Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, Transitions, and the Need for Parental Support!

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, Transitions, and the Need for Parental Support!

For GHF - https://giftedhomeschooler.org
For GHF's blogs from around the world - https://giftedhomeschooler.org/blogs-2/blogs/
For GHF's blog hops - https://giftedhomeschooler.org/blog-hops/

Transitions are not always easy.  In fact, many people find transitions difficult.

The Gifted Homeschoolers Forum is in the middle of a transition.  For years, it has been a source of comfort and stability for me and many families.  That need for parental support never seems to go away.  In fact, I think it only increases!

My 2e son is 13 years old and is transitioning from being a child to a teen.  Most adults would agree that it's an awkward age and time period.  My son is no longer a baby, but he's not yet a fully fledged teen either.  His body and brain are changing.  A lot.  His needs are changing as well.

(My son's Adam's apple hasn't appeared yet, but it will soon!)

Suddenly my son wants to sleep a lot.  It's normal.  At times, though, it doesn't feel like it's 'normal'.  But then oftentimes, nothing feels 'normal' with a gifted/2e and like the land of topsy-turvy.  During these moments, I have a sudden urge to reach out to parents of older teens on GHF for reassurance.

As gifted/2e parents, we want reassurance.  We have doubts.  We have the gifted/2e kid who may veer from the 'standard' child development trajectory, and possibly veer off onto left field or another galaxy, it might seem.  We seek comfort and guidance from parents of older teens who have been there and know what it's like having a gifted/2e child, tween, or teen.

(This isn't my son sleeping, but it's very likely a teen who is!)

My son and I will soon be making a transition together.  We will be moving from the UK back to the US soon; my UK husband will be moving too once he can get his US resident green card reinstated and the house sold or in the process of being sold.  

For my son and I, this means we will no longer be American expats.  We will no longer see the fingers waving pointing at us as being (gasp) American.  We will no longer hear the tut-tutting when we open our mouths and speak American accents.  We will adjust from living in the UK to living in the US.  It will take time for sure.  

Moving is stressful.  It's another time when the need for parental support and GHF is great.  It can be less stressful though when you reach out to families in the GHF community and find others who have taken a similar path, been in similar shoes, or a gifted/2e child like yours.

(Of course, we're not moving by car from the UK to the US!!)

GHF is not restricted to American or American expats though.  It is open and welcome to all.  In fact, today, members live across six continents and part of a worldwide GHF community.  I cannot express how critical that is.

This is a vital part here.  As American expats, we have been able to be part of a worldwide GHF community and stay in contact with fellow Americans at home while living in the UK.  We have also met and been in contact online with GHF members across the world!  

Whatever it is, the point is to feel supported and less alone here, especially with a 2e child.  There is no doubt about it.  GHF can help tremendously. 

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's Why We Love GHF - January 2019.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  https://giftedhomeschooler.org/blogs-2/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see:  https://giftedhomeschooler.org/blog-hops/.

I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling/ home educating parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Frustrating Discussion Dialogue: No Wonder My 2E Child Feels Misunderstood!

The Frustrating Discussion Dialogue:  
No Wonder My 2E Child Feels Misunderstood

Every time I have to give details or a more involved explanation on my 2e son's special needs and giftedness, I cringe.  I sigh.  I tailspin.  

My 2e son is twelve and I've been having this same frustrating discussion dialogue for a long time.  Too long really.  

It should be easy and simple for me now, but it is not.  We've just moved (again).   I have to register my son with a new GP.  I am dreading it.  I have to go through the laundry list again and get the glazed doughnut eyes and the blank stares again.  Every time it's the same song and dance.

The frustrating discussion dialogue usually goes like this:  

"Yes, my son was diagnosed with x, y, and z."   "

Yes, he was diagnosed at birth with __ and then at 3 years old a developmental pediatrician diagnosed him with __ ."

"Yes, my son had IQ testing, at age 6."

"Oh, yes, they diagnosed him with ADHD and PDD."

"Well, yes, he has some of the ADHD and PDD traits and behaviours but we sought a second opinion and then a third on those diagnoses and on the giftedness.  Yes, __ ruled out ADHD and __ ruled out PDD."

"No, my son doesn't actually have ADHD and isn't on the spectrum.  Yes, he does have some of the traits and behaviors.  Yes, we looked into medication for the ADHD, but my son doesn't have ADHD and so we sought alternative treatments and solutions for the ADHD behaviour and traits.  Yes, he isn't on any medication now."

"Yes, my son attended school., but we withdrew him from school at 6.5 years old and have been homeschooling/home educating him since then."

"Yes we homeschool/ home educate.  Yes, it's a lot of work."

"Yes my son meets up with other (homeschool) kids regularly:   On Monday, we do __.   On Tuesday, we might go __....."

For years and years and years, I have had the same frustrating discussion dialogue with various pediatricians, GPs, and other professionals.

For the record, from birth to twelve, there has never been a discussion with a pediatrician or GP about my son's giftedness or how the ADHD and PDD traits may be related to my son's giftedness.  There has never been a discussion about the overexcitabilities or the asynchronous development associated with son's giftedness.

Except for the occupational therapists and eye doctors (three behavioral optometrists and three ophthalmologists between NYC and MA - which is another frustrating dialogue!), there has never been a discussion about the severe sensory processing disorder, the central auditory processing disorder, or the visual processing disorder which my son has.

Except for the first few years, there has never been a discussion about my son's hypotonia (low muscle tone), dyspraxia (motor planning), or other special needs that he has.

There has never been a discussion with a pediatrician or GP about how just being around other kids of the same chronological age may not be enough for my son.

There has never been a discussion about how my son may need to find a mentor or may need to be in certain settings to get his social/emotional needs met.  

There has never been a discussion on the raging mind, the insatiable curiosity, the relentless creativity, and drive to not conform or be compliant with authority.

Is it any wonder that my son frequently feels misunderstood?

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop: The Invisible Gifted Child: Mislabeled, Misdiagnosed, Unidentified, and Misunderstood.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.

I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling/ home educating parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Please, Not a Meltdown in the Middle of Costco!: Living With a 2e Child

Please,  Not a Meltdown in the Middle of Costco: Living With a 2e Child

When your 11-year-old 2e son has a (sensory) meltdown in the middle of Costco, it is awful. Instantly, it feels like everyone is staring at you and making judgments:  about you, your child, your child's behavior and perceived lack of discipline, and your parenting skills.  Worse, your child feels like a failure for having the meltdown and you feel like a failure for not averting the meltdown.  It's not exactly a bowl of cherries.

Then, the questions and self-doubts start flooding in:  How can I have a child who is so intense, so extreme and yet so bright, and so sensitive, loving and caring?  What am I doing wrong here?

My 2e son did not deliberately have a sensory meltdown in the middle of Costco without a reason. He is under a lot of stress lately.  Unintentionally, his world has been flipped over many times within the last year and half since moving to the UK, including moving last summer within the UK.

To be sure, my 2e son already feels like a freak: 1) for being born with special needs, including a sensory process disorder; 2) for having 'gifts' when they feel unearned and undeserved; and 3) for being homeschooled (or home educated as they say here).  He is 'different'.

To exacerbate the situation (which is partly the reason for the meltdown), we are literally in the middle of buying a house and about to move yet again.  IF my son had had the sensory meltdown in the real estate agent's office, I might well have joined him.

Buying a house and moving are stressful enough as they are.  However, if you have a 2e child who has sensory processing disorder, is on the autism spectrum or has autistic traits, then the dislocations with moving and sense or orientation can be even more confounding.

Sensory processing disorder and giftedness often go hand and hand.  There's an emotional component with giftedness that often gets forgotten.

Some may think that giftedness would or should preclude sensory meltdowns but this is not the case. Everyone processes sensory input differently from sensory seeking to sensory avoiding and everything in between.

Moving to a new house, town, or country is an emotional experience.  Even adults have difficulties with moving and adjusting to their new surroundings.  For a 2e child it can be much more intensified. While my brain might have transitioned to picking up the frozen blueberries and finishing the food shopping at Costco, my's son was stuck, so to speak, on the house viewings, another move, the dislocations that would ensue, and the lack of having much control over the situation.

My 2e son is an intense person who feels and experiences life fully.  I do truly love him, more than anything in this world.  I do not want him to feel like a freak or a subject of scorn or ridicule.

I want my son to have faith in himself.  I want to reassure him -- that although it may not be socially accepted to have a meltdown in the middle of Costco and that there are more appropriate ways to express his feelings and thoughts -- that he's still a child and is learning.  That it's ok to be 'different'.

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop: Gifted and Twice Exceptional: Revisiting 2E Issues.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.

I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

NOTE p.s.:  I do not work for Costco, nor have I received any money from them other than as a Costco member who shops there!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Encouraging words from top scientists on homeschooling when the chips are down

Encouraging words from top scientists on homeschooling when the chips are down

The really big science questions need problem solvers. They need kids who are curious and who question, and particularly question authority including your authority as a parent. Granted, these kids are not the easiest kids to parent (i.e. they often question your authority as a parent!) and at times homeschooling them can feel like a drag.  But these kids are often gifted/2e and being home educated because: 1) they are gifted and may have special needs, 2) are not followers or necessarily compliant with a teacher or a school.

I'll be frank and honest here.  For those of us who are the liberal, latte sipping type and/or who believe in science, evolution, and the big bang, the stakes never seemed higher.  The recent political upheavals with Brexit in the UK and then with the US presidential elections can make things seem rather grim.  The state of education and the direction things are going in terms of education is disconcerting.  One has only to read the headlines on Common Dreams or other news outlets to get a sense of the alarm and despair within the scientific community and for the state of education.  And it doesn't take many negatively slanted stories on homeschooling (ie. the Feb 2nd Mirror article on the mother who lets her children play video games all day) to make an A type personality parent question or doubt their abilities to home educate and provide an education for their gifted/2e child/ren.

  1. Children are full of questions
  2. Sadly, by fifth grade, many children curtail their questioning
  3. Schools tend to foster submission to authority and not support endless questioning

As the above images sum up so beautifully, children are full of questions!  Generally speaking, schools tend not to foster children who question ad nauseum.  And yet, if we want a generation of scientists and people to solve the really big science questions and those facing the world today, we need children to be curious and ask lots of questions!

From time to time, I foster this questioning and ignite my son's passions by taking my 2e 11-year-old to science lectures, events, and activities that are free to attend and open to the public.  I am not the only homeschooling parent to do so.  The Washington Post recently reported on Romanieo Golphin Sr. who took his 7-year-old to CERN and university lectures, but there are countless home educators who do so as well.

Last Saturday, I took my son to Oxford University's annual Stargazing event, which was free and open to the public.  I spoke to some scientists there.  One conversation was particularly striking and worth retelling.

Here is what a scientist confided to me:

1) "Homeschooling is becoming more and more the best means to obtain a proper education in science; in some instances it is the only means; and

2) No one has an excuse in not obtaining quality education in science today with the amount of MOOCs" (edX, Coursera, Future Learn, World Science U, Isaac Physics and MIT OpenCourseWare to name a few) -- which are freely available online.

These are encouraging words from a top scientist on homeschooling when the chips are down!  Take heart.  This was not the sole occasion that I heard these points made about obtaining a quality education in science with homeschooling today.  Far from it.  Similar words have been uttered elsewhere in the UK and in the US.

Every time you feel a bit deflated, reach out to a wider community (whatever that may be). Follow your gifted/2e child's passions.  Ask questions.  Listen.  Take heart.  Reassure any nagging doubts on home educating.  Press your control-alt-delete to rekindle the flames and restore your faith in educating your gifted/2e child/ren.

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop: When homeschooling your gifted child becomes a drag: my best tips.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.

I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

European Union laws require me to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on my blog. In many cases, these laws also require me to obtain consent. 

As a courtesy, I have added a notice on my blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Finding peers with a move or starting to homeschool a gifted/2e child

Finding peers with a move or starting to homeschool a gifted/2e child

It is vital for all children to find peers and make friends but it's often a thorny prospect for a gifted or 2e (gifted with special needs) child.  This prospect, however, can be further intensified with a move or with starting to homeschool.  I know too well.  Within the last year, we moved outside the US and then moved again within the UK, nearly two months ago.

How do you go about finding peers and making friends with a gifted/2e child when you move to a new area or start to homeschool?  First, go online and try to find out what homeschool groups are in your area.  Many are on Facebook today; though there are still some yahoo groups and homeschool groups with their own websites.  Word of mouth is another way to find out about homeschool groups but that can be rather difficult when you either move to a new area or initially start out homeschooling.  Ideally, try to meet a fellow homeschooling parent in your area who may be able to point you in the right direction as soon as possible.  Try to get the low down on what's around and going on with homeschoolers.

Find out what types of homeschool groups, activities, and/or events are in your area.  Think in terms of your specific gifted/2e child/ren and their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional needs as well as their chronological age.  Think in terms of academics and non-academics.  It's possible to find a friend at an informal swimming group rather than in a competitive math club.  Alternatively, it's possible to find a friend or peer at a competitive math club and not at swimming.  It depends on the gifted/2e child, the group or activity, and the other children in attendance.  And, yes, some homeschool groups, activities, and/or events are based on chronological age and not based on ability. This is something to bear in mind.  Sometimes age restrictions are avoidable or able to be bridged by talking to the organizer/s of the homeschool group, activity, and/or event.  Other times, age restrictions are inescapable regardless of a child's ability and/or performance elsewhere; some people and places are age sticklers and are not going to change their rules or policies.  So you'll have to decide whether it's worth it to wait on these age restrictive groups, activities, and/or events or seek alternative ones for your child's immediate needs based on their chronological age or ones with more flexibility.

Second, discern which homeschool groups, activities, and/or events are structured or lesson-based from the unstructured.  If you've got a round peg 2e child, then it's probably not worth beating your head to try to get them to fit into the square hole.  Some gifted/2e children thrive with structure and lessons for homeschooled groups and activities.  For others, it gives them the hives and they will rebel against them.  For these gifted/2e kids, you'll be banging your head with the more structured stuff and will need to find drop-in, informal homeschool groups and activities without too much structure.  Bear in mind, as children get older, their needs will change and making friends or finding peers will take greater priority in their lives.  A gifted/2e six-year-old's needs are different from a twelve-year-old's, of course.

Third or perhaps earlier (it's not etched in stone here!), take geography into account.  Geographical location within a certain area or based on interest/activity can make a difference with transportation, traffic, and getting your gifted/2e child to and from a place.  Most major metropolitan areas support homeschooling groups today.  Depending on where you live, your transportation, budget, and traffic, you may have a wide range of options for homeschool groups within a 10-mile or 60-mile radius.  On the other hand, geography and/or transportation may impose limitations.

Fourth, budget.  Yes, if I had a magic wand and oodles of money, then I could forget about this reality and this word!  Don't despair.  Homeschooling can be done on a shoestring budget.  It is possible. Check out what's free, low-cost, pricey, or cost prohibitive.  Also, some pricey or cost prohibitive activities or events may have concessions or fees reduced for those on restricted incomes.  Public libraries, adult education centers, and other public or non-profit institutions often have activities that are free or for low-cost which may work for an informal homeschool group meetup or a regular structured group.

Fifth, don't see anything that appeals to you or your gifted/2e, consider creating a group or organizing one.  Some people are good at organizing.  If you are one, don't be shy about putting your ideas forward and trying to start something.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the positive responses and reactions from more introverted people who recognize the need but may be reluctant to organize such a homeschool group.

Sixth, let's be honest here.  Moving or starting to homeschool can be tough and stressful.  Some kids have an easier time with change and socially with making friends, period.  Some kids are more flexible and/or resilient than others.  Some 2e kids have special needs issues that hinder language and/or social skills.  Some gifted kids, or a 2e child, may be highly, exceptionally, or profoundly gifted and really struggle to find true intellectual peers.  In that case, you may want to keep the focus on making friends.

Don't throw the towel here!  Your child doesn't not necessarily need a gaggle of friends when one or two close friends may suffice.  Remember oftentimes it's quality over quantity here.  Bear in mind, too, finding peers and making friends are unlikely to happen overnight.  It's more likely to take a lot of time, patience, and effort.  Your gifted/2e child may also have an easier time making friends than finding a true intellectual peer, which may take considerable sleuthing (or maybe not truly happen until they're an adult).

Depending on your child, their level of giftedness, and where you live, your gifted/2e child may have an easier time if you're able to widen your options.  Some have an easier time by drawing on a huge geographical area or a critical mass of homeschoolers.  Some families are fortunate to live in areas with lots of gifted/2e kids.  Other families may be fortunate to move to those areas where there are lots of gifted/2e kids.  On the other hand, finding peers and making friends in towns or cities without any gifted services in public or private schools may be easier -- since many might turn to homeschool as an alternative educational option.  Then again, as I've mentioned, there are some gifted/2e kids where it might take until adulthood before they find a true intellectual peer.

Seventh, I've based this blog post on finding peers and making friends with a move or with starting to homeschool in a new area in the physical world, as in face-to-face encounters.  Today, Skype, Facetime, social media, and other methods enable gifted/2e kids to find peers and make friends virtually without physically meeting them face-to-face. Gifted Homeschooling Forum (GHF) is a virtual place where a gifted/2e child may find a peer or make a friend.  I've been extremely fortunate that my son has found a peer via GHF; others may have as well.  So it is possible for gifted/2e kids to find peers and make friends in the virtual world in certain settings without the usual geographical constraints of the physical world and not something to discount.

Eighth, keep plugging away until your gifted/2e child finds some peers and makes friends, in the physical and/or virtual worlds.  They may have friends at different groups and/or activities but lack true intellectual peers until adulthood as I've mentioned.  If this is the case, don't give up.   Keep looking and trying different groups, activities, and/or events until you do....

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop - Gifted Children: The Importance of Finding Intellectual Peers and Community.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.

I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

European Union laws require me to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on my blog. In many cases, these laws also require me to obtain consent. 

As a courtesy, I have added a notice on my blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Gifted 2E Kids: The Most Underrepresented

Gifted 2E Kids: The Most Underrepresented

Of the three million students identified as gifted in the United States, a recent NPR article claims, that non-native English speakers or ELL (English language learners) students are by far the most underrepresented.  While it is true that non-native English speakers or ELL students are often underrepresented in gifted programs, the article does not address the issues and difficulties posed for gifted 2e kids.  In fact, there is no mention of them.  For many Gifted 2e parents, the article reinforces the dilemmas with  their local district for their 2e kids and why so many seek out homeschooling as an alternative educational option.

Let's start with what the federal law says.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) requires all U.S. public schools to provide for the special needs for all children, ages three through 21 with disabilities.  Additionally, the American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides safeguards to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination of any kind.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides services to children who may not qualify as disabled under IDEA 2004 but who need additional supports of services.  These federal laws apply to all children regardless of nationality, language spoken, or length of residency; and such children are eligible for these services through the public school system.

In theory this may sound good, but what happens in reality for many gifted 2e parents is much more thorny.  First, a child needs to be identified as having special needs.  This in itself is far from being simple.  My son, who is now 10 years old, was born in New York City with special needs, mainly physical ones.  He qualified for therapy through Early Intervention (a federally mandated program) as a baby.  Once he turned three, however, the medical model of qualifying for services with Early Intervention no longer applied.  An educational model applied instead: my son's potential academic achievement were considered.  Except at age three, it's very hard to assess and predict the future educational trajectory of a child, especially one with special needs and developmental delays.  Even the best psychologists in the country will not administer an IQ (intelligence quotient) test at age three; it's too young for any accuracy.

Cognitive and/or academic aptitude tests, regardless of age, may be given to determine whether a child qualifies for special education or services through a public school system.  Oftentimes, though, such tests are based on a particular age and with low ceilings.  Furthermore, public school officials who administer such tests may not be skilled in assessing a 2e child.  They may have little experience with a child who may be ahead in one aspect but have a deficit in another or one who is not receptive to testing.  In the end, parents may seek out private testing.  But this is often costly.  It's cost prohibitive to those without the financial means or not an option for those without access to private testing in their area.  This only serves to further undermine the hurdles for a 2e parent and child.

What complicates matters further is that special needs can vary widely and be slippery to define and to identify.  A gifted 2e child usually refers to a child who has above average intelligence and one or more disabilities.  But there are exceptions with this definition: some savants such as Kim Peek, for one, who have islands of genius or exceptional abilities despite some severe disabilities.  Disabilities (or weaknesses) for 2e children can run the gamut from autism and deafness to dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Under IDEA 2004, a special needs student is defined as having: "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations."  Again, it sounds great in theory, but in practice the diagnosing of a disability or a recognition of special needs can be complicated and messy.  Many children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphic, and/or dyspraxia are never diagnosed or identified. Or where the line is drawn on who is defined as dyslexic and qualifies for services is often fraught with murkiness.

Moreover inconsistencies and unevenness in performance and abilities are hallmarks of 2e children. They may have delays.  They may be early bloomers with some developments and/or late bloomers with other developments.  Or they may be a mixture of both.  They may be highly verbal or have deficits with language skills.  They may perform or test well one day, but not the next.  They may swing from avoiding situations or experiences to seeking them out.  They may seem out-of-sync with others and have trouble coping with their mixed abilities.

Those who go to school may find their special needs or giftedness fly under the radar or go unnoticed.  A teacher may be aware a child has special needs but a parent might be unaware.  Or the situation may be reversed with a parent suspecting special needs and a teacher not seeing them or being unaware.  A gifted 2e child may fluctuate between highs and lows in a particular day and/or subject.  Some days a 2e child may seem exceptional while other days the special needs may seem particularly glaring.  At times, nothing may seem to fit or work out.  Nothing about them may seem linear or sequential like it may appear in comparison with more neurotypical children.

Worse, behavioral issues can often coexist with exceptional abilities.  A gifted 2e child may find things easy in one area, but struggle or find things impossible in another area.  They may get frustrated, anxious, and depressed from a lack of challenge.  In a school setting, a gifted 2e child may spend a large part of their day just trying to hold themselves together and exert an enormous amount of effort doing so.  They may suddenly explode with little to no warning.  Unwarranted attention for such disruptive behavior and relentless meetings (or phone calls) with school personnel may ensue. Unwittingly, the student's negative behavior may cause a teacher to put blinders on and, counter productively, such negative behavior may outstrip any exceptional abilities the child may have.

To muddy the waters further, gifted education is NOT federally mandated and, as a result, not every state mandates gifted education.  Of the states with gifted programs, approximately six to ten percent of the total student population is considered academically gifted.  But this figure does not include the number of students who are not tested as gifted or failed to be identified as gifted.  It also does not include such states as Massachusetts where a gifted state mandate does not exist or the number of 2e homeschoolers either since the figures are based on data obtained from public school systems.  Of the states with gifted programs, some estimate the 2e population to be around 350,000 or .5%, but this seems woefully low.

In reality, many 2e children are never identified and muddle through school, never reach their potential, or fall through the cracks -- though despite these obstacles, some persevere through dint of hard work.  Take Henry Winkler (an American actor, director, comedian, producer and author). Winkler was born in Manhattan and attended public schools in New York City, but never identified as dyslexic or as a 2e child by either his parents or his teachers.  Though he was bright, he thought he was 'stupid.'  He didn't read a book until he was 31 years old.  Today, however, he's now written 26 books with his Hank Zipzer series and become a spokesman for dyslexia.

Only a handful of schools in the United States offer a curriculum specifically tailored to 2e children. In New York City, which is the biggest city in the US and has the largest public school system in the country, there are very limited options for parents.  Many, such as Winkler, are never identified as having special needs or exceptional abilities.  Other times, children are identified as having special needs or be gifted but not both.  Some gifted schools in New York City may be able to accommodate children on the autism spectrum but not all.  In other cities and states, some public schools offer part-time programs for twice exceptional students, but usually there is more demand than there are slots available.

Increasingly, for these reasons and others, many gifted 2e parents opt to homeschooling rather than grappling with a public school system.  With homeschooling, they can play to a gifted 2e child's strengths.  They can address the social and emotional needs of a gifted 2e child.  They can find support and/or provide scaffolding and guidance. And they can provide one-to-one type tutoring opportunities and technology more effectively and efficiently than any other educational setting.

So what makes a 2e child exceptional?  I think it's those kids like Kim Peek, Henry Winkler, and everyone in between.  And they're by far the most underrepresented.

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop  Gifted 2e Kids: What Makes Them Exceptional.  For more on GHF's blog hop see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.


Friday, February 6, 2015

The Last Journey of a Genius and How Do You Say Gifted?

The Last Journey of a Genius and How Do You Say Gifted?

In 1989 PBS' NOVA aired The Last Journey of a Genius, a television documentary on the final days of the great physicist Richard Feynman.  Today, anyone can google and watch it. 

In the documentary, Richard Feynman talks about becoming a member of the Arista, an honor society, at Far Rockaway High School in New York City.  At the time (early 1930s), everyone wanted to be a member of the Arista, according to Feynman.  However, once Feynman became selected he soon discovered that the group was more concerned about deciding who was to be allowed in the Arista.  He hated intellectual pretense and wanted no part of it.

Feynman wanted to be ordinary: a school psychologist had tested his IQ at 123/5 in the 1930s or within the range of normal.  Feynman once told a friend that he would not be able to join Mensa, an organization who members have IQs in the 150 or higher, since he lacked a high enough qualifying score.

Apart from his IQ score, Richard Feynman was anything but ordinary.  While Feynman's name is often touted about within the physics world, Einstein's iconic status extends far beyond the physics world and the one most commonly named in terms of giftedness.  And yet, most (who are knowledgeable about Feynman and Einstein or other geniuses) would put Feynman in the category of giftedness and even the rarified category of' true' genius.

The similarities between Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein are staggering and worth noting:
both became famous, award-winning physicists.  Both were awarded Nobel Prizes.  Both looked for the simplest solution to a problem.

Both Feynman and Einstein beat to a different drum.  Both were late talkers and not always hard working, high achieving students.  Both had an insatiable curiosity and were highly creative.  Both were divergent rather than convergent thinkers.  Both cherished the process of exploring and investigating questions rather than the end result.  Both were physically and socially awkward.  Both had married and then divorced; though Feynman's first wife died of tuberculosis and he stayed married to his third wife for more than twenty-five years.

Ironically, today the term 'little Einstein' has been co-opted.  Too often, it is usually refers to a bright, eager child with a high IQ who perhaps learns how to read at or before age 2 and then performs other amazing physical and cognitive feats at an early.  Quite the opposite of Einstein's own upbringing in many ways, yet the pundits and talking heads persist in co-opting his name.  The title of the headline Little Einstein! Girl, 3, Mensa's Youngest Member says it all.  

Today such 'little Einsteins' are never considered 'little Feynmans.'  Often, there's no discussion how giftedness may be more than a high IQ or a qualifying score with Mensa or pertain to a set of characteristics and neurological condition.  There's also usually nothing about how Einstein or other gifted people do not share the same precocious or physical, mental, social and emotional developments and, in fact, many gifted people have special needs and developmental delays.  And there's often no discussion or consideration how much a disservice this association does for the betterment of society or the child either.

Intelligence scores speak for one piece of the puzzle, but they do not speak for all.  Otherwise, Feynman and many others would have a higher IQ score than they did or do.

Perhaps we should re-assess how we say giftedness.  Perhaps we should accept that there are Feynmans in the world and that there are more definitions and ways to be gifted than being identified through IQ testing.

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop How Do You Say Giftedness.  For more of GHF's blog hops, see http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.