I often get looks from people when I mention giftedness in our family. People assume that I am bragging. I am not. Just like any other special need there are up days and down days, there are blessings and struggles.
Giftedness is a combination of being crazy smart, highly emotional, and asynchronous in development. For example my son, Little Man, will sit and read a book on chemistry or space for hours but still has a hard time riding a bike or tying his shoes.
When I say that he is highly emotional it means he can swing in any direction at any given time based on the slightest nudge. I will tell him to go get his green shirt on and if he cannot find his green shirt it’s tears and screaming until I can help him get it. Its not because he is spoiled or emotionally unstable but rather he just feels everything so intensely that he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Yet while frustration and anger come easily, he is also amazingly kind and considerate.
I also had to realize that being gifted is, for each person that it effects, a totally different animal. After more research and searching I’m began to see that my others are also gifted…they just present it differently.
We took our eldest daughter, Little Miss, to a developmental pediatrician because she had been complaining about words being messy and moving too much. It wasn’t until I started answering all the pediatricians milestone and interest questions that I realized (or rather the Developmental Pediatrician told me) that Little Miss (and after listening to them all interact- all 4 of them most likely) has also been ahead with everything (she was speaking in complete and clear sentences with precise thoughts at 14 months, she learns mathematical concepts almost instantly, has an amazing memory, and treats every problem as her own personal challenge…even ones that are made up so that the kids would just stop asking for something. More than anything else, she has an amazingly developed sense of reasoning that she uses to analyze stories and history. Pulling together ideas and concepts with attention to details and depth that shocks me regularly.
Somehow, like many professional educators, I had assumed that she was going to be more neuro-typical than Little Man because she wasn’t reading at 3 or 4 and is having major difficulties in that subject. At 7 she can now read around grade level but she has struggled daily to get to this point. It has taken many years, many tears and lots of frustration because she loves books/stories and wanted to read so badly. Somehow because of these difficulties I fell into the bad habit of ignoring her unique and amazing abilities because they were not the same as the ones I had noticed with Little Man, even if the intensity and asynchrony were there all along.
With Curly Que the signs were there but I was too busy to really notice. She had meltdowns more often than the others, slept less than the others and without realizing it we began expecting the same things from her that we would of her older siblings- even if they were nowhere near developmentally appropriate. Her language and reasoning skills were so much higher than the developmental milestones for her age that we often forgot how little she really was. No wonder she refused to potty train when Little Bitty was born…she was only 18 months! We thought she was ready because she had started speaking in complete sentences before her first birthday and could not only tell us that she had gone but also detail what she should be doing. However, she still couldn’t tell us that she needed to go because developmentally she was not at that stage. Most parents go through the terrible two’s with a child who whines because they cannot verbalize what they feel…Curly Que did not have that problem. She had meltdowns and tantrums because she was 12-24 months and we were expecting her to have the ability to sit still like a 3-4 year old because her conversation and reasoning (think talking back and full out opinionated arguments!) were in line with that of her older siblings. She’s 5.5 now and reading above grade level but that’s not the give all, end all sign that there’s a possibility of giftedness. The sign to me that shows her giftedness the most is her burgeoning desire to know how everything works. No simple answer will quench her inquisitive assault, she wants to know how every part of every machine she sees works together to make the whole function. Although being gifted also explains why she still has meltdowns when things aren’t just so, clothes feel weird or why she needs to touch EVERYTHING she sees.
Sometimes giftedness in our house means nothing is safe… Our youngest, Little Bitty, was showing many of the same signs early on and even medicine bottles needed to be hidden. Everything is a puzzle that needs to be solved. Even if she couldn’t speak until well after her 2nd birthday she still found ways to communicate things like dirty diapers at 14 months. Now at 4 she’s starting to pick up reading, doing math alongside her older siblings and generally has an inquisitive nature that can’t be quenched. With her though there’s also a need to create, an intense desire to always be building, imagining or designing something.
When I say my kids are gifted its because they are a little different. You’ll notice it if you spend any amount of time with them and like everything else giftedness comes in ranges. I think my kids are at the bottom end of the scale but unless we cough up extraordinary amounts of money for testing I just don’t know for sure where they stand.
Testing…If I want to know for sure where on the spectrum my children fall, I will have to have all four tested. At several hundred to a thousand dollars for each evaluation (depending on who performs the evaluation), multiplied by four children… well that is just not an amount that is feasible for our single income family.
Until then we will just live each day as its own adventure. I’m not saying my kids are better, they are just different and we are trying to help them meet their own challenges day by day. It’s a crazy, beautiful ride and I love it dearly. Even if it means I have to listen to the pi song on you tube 20 times in a row while driving to the library for another 30 books this week. I will also continue gleaning what I can from other parents and bloggers with gifted kids (ones who can tell you their kid is hg, pg or eg…or not) and I will relish in the similarities our children share (or parenting struggles) and try out new parenting methods until I find what fits for us!
- Update: Well now we know for sure. At least for some of our children the testing needed to find the learning differences that they have included full Neuropsych testing. My children are in fact Gifted, they also have some learning differences that affect each of them differently. My children are what is known as Twice-Exceptional. They are both advanced and behind at the same time. They are both rushing forward at rocket speeds and have faulty breaks and maneuvering systems. They understand great truths about the world and understand complex theories and ideas but lack the necessary processing to easily read, understand numbers, pay attention, or remember what they aren’t really interested in. We know now that our family is a mixing ground of Giftedness, severe ADHD, severe Dyslexia, moderate Dyslexia, Moderate Dyscalculia, Anxiety and Sensory issues. And all that comes with all of that. All of the Overexcitabilities, all of the Executive functioning issues, all of the working memory problems, all of the overloads possible… All of it. I am so immensely grateful that we homeschool. So beyond glad that I can create a childhood for these children of mine where they are not so different, where they are not so other, where they have the freedom to learn as best fits their unique development… where they can be the persons that they were born to be.