Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's not all sunshine and roses, no matter what you think.

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the ones. You read an incredible book... and half the internet seems to loathe it. You advocate researching decisions before you make them... and are told you're a public health risk. You spend every day wondering if today is the day you're going to crack and spend the afternoon crying under your desk because your kiddo is so outside the norm... and someone trots out the "All children are gifted" spiel.

That's today. I've spent today embroiled in a battle of overexcitabilities and asynchrony, dealing with lashing out over video games, and simultaneous desire to explain, in detail, the clinical process of human reproduction. With correct terminology. Oh, and a lot of brushing, trampoline jumping, and running full-tilt through the house at ridiculous road-runner-looking speed, and screeching. Can't forget the screeching. I've been moody, at best, because while it's finallystarting to warm up... it's also gloomy and rainy outside. This means my day has been riding that knife's edge between coping and sobbing pretty hard - all day long.

And then, Momastery comes out with her post for today, declaring: "Every child is gifted and talentedEvery single one. Everything I’ve ever written about on this blog has been open for argument, except for this one. I know this one is true." And, because one bad thing alone can't ever be the case, when Momastery came out noticing that the parents of gifted children all over were pretty hardcore objecting to this, many of her supporters decided that those objections were worthless, belonging to people who needed to "unclench." I've tried to just back away from the internet for a while. Let others, with better blog presence and more succinct style tackle the issue. But then I ran into it in another group, too. And another. I finally decided it was a sign. Or something. And here I am.

My immediate comment on the issue was "We all get the spirit of her post. The problem is that she said flat out that ALL children are gifted. Not that all children have gifts. One of these statements is a myth that actively damages the community of gifted people, particularly the vulnerable children, who are *diagnosed* as gifted. The other is a universal truth. We can all rally behind "All children have gifts." Do not expect me to rally behind a statement that actively harms my child because I should just calm the heck down and stop reading what she's writing, but read what we can infer she MEANT to write. No. All children have gifts equates to all children have height. All children are gifted would equate to all children are tall. In conflating the terminology, she is contributing to a massive problem for clinically gifted children, and if people don't step up and say something, the problem will only get worse."

Given that I've spent the last ten hours vacillating between laughing and sobbing, working on buying curricula for a child who plowed through a full year of spelling in thirteen weeks, who is reading The Magic School Bus: Butterfly Battle for his reading practice, trying to head off meltdowns over WiiU time limits, keep the running from devolving into injury.... I felt it a rather measured response. I only have one child. And he is very classically twice-exceptional. However, we don't live in a bubble. I've met other children his age, both at hockey, at the park, in his cousins... No. All children? They very much do NOT possess the wiring that this child does. That Skeeve does. That I do. There is no comparison between these children.

This is not to say that one child is better than the other. Not at all. But these children are very different. One group of them functions on grade level, fits the developmental profile given in "Your X Year Old" or other parenting books, and while each individual child varies wildly, and has individual gifts and talents, they can, as a whole, be referred to in the general. The other group is... an entirely different beast. They do not fit on 'grade level' at all - they are well above in some subjects, well below in others. They are not found in any parenting books, no matter how many you buy and read (ask me how I know. Come on. Ask.), each child varies extremely wildly, and they don't at all fit in the generalization of their age. More often than not, they belong in the classification for their age - sometimes. They also belong in the classification a few years younger... and simultaneously several years older.

Not all children fit that second group. In fact, not even 'a bunch' of children fit that group. While there may be issues with terminology (believe me, that's a whole other post!), the fact remains that the second group is clinically diagnosed with the neuroatypical wiring known as "giftedness." This does not mean that other children don't have gifts, it means simply that like children with learning disabilities, the wiring of these children vastly changes their needs, both in school and at home. My preference is for "asynchronous learner" or simply "asynchrony" and rolling both the gifted and the learning disabled into one spectrum-style diagnosis, but that doesn't change the fact that if the term we were looking at was no longer "gifted" but was instead was "disabled," the outcry would be deafening. But, because this is the gifted population.... it's mostly crickets. Except for those of us who stand up and say "NO." And we're told to "unclench" and "take it in the spirit..."

Letting these things stand unchallenged does a tremendous disservice to the gifted children, as well as their parents. It feeds into the notion that gifted children will do "just fine" in public schools with no accommodations, that gifted programs are elitist, that these children, with this unique wiring, are just hothoused, flash-carded, victims of their completely crazy parents who want nothing more than accolades... when the truth of the matter is that these children are extremely vulnerable, and their parents are often clinging by their fingernails to keep up with them, and the radical changes in each day that could give anyone whiplash. And that's not fair to these wonderful, special, caring children... or their wonderful, special, caring age-mates. You don't have to be clinically gifted to have gifts.

This post is one of many rapid response blogs on the topic of "Are all children gifted?" hosted by Gifted Homeschoolers' Forum. Feel free to see what others have had to say!