think in a stream of language (as do many nonverbally gifted learners), but some people think in a series of images instead. Let’s call it a mind movie that can be replayed and edited on demand. These folks are great to have along on trips to unfamiliar places and seem to have an amazing talent for navigating through all sorts of new locations. Show them a map, and they’ve got it etched in their minds, but they’re not going to want to write it out for you. Ask them directions, and they’ll search their mind’s image Rolodex, point and talk about taking rights and lefts and landmarks and hills and buildings, but they may never mention a street sign at all. Truth be told, they’d rather draw you a map than explain it to you, and they’re too nice to wonder aloud how someone would get lost or not know the way in the first place! Does your child love things for the way they look? Have strong preferences for certain objects or places yet can’t really explain why? Ever feel the same way yourself? That’s your nonverbal ability speaking. In fact, if you have a child with high nonverbal ability, then chances are that you, your spouse, or both of you share that ability.

What Parents Say About Their Nonverbally Gifted Child

She pays attention to signs, street lights, and surroundings and asks questions about them.

He adds internal “maze-like” passages inside Lego structures as you might see inside a pyramid.

He sees things others don’t. He can tell where we are going just by the street I turn on.

A nonverbally gifted child might note that this picture of the spires on the chapel at the United States Air Force Academy looks like jets flying in formation. They naturally make this complex connection while those who think in language or numbers may scratch their heads and say, “Huh! You’re right, but I never even thought of that!”

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