On Giftedness

For many of us (including me) who have no clue about “giftedness,” parenting a gifted child becomes more complicated than it is. As one of the gifted moms put it, “they’re like eggs, ready to crack at any minute.”

E was diagnosed to be highly gifted at age 5 by Dr. David Palmer, a  Licensed Educational Psychologist at his office in Laguna Beach, California. Using the WISC IV, his full IQ score is 145. He is an early talker yet he didn’t start walking until 13 months. It was difficult raising him because he has severe eczema and multiple allergies – soy, wheat, seafood, fish, nuts and what have you!  Constant visits to his allergist instead of his pediatrician is nothing but normal to us.  Introducing baby foods early on was also a challenge because he broke out in hives, triggered his eczema and started the scratch-itch cycle. I remember swaddling  him to sleep up to 1 year and using mittens or he’ll wake up with a bloody bed sheet.   We are always worried about his daily use of topical steroids, various skin creams and anti-histamines, yet they are what we call the “necessary evil”. We tried a lot of natural products under the sun  but nothing really work except Hydrocortisone and plain old Vaseline. But E was a big, happy baby.  He is easy to please and loves constant activities and stimulation.

When he was 2, we enrolled him in Montessori school so I can work full time.  He had a hard time adjusting at first but eventually love going to school everyday.  It was there that the Directress noticed something special about him and during our Parent Teacher meeting, told us that E was showing early signs of giftedness. She cited examples like fixation with animals, ability to remember facts and figures and long attention span. At age 3,   he was putting three letter words and knows the solar system and dinosaurs. He thrived in that school and was academically challenged.  Unfortunately, we were faced with financial difficulty so we had no choice but  to take him out,  did part homeschooling and going to a much cheaper Developmental preschool. There, he developed  creativity and free thinking, although his social skills need more refinement. Because of his shyness and fall birthday, we decided to enroll him in junior K to give him the gift of time, although he was already a confident reader that summer at 4.6 years old. Two weeks into junior K, the teacher recommended that we should pull him out and enroll in Kindergarten.  She feels that he should be in a class where he is challenged and engaged.  So we had to start looking for another school that month when most parents and kids are already starting to settle in with their new school.  This is when Mike and I decided to also look for Educational psychologist and do IQ testing so we can do a better educational planning for him. We are also worried about his hyperactivity and one question that always haunts us is … what if he has ADHD?

When we got the IQ test result, we were surprised that he is considered to be highly gifted. At the same same, we were relieved to know that he doesn’t have ADHD or any learning difficulties.  Dr. Palmer wrote an educational plan and recommended a list of activities and organizations E can get involved in.  He also gave us a copy of his book called, Parents’ Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education, (the only book written specifically for parents who need to understand gifted testing and gifted programming so that they can make informed decisions for their children, http://www.parentguidebooks.com). He has given us answers to questions that we have always wondered but are afraid to ask. This is the beginning of our journey to parenting a gifted child, a very complicated process, but knowing these facts help us to be more patient, creative and flexible. Now we know why he’s wired differently, why he needs constant mental stimulation both in and outside the classroom, why he has emotional outbursts, perfectionist, impatient and easily gets bored,  why at age 4 sat down in the dining table and memorized the 44 presidents  in 15 minutes, why he is passionate about animals, why he talks about death and has vivid imagination about what happened in the past, why he loves the company of older kids, so many whys to answer… But one thing for sure, we are dealing with a boy who has different needs than most kids we know.

When I read articles about giftedness, I can’t help but smile when parents share experiences about their gifted kids.  When faced with overwhelming responsibility on how to advocate for him, it is good to know that there are also parents out there who are walking in our shoes.  We are not alone.  We don’t know what the future holds, but right now, he needs our unconditional love, he needs to be busy, to be engaged in activities that he is passionate for, to have opportunity to develop his interests and abilities, to be with his mental mates.  Because thats where he thrived — and boredom is the enemy!

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