What does being gifted really mean?

What does being gifted really mean?

What does being gifted really mean?

A few years ago a friend said to me, ‘you know your son is gifted, right?’.

Errr, no, I did not.

If you’re like me, you’d probably never even heard of it before so it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder what is it to be gifted?

What does gifted mean?

Is gifted just high IQ?

Well, no, nope, nuh-uh.

Gifted is being neuro-diverse or neurologically a-typical (which means your brain is wired differently to the majority of other people) and a part of that diversity is expressed as…

  • learning quickly,
  • knowing intuitively,
  • being highly sensitive emotionally,
  • having highly sensitive senses, like as in our five senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell,
  • being very energetic, intense and often not sleeping well,
  • advanced reasoning and puzzle skills,
  • advanced in reaching developmental milestones like crawling, walking and sitting early,
  • a good memory, and
  • being very curious!

…. which means most gifted folk score highly in IQ tests and giftedness is accepted as being in the top 10% of IQ and to be highly or profoundly gifted is to test in the 98th percentile and higher.

Which is to say that your IQ tests higher than 98 percent of people your age.

So do you have to score highly on an IQ test to be gifted??

Errr, yes and no.

Giftedness results in scoring highly on an IQ test BUT taking a test is fallible and being gifted is more than about just having high IQ.

Maybe you have ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety about taking tests, you’re autistic, feeling sick, or you’re disengaged and your test results don’t reflect your true potential.

Yes you can be gifted and have learning challenges.

We’ve personally experienced one of our kids getting a 44 and 56 point difference in subtests between two different IQ tests just because they didn’t feel well that day. That’s a HUGE difference!

An IQ test can’t be fluked but it can underestimate a person’s intelligence for a whole bunch of reasons (including cultural background).

At the moment an IQ test is the most common way of identifying giftedness but there are ways of identifying giftedness without IQ tests, they are just less common and aren’t the current generally accepted way. Maybe that will change in the future.

So does that mean it’s all about IQ?

Nope. Giftedness goes hand in hand with…

  • experiencing the world through emotion and empathy,
  • being highly sensitive,
  • having a keen sense of social justice,
  • finding it difficult to fit in, and
  • asynchronous development.

These things can be hard.

It can be difficult to fathom that other people experience the world differently to us.

We all assume that the way we see the world and feel the world and exist in the world is the same for everyone else.

But we know that a person’s experience of the world can be different due to their gender, race, culture or sexuality. We are also starting to understand that a person’s neuro diversity changes the way they experience the world, like if you have ADHD or are autistic.

Giftedness is neurodiversity.

So in the same way, gifted folk experience the world differently.

It’s important as a parent and teacher to understand this because then we can start to understand that this child or that gifted adult is having a quantifiably different lived experience to what is considered typical.

And that is what we need to accommodate in our parenting and teaching.

This is a great definition that is a bit of a mouthful but expands on what we’ve been talking about…

 Columbus Group definition of giftedness:

“Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counselling in order for them to develop optimally.”

So what does being gifted really mean?

It means you have a different lived experience of the world and the better we understand this, the more able we are to know ourselves, our kids, our students and provide those absolutely essential modifications.

How do I find the right therapist for my gifted kid?

How do I find the right therapist for my gifted kid?

I feel so drained right now.

I just finished interviewing a new psychologist for my kids and retelling the past few years has sapped me of all my energy. It’s so hard carrying the mental load of everyone’s appointments, challenges, struggles, wins and issues.

I’m at my mums eating ice-cream and drinking coffee, it’s not pretty.

I don’t know about you but I have clocked up enormous hours in speech therapist, occupational therapists, psychologists, and many other therapists offices since becoming a mum (not to mention the hours of driving!).

It’s the mental load and just when I think, maybe it’s nothing, let it go Soph, they are ok, no-one else thinks something is wrong, I remember all the times I was right, which was like, ALL the times and I can’t let it go, so off we trundle to go get answers. 🤦🏽‍♀️

I freaking hate being right. It’s exhausting.

With three very different kids going through a variety of stages and phases and challenges, there always seems to be a piece of the puzzle we still have to figure out.

So this is what I want you to know, from what I have learnt:

Research actually confirms that parents are the best identifier of their child’s giftedness. That’s because we have parental intuition and we know our kids.
It’s not only ok, but it is essential that you interview your therapists.

What does that look like? 🤷🏼‍♀️

It just means, go to the first appointment by yourself and talk to the therapist.

If you don’t walk out of there feeling like they get you, they get your kid, they get gifted and they have what it takes to help, then keep on walking. 🚶🏼‍♀️

On the way there, ironically, I was listening to Brene Brown interview Abbey Wambach about her book the Wolfpack (now on my wish list!).

They were talking about how women have been taught to follow the path, be grateful and meek.

Abbey was contesting this culture and talking about the bravery of stepping off the path, being grateful but asking for what you are worth and holding your space.

As parents of gifted kids, we are not on the the path we’re way off in the scrub with a machete making our own way and occasionally bump into another parent of a gifted kid in the odd clearing that we ungraciously fall, in a heap, into.

I am incredibly grateful for the wise and insightful professionals that I have in my kids lives that have worked with us as a team and helped guide our kids in overcoming so much. I am so grateful. 🙏🏼❤️

BUT. I also know that I wont settle for less. My kids deserve that and I will not engage someone who doesn’t respect and understand them and their quirks and sensitivities. If you don’t get gifted you are not for us.

And I’ve heard some horror stories about the ways in which, no doubt well meaning professionals, have misunderstood our gifted kids and made the situation worse.

I have gotten use to existing in the uncomfortable space of being that parent and I don’t care what other people think of me. Not any more.

I have seen my gut instincts proven right time and again and I have seen my kids grow, given the right support and nurturing.

So, know that it’s not you. It’s ok to want and demand more and shop around.

Thankfully, I was lucky today. It is hard to find these people.

You might ask yourself, how do I know, what do I do?

Ask for referrals from other parents of gifted kids.
Watch how the therapist reacts when you say your child is gifted.
Ask them if they have gifted clients. Yes, you can ask that!
Do they understand that our kids are super sensitive and harsh old school discipline styles don’t work.
Do they understand that your kid may know more than them on certain topics. How are they likely to react to that?
They don’t always know better than you. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right.
Did you walk out feeling comforted? Understood?

It’s hard to think about the money and walk out knowing you’re going to have to spend more to find another therapist but the right therapist will help the situation far more quickly and cost you less in therapy in the long run.

I’ve got to go wipe the ice-cream off my face and get the kids from school but I’m now all sugared up and caffeinated so watch out world! Good luck!

How knowing my gifted kids’ level of giftedness helps me parent.

How knowing my gifted kids’ level of giftedness helps me parent.

One of my points from last week’s blog was that if you’re gifted then you’re 2E.

It’s a little controversial to look at giftedness that way; that’s not how it’s seen in the broader community. But then the broader community generally doesn’t realise that giftedness is not all straight A’s and academic awards, it’s often confused for just high achievement.

My point is that the challenges of giftedness are rarely adequately recognised or supported.

I usually refrain from all or nothing type statements because the world is so much more complex than that. Blanket statements like this can never cover all the nuances of giftedness; if you’ve seen one gifted kid, then you’ve seen one gifted kid.

They are all so different.

However, understanding the ‘levels’ of giftedness can help us understand our kids.

BUT, again, it’s important to say, you’ve gotta take everything with a grain of salt and ask yourself, how does this help me parent before you get bogged down in the details.

Although reading and other traits come up often in identifying a gifted child, and the lists that follow are very descriptive, not all gifted, highly or profoundly gifted kids read before school. So, don’t think, my child didn’t read therefore they aren’t moderately/highly/profoundly gifted.

And to be honest, I often look at lists and think, I don’t know!? Seriously, I was knee deep in toddlers and babies and sleep deprivation and trying to find something they would eat and the right coloured plate, I don’t remember the first time they showed interest in a book, is that just me?!

…and IQ tests… are not perfect.

They are a result of how your child performed on one day, constructed within norms of a white western culture. They are the best indication we have and can be extremely useful, but it is important that an experienced psychologist is able to interpret your child and the test scores and we see them for what they are.

Also, if you search the web, you’ll notice that there are different interpretations of IQ scores and levels of giftedness. Go search ‘genius’ and you’ll see what I mean.

So, I think of this information more of a guide and I ask myself, how is this useful to my parenting?

I do think that understanding ‘levels’ is useful and may help understand the degree of accommodation that your child may need in both parenting and education (or just life in general!).

It may help to understand that if your child is fitting into some of the profoundly gifted traits then they are going to need significant accommodation in education, however if they are fitting into the moderate level then a good, engaged school with a gifted program may be everything your child needs to thrive.

No level is better than another level, the world is so competitive, let’s not compete here.

The levels should be seen as descriptors. If your child is moderately gifted, don’t be tempted to think they are only level 1, moderately gifted.

Remember, all children are gifts!

Don’t take that away from them, they are very intelligent and bravo! you probably have a lot more choices of educational options than a child who is level 5, profoundly gifted.

Being profoundly gifted is a challenge, these kids (one in 25,000- 250,000), like all our kids, are treasures but life isn’t easy.

It’s not something I would wish on someone; it can be hard not fitting into a world made for the middle and profoundly gifted kids are one of the furthest extremes (the other extreme being severe/profound intellectual disability).

They are so different from their same aged peers. That’s hard. They need extra care to help them thrive and live a life that helps them shine. Dr Ruf says, frequently one parent must postpone their career to advocate for their level 5 child’s education.[i]

It’s not a competition, we just want them all to do their best.

This is all about helping you figure out how best to support your child, so don’t get too caught up in the numbers or details, take from it what is useful to you.

Ok, so let’s crack on, what are the ‘levels’ of giftedness?

The ‘levels’ were created by Dr Deborah Ruf and her research which led her to discovering five distinct levels of giftedness:

Levels of Giftedness[ii]

Level One — Ability Score (IQ) 117–129 — Moderately Gifted 120–124 to Gifted 125–129

Level Two — Ability Score (IQ) 125–135 — Highly Gifted

Level Three —Ability Score (IQ) 130–140 — Highly to Exceptionally Gifted

Level Four — Ability Score (IQ) — 135- 141+ — Exceptionally to Profoundly Gifted

Level Five —Ability Score (IQ) — 145+ — Exceptionally to Profoundly Gifted

That doesn’t tell us a whole lot, here are the levels in a lot more detail, taken from an online article by Dr Ruf. I’ve complied quite a long list from that article because I think it helps to have a number of descriptors to look at.

Level 1
  • Approximately 87th-97th percentiles on standardized tests
  • Terms Superior* to Moderately Gifted on IQ tests
  • IQ scores[1] of about 117 to 129
  • Generally top one-third to one-fourth of students in a typical public mixed-ability class
  • Many in this Level don’t qualify for gifted programs (scores don’t meet school criteria)
  • Predominate gifted program population due to higher frequency compared to Levels Two through Five
  • Start kindergarten with end-of-year skills already mastered
  • Many recognized colors and could rote count before age two.
  • Most knew and said many words before 18 months.
  • Many liked puzzles before age two.
  • Sat still and attended to TV by 18 to 30 months.
  • Real counting, most letters and colors by age three.
  • Complex speaking and extensive vocabulary by age three.
  • Recognized simple signs, own written name, and most knew alphabet by age four.
  • Most did simple addition and subtraction by age four.
  • Most showed interest in learning to read before age five.
  • All read simple signs and most read beginner books by age six.
  • Most were independent on computer and started to keyboard by age six.
  • Most fully grasped counting and basic number facts by age six.
  • All were reading and were two to three years beyond grade level by age seven.
  • All could read chapter books independently by age seven to seven and a half.
  • Many showing impatience with repetition and slow pace at school by age seven or eight.
  • Children of Level One can easily go to college, can benefit from accelerated coursework, and are often, but not necessarily, good and cooperative students.
Level 2
  • Mostly 98–99th percentiles on standardized tests
  • Terms Moderately to Highly Gifted or Very Advanced on IQ tests
  • IQ scores of about 125–135
  • As many as one to three in typical mixed-ability classroom
  • Qualify for gifted programs
  • Second most common in gifted programs
  • Master most kindergarten skills one to two years before kindergarten (by age 4)
  • Almost all the children understood adult directives and questions at 6 to 12 months.
  • The majority independently looked at and turned pages of books by 11–15 months.
  • About half the children said two-word phrases by 15 months.
  • A number of children played with shape sorters by 15 months.
  • Most knew many letters at 15–18 months.
  • Most knew most colors by 15–20 months.
  • Many liked puzzles by 12 to 15 months (8–10 piece puzzles).
  • Most knew and called out names on signs and stores between 11 and 16 months.
  • Several “read” numerous sight words at 16–24 months.
  • Almost all were speaking in three-word and longer sentences by age two.
  • Many recognized and picked out specific numbers by 12–22 months.
  • About 25% knew the entire alphabet by 17–24 months.
  • Most did one-to-one counting for small quantities by age 3.
  • Most knew most letters and colors by age three.
  • Most had extensive vocabularies and did complex speaking by age three.
  • Many could print letters, numbers, words, and their names between 3 and 4 years.
  • Several had high interest in facts, how things work, and science by 3½ to 4½.
  • Most knew many sight words by age 4.
  • Several read easy readers by age 4.
  • Most were independent on computer by age 4½.
  • Most fully grasped counting and basic number facts by age five.
  • Many showed intuitive grasp of number concepts by age five.
  • Most enjoyed having advanced level books and stories read to them by age five.
  • Most read easy reader books before age five, nearly all by 5½.
  • Most read for pleasure and information by six.
  • All read two to five years beyond grade level by age 7.
  • All read chapter books independently by age 7–7½.
  • Many showed impatience with repetition and slow pace at school by age 6–7.
  • Level Two children have the ability to do accelerated coursework almost from the time they enter school, take advanced placement courses and hold leadership positions, are capable of getting into competitive colleges and universities, and often go on to some form of graduate school. Although many Level Two children are excellent students, a number of them may resist typical school expectations and achieve less than they are capable of achieving due to the discrepancy between their learning ability and that of the majority of their same-age classmates. They may prefer to “fit in,” or they may conclude that the work is simply wrong for them and refuse to comply with what they see as “stupid” expectations.
Level 3
  • Approximately 98–99th percentiles on standardized tests
  • Terms Highly to Exceptionally Gifted or Very Advanced on IQ tests
  • IQ scores of about 130 to 140
  • One or two per grade level, more in high socioeconomic schools
  • Qualify for gifted programs — above level of most other participants and material
  • Unless gifted program includes more than one grade level, student may be only one of same ability in gifted class
  • Master majority of kindergarten skills by age 3 or 4
  • Question Santa or Tooth Fairy by age 3 to 5
  • Most spontaneously read with or w/o previous instruction before kindergarten
  • Most read simple chapter books by age 5–6
  • Most intuitively use numbers for all operations before kindergarten
  • Most were alert at birth or soon thereafter.
  • Most had books as a favorite interest before age one.
  • Almost all understood what someone was talking about by 6 months.
  • Most independently looked at and turned pages of books before 10 months.
  • Most made their families understand what they wanted before 12 months.
  • Most had large vocabularies, receptive and expressive, by 16 months.
  • A number of children played with shape sorters by 11 months.
  • Many recognized some colors, shapes, numbers and letters before 12 months.
  • Many recognized and picked out specific numbers and letters by 12–15 months.
  • Most knew many colors by 15–18 months.
  • Many liked puzzles by 15 to 24 months (35+ piece puzzles).
  • Most “read” names on signs and stores from between 20 months and 3¾ years.
  • Many children “read” numerous sight words between 15 and 20 months.
  • Many memorized the books that were read to them before they were two years old.
  • Many showed interest in letter sounds and sounding out short words by age 2½.
  • Most were speaking in complex sentences, more than four words, by 15 to 24 months.
  • Many could rote count to 10, many higher, by 15 to 24 months.
  • Almost all knew the entire alphabet by 17–24 months.
  • Most could print letters, numbers, words, and their names between 2¾ and 3½ years.
  • Many had high interest in factual information, how things work, science, by 3 to 4.
  • Most knew many sight words by age 3–3½.
  • Half could read very simple books — perhaps memorized — by age 3–3½.
  • Most grasp skip counting, backwards, basic addition and subtraction, by 3 to 4 years.
  • Many keyboarding — typing — by 3 to 4½ years.
  • Most could read easy readers by age 4 to 5 years.
  • Many questioned the reality of Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy by 3 to 5 years.
  • Most read children’s-level chapter books by 4¼ to 5½ years.
  • Many understood some multiplication, division and some fractions to 5½.
  • Most read for pleasure and information by six.
  • All were reading two to five years beyond grade level by age six.
  • All could read youth and young adult chapter books independently by age 7–7½.
  • Level Three children are capable of achieving in any career field. Opportunity and their own inner drive will determine which individuals eventually achieve at the highest levels.
Level 4
  • Primarily 99th percentile on standardized tests, although this understates the person’s ability; it is qualitatively different from a Level Three 99th percentile.
  • Also called exceptionally to profoundly gifted
  • Full scale IQ scores of about 135 to 141+ or a 145+ on either verbal or nonverbal or a specific domain, e.g. fluid or quantitative reasoning
  • One or two across two grade levels; two or three per grade level in high socioeconomic schools (e.g., 100 students in grade level)
  • Majority of kindergarten skills by age 3
  • Question such concepts as Santa or Tooth Fairy by age 3 to 4
  • Majority at 2nd-3rd grade equivalency in academic subjects by early kindergarten
  • Majority at upper high school grade equivalencies by 4th-5th grades
  • Show concern for existential topics and life’s purpose by early elementary school age
  • Almost all paid attention within months of birth while someone to read to them.
  • Books were a favorite interest before three or four months.
  • Almost all understood parental directives by 6 months.
  • Most knew and said some words by 5½ to 9 months.
  • Many had large vocabularies, receptive and expressive, by 14 months.
  • Many recognized and picked out specific numbers and letters by 12–15 months.
  • Most knew many colors by 15–18 months.
  • Many liked puzzles by 15 to 36 months (35+ piece puzzles).
  • Many “read” numerous sight words between 15 and 20 months.
  • Almost all knew the entire alphabet by 15–22 months.
  • Most “read” names on signs and stores from between 20 months and 3¾ years.
  • Many memorized the books that were read to them before they were 2 years old.
  • Many showed interest in letter sounds and sounding out short words by age 2½.
  • Most were speaking in complex sentences, more than four words, by 15 to 24 months.
  • Many could rote count to 10, many higher, by 13 to 20 months.
  • Most printed letters, numbers, words, and their names between 2¾ and 3½ years.
  • Many had high interest in factual information, how things work, science, by 3 to 4.
  • Most knew many sight words by age 3–3½.
  • Most grasp skip counting, backwards, addition, subtraction, more and less, by 3 to 4 years.
  • Most were independent on computer by age 3 to 4½ years, most keyboarding by five.
  • Most read easy readers by age 3½ to 4½ years.
  • Many question the reality of Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy by 3 to 4 years.
  • Many understand some multiplication, division and some fractions by 5.
  • Most read for pleasure and information by five.
  • All read two to five years beyond grade level by age six.
  • All read youth and adult chapter books independently by age 6–6½.
  • Most Level Four children were capable of finishing all academic coursework through 8th grade before they reach 3rd or 4th grade, but few of them had the opportunity; this does not include handwriting, organizational skills, or thesis writing, which takes time and maturity to master no matter how gifted the child. Also, girls are — on average — one to one-and-a-half years ahead of boys in verbal skills and writing until about the middle of elementary school due to differences in brain development between the sexes. If the environment, inner drive, and general opportunities are right for them, Level Four children are capable of performing at the highest levels in their areas and fields of interest.
Level 5
  • Primarily 99.9th percentiles on standardized tests, if such differentiation is reported
  • Profoundly gifted range or Highly Advanced on IQ tests
  • Full scale and domain scores at 145+ (slightly lower if tested after mid-teenage years)
  • High intellectual profile across all ability domains, great inner drive to learn across domains (although not necessarily demonstrated in the regular classroom)
  • Nationally at least 1:250,000, a higher proportion in metropolitan areas and high socioeconomic background schools
  • Majority have kindergarten skills by about 2½ years or sooner
  • Question concept of Santa or Tooth Fairy by age 2 to 3
  • Majority spontaneously read, understand fairly complex math, have existential concerns by age 4–5 with or without any instruction
  • Majority have high school level grade equivalencies by age 7 or 8 years old, mostly through their own reading and question asking
  • All were alert at birth or soon thereafter.
  • Books were a favorite interest of most before three or four months.
  • All appeared to understand parental directives between birth and four months.
  • The majority independently looked at and turned pages of books before 6 months.
  • Most knew and said some words by 5½ to 9 months.
  • All had large receptive vocabularies by 8–9 months.
  • Half spoke well before age one.
  • All spoke at near-adult level complexity by age two.
  • Most played with shape sorters before 11 months.
  • Many recognized and picked out specific numbers and letters by 10 -14 months.
  • All knew colors, numbers, the alphabet and shapes by about 15 months.
  • Most were good at puzzles before 12 months, 35+ piece puzzles by 15 months.
  • All showed musical aptitude before 18 months.
  • All “read” words on signs and simple books and labels before two years.
  • Many read numerous sight words by 15 months.
  • All memorized books read to them before 20 months.
  • All had favorite TV shows or videos before 6–8 months.
  • Many could rote count to 10, many higher, by 13 to 20 months.
  • Most could print letters, numbers, words, and their names between 16 and 24 months.
  • High interest in factual information, how things work, science, by two years.
  • Most read simple books, “board” books, by age 18–24 months.
  • Most grasp skip counting, backwards, addition, subtraction, more or less, by two years.
  • All were independent on computer by age two years, all keyboarding before three.
  • All read children’s chapter books by age 3½ to 4½ years.
  • All showed interest in pure facts, almanacs, dictionaries, etc. by age 3½.
  • All question the reality of Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy by 3 or 4 years.
  • All read any level fiction and nonfiction by 4¼ to 5 years.
  • All understand abstract math concepts and basic math functions before age four.
  • All played adult level games — ages 12 and up — by the time they were 3½ to 4.
  • All read six or more years beyond grade level by age six.

There is more information on the levels in this article by Dr Munson and this article, by Dr Ruf, also looks at the levels and how personality impacts educational needs.

Dr Ruf has also written books including 5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options.

Let me know if this was helpful in our Facebook Group.

References

[1] https://eleanormunsonphd.com/2011/01/the-five-levels-of-giftedness/

[11] https://deborahruf.medium.com/ruf-estimates-of-levels-of-giftedness-7213a77089e9

[111] https://deborahruf.medium.com/ruf-estimates-of-levels-of-giftedness-7213a77089e9

https://www.davidsongifted.org/search-database/entry/a10480

Gifted kids don’t have learning challenges – wrong!

Gifted kids don’t have learning challenges – wrong!

Ok, so last week we talked a bit about what is gifted… and we agreed that question is a big can of worms!

One of the prevailing myths is that gifted kids do not need help, they succeed at everything and never run into trouble.

Well, that already sounds like rubbish, do you know ANYONE in life, regardless of how intelligent they are that has NO problems, EVER? 🤨🤔

I don’t.

The truth is that gifted kids have plenty of challenges and if you are a parent of a gifted kid, I know you feel that already!

Gifted kids experience the world differently, just as you might imagine other neurologically diverse (ADHD, autism, and Asperger’s) kids do.

Giftedness is a part of their identity and how they experience the world.

Also, many gifted kids are neurologically diverse in more than one way with giftedness often mistaken for, and experienced with, ADHD or autism.

Gifted kids who also have a learning challenge or are neurologically diverse in other ways are referred to as 2E or twice (or multi) exceptional.

It means that one exceptionality is their giftedness (exceptionally high potential) and the other exceptionality is seen as their learning/living challenge (exceptionally hard and atypical) such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, speech delays, ADHD, Autism… it can be many things.

This label, like most labels, provides a common language or understanding.

However, 🤔 what troubles me about it is:

1) giftedness is seen as the positive exceptionality (and as parents of gifted kids, we know all too well it is not all sunshine and lolly pops for our highly sensitive kids but there is no diagnosis/acknowledgment for the challenges of the emotional turmoil and sensory repercussions of ‘just being gifted‘)

2) it sees other exceptionalities as solely negative (when there are strengths we should also focus on as well and these aspects of their identity are as much a part of our kids as their giftedness. We often look at deficits first but what if we look at strengths?)

I think the truth is that if you’re gifted, you’re 2E. 😲 Yup.

All those gifted characteristics that make it hard to fit into the norm, that make anxiety, depression and existential crisis common, that make life that little bit more challenging make you 2E.

Being ‘just gifted’ isn’t a thing. You can’t be gifted and not be intense, highly sensitive, (insert all the characteristics we talked about last week in here!) because that’s what makes gifted, gifted.

But we’ve needed 2E to advocate for all of those kids that have been overshadowed by their ‘deficit’ such that the grown-ups around them have struggled to see the giftedness. 😓

We’ve needed 2E so that we have a language that says, I experience the world in an exceptional, gifted, way and yes, ADHD, dysgraphia, anxiety, speech challenges, autism is another part of my identity.

First, I discovered my kids were gifted and then much later I realised one of my children was 2E and then possibly both (we’re still figuring that out 😧 – giftedness and autism are feeling like two sides of the same coin right now– it’s a journey, right?! and a whole other blog!).

I’ve talked about my middle child’s severe speech impairment, which has most definitely been a challenge, and at first, I didn’t realise that this would be considered 2E, but 2E encompasses many and all learning/life challenges and disabilities.

However, the nuance is that my child has received a great gift from her speech challenge.

She had to learn how to talk and she had to practice a lot!

In doing that she developed a growth mindset and we’ve seen her apply this resilience and determination to learning all sorts of things, it’s now ingrained in her character and will serve her well in life. It’s a part of her identity.

Many other ‘deficits’ have strengths too. 💪

The world is also, slowly, shifting to understand and appreciate the strengths and what folk on the autism spectrum can uniquely offer with some forward-thinking companies seeking to work with and understand their autistic employees because they know how valuable they are. Their unique perspective of the world is valuable, rare and a huge strength.

It is important that 2E kids (and all gifted kids) are advocated for and understood.

They need the understanding to support their challenges (be that from giftedness or their learning/life challenge or disability) while getting the opportunities to thrive and shine (expanding the strengths from their giftedness and from their ‘deficit’) so that the world can benefit from the unique perspective of these would-be happy, exceptional, grown-ups.

Giftedness is complicated and when you throw other complications into the mix, life and parenting can be very challenging, but you are not alone.

There is an immense sense of inner calm that comes from understanding yourself and/or your children (because they are mirrors of us, maybe more about that next week?!).

Maybe you’d like to share your journey or thoughts in our Facebook Group.

I thought, help, What IS Gifted?

I thought, help, What IS Gifted?

What is gifted?

Just a three-word question, but I guarantee you it will be a far more complicated answer.

Academics have over 140 different definitions of giftedness.

What does that tell us?

There are some things that are generally agreed upon though.

Firstly, that you can be gifted in different ways: intellectually, creatively, academically, artistically, and gifted in leadership.

Also, that gifted kids seem to have a number of common traits.

Not all gifted kids have all traits, and your gifted kid might not have many, but these key characteristics can be helpful in spotting a gifted kid.

Here are a few gifted characteristics:

  • learning quickly – might be an early reader
  • highly sensitive – sensory/ emotional/ anxiety/ empathy
  • good memory
  • strong sense of social justice
  • big vocabulary – early talker
  • hit physical milestones early (like sitting/ crawling/walking)
  • very energetic and difficulty sleeping
  • advanced reasoning and puzzle skills
  • very curious… lots of asking why!

Gifted kids might be getting straight A’s and coasting through school but are as likely, and possibly more likely to be underachieving, disengaging, and generally struggling to fit in with school.

Why is that when they have so much potential?

As we said before, gifted kids experience the world differently and that needs to be understood in their home and educational environment.

They will most likely have certain strengths that need enrichment or acceleration, and they may have areas that need additional support.

It’s a myth that gifted kids are good at everything.

Gifted kids are asynchronous.

What’s that?

Well, a typical child at school will most likely be in tune with the vast majority of their same-aged peers.

For example, a grade 4 student will be thriving learning grade 4 maths, English, and science. Some of their peers might find things hard here and there or excel but generally, the grade 4 curriculum meets their needs.

A gifted kid is out of whack with their same-age peers. Their level of giftedness tends to exacerbate this.

A gifted kid in grade 4 with other students their same age might be ok in grade 4 English but might be capable of grade 7 science and grade 6 maths, they might struggle with dyslexia and need support for reading.

That is asynchronous.

It means they are all over the place, sometimes gifted kids are capable of more advanced grades for all subjects but more often, each subject will be different depending on their strengths and in how they express their giftedness and their level of giftedness.

The important thing to note is that the kids getting all A’s are as likely to be kids who are highly intelligent but operating in the correct grade 4 curriculum as gifted kids who are capable of higher grades but performing well in their age-based class because they’ve learned to mask or confirm, or might be people pleasers.

Many gifted kids (even the high performing people pleasers) are as likely to become bored, disengaged, and possibly have mental health issues or behavioural issues if they can’t access education at their stage (not age).

And when I say bored, I don’t mean it’s the summer holidays, ‘mum, I’m bored!”.

I mean, just soul-destroying, I can’t exist in this space, it’s beyond me, I’m going to get disruptive. I’m going to get frustrated. I’m going to get angry. Because I just, I can’t cope being in this space kind-of-bored.

Gifted kids’ brains work differently.

There are more synapses that perform faster. They don’t have a choice, it’s who they are.

The many different definitions of giftedness relate to how we recognise gifted kids in schools and how we use tests and scores to determine who is gifted.

Statistically, 10% of kids in each age group are gifted. That’s a lot of kids.

We need to get better at answering the question – what is gifted?

How I learned to chill out as a parent of gifted kids.

How I learned to chill out as a parent of gifted kids.

I often get asked, “what can I teach my child? they learn so quickly, what topics should I be teaching them? they could learn anything and I don’t want to miss anything!”

Gifted kids have an amazing capacity to learn and they love it!

It’s like breathing.

The temptation is to keep pouring facts and figures and information on them because it’s bliss.

I’d say there is a balance between encouraging a love of learning and well-roundedness. Well rounded adults are successful in life and we want to help our kids to grow up into successful, happy and content adults.

How do we do that?

The best advice I ever got from my son’s psychologist was that successful highly gifted children are ones that had a well-rounded childhood, plenty of ‘being a kid’ time.

Our gifted kids need to have their educational/cognitive needs met and the right school or educational environment is vital in ensuring this need is met, outside of that, plenty of opportunities to play.

Life skills.

Down time from ingesting information to learn about the world around them.

Our temptation is to fill their heads with facts and figures because they want it and they suck it up but it’s ok if he re-visits the periodic table multiple times in his childhood because each time he is a bit older and he’ll get something else out of it.

The comparison she gave me is that if you had a child who was a great athlete, say a prodigy swimmer or golfer, well you don’t let them play golf 24/7, they still need school and friends and other activities in their life to become well-rounded.

She said, individuals who were child prodigies often aren’t successful in their field as adults because they’ve not had the opportunity to learn about life skills if they solely focused on that obsession during childhood. The successful ones had the opportunity to become well-rounded individuals.

The same is with these intense gifted kids, yeah they would sit and read and learn all day (that’s my son!) because it’s like breathing to them.

But they need to put down the book and go play or go to Scouts and it’s ok if he reads the same book at 5 that he then reads again at 7 and 9 because he will see something different in it each time.

As a parent, it is overwhelming to have the responsibility of someone who has so much potential, someone who is years beyond their peers in their area of interest, or an amazing capacity to learn.

We want to do the right thing.

It’s also hard to restrain yourself as a parent when you know they would be good at music, good at dancing, good at… well just about anything and everything they try, so shouldn’t they do it all?!

We have to help them find the balance.

I think it starts with getting permission to chill out. Not just our kids, us too!

We need to take the pressure off and know that it will be ok, our kids can be kids and they will be better for it and as a parent, I can feel less pressure to have to fill that insatiable brain.

Drop into our Facebook group to talk about this more..