As a toddler, he was speaking in full sentences and counting to 20.
At three, he could associate words with every letter of the alphabet, put together a puzzle of the United States (with each piece in the shape of a state), and write his and other family members’ names.
Bedtime conversations when he was four weren’t about dinosaurs or Curious George, but why bad things happen in the world and what happens when we die.
His Parents as Teachers evaluations always had him in the 99th percentile.
In kindergarten he frequently got in trouble for talking. His disruptions generally occurred during desk work that he was the first to finish. He’d draw pictures on the back of his paper and still finish before his classmates. We eventually had to send 2nd grade workbooks to school to keep him occupied in those moments.
So we knew our oldest son was smart very early on.
I was even certain he was gifted, knowing that I am on the gifted spectrum (statistics show that children are within 10 IQ points of their parents). So I asked his kindergarten teacher what she thought about having him evaluated for the pullout program in our district. She smiled slyly and told me she had already sent in a teacher referral.
It took several months because they didn’t prioritize kindergarteners, but eventually the evaluation process for him began, but it also took a couple of months for completion. First, a 15 minute mini-evaluation was conducted in the hallway to get an idea of whether he should have the official evaluation. Weeks went by and we heard nothing. Finally, a 30 minute version of WISC done at the gifted center was conducted before the end of the school year.
A week later we received a letter. At the time, the requirement to get into the one-day-a-week pullout program here was an IQ of 125 based solely upon the specific evaluation done at the center by specific staff. I expected that he would just get by, with a number in the 126-130 range. When I read his evaluation results, however, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
To put that in perspective, my husband kindly pointed out that Einstein was suspected to have an IQ of 160 (he was never officially evaluated, of course).
Someone may be reading this right now and rolling your eyes at my bragging post. But that couldn’t be further from my intention. My goal here is to share the struggles that come along with being and parenting a gifted child. To say that your child is gifted is not elitist. To say I’m gifted is not bragging — but a statement of fact. I was deemed gifted as a child… it’s not something you outgrow or that goes away with age. Yes, IQ is a number, but it measures the capacity to learn.
And, boy, does our son have capacity to learn. He taught himself multiplication in first grade, proclaiming that it just made sense to condense addition that way (i.e. 3+3+3=9 is the same as saying 3×3=9 and that’s way easier!). He researches and educates — that’s his M.O. with everyone he meets.
What that number doesn’t measure, however, are the struggles that come with this unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Such as social awkwardness (even the more “normal” guys on The Big Bang Theory are socially awkward). Overexcitabilites can make processing the world around us exceedingly difficult (more on that later). Less than a year after realizing our son was indeed gifted, he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (more on that later too). Perfectionism can actually be completely debilitating, even to the point of refusing to do something entirely for fear of — not failure — but of simply achieving status quo.
We’ve journeyed through all of this and more in just over three years. And now our youngest, who is also on the gifted spectrum, is struggling through these things as well. He was recently diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder — a common struggle for gifted individuals who often process the world more “vibrantly” than their peers.
So, to those of you that are parenting these wondrously gifted children, know that you’re not alone. Advocating for these children is a necessity, and has become one of my passions. I know it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And I’ll walk along beside you if you’ll let me, sharing our journey and all my research. With a goal of helping you and your kids to #LiveAbundantly as gifted individuals.
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