Thursday, June 26, 2014

Twice Exceptionality, when just one exception isn’t enough!

Giftedness.  It's a pretty known phenomena.  People don't like to admit it exists, because egalitarianism, but everyone knows it does, deep down.  That some people are just crazy smart.  But they don't know any of those people.  Nope.  Like foxes. Everyone knows foxes exist, and can generally recognize them if they need to, but nobody ever sees one in the wild.

Twice-exceptionality...  Everyone recognizes a fox on sight, generally. But when asked, does anyone know what the fox really says?  (I guarantee you that most gifted

and twice-exceptional kids do know what a fox says - if they're interested in animals, anyhow.)  That's the 2E - that fox's voice.  When you tell anyone that your child is twice exceptional, the first response is usually "oh... ouch."  This is largely because the only people you're really telling are people who also have 2E children, and they've come to your house bearing booze and cupcakes on a really crummy day.
Talking to professionals...  That is much less easy.  Mad Natter has a secondary diagnosis, and we are looking into a tertiary as well.  Skeeve and I both have executive function issues, and it looks like in addition to smarts, we've passed on a few other things.  Telling any care providers that we suspect Mad Natter is twice-exceptional usually goes over like a lead balloon.  Why?  Because most people have barely studied up on giftedness, much less twice-exceptionality - and care providers, like everyone else, doesn't like to have someone pop up in their office and know more about a topic they are seeking advice for than the person they're seeking that advice from.  So far, it has resulted in "boys will be boys," and 24h turnaround on an appointment for me, plus "well, we'll see..." and "what makes you think he's gifted?"  The automatic response is to put us on the defensive, having to justify that a 5 year old reading (and comprehending) chapter books, but utterly unable to focus for more than a minute or two at a time, is having challenges.

Mad Natter does not officially have the third diagnosis.  However, as every practitioner has shooed us out their door, telling us to return when Mad Natter is seven years old, they hand us paperwork.  Every time it's the same paperwork.  Sometimes it's two different things - one sensory - confirming to us that there is something valid in our armchair diagnosis... but no one is willing to assess for another year and change.  No matter the urgency, no matter the obvious support we bring in for that assessment and the potential diagnosis, we are getting the brush off.  He'll be fine until he's seven.  He's gifted. 

The question I'm left with is "am I seeing blowback because I dare identify myself and my child as gifted? Or am I seeing it because I'm implying that gifted children might not be 100% people-pleasers, easy children, eager learners who want nothing more than a stack of worksheets to do over an ice cream breakfast?"

Because, you see...  The twice-exceptional tend to be invisible.  They're marginalized in the classroom, under the insistence their "behavior issues" come "under control" before they are accelerated - often making their acting out worse, because of utter boredom.  They're marginalized by professionals, who have little training on the gifted population, and don't understand how gifted intensity can either mask other issues, or intensify them.  They're side-eyed in public, because they're simultaneously incredibly intense and curious... and also just inherently... 'odd.' They approach things so very differently, and are less able to mask their inherent differences, and so they... for lack of a better phrase, they 'feel' odd to others.

Trying to make the appropriate care decisions for a complicated child, understood by neither general society nor his care practitioners is exceedingly difficult.  Being brushed off time and again when you're bringing a valid concern forward is frustrating, disheartening, and maddening.  Knowing what is likely helpful for your child, and being denied the opportunity to find out if this is the case?  See above.  Knowing that if this were any other child, this would have been determined and care would be much simpler is just defeating.

Twice exceptional children (and adults!) are real.  They're out in the world at large. And when you find others, you will find help - or at least someone to listen, and bring you booze and cupcakes when you need 'em.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour! 

The Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour holds a very special place in my heart.  You see, it was the 2012 tour that led me to this post from The Younger Mrs Warde at Sceleratus Classical Academy at exactly the time I needed that post.  Two years later, I am still grateful to call Mrs Warde my friend, and at this point, a partner in crime.  That led me to Twitter's #gtchat, which led me to the Gifted Homeschooler's Forum, and to Jen, and Pamela, and Amy, and Mona...  But, I digress.

Parenting a gifted child can sometimes be as challenging as it is rewarding. That’s why for the third year in row, parents from The Well Trained Mind Message boards have created a blog tour to share wisd
om, joy, tribulations and advice. The Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour will discuss some of the most pertinent issues facing gifted education today:

On June 22nd Sceleratus Classical Academy will kick off our tour with “How a Gifted Childhood Prepared Me for Gifted Parenting”.

On June 23rd At Home in the North Woods will share “Great Expectations, four ideas for dealing with perfectionism.”

On June 24th Homeschooling: or Who’s Ever Home will write about “Following the Passions of the Gifted Child."

On June 25th Teaching My Baby to Read will feature a guest post.

On June 26th Homeschooling Hatters will discuss “Twice Exceptionality, when just one exception isn’t enough!”

On June 27th Teaching My Baby to Read will write about “Intensity Fades but doesn’t Forget.”

 A difficult thing to understand about children with high IQs is that just because they are gifted, it doesn’t mean they are easy to teach or parent. In fact, often times the opposite is true. This blog tour is written by people who understand what you’re going through. We are sending encouragement your way! So the next time you wake up at 3 AM worrying about your child, at least you’ll know that you aren’t alone.Thanks for being with us on this journey! P.S. There are still room for more posts, so if you have something on your heart that you would like to share, please email Jenny via Teachingmybabytoread at gmail dot com.For previous tours, click on the links below:

Planning Ahead

It's always nice to have a plan.  It's easier to keep tabs of what's going on if you know where you're headed.  The problem I have right now, though, is that while most homeschoolers have a plan - after grade 1 comes grade 2, and after that comes grade 3 - I really can't plan like that. What I've learned this year, working our way through subjects linearly, and at Mad Natter's pace, is that Mad Natter will finish a year's curriculum in between three and six months time.

Now, in general, I don't have any issue with this.  But thinking longer term, I need to sort out what I want to do.  Do I want to continue accelerating him, allowing him free reign to work at his own speed, or do I want to work on giving more depth to his topics - things like additional science experiments, more books for reading, more exploration for history...  Both ways have their advantages, not the least of which being that I can use the library extensively for creating depth, but I can't do that quite as well for acceleration, and by extension, there is less money spent on that option as well.  The problem is... How does one find (for example) accurate anatomy texts for a five year old?  Accurate texts exist, but he's not (and I'm definitely not) ready for discussion of fetal pigs, so... Where do you find resources both accurate and current as well as appropriate?

Needless to say, this is a discussion I've brought Skeeve into.  He needs to be involved in this as well - even though his input generally boils down to "well, whatever you think will work..."  It's nice to have a sounding board, it helps me to talk out my ideas.  So, while these conversations usually are "well, you know what you need to do to stay sane, Mad Natter hates repetition..." followed by my objections to both sides (money on one, and my time on the other), and his looking at me like "dude, your time PLUS the frustration of Mad Natter digging in his heels over the repetition!!" it's generally helpful for me to have them.

Who needs a tee?
So, as much as I want to take my time and explore the animal kingdom, the contents of outer space, memorization of basic math facts, sweet little short stories, and fun finger plays with my little boy...  I have to recognize that he doesn't want to take time.  Time spent reviewing is time wasted - he could be spending that time working on something NEW.  Mad Natter has never been one to take anything slowly.  As soon as he figured out he could roll, he went for hands and knees - then to crawl, and then to pull up and stand, and then walk... all within about a five month span - he learned to roll around four months old, and was walking (not well, but he was trying, dangit!) by 9 months, so I'm not sure why this surprises me.his education, and not mine - no matter how much he may teach me - and his voice should be the one honored above others.  This is how there get to be five year old fourth graders, you know.
And honestly, this is, in the end,