#020 A Journey of Perfectionism

#020 A Journey of Perfectionism

A holiday replay of our most popular episodes!

This holidays we have replayed our most popular episodes so it’s a great chance to catch up on any you’ve missed before we return with new episodes next week!

In this episode I talk to Samantha, mum of a number of gifted kids and a big part of their journey is perfectionism.

For more info about how you can help your gifted child with perfectionism, check out these other episodes as well:

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#014 Understanding 2E / Twice Exceptional with Amanda Drury

#014 Understanding 2E / Twice Exceptional with Amanda Drury

Today I’m speaking with Amanda Drury from Gifted 2E Support Australia about her journey and what 2 E is all about.

  • We’ve talked about what is twice-exceptional?
  • How can you be 2E?
  • Masking 2E, masking giftedness.
  • The importance of strengths-based learning.

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“Giftedness can mask the disability and at the same time, the disability masks the giftedness.” – Amanda

“You have to read these texts, the cat sat on the mat, but you are wanting to find out about the complexities of the universe. So the frustration of not being able to access that content, and not being given the support to access that content.” – Amanda

“The teacher sees them as the average child, because generally, they do tend to fit their grade and start to look average because one is pulling down the other. But they’re in deep need of that enrichment and they want to learn and their learning is being essentially stamped out. That love of learning. And they know they’re different and you imagine being that child who knows that you’re different but can’t understand why.” – Amanda


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Sophia Elliott: [00:00:00] Welcome Amanda to the, our gifted kids podcast. It’s delightful to be talking to you today about  twice exceptional gifted students and children. And first of all, we were going to have a little chat about your story and your children.

Amanda Drury: [00:00:16] Twice exceptionality I learned about price exceptionality through my children who are both twice exceptional. Twice exceptionality is the it’s where to child has two exceptionalities. And one of them is their giftedness and the other exceptionality is the usually a disability of some kind.

And that could be a learning disability. It could be physical, it could be social like autism or ADHD. We have neurological disabilities as well. And it can also be learning challenges learning difficulties. Anything that goes beyond what giftedness is.

Sophia Elliott: [00:00:56] So it’s moving beyond that myth of giftedness is just kids who are super smart and do everything easy and moving into a real understanding of giftedness. Gifted kids are these highly sensitive, very curious kids. And they can also, and often are children who experience ADHD, or like you said, on the autism spectrum or any kind of learning challenge or even health challenge.

Amanda Drury: [00:01:35] That’s correct. Then you get gifted with hearing impaired gifted with blindness gifted with cerebral palsy. The list goes on. My children. Personally, I have two children, both have been found to be twice exceptional. My son is gifted with ADHD and dyslexia and dysgraphia, and my daughter has autism and  often twice exceptional kids have co-morbidities they have more than one disability, sometimes that is because they have been misdiagnosed.

And or cause it’s very difficult. They’re very complex, their giftedness  masks their disability, and it can make assessment very difficult.

Sophia Elliott: [00:02:20] And it’s an important conversation because a lot of kids. Who might have those challenges often only get seen for those challenges. So it’s about understanding that you can be challenged in a variety of ways and also be gifted. Giftedness is not exclusive to the able bodied or, individuals that don’t have those kinds of challenges.

I think that’s a really big myth. Would you agree?

Amanda Drury: [00:02:52] that’s correct. The biggest, one of the biggest myths that actually make life very difficult for parents of twice exceptional children. And for twice exceptional children themselves is the myth that if you’re gifted, you will get along fine. You are smart enough to just cruise through school.

You don’t need any support, you don’t need help. These kids are often very frustrated by their learning block. If you can imagine for a minute being, having a huge love of learning. Having an area you love learning in, perhaps it’s let’s say for the sake of this conversation, it’s out outer space and you just want to learn everything about outer space, all the planets and all the solar systems and the stars and nebulas and all this stuff.

But you cannot read because you’re dyslexic. At the same time, you’ve got teachers telling you. Oh, you have to read the really simple texts because you’re dyslexic. You have to read these texts, the cat sat on the mat, but you are wanting to find out about the complexities of the universe. So the frustration of not being able to access that content because, and not being given the support to access that content.

Because your disability is holding you back from your learning. A twice exceptional child  can suffer quite severe anxiety around that, particularly if they’ve had no diagnosis because they haven’t been found.  Giftedness will, can mask the disability. And at the same time, the disability mask the giftedness.

Sophia Elliott: [00:04:37] That’s right. Those  strengths that children have from being gifted, enable them to accommodate and compensate for the challenges they’re also having be it ADHD or a literacy challenge or whatever . And so one, so the giftedness masks, the challenge they’re having which means at both ends of the scale, they’re not quite getting what they need.

They’re not getting the support they need for that dyslexia, but they’re also not getting that challenge they need cognitively because they’re gifted. So it can result in, I would imagine a really frustrated kid.

Amanda Drury: [00:05:13] It does. And if that child’s not found often they will, if they start school and they’re not they’re not discovered before they start school, which is often the case. The teacher sees them as the average child, because generally they do tend to fit their grade, start to look average because one is pulling down the other.

But they’re in deep need of that enrichment and they want to learn and their learning as being essentially stamped out. That love of learning. And they know they’re different and you imagine being that child who knows that you’re different, but can’t understand why.

Sophia Elliott: [00:05:56] I hear a lot that idea of looking at other people in the world and wondering why life is, it seems such a challenge for you and other people seem to be just cruising for life, but you finding it so hard and not fitting into that box and feeling broken and desperately unhappy because you’re not able to be yourself because these things aren’t recognized.

And I think that’s the scary thing for me is the idea that there are so many kids out there going under the radar  who are gifted and gifted and twice exceptional, because they’re not fitting this profile that we imagine gifted kids to be just these high performers, straight A’s kids who are kind of cruising through life.

So how did you discover, or did you know that your children were gifted? Did you know they had these exceptionalities or was it a bit of a journey for you to figure that out?

Finish Transcript here

Amanda Drury: [00:06:56] It was very much a journey. I actually found out about my husband’s high intelligence. When my son James was quite young. I didn’t put two and two together at the time. No, but my it was just by accident. We were moving the study and I were going through the filing cabinet and out came the IQ test that he had done when he was like, 10 or something.

And I had a look at the IQ test. I said, do you realize how high your IQ is? And he said, what is it sort of like, he w neither of us had looked at this for a long time. He said, Oh yeah, I was tested for dyslexia at 10. And they discovered that I had a high IQ. He didn’t really think anything of

Sophia Elliott: [00:07:35] Was the also dyslexic. Oh, there you go.

Amanda Drury: [00:07:38] But his IQ is very high. I can’t remember the exact number, but at the time James was about two, and he, I already knew he was a bit different in that he was. His verbal skills were very good from very young. He was speaking whole sentences at 12 months of age. And you know, he was our party trick.


Sophia Elliott: [00:08:01] They can be very entertaining, these anomalies.

Amanda Drury: [00:08:04] We had a Christmas party when he and James wasn’t even one yet. He was born in April. So he would have, it would have in December. So I don’t know, nine months. And one of our friends was playing around with James and getting out his little soft toy animals and just James would name every one of the animals and she thought it was everybody thought it was amazing and had a laugh about it.

But, I look back and realize that’s actually quite astounding at that age. Didn’t really think about it at the time though, we were surrounded by friends. Most of them David’s friends and of course, like attracts, like, so we were surrounded by friends and children who were similar. So I didn’t really think anything of it.

And then James was always a very hyperactive child. Very, he would just be, he’d wake up in the morning and he’d go, go, go right through to the end of the day, there was no stopping him. He was running and he was a bit wild really. And he used to ask huge numbers of questions. The why phase went into why and what and where and when, and how.

From two years of age, he was asking tons of different questions. And it was exhausting. But he got to kindy and the preschool people told us he should be assessed or by an OT, because he was so hyper and the OT decided he had sensory processing disorder. So that was the first assessment we had done.

Sophia Elliott: [00:09:40] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:09:40] But when he started school we went in there with the OT report for that. But he was always, he always had a huge interest in books from a very young age. He would from before one year of age, he would be dragging books off the shelf and piling them up next to him. And he would memorize the stories from us, reading them to him, and then he would go through and turn the pages and retell the story.

He was doing that very young. And so he, when he started school, he was so excited. It was I’m going to learn now, I’m going to learn how to read. I’m going to be able to, write now, I  wanted to be an author and still does at 14. And so he, he was so excited about starting school and it’s like within really within a few weeks, he just, the disappointment was

obvious. He just, he wasn’t picking up reading as fast as he wanted to his teachers. Weren’t really supporting him. Is his teacher had this real issue with his writing, not being able to do his writing well, cause he, we realized now that’s because he has dysgraphia,

Sophia Elliott: [00:10:48] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:10:49] But he didn’t have very good reception teacher.

And then that was followed by not a very good view of one teacher as well. At the beginning of year one, he was reading Roald, Dahl books at home with us,

Sophia Elliott: [00:11:00] Oh wow.

Amanda Drury: [00:11:01] To me with a little bit of help from me, but he was reading them and he was we didn’t know them, but he was dyslexic. And the teacher at school was still giving him level five books.

So I tried to advocate for him and she kept saying, well, he hasn’t shown me on a test that he can read, pass that. So I went into the I went to the principal directly and the principal actually had a good talk to the teacher and the teacher tested him in a quiet room, not out in the busy classroom.

And that is what made all the difference. He was leveled 28.

Sophia Elliott: [00:11:40] Yeah. Wow. Any hear that a lot. I have heard that a lot from parents that discrepancy between what parents see and know. Their child is capable of and what they’re demonstrating at home. And then you’re hearing something very different from the teacher. And that can be quite a barrier to children being able to learn at the correct level at school.

So the changing point for you and your son was just that quiet environment and the opportunity to demonstrate what he could do.

Amanda Drury: [00:12:13] Yeah. And his OT had already recommended that he be tested in quiet environments because he has some auditory processing issues and isn’t able to concentrate in really noisy environments. But it’s like she totally ignored that report. He did, fortunately that year it was the, there were, he had two teachers.

I’m one for two days a week. And one for three, the other teacher was brilliant. She turned around after he got his test back for the 28th got the 28 level 28 and said, look, I think you should see a psychologist and get him tested for his IQ. At the same time she was interested in him being tested for autism as well.

Turns out he doesn’t have autism or it wasn’t found that he did at that time. It was Asperger’s back then. And, but we went to the psychologist and as soon as the psychologist came out, he didn’t know her. He introduced himself very politely,

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:10] That’s so cute.

Amanda Drury: [00:13:10] You know shook her hand, very adult

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:13] Very adult, like,

Amanda Drury: [00:13:14] And

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:14] Gifted kids are dead cute. Cause they are just little adults in, in, you know, I mean they melt down and then all that sort of stuff. They’re still kids, but they will have these moments. Won’t they? Where they’re just, just dead gorgeous. Just these little tiny ancient people.

Amanda Drury: [00:13:31] So she started his testing, she did his autism assessment. She also said, look, I’m going to do his IQ at the same time. When we came back after it had all been done thinking, well, this is we’re going to find out today whether he’s got autism or that. We went up to see the psychologist and she said, I’ve got some really good news for you.

Congratulations, your child is gifted.

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:55] That’s interesting approach.

Amanda Drury: [00:13:57] Yeah. At the time it was like, I didn’t really know what giftedness was at that point. And I knew a bit about IQ and stuff. I didn’t really know a lot,

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:07] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:14:08] Even as a teacher.

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:10] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:14:11] It was like what does this mean? And she said, join the local Gifted  Association and gave me all their details and get support that way.

And she wrote a report with lots of supports in it school suggesting to the school enrichment for him, which to the school’s credit they put in. But we always, I. I’m that typical parent who wants to find out everything. So I went on Google and did the whole research what giftedness was. And I joined a support group for parents of gifted on Facebook as well.

But as I went along that journey within a few months, probably I noticed there’s more to him than just giftedness. And we already knew about his sensory processing stuff, but it felt like there was more than that. Something didn’t quite fit even within the gifted population.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:05] Yeah,

Amanda Drury: [00:15:07] I was, through GTCASA, I was invited along with all the other parents GTCASA, too, to see this professional speak about gifted dyslexia. And when we saw her speak, I’m like, that’s my  son.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:22] Yeah,

Amanda Drury: [00:15:23] He’s just it’s that, this is it. You know, it was like a light bulb moment for me at that time. And that I was lucky because that specialist was willing to do an assessment for him.

She works out of Melbourne and Kids Like Us, which is a brilliant association in Melbourne that supports twice exceptional children. And that she happened to be an Adelaide. So she offered to do an assessment of him. So it was really good that we were able to get an assessment done with that twice exceptional perspective.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:51] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:15:52] So she took his IQ assessment and used it to help us to help with the dyslexia assessment in that she looked at his age norms compared to his IQ rather than his actual age. So when she was doing his assessment, she treated it as if he were of The his IQ age.

Sophia Elliott: [00:16:13] Right. Yep. Yep.

Amanda Drury: [00:16:15] And it meant that we got a much more accurate assessment done than you would have done it spelled or somewhere

Sophia Elliott: [00:16:22] so if we clarify that, so the IQ is all about  establishing where an individual is regarding their peer group. And whether someone is within that typical scope above typical or below typical. So when you get the score of the IQ, when you’re talking about the IQ age, if you’ve got a really high IQ, then  even though the age is say 10, the IQ age would be 11, 12, 13, depending on the IQ, if you’re above that typical score.

Amanda Drury: [00:17:05] That’s correct.

Sophia Elliott: [00:17:06] Yeah. So hopefully I’ve explained that.

Amanda Drury: [00:17:09] That’s correct. They’ll usually on an it depends on who assesses your child. Every psychologist writes the reports differently, but they will usually write a percentile. Like your child might be the 97th percentile, which means they’re in the top 3% of the population. And then next to the percentile will be.

The age, the average age they’re working at in that area.

Sophia Elliott: [00:17:32] yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:17:33] And there’s several areas on an IQ assessment too.

Sophia Elliott: [00:17:36] So each one of those percentiles represents, so 97th percentile would mean you’re in like the top 3% of that peer group.

Amanda Drury: [00:17:46] That’s correct.

Sophia Elliott: [00:17:47] Is a good way of thinking of it. Someone gave me the example of,  it’s somewhat helpful. If you had one hundred 10 year olds and you lined them up, it would be the top. You’d be in the top three. It gives a bit of a visual, maybe an unhelpful visual.

Amanda Drury: [00:18:04] Your analogy was very good about the a hundred. And the 97th percentile puts you in the three out of every hundred children would be working at or above your level. So yeah, that’s what the percentiles me and sometimes IQ tests use IQ numbers as well, but they have less meaning for parents.

Percentiles have a better meaning.

Sophia Elliott: [00:18:27] I like the percentiles because. And I don’t know if this is just because I can be quite a visual person, but I think for me, what the percentiles offer is an understanding of the where  your child is in terms of the extremeness of their scores. And when we’re talking about gifted kids, that’s kind of what I feel like we need to get our head around.

So if your child is scoring in the high eighties, low 90th percentiles, You might question, what kind of educational support do they need versus a child who might be scoring in the 98, 99th percentile? You know, even between those 10 points, there can be a huge difference in terms of the kind of learning the way they learn and therefore what learning environment they need.

Amanda Drury: [00:19:22] That’s correct.

Sophia Elliott: [00:19:23] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:19:24] And the thing about gifted dyslexia. That’s very interesting. Some research was done a few years ago now by Van Visin, who is an American researcher. And it was found that the higher your IQ, the more severe your dyslexia is.

Sophia Elliott: [00:19:44] Oh, that’s interesting.

Amanda Drury: [00:19:45] People, they had a chart of numbers and a person, it went from IQ of a hundred, right up to an IQ of 200.

And it looked at,

Sophia Elliott: [00:19:58] The average person’s IQ and 200, obviously being really extreme. That’s like proper serious genius.

Amanda Drury: [00:20:06] And. The and then I dyslexia test of the same IQ sorry, against their IQ and the people with 200 could barely read, but there was just

Sophia Elliott: [00:20:20] And I just think that’s fascinating that someone with a like IQ of 200 and to put that in perspective, I think they often say that Einstein was like 160. So, we’re talking proper genius realm is so gifted and yet can’t barely read. Yeah at all. And I think that really puts into focus this idea of what giftedness is, it’s not about performance, there’s this, there’s something else going on in the brain.


Amanda Drury: [00:20:56] and I mean, I think you’ve already touched on this in some of your other podcasts, but gifted children learn and think differently from non gifted children. So even if you put a gifted child in a class with an age peer that fits their IQ, say their IQ. So say they’re a six year old, but they’re working at the IQ level of a nine-year-old.

You could put them in a class with nine year olds and usually they will do better, but they still don’t think on the same wavelength as the other nine-year-olds because they think very differently. They think outside completely outside the box, they come up with really left of center ideas that you’ve just often with me astound me.

Sophia Elliott: [00:21:45] Absolutely. Some of the stuff my kids come out with just blows my mind. And I think that’s really something that I want to make really clear. I want people to understand that gifted kids brains work differently. Like they’re fundamentally different operating systems, you know? And therefore we need to take that into account in the way that we educate and parent them.

Amanda Drury: [00:22:14] So when you throw a disability into that mix.

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:18] It gets very complicated.

Amanda Drury: [00:22:19] It does. And if they’re in a general school, especially in Australia, where there is no mandated gifted education, yet alone, twice exceptional education. A twice exceptional child will usually have all their deficits focused on and not get any enrichment because

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:38] We haven’t figured out how to see past those deficits. Have we?

Amanda Drury: [00:22:42] No,  I’ve heard so many stories, countless stories from parents. I support who have said my child’s teacher. What extend him, accelerate him or enrich him because he can’t write yet.

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:57] Oh, my son got that. It might the teachers, we were trying to get a six month acceleration. It wasn’t even like a whole jump or anything. And they said, because his writing was only age appropriate. They wouldn’t accelerate.

Amanda Drury: [00:23:15] I had the same problem with my children. Fortunately the school they are in did enrich them though in class, they didn’t accelerate though, because they weren’t clever enough across the board. They had to be the head to be bright across the board. Right. It couldn’t just be in one subject.

Sophia Elliott: [00:23:33] They like arbitrary rules, that they’re trying to apply to a group of kids that are also very different. You just can’t have a one size fits all approach to giftedness. I don’t think.

Amanda Drury: [00:23:46] My son was involved in a a pilot program at his primary school and year, he was a new four in a year, four or five class, and they had a cluster grouping of gifted children in that class. And it was the best year. He did a complete turnaround.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:05] Why do you thinks that was?

Amanda Drury: [00:24:06] Well, Until then his attitude to learning had been quite,

he really did not have a good positive view of himself and his abilities, because at the end of year three, you couldn’t even read his handwriting. It was that bad. I guess he looked at his work and thought I can’t do this. I’m not good enough that kind of attitude. And then the teacher he had in year four was also had a twice exceptional son.

So she understood him.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:37] Yup.

Amanda Drury: [00:24:38] And she’s the one that piloted the program. She went to leadership and said, I want to do this in my class. Can you let me do it? And she did. And then other classes after that cause it worked quite well.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:50] Yup.

Amanda Drury: [00:24:51] He made lifelong friends out of it.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:53] Well, that’s lovely.

Amanda Drury: [00:24:55] And he did a turn around from there.

He never looked back from there. He, his self-esteem just skyrocketed because although she was a very strict teacher she still encouraged that growth mindset and the fact that, you can do it and there’s never one right answer. And She encouraged her students to really think outside the box.

And it was a way of teaching that worked really well for him. And he was lucky in that after that he had pretty good teachers from then on anyway, but in year seven, he decided off his own bat to apply to three different gifted programs for high school. And he got into one and there were 280 children that applied and only 26 were chosen.

So I was very proud of him. Proud mom moment.

Sophia Elliott: [00:25:47] Yeah. That’s nice.

Amanda Drury: [00:25:49] And he’s done so well with his handwriting and his dyslexia that he’s got to a point now where he is top in his grade for English. And I think some of that is because he has always wanted to be an author. So he’s got a lot of motivation behind him.

He wants to get past his learning block and beat it essentially.

Sophia Elliott: [00:26:12] And talking about growth mindset. I mean, that’s just beautiful that he’s. It’s obviously put a lot of work into getting to where he is and that in itself, no doubt has taught him some great skills for life in terms of that motivation and determination.

Amanda Drury: [00:26:28] Yeah, his writing is amazing these days. It’s really refreshing to be able to read something from him now.

Sophia Elliott: [00:26:34] Yeah. Proud mom moment.

Amanda Drury: [00:26:36] Yeah. When he was in year seven, he wasn’t even doing full stops and capital letters and it the improvements he has made it just amazing.

Sophia Elliott: [00:26:45] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:26:45] And that’s thanks to his high school who have done a brilliant job with accommodating him.

They have a really good, special ed coordinator who did an, NEP for him and that national education plan. And that plan was given to every one of his subject teachers. And all of them were expected to put the accommodations in place for him.

Sophia Elliott: [00:27:06] So they’ve put together an individualized plan. They’ve talked to all of his teachers to make sure everyone’s working on the same page and supporting them in the right way. And he’s been a part of a gifted program. So he’s had both, is his challenges supported and his giftedness supported in terms of being able to stretch and grow.

Amanda Drury: [00:27:29] That’s correct.

Sophia Elliott: [00:27:30] part of himself. That’s really beautiful. I think, that’s what we’re looking for in education. Isn’t it just that the whole student is seen, the whole student is supported and no doubt. He’ll go on to follow his passion.

Amanda Drury: [00:27:44] Yes. And all of his strengths have been fostered and that’s what needs to happen with twice exceptional children. All the literature points to a strengths strengths-based approach is the best approach. So you focus on their strengths, but you accommodate their disability at the same time.

Sophia Elliott: [00:28:00] Yeah. And you, you can’t ignore the giftedness. It’s a part of who they are and we’ve got to get, and we need to get better at seeing past the deficits, like you said and supporting both parts, holistically supporting the child holistically. So you’ve been on this. Big journey with your children.

And they’re getting a little bit older now and you’ve certainly had a lot of ups and downs there. I know that a part of your personal journey is that out of all of that research and supporting your own children you also work now to support other parents and help advocate for them because you mentioned your background is teaching.

You’ve done a Master’s in Gifted Ed and. You worked to help parents who were in your position.

Amanda Drury: [00:28:49] That’s correct. When in 2016 I was working on the committee of GTCASA our gifted children gifts. You’ve heard untalented children’s association of South Australia. I was on the committee for them and an actively running a what we called at that time GLD SA, which was gifted with learning disabilities, South Australia. So it was, we were connected. Our little support group at that time was connected to GTCASA , but we were also connected with GLD Australia, which is Gifted With Learning Disabilities Australia, which is an email support group and it was a really great little group.

We met in a library once a month and would just go over all of our challenges we’ve had since the last meeting, it was like a coffee thing,

Sophia Elliott: [00:29:39] Yeah, you need that support as a parent. You need those moments of, Oh my God, my kid did this and you just need someone else to go. It’s okay. I’ve been there. My kids done that at some point as well, just to get that validation that you’re not going slightly batty , making this stuff up.

Amanda Drury: [00:29:56] So I ran that with a lady called her name was Kate and we ran it together through the committee at GTCASA . We decided, or I decided, I suggested that we should do a Facebook Group simply as a communication. It means to talk between meeting, because we had so much to talk about at meetings and they’d go on for hours and you’d sort of like, Well, let’s make up something so we can talk online between meetings.

So I developed this Facebook Group, which at the time I called Gifted 2E Support (GLDSA)  in brackets and the suddenly we’ve got people inquiring from all over Australia. And within a year we had about 300 members. Which and it’s still small, but to have them from all over Australia. And that was that was a really big thing.

Sophia Elliott: [00:30:51] Yeah, definitely.

Amanda Drury: [00:30:52] And so now that group is 1600 strong and we’ve got administration working with volunteers, working in every state. We do We try to do regular coffee meetings still. It’s kind of been replaced by the online group, but mainly because of COVID. But we, now we probably do them at least once a year or face-to-face ones as well.

And it’s kind of exponentially,just grown.

Sophia Elliott: [00:31:20] Yeah. And I think that’s the thing that I really want to draw attention to is that there are a lot of gifted kids out there. There are a lot of twice exceptional kids out there. We don’t talk a lot about it within our community. We think that it’s. Far rarer than actually it really is. There’s a lot of people in this boat. I think the big thing for me is that community awareness that we’re not talking about a small group of people. Like it’s a, your giftedness is statistically 10% of the population. And within that, you’ve got a lot of children who are twice exceptional.

Amanda Drury: [00:32:02] That’s correct. And you’ve got also got a huge variance from the mildly gifted right through to the profoundly gifted there’s such a difference between a mildly gifted child and a profoundly gifted child.

Sophia Elliott: [00:32:17] Absolutely. Absolutely. And the needs of a mildly  gifted child versus a profoundly gifted  child. It’s, it’s as different as the difference between giftedness and highly intelligent. If you look at that, Standard deviation on the IQ like that. Yeah. That’s a huge gap as well. And we’ve been talking very broadly about giftedness, but it’s definitely worth noting that even within that giftedness, there are extremes that need to be catered for as well.

We’ve talked about what 2Eis twice exceptional and some of the different exceptionalities that can be grouped with giftedness. So it’s our autism spectrum, ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, but also disabilities. Which can also mask giftedness and our ability to see giftedness in someone and the whole point of that understanding.

And that conversation is to acknowledge that we need to look at everyone holistically and we’re all made up of different parts. And we can’t just look at. The deficit, as we say, we can’t just look at those challenges. We also need to look at the giftedness, which, and we’re kind of using that language of deficit and giftedness, but giftedness has its own challenges as well.

Would you say that’s the big message about twice exceptionality is seeing past just the barrier? Just the challenge, just the deficit.

Amanda Drury: [00:00:00] Yeah, absolutely. The, all of the evidence-based research points to the strengths based curriculum being the best for twice exceptional students. And there’s a reason for that, because if you cater for their giftedness, they tend to get along a lot better. If you just cater for the disability, all you’re doing is reinforcing in their head, how different and the how how much, I guess, lower achieving they are than other kids.

And when they’re, they’ve got such a huge thirst for learning and such a it’s really quite an extreme need to be able to explore their passions. They can’t do that when they’re only having their learning disabilities being focused on, but it’s really bad for their self-esteem. There’s actually research that really quite alarming research on twice exceptional children who haven’t been catered for in their primary school setting or elementary school setting.

Cause this was like US research. And by high school, they are underachieving. They usually will drop out of high school early. They might end up with often more than more times than not. They end up with mental illness and the suicide rate and incarceration rate that’s the rate of being imprisoned has is also a lot higher in twice exceptional students who haven’t been catered for.

In the primary and elementary years. And it’s really quite, there’s more than one study that has proven this. So I found that quite alarming.

Sophia Elliott: [00:01:44] It’s incredibly alarming. I mean, these are kids are being let down by the system and the long-term effects of that. Then the trajectory of their life is. I mean that’s astounding, isn’t it? And it’s just not okay.

Amanda Drury: [00:01:58] No, it’s not. And there’s similar research that’s been done with gifted students. They haven’t been catered for too, but the couple of studies I’ve read on the twice exceptional side of things, it’s just so sad. But one of them had one of them was reporting on a dropout house in, I think it was in Germany, somewhere in Europe.

And so it had a positive ending to it. What they did is they took these kids in, who had dropped out of high school. Early. Many of them had turned to things like drugs and self-harming and things like that. And they essentially got them better. And catered for their twice exceptional needs. And I mean, the examples they gave at this conference, I went to were like, these kids just started really succeeding.

So that there are good stories if it’s if it’s done well. I mean, my, my son’s an example. If if they’re catered for, then you get your success story,

Sophia Elliott: [00:02:57] Absolutely. And we certainly have to focus on those and we have to. Keep having these conversations so that there are more opportunities for gifted and twice exceptional students to be fully catered for.

 Mental health repercussions are something that really are a big driver for me, because the way I see it in my experience so far is. Yeah. As a human race  we fundamentally want to belong, we want to be safe within our community. And when you’re a part of that education system and you don’t fit in and, you know, inside that you don’t fit in, then inevitably you’re going to have those mental health consequences because it starts to affect, like you say, your self esteem, your resilience, your confidence, and your path in life.

Our, our urgency to meet the needs of gifted students. And twice exceptional students is to address this, mental health crisis in them before it gets to that point and finding ways of seeing them as whole people meeting all sides of them and all of their needs. As all children should get that opportunity to be fully supported and have the correct educational outcomes.

So thank you for joining with me today. It’s been really good to get into twice exceptionality and talk about all of the very different ways a child can be twice exceptional. And I think I’ve only even recently, and I was talking to another parent about twice exceptionality and. And she was saying, Oh, okay, well, my child is gifted and has ADHD.

So would that make him twice exceptional? Like, well, yes, and even myself, I, I guess I hadn’t really put two and two together with one of my children having a severe speech impairment and the challenges that have gone along with that. And, and definitely in that situation where. Those challenges have needed to be supportive, but also the giftedness.

And she’s finally in a place where her giftedness is being addressed and she has thrived and blossomed because prior, till now it’s been very focused around that deficit. So I’ve certainly seen that firsthand as well. Like you talk about your son just the way that they can bloom and come into themselves when they are fully seen.

So thank you very much for joining me today. It’s been an absolute delight to talk about this subject.

Amanda Drury: [00:05:40] It’s been great. Just, I just want to share one final little success,

Sophia Elliott: [00:05:46] Please do.

Amanda Drury: [00:05:46] About my son again as of next year, he just being accelerated into 75% year 11 subjects. In a, in a year, 10 year, he has got 98 out of a hundred on his English exam. So when a child is being catered for and enriched to their needs and accommodated for the disabilities at the same time, then there is every chance they’ll be successful.

And I’d like to say to parents out there who have twice exceptional children and are feeling in despair, don’t give up because. As hard as it might seem. Now you, if you keep fighting for your child, if you keep advocating for them, keep working with your professionals. Your child has every chance of success.

Sophia Elliott: [00:06:40] Absolutely. And we’ll definitely put Amanda’s details in the show notes so that you can get a link to those 2E support groups in the information that she has. So thank you, Amanda. I think that’s fabulous.

Amanda Drury: [00:06:52] Thank you.




#006 Is Montessori a good match for giftedness?

#006 Is Montessori a good match for giftedness?

Is Montessori a good match for giftedness? – Selena’s Story

Today I’m speaking with Selena about uncovering her child’s giftedness and her experience of Montessori in the early years.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Accepting her son is gifted and trying not to be that parent
  • Her son hiding himself when his needs were not met in early years learning
  • Re-learning how to learn at school when he did find the right place
  • Why the assessment was so helpful
  • One child and different Montessori experiences in the early years

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“School became about play and social stuff – it wasn’t about learning it was about hanging out with your mates… it’s kind of sad because they are hungry for something and they aren’t getting that at school.” – Selena

“He hid…. He was very quiet, he was very introverted. He learnt that when you’re in the classroom you shut up, you don’t ask questions, you don’t get involved and then play time is when you come alive… and that did a lot of damage.” – Selena  

“Now he’s at the right school, now he’s at Dara where they actually understand his brain and how it works and can meet his needs [but] it’s taken a couple of terms to re-learn that school was where we learnt.” – Selena

“I think he just wasn’t able to be himself and he was managing that by shutting down at school and then getting vivaciously hungry for whatever he could get outside of it.” – Selena

“It’s not about the label… but it’s about the information that that report gives… and it helped me so much to understand my son.” – Selena


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00:00:00               I’m delighted today to talk to Selena Woodward, CEO of edgy folios, and host of the reflective teacher podcast about the journey of discovering that her son was gifted. Hi, I’m Sophia Elliot as a parent of three gifted kids. I’m here to talk about all things gifted because I’ve been isolated and uncertain. And I felt like that parent, then I found peace of mind support and my community.

00:00:31               This podcast is about sharing that journey, actually parenting gifted kids and connecting with advice and support. So we have everything we need for every member of our family to thrive. This is the, our gifted kid podcast. Salina. Welcome. Thank you for coming in today and having a chat with us. Thank you for having me. It’s awesome to be here.

00:00:52               Lovely. And we’re here today to talk about your son. You are, you definitely are. Yes. And our experiences together discovering this whole gifted business. Yes. And in the name of full disclosure, Selena and I are friends and there was a friendship by fire that’s. We went, we went through this journey at the same time and, and yeah,

00:01:13               it sort of, it has bonded us in a special way. I think our kids found each other and then their United situation created a situation that United everybody together. Yeah, that’s right. So the background is of course, that Selena’s son and my son went to school together and yeah. Found each other in that mix. Selena is the friend who kind of first said to us that,

00:01:37               you know, your kids probably gifted. Right. And we were like, Oh, what does that mean? And so your background is, of course you’re the CEO and founder of EDU folios. And your background is you’re an English teacher and trained in the UK. So you were kind of in that education zone, but let’s go back a little bit first.

00:02:01               Let’s talk about your son and the early days, even given your training to spot these little kids, you know, did you see things in your son as he was growing up or that you think about my training? I’m a high school English and drama teacher. And I have had the pleasure of working with gifted kids in that high school setting. But it’s very different in the early years.

00:02:24               And also being a parent and a teacher, you become very conscious of the fact that you don’t want to railroad another teacher based on what you believe should be happening. And you get really conscious of not being that parent that you’ve experienced yourself. So in some ways, although I’m totally trained to identify a gifted child in the context of my English or drama classroom,

00:02:48               having a baby and only one baby. So there were no other babies to compare the baby to that. This was my experience. I live on the other side of the planet to my family. So even my nieces and nephews, I wasn’t hanging around with them. So I didn’t have that reference either. Absolutely. So many of us these days that don’t have that broader family.

00:03:08               And I was the same, like I had no point of reference. I didn’t know any other kids, babies, little people. Yeah. So it’s tricky, isn’t it Totally junkie. And thinking back in hindsight, there were heaps of clues, but I guess I, and I had a gut feeling about it for a long time that I ignored, which I totally regret,

00:03:26               by the way we can talk about that later. But I, I think I always knew that he was really with it. Like he’s always been a really old soul. Like he was born a wrinkly 80 year old Man, what he’s doing As the soul of a, of an older gentleman. And it’s hard to just TRIBE that thing is, you know,

00:03:46               like my youngest, I mean, all my kids, but particularly my youngest sit at the moment he, he just gets stuff. Yeah. And he’s always just got it. And it’s sort of a very intangible thing, but I think that’s kind of it, isn’t it. Yeah. Even when he was born, he got full marks on that first test.

Continue Reading Transcript Here...

00:04:02               They do too. Like, are you awake? Are you alert? He was smiling within like 30 minutes. And of course everyone’s going, Oh no, they can’t smile at this age. That’s just wind. And you’re like, no, that’s a smile. He’s like looking at the camera. He’s alert. He’s like not supposed to be doing that stuff.

00:04:16               Yeah. He was born being curious and asking questions in a baby way, which involved a lot of screaming. Yeah. Justin was never a good sleeper, always needed to be with me, always needed constant stimulation. And he taught, he spoke really early. So he did lots of things really early, but I didn’t know that that wasn’t normal. If that makes sense.

00:04:41               Until he got to know, you go to play groups, even when he was a tiny baby, like he would be trying to Nick the sandwiches at the mother’s group when he was like four or five and everyone else’s baby, wouldn’t be doing that, but he’d be reaching for sandwiches. So he was like, he always wanted to be like the grownups.

00:04:58               He didn’t really, he wasn’t really interested in this babyhood business. He was not ready to do the grownup stuff really early on. As soon as he could speak, then yeah. He, it was easier for him to communicate obviously. So it was less frustrated and that made a massive difference before that, before he could speak, he would just point at things until we got it.

00:05:16               And he’d just look at us. Like we were stupid. Like I pointed at that now that I’ve got lots of photographs of him dramatically pointing at things, that’s mother, it’s just really strange. That’s what I mean, like he’s an old soul. Like he, it was like inside. He knew what he wanted to communicate. He knew what he was trying to say,

00:05:33               but he just hadn’t. My husband makes me laugh because when he was born, bless him. He said, I didn’t realize they came formatted. Now I should, I should let you know that my husband’s a developer. So he didn’t realize that you had to build the operating system. And it’s kind of like that just in had, I think all the code in his head,

00:05:49               but he didn’t have the user interface to respond to us. Isn’t to make it sound like a proper nerd. I wonder where he gets it from, you know, like, so it was like, it was all in there and it was very frustrating for him. And the more skills he got around communication, the better, the easier it became for him when he started preschool.

00:06:06               And I chose Montessori for him very early on, because I knew there was something a bit different about him. And the Montessori philosophy was obviously about meeting your child where they were at. And we had varying degrees of success with that at different places, because obviously Montessori is a philosophy how our school material fits that philosophy is open to interpretation. Yeah. And I had similar experience.

00:06:28               We went to a few different Montessori places and it is really interesting because they do all interpret it differently. And so we had varying degrees of success somewhere like a amazing and some, Oh yeah. Very not amazing. And we will, but what you’re saying though, is reminding me a lot of my middle child and when she was born, it was,

00:06:52               there was no crying. She just had these giant Ganti blue eyes. And she was just awake here for like three hours with these eyes, Lord. Well like, Oh, I’m here, like taking it all in, in everything. It was amazing. I’m like, and she was my second. So I’m like, I think he should be like crying and sleeping,

00:07:10               but she was just looking at everything and she was slow in developing her speech. But she communicated it expertly. Like you, there was never any wondering about what she was trying to communicate because it was front and center. There was no, we used to joke. She didn’t need to talk because she, you know, yeah, that’s right. And they do.

00:07:34               I mean, Justin wasn’t earlier, everything like, he really couldn’t be bothered to move. Like he worked out very early on that there were ways to get other people to do your bidding. So like A lot of people say, Oh, my kid was walking at 10 months just, and didn’t bother walking until well, after he was one, he didn’t ever crawl either.

00:07:50               He just missed that out. He just got up and walked. He was like, all right, actually I quite fancy that over there. And you’re not understanding me. I better get up and get that. It was a bit like that. I used to take him to baby gym or anything to get him to move. We’d be like, nah,

00:08:02               that, that I want that. Yeah. But no, say it wasn’t Some of those typical signs that you hear a lot in the forums, he didn’t have everything like that, but there was just something about him and knowing a knowledge, this what? Old wisdom. I don’t know. Something that’s really weird. There’s something going on behind those eyes.

00:08:20               Yeah. He going back to the Montessori thing, I think The very first Montessori we took him to, we had to take him out of, because he got this’ll make you laugh. Cause this is very interested. He got very fascinated with the one child who bit with obviously doing some experiments in, why does she bite? What do I do to get her to buy?

00:08:38               This is very interesting. So, and there was nothing they could do because he would just be lying for this child. And then basically annoy her until she bit him. I know. Sorry Did take him out of that one. It wasn’t the best experience. I was really more defied because nobody wants their child to come home with bite marks, but he just wouldn’t stop.

00:08:57               He just kept going. Yeah. I’m just intrigued by why she’s going on. She’s been me. Why interesting. Let’s do another experiment. So, And after that, we went to this really beautiful Montessori school and there were lots of different kinds of kids there as well. And I guess very early on one of the key things that made me go,

00:09:14               Hmm. Apart from all of that behavior is the speaking because they thought he was brilliant at that Montessori. And they were really open to seeing what he could do next. They just thought it was great fun. And they would be like, he really freaks me out. And we’re like, and I’ll be like, why? It’s like, he talks like a 24 year old.

00:09:29               He’s like two. So then what are we going to do today? Have you thought about this? I’ve got a great idea. All the phrases that I still hear now, I don’t know about anyone else listening. But when my son says mom, I’ve got a great idea. A small sense of dread builds up like, Oh God, what now what’s happening now?

00:09:47               And they were really good with him. And at that age, it was really hard for him because the other children couldn’t speak the same way. I used to spend a lot of time with adults. So I’m really with the kids, which caused problems with him later, in terms of understanding how to enter into play and things. He didn’t really know how to play with the kids cause he wanted to do different things.

00:10:07               He wanted to talk and experiment, not play the way they played. He’d kind of moved past that and it created this sort of social, but weirdness. So he would used to joke cause we used to go to play dates and he’d just walk up the kids and just smile at them with this really broad smile. And that was his hello. I’m just a,

00:10:23               do you want to play? And some of them would be okay with that. And some of them would just look at him like it was weird and carry on, you know? And it took some time to teach him how to, how to get involved in their games. So if they’re playing an imaginative, play their moms and dads or whatever, he didn’t really know how to enter into that narrative because he didn’t really work that way.

00:10:43               But to teach him how to find out what the story was and how to create a character in that story and join the play and that kind of thing, which was really interesting because he did have really high functioning skills in speaking and communicating, but it was almost like he was communicating on a different plane or level. Not that it was better. It was just different to what his peers were doing.

00:11:04               Yeah. And it’s hard, I think for them to find that connection. So my oldest was similar. You would watch him wandering around the playground at that sort of five age And you Could see him and you know, he’s a great communicator is he’s always had lots of friends, very sociable. But by then he had all this stuff in his head and he was desperate to talk to people.

00:11:28               Yeah. Have a conversation about, you could see him go up to a child and he’d be like, Oh, I don’t know, black holes. Yeah. But it’d be Amber. And they’d just be like, what? And he would, there’d be no connection there. And they would run off and play and he’d be like, Oh, who else can I talk to about absolutely it’s finder the gifted kid here because when they find someone who’s conversation an old person,

00:11:54               Then they’re like, Oh great, awesome. Let’s just sit under this tree and chat or not. Let’s come up with some elaborate game, which is completely different to it’s always rules that we changed how we’re feeling about that. Yeah. So I guess there was that the talking was a big thing. And then because I’m an English teacher, reading and writing is always big in our house.

00:12:15               I actually went on a course to learn jolly phonics. And there’ll be teachers out there now who will be going, I know jolly phonics, but it was good. I needed to learn something because I’d never taught the early stages of reading. I don’t need the high school stuff. And he was really interested in the words in books. I’d always read to him.

00:12:34               I played games with him. I’d play it with your, your middle one. Now I say, right, you find a word and read it to me. And you have to read that word the whole way through every time it comes up, that kind of thing. And he liked those games. And he just got really curious about this pattern, that this language.

00:12:49               So I taught him to read, we went through jolly phonics together. And I just learned from that lime tree literacy was the place I learned that from, if anyone wants to go, there’s an online course you can do. If anyone’s interested, great resources. And I just went through that. And then I, I basically taught that to him. And everyone was like,

00:13:06               I felt like everyone was sort of saying to me, well, you’re pushing him. He’s not interested, but it wasn’t coming from me. It was totally coming from him. He was super keen to do that. He wanted to learn this new way of communicating. And so at the second Montessori where he was at, they were really good with this.

00:13:22               So when he was two, he was coming home with sight words. He had little books, the very early readers and he was learning to read them. You’re like the cats on the mat, those cat are really basic ones. And he was really into it. Yeah. And the great thing about that Montessori was it was set up in the way that I understand Montessori to be,

00:13:39               and that it was a big hall with different zones in it. So it had the reading literacy corner, it had the maths bit, it had the home bit, you know, and, and he basically got to choose how he spent his time in his day. And that really suits him because he likes to dive deep. It doesn’t want to be interrupted every hour to do something else.

00:13:59               And he doesn’t necessarily even want to go outside unless he’s exploring something all the time. And obviously we had to work on that because those social skills needed to happen and they do, he’s fine now we’ve worked that out. But you know, like he would quite happily spend the day in the corner in the reading room or he would spend a few days playing with the numbers and the sound finger numbers and things like that.

00:14:20               He was, and they encourage that and they let him just go and they would just be like, Oh, what else can this child do? And I, and he used to freak them out as well. Cause he used to do this really odd thing, but don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, where he would tell us all stories about old mom and dad.

00:14:36               So he had this whole narrative for the first three, three and a half, four years of his life, about a previous mom and dad and a previous life. It was really odd. Oh wow. That’s interesting. It was really, really interesting. And I was never sure if this was a figment of his imagination or something, but that was all part of this maturity.

00:14:55               It was really weird. He was always really mature. Like he wasn’t behaving like a toddler should I don’t think, not that I would know, but he was very different in that way. And yet, because I’m a teacher, I think I was really hard on myself and I wouldn’t accept it. And people had said to me, Oh, you know,

00:15:13               he’s gifted. And I’d be like, Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I don’t know. He’s he’s bright, but you know, he’s fine. Fine. And it wasn’t until he wasn’t fine. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Because obviously you have to go start kindie and you have to go to school when you’re not at like a little preschool anymore.

00:15:29               Yeah. So he had a great experience at preschool. He really was. And I think that’s a challenging thing as well as a parent. Like we, we don’t<inaudible> period or pushy, but we can see where our child or children getting interest. And we’d like to support them in that interest. And I think sometimes people will look at you and go,

00:15:50               Oh, Your, you know, taking Your child to lectures or, or DSG and them to read a, you must be a pushy parent, but it’s actually, it’s like, no, this is where they’re going. This is, this is what they’re after. And we’re just nurturing that and feeding that interest. I’m just curious to see what happened.

00:16:08               Can you cope? Like Jason could go to the theater really early on. A lot of people got it when type market. Now you quite happily sit in a theater and watch a little play or whatever. So I just went with it and just see what happens. That’s right. Yeah. You do. You just kind of go and because, You know,

00:16:22               I didn’t know any better. Well, you know, other kids, it was all very normal for us. So we would just kind of exactly see where they go or you’re interested in the human body. Well, he’s our relative many relatives were nurses. So we had all sorts of, you know, equipment and things to feed that knowledge and curiosity.

00:16:41               And, but, but I certainly felt myself that I think particularly with Some teachers, not all of them, there was that real kind of feeling that all you’re, you’re being pushy or you’re pushing something that’s not there. Or I don’t know. I just felt that it was back on us sometimes. And I know, and it really wasn’t. And I think So you’ve had this experience with Triston.

00:17:06               He’s been at this great Montessori. They’ve really just kind of what helps being Oh Dude. Yeah, absolutely. And often Say, you know, I don’t want my kids to be limited by that lack of imagination of the grownups around them. So in some people have that imagination and they’re happy to go with it. And other people just can’t quite except,

00:17:24               you know, outside the mold. So he had this great experience at preschool and then he moved, and this is where we met at different Montessori schools. Yeah. Yeah. So how did that go? I should have known, I should never have enrolled in there. Cause even in the interview with the principal, I actually said, and this was a big leap for me.

00:17:46               I think he might be gifted. And the said, Oh, we don’t use labels here. And that was his response. And I thought, Oh, okay, well maybe that’s a Montessori thing. And maybe they’ve got different ways of describing it. They meet children where they’re at. And I felt like a little Pang of woo warning alarms. And I was like,

00:18:02               no, you’re being that person again. You’re being Parent. Cause no one wants to be that parent. Right. It’s just this fear. It’s huge. It’s huge to BU and fierce like, Oh, we don’t want to be that parent. And sometimes I think that stops us from following our intuition and going, you know what I’m, I need to be that parent right now.

00:18:18               And eventually I had to learn that lesson and I ended up, it was really awkward for me cause I also lecture at the local uni and him and his teacher eventually was actually one of my ex students as well, which added an extra dimension. So unless you’re in teacher education As well, that added an extra dimension of complexity. But before I even got to that class,

00:18:37               he was in the Gindi class and I handed to them because part of the Montessori philosophy is a portfolio. And so Tristan took a portfolio with him with examples of what he was reading. I lovely all sorts of stuff. And that basically never got read or if it did get red, it got dismissed because they wouldn’t give him readers. I had to fight for six months because that’s what you do in reception,

00:19:00               not in kindie, which is doesn’t line up with the Montessori philosophy of that cycle. I went there thinking cycle one, which is what they described those first few years would be cycle one. So thinking if he’s in kindie and he’s probably a year or two ahead cycle one will be a great place for him because he’ll get to integrate with the kids who are at that level.

00:19:18               But they separate them. The kin, they were in the same room, but there was a bookshelf between them and they weren’t playing together in the yard or there was a definite line cycle. One was split. And that was a problem for him. He was also writing beginning to write at home. And at the time I thought that his teachers had been helping him with that.

00:19:40               And I’ll never forget going into a parent interview thing and saying, Oh thank you so much. Tristan’s been writing on his whiteboard at home. He wrote a whole sentence the other day. It’s really impressive. Thank you so much for helping him with that. And she said, what do you mean he’s writing? I’ve never seen him write his name. Oh no.

00:19:56               And I was like, Oh, so it turns out that my child had basically been teaching himself and obviously observing me at home and I’ve been helping him cause I would, but it was nothing to do with what was happening at school. And at school, he was basically not allowed to be who he was at the last school he was at on the upside.

00:20:17               That place did a lot of work with him on his social skills. That’s what they picked up. That was their thing. And they taught him all those skills about how to get involved in the play. And that was really valuable. And I was okay with that, taking a forefront for a while because that is a really essential skill, but it started to become,

00:20:34               it started to become a really negative experience for him. And it was clear that Tristan was choosing not to show them what he knew, which means for me that he was obviously being told the message that we’re not in that or feeling shamed about being able to do those things. Yeah. Why do you think that was, Do you, did you ever get the more of a,

00:20:56               It’s interesting just learnt that at that place. That’s not where we learn. We do that when we get home and our weekends would we fall of STEM clubs and after school and, and obviously it was only a couple of days a week then, so you’d go to the STEM club at the library and you’d have this four or five-year-old rock up. And the guy would like,

00:21:11               this is for seven year olds. You’re like, yeah, yeah. Just give it a go. And then you’d be like, and then obviously your son would be with them and they’d just be answering all the questions. Okay then. Sure. And that was great because I found those people outside of the school who would be like, fair enough. You can stay,

00:21:26               you clearly can cope with this. Let’s see what else we could do. We had that curiosity coming out of outside people working with them, but he just wasn’t getting that at school. So, because I think they’d focus so much on that social aspect, school became about play and social stuff. It wasn’t about learning. It was about hanging out with your mates and then learning how to play.

00:21:45               Yeah. My oldest, obviously Tristan’s friend exactly the same school became somewhere he played. And then when he got home, he learns, he would spend four hours. Kids are home right now and I’m a teacher. So part of me is like, yeah, but also like it’s kind of sad because they’re hungry for something and they’re not getting it at school.

00:22:07               Well, yeah, In the end for us, it became unsustainable. It became a point of depression for him. And it resulted in some really unhealthy behavior because he, he wasn’t getting what he needed. And so how did that, it’s going to manifest itself with Tristan. Did you see that sort of stuff or, or did he just hide? Heidi went really quiet.

00:22:32               So by the time he’d been there, we’d been there for two to bit years. Cause he did kindie and then he’d started, he left halfway through reception at that point I’d had enough. Yeah. And look, I think in some ways they, there are things they did with him. There was one teacher, particularly who, who worked quite well with him on maths and things were doing a lot of gold bead work.

00:22:51               If you’re familiar with Montessori, that’s not something we normally do at those lower levels. Look it up. It’s very interesting, but it felt like Tristan could never tell me what he was learning. And when I went to school to visit, you know, they’d be doing the little plays or something. And my son is out there. Like he’s like me,

00:23:09               he’s very, he’s an extrovert. Like he does not care. He will dance. He was saying, he will have some fun, but at school that’s not who he was. He was very quiet. He was very introverted. He learned that when you’re in the classroom, you shut up, you don’t ask questions, you don’t get involved. And then playtime is when he came alive,

00:23:27               I’d got it wrong. I got it all backwards. And that did a lot of damage because now he’s at the right school. Cause he’s now, he’s now at Darra where they actually understand his brain and how it works and can meet his needs. It’s taken, it took him a couple of terms to relearn that school was where we learned. And we are Nina.

00:23:46               We got our weekends back and our evenings back and we’ll have a normal kid in inverted commas. You know, if there is such a thing after school now, while he wants to play games or soccer or go skateboarding, that’s his thing. You know, like he’s got things now that are not academic because he’s getting that met at his school. So I don’t think he was depressed,

00:24:04               but I think he just went, he wasn’t able to be himself. And he was managing that by shutting down at school and then getting vivaciously hungry for whatever he needed outside of it. So at what point did, did it sort of all hit the wall so to speak? At what point did you go, okay, we need to get an assessment done,

00:24:24               see what we’re dealing with, you know, how did that sort of pan out? Yeah. Well I knew about your experience and Yeah, cause we were just really a couple of months ahead Because I said, you know, your kid is because yeah, that totally ticks every box. He’s ridiculous. He’s like he is a walking example, poster child.

00:24:42               And from my training in the UK, I could see all of that. Just the way he spoke, the way articulated himself, the rate at which he devoured information, the hunger for that, there was just lots about him that ticked every box. There’s an in your face gift. He totally CTS all the boxes, but they all are really, I can tell them my life.

00:25:00               Now I tell you I can go.<inaudible> Youngest just started a new sort of preschool. And, and the teacher there is totally out for just kind of like, let’s see where this kid can go. And I was sitting in and transition day for a an hour or so with him. And there was this other child they’re just focused on making these patterns and counting.

00:25:27               And he had this thing in mind that you could see he was trying to work through it, but he kept clashing with the other kids. Cause he wanted those bits to finish. It was very important that he, he made this pattern and the, the teachers were a bit like, Oh, you’ve got to share. And, and we’re kind of seeing it as a bad behavior,

00:25:44               but I was like, Oh no, this is interesting. Yeah. What’s he up to game play for someone that age. Yeah. And I think the kids, they do find each other. A lot of Tristan’s friends have turned out to be gifted and different parents respond to that in different ways, you know? But yeah. A lot of the people that he’s connected with and remained connected with are gifted.

00:26:06               So he has found other kids who think like him and act like him. Yeah. And that’s the thing, isn’t it. We all want connection. We all, we’re a species who is all about community and connection. And it’s only natural that we gravitate towards people who think like us have our values and all of those things. So, and when you don’t have that,

00:26:29               it’s really isolated. Of course. And that’s what was happening to him at that school. I mean his, his mental health was suffering not to the extent. I think obviously Finn had been there a lot longer and had started reception the six months before it or something.<inaudible> toddlers, toddlers, and then preschool Kindi. And he had Started reception. Yeah.

00:26:53               Six months early, but just purely because of age, not because anyone had recognized developmental need, but just purely the fluke of age. So yeah, he was just that one step ahead of where you guys were. So yeah, you’d said to us or you, you know, Oh, you think your son is gifted and we, everything was hitting the proverbial fan for us.

00:27:14               And we were in a crisis mode. So we really had to, there was a lot happening and you guys were just kind of, I think a step behind us in terms of where you were going, but you had that assessment not long after we Yeah. Cause you had yours. And I’d seen the journey that, because I think having that rapport means not only do you,

00:27:35               it’s not about the label, cause I’m not about labels, but it’s about the information that, that report gives Rich information blew my mind. We got out of that and it helped me so much to understand my son. So some other behaviors that we saw that were causing problems. So I think one of the major reasons that we got really alarmed was the way that Tristan’s behavior was manifesting in a manner that the teachers were not able to cope with.

00:28:01               And it wasn’t bad behavior is not throwing things, but things like problem solving. So, and we worked out later and I’ll explain why he was doing this. Cause I didn’t know until the psych did the report and this is one of those reasons to have that report done. I think for me, anyway, there was an incident where my husband had dropped him off at school.

00:28:17               It was the day where we swap our library. Books, Tristin really loves rules. Like he will stick to the rules. He gets really upset, but he really doesn’t like it. If he doesn’t stick to the rules, he’s a very deep, not even a diplomat. I don’t know what the word is. Dictator possibly the military police watch out guy.

00:28:38               So he had not remembered his books. He left them in the car, but he’d said goodbye to daddy. Daddy had made eye contact with the teacher. Handover, officially has occurred. Right? We can now leave. And, and my husband had gone off to the car and had done the usual parents thing, like right. Or I’ll just deregulate from that moment of millions of small children.

00:28:57               I’ll just flick through Facebook for a minute and then turn the car around to drive back home. And this would have been like five minutes, something like that. And a woman flagged the car down. Luckily our car is fairly easily recognizable. It’s covered in stickers, flag the car down and went, is this your child? And Tristan had actually left the classroom cross the oval,

00:29:17               left the school site and was standing on the side of a busy main road in floods of tears, which is not where he should be. So Matt’s like, what are you doing mate? And he’s like, well from all my books, I come to get my books address and it basically decided he could solve the problem. He hadn’t got his books.

00:29:34               He knew where they were. So he just got up and left the classroom and the site didn’t have Gates that were locked. The teacher was obviously distracted by other kids. Apparently had assumed that he’d gone off with dad, which is interesting. Cause dad had waved and said goodbye, whatever the reason she didn’t know he’d even left. We brought him back and she just assumed that because he’d come back with dad.

00:29:55               He was with dad the whole time. She hadn’t realized he’d left the classroom. He was able to leave the school site stand next to a main road. And the school did not respond to that in a way that I needed them to. Instead of asking, you know, I wanted to know why the Gates were open. Why did the teacher not know he’d left?

00:30:12               No. What is the policy around duty of care? At what time does that kick in? I know the answers to all of that, but they weren’t able to answer those questions for me. They then labeled my son. A runner is how they call him. And they started putting measures in place to manage my son, not the situation. And that was when it became really hurtful to Tristin because in a Montessori school,

00:30:36               it’s all about independence and kids maintaining their own environment. Tristan was no longer allowed to leave the classroom to water the plants. He was not trusted to do those things. He was told that he needed to earn trust back and he actually hadn’t done anything wrong, really? That the problem, I mean, obviously he shouldn’t have left the site don’t get me wrong,

00:30:56               but there was a reason why he did that and they didn’t have the expertise to understand what was happening, dig deeper and to dig deeper. Yeah. And to understand that and to label a child or runner, without asking now that I run that business, edgy folios, I’ve taken trust into so many massive conferences in Sydney and in Melbourne. And I have absolutely no problem with him coming with me.

00:31:21               He does not run off. He’s like he backed, he turns into mini 40 year old businessman. He’s in his element. Cause he’s representing the brand. Don’t, you know, you know, like he is not a runner and that was really unfair and really hurtful because Tristan’s relationships with other people are really important to him. And he responds really well to people who take the time to connect with him.

00:31:44               He doesn’t really have any time for people who don’t do that. It’s really interesting. Like he has to build a relationship with someone before he’ll trust them. And that may be part of the experience he’d had at this site. I don’t know. He takes him a while to warm up and trust someone. But when we, when we eventually got the report,

00:32:00               cause it was, it was that. And then there was the fact that they did, you didn’t know, he could write that they wouldn’t give him a reading book that he was stuck on the same readers for ages that when he’d read the readers, there were no other books that he could go to the library, but not really only on this one day.

00:32:15               So he was stuck that book and then there would be no more books. And I was being told that he wasn’t focusing in class, that he was being not disruptive, but just distracted that and that the problem was his writing, which was really interesting because two years ago he was writing sentences. So I don’t know now, you know, like there was also things that were not just adding.

00:32:36               Yep. And so it, as I said at this, his teacher was an ex student of mine and I was trying desperately because I’ve had experiences as a teacher where I’ve taught one of my ex mentor’s sons and it was awful. She was awful. And I did not want to do that to this teacher. I wanted to be supportive and helpful and try and work out together.

00:32:54               Can we work out together? What’s going on? And it all came down to what we call pedagogies, which is how we choose to deliver the learning. So in an average classroom of that age, you might repeat something two or three times in lots of different ways so that the kid gets it. So they were doing, for example, parts of a flower and they’d gone outside and they’d looked at the parts of the flower and they’d name the parts of the flower at which point,

00:33:17               trusted now knows the parts of a flower. So then he comes back into the classroom and on the whiteboard, they’ve got a picture of a flower and they’re moving the words to the picture of the flower to name. And he’s like, all right, I’ve done it twice. Okay, cool. Now I’m going to sit down in groups and I want you to do the same thing again,

00:33:33               is that that’s the third time I’ve done this and now fourth, can you write it down in your book? And he’s like, I remember An article a few years back. It may have been around this time, which suggested that in the course of teaching, you might convey that information in different ways, like up to 20 or 30 times I for primary school teachers.

00:33:53               Yeah. Which makes sense because you, you know, you do it as many times as it takes to, to stick. But this is where, And this is where it was causing problems because he was refusing to write because in his head, this was just annoying. Like it did this 20 minutes ago, you’ve made me do it three times. Why do I need to write it down?

00:34:11               And so there were all these lots of head banging problems coming up between him and the staff. And it was clear that there was a piece of the puzzle missing. And I didn’t clearly know what it was. I had a hint that it might be giftedness. And so I just decided I needed the information and that they couldn’t provide that for me, they’re not qualified to provide that.

00:34:31               They didn’t know. None of us knew where at one of those impasses, we both had different versions of the story. So let’s get a third party to do an assessment and see what that tells us an expert. If you will, an expert and actual human. First of all, you got the assessment. Firstly, how did you feel? And secondly,

00:34:52               how did the school respond? Okay. Well I think for me the assessment, the label didn’t mean much to me, but that’s just who I am. I’m not, I’ve never really gone for labels. I think labels labels are limiting. In fact, I think, but I think what’s really important for me was understanding what that meant for him. And I think that’s different for everyone because reading fins is very different to reading trust and the way they,

00:35:17               so one of the things that have been really bothering me about Tristan as he’d been lying to me a lot, the way I saw it was he would lie to me. He would cover his tracks are no, no that hasn’t happened. Blah, blah, blah. And, and that was kind of what was going on with this, you know, leaving the school site.

00:35:30               But I can’t, I know, you know, he didn’t want to upset me. There were things like that. And that was hurting me because I didn’t know why he would lie to me. And the best bit about that process was having the psychologist explained to me the way he was seeing the world, like his map of the world is different to mine.

00:35:47               So he’s not lying. He is solving a problem. Like mom’s going to get upset. So rather than do that, if I just tell her this version of events, see if I get away with it, no one’s going to get upset. Life’s going to be easier. And so we then had to work on, you know, it’s okay if you haven’t done something,

00:36:05               right. Cause that’s the other thing he’s broken a rule or something’s not gone to plan, which is soul destroying. So the idea of admitting that to someone he really cares about was huge. Which to me, I wouldn’t have really understood what what’s no big, it would be nothing. It’d be nothing that at all, tiny little things you’re like who ate that lolly or you know,

00:36:23               little things that really are not life or death. He couldn’t cope with that. The reason that he left the school became really clear in terms of why he walked off. And it was because the test showed that Justin had something called cognitive dissonance, which means that he has a chronological age. And then he has a cognitive age, which is a couple of years ahead of his developmental age.

00:36:44               So although at that time he was five in his head, he was seven, eight years old and he thought he could solve the problem. Whereas a five-year-old wouldn’t normally do that. They’d just go, Oh, I need some help or, Oh, well, nevermind. This was really important to him. He thought he knew how to solve the problem.

00:37:00               It got the steps in his head, but when he got to the main road and dad, wasn’t where he expected him to be. He instantly turned back into a five-year-old because the plan hadn’t gone to plan and he didn’t have the emotional skills to deal with that emotion of disappointment. And Oh my God, I seem to be outside. You know? And without having had that psych report,

00:37:20               we wouldn’t have known about that cognitive dissonance. So we wouldn’t have understood that was what was happening. And it’s not the teacher’s fault either. They’re not trained in that. So they wouldn’t have known that. I wouldn’t know that as a teacher, I didn’t know about cognitive dissonance at that point, I knew about gifted ed, but not in that much detail.

00:37:37               So things like that, getting to understand why he does that, because that’s really important. That explains why, you know, he’s a, five-year-old with a 40 year olds mind. Yeah. That’s a bit, you know what I mean? Like that’s the old soul, but yeah. It’s always been a couple of years, cognitively ahead, of where he’s been developmentally,

00:37:54               which must’ve been super frustrating as a baby because he would have had all this stuff and he wouldn’t have been able to communicate it. No wonder he didn’t sleep. And he screamed all the time and wouldn’t leave my side. So for me, I felt enabled, I think is the word I would use by the, by the diagnosis. If you want to know what you call it,

00:38:10               the label, whatever you want to call It, it’s almost like knowledge really is power. Yeah. You know, what’s going on, Paul? It’s like, Okay, this makes sense. Get it so much makes sense. There’s so much rich information in there and understanding. And at that point, I mean, we didn’t have our third at that point.

00:38:27               And our second we’re still quite young, but I’m like, we’re doing this for our children because I just like, I don’t care where they’re, I just want this insight until they brain. Yeah. It’s just amazing, fascinating. And so enlightening and empowering. It really helps doesn’t it. And if we needed it, we needed it at that point because I’d exhausted my,

00:38:48               that sunshine and lollipops mentoring styles. I had exhausted my come on. Did the school respond well? You know, I was kind of hoping they would respond as I did. Oh, thank goodness. This solves some problems. Now it’s interesting. This is really interesting. Let’s put X, Y and Zed measures in place. Unfortunately, that isn’t how that school responded,

00:39:07               which was a real shame because I think there’s a real growth opportunity for that site there that they just keep dismissing. And I know there’s lots of children. I know Finn was in the same boat. There’s a fair few children who left that site for the same reason. And I think parents of gifted kids will be attracted to Montessori for those reasons. I said at the beginning and Look,

00:39:24               I think be low, find a great Montessori, like awesome. Cause I think the building blocks are all there for it. Absolutely. But it it’s that interpretation of the philosophy. Isn’t it. It’s just finding that. Right. Try to have a conversation with the person who founded the school because Montessori philosophy is very built on developmental stages. It’s not built on academic or cognitive function.

00:39:46               So you have to move from one house to the next based on your developmental stages. And I tried to have a conversation with them. Well, what happens if, you know, developmentally you’re here, but cognitively you’re over there and that just wouldn’t compute it just, yeah, but that doesn’t mean that all Montessori, I mean the previous Montessori was that was just like,

00:40:05               cool. Let’s just see where we can go because the way their facility was set up meant that they could do that. They could just let him go and just see where he went and just follow him and support him on that journey. And I think this other site had it set up very differently that they couldn’t do that. They didn’t have the room to do that.

00:40:20               And I think they had educators there, particularly in the early years who were very set in their ways, who always did it this way. They followed this path with these tools, with these resources. And that was that. It didn’t matter really. That’s what we did. I mean, I can remember Tristin wasn’t allowed to book because she’d asked him what rhyme was and he couldn’t tell her.

00:40:40               So rather than just telling him and teaching him what Ryan was, that was the reason he wasn’t allowed to book to read. And I was like, that’s ridiculous. Just in rhyme. Is this tell her what Romans, this is. Give her an example. Okay, there you go. Is that your problem solved? It was really weird. They didn’t respond the way they should have.

00:40:56               I think genuinely, they just weren’t equipped to deal with it. I think they probably know that they need to be, but they got very armored and defensive about it. And I wasn’t trying, I was desperately trying not to be that parents always very gentle. I thought with it, I was trying to be very supportive. I did my usual thing of,

00:41:17               I did what I would call a, a book review. I’d got out all his portfolios and I laid them side by side and I made a spreadsheet because I’m a teacher and I analyzed the data to see what his progress was because I wasn’t getting that feedback. I could show them that he was doing the same things and they’re like, he’s not doing the same thing.

00:41:33               So I can tell you now I’m like, well, where’s the evidence. So It doesn’t look that way. What, they weren’t able to communicate with me about his progress. They weren’t able to hear what I was saying. And they dismissed the psychologist’s report. You know, they, they didn’t feel like they had a responsibility to understand the content of that.

00:41:53               It was almost like they didn’t have the resources to do that. Or there’s only so much resource for that. But I actually feel as an educator myself, that’s I would love it if every child had that rope. Oh my God, it’d be so much easier. Yeah. Because I would understand so much more about how their brain works. There were some really key pieces of information there and the principal at the time,

00:42:15               wasn’t helping. Cause you know, at one point I kind of really wanted him to leave the conversation because I would say, or, you know, I got out all this data and I said, Oh, this is Chris. And he would, Oh, you know, but he was doing that at eight months old, you know, making jokes like,

00:42:27               Oh yeah, you’re all. Cause he was doing that when he was, before he was walking, you know? And like, that’s not helpful. That’s actually, That’s really, Oh, what’s the word. It’s just, it’s almost making you out to be a liar. Isn’t it. It’s sort of tearing down Kristen and you what you’ve had to say.

00:42:44               And I’ve spoken to a lot of parents and regrettably, the theme is so common. It it’s this theme of the children not being able to learn and the way that they need to learn. And unfortunately just this rigidity within the system. And I don’t know, I’m making assumptions here, but is it a way, you know, the way that teachers are trained and a lot of teachers,

00:43:12               I’m not going to say all because there’s obviously great teachers out there who are responsive and getting this, but the ones that I’ve talked to with other parents, they’ve not been able to see outside of this rigidity, outside of this box for what these students need. It’s just, they end up being the naughty child or the child with behavior issues or you end up being that parent and,

00:43:35               and somehow labels. Yeah. You know, you, what you, what you’re trying to communicate in the issues around your child, just get diminished because you’ve been labeled, you know, as troublemakers, you have the parent and the child. And it’s really, I mean, it’s, it’s obviously incredibly sad and, and a real deficit. And I,

00:43:56               and I find it fascinating because I kind of went into this with the expectation that will you guys see a lot of kids of this age, like for years and years you would have seen, I dunno, hundreds of kids at this age. And I, my expectation as a parent, not an educator and with very little experience of any kids was that,

00:44:19               Whoa, surely they would know what to look for. They would know the kids that don’t fit in the box and be able to recognize certain things that I wouldn’t have recognized, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I just wonder, I think we trust him. He just, by the time he got to reception, he’d already learnt not to be himself at school.

00:44:39               Yeah. He was hiding. So he wasn’t, he still does it now a little bit at Darra. Like I’ll never forget the first term I looked at his books and one of the SSOs had done all the writing and they were like, Oh yeah, Justin says he needs some help. I was like, aha. So I took in some of his writing,

00:44:52               they’d done at home and they’re like, ah, exhibit a Hunter knows how to play the system. Right. It’s how to get out of doing stuff he doesn’t really want to do because he’s learned that he learned that from the education system. Like if I don’t want to write, then I can do this and someone will help me to do it. So it’s,

00:45:15               I wonder partly whether it’s about, there comes a point where, and I think it’s really hard because I know those tests as gifted ed tests are not meant to be done when they’re really little. But I think by the time we’re doing them, we’ve already done so much damage that the way they think of school. Yeah. And that they’ve learnt not to learn almost.

00:45:34               And then there’s, this is not at school trauma. You know, so many parents I’ve spoken to, there’s already trauma and their kids are only like four or five or six and they’re damaged from this process. And of course, you know, an assessment is just this snapshot in time. It’s not the be all and end all, it just gives you a bit of information in a window,

00:45:54               into the brain on that particular day or that particular moment. I mean, you can’t hold it up to be everything, but it certainly is an incredibly valuable tool to use. And so thank you very much for coming along and sharing your story or the motherhood story. And I like to finish with one of your favorite aha moments or just one of those moments where your child has just done something like,

00:46:23               and you’ve kind of gone, Oh my God, what the, you know, just one of those classic gifted moments, does anything come to mind? There have been so many ridiculous call and ridiculous moments. Yeah. I think, I guess even just walking in and finding that sentence on the white board, but not trying to have to check that Matt didn’t write it.

00:46:41               My husband, what did you do? You know that little thing at that point, he would’ve been about three and he’s written like, it’s impressive. So I’m like, okay. They nap. That was that. I mean, and also just the, the way he likes to explain everything to everyone, I would like to call it a gifted explaining.

00:47:00               Cause you couldn’t possibly understand. So he needs to tell you, but he’s being helpful and he’s trying to help you. You know? I think Justin is just, he’s just him. It’s really funny. I don’t think there is one huge moment. Aha. He’s just always been deceased. Lots of little moments, little moments, lots of like, okay,

00:47:18               that’s just who you are. It doesn’t really stand out. Like he doesn’t. Yeah. I don’t know. And you think of what I’m just trying to think. Oh, you know, what I love about tea is Because, you know, tea thrown into the mix of my three and he he’s still about the rules. If you say this old structure,

00:47:37               it’s not just enough for him to follow that rule, which he will do religiously, but he also will try and enforce that rule in others. Yes. And so my youngest two is three, two will be like, so, you know, we can’t go there. No, you can’t do that. And I tried to explain that it’s going to be challenged,

00:47:52               you know, even for a gifted three-year-old you, you kind of good luck T and it’s just that commitment to the rules, which I love about him. Yeah, definitely. Oh yes. And I love, I love it when your own words come out of their mouth. Oh my God. That can also be scary. Yeah. Yeah. Well,

00:48:09               thank you so much for your time today. It’s been a delight to have this chat and I look forward to get you back and talking about other stuff, which I’m sure we will. And I’m happy to talk very much. Thank you. You enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way. I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments for more episodes,

00:48:27               you can subscribe and to help others find our podcast. Please leave a review. You can find show notes and more resources@ourgiftedkids.com and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. See you in the same place next week.

#005 Starting Over – Tennille’s Story.

#005 Starting Over – Tennille’s Story.

Starting Over.

Tennille’s brave decision to move her son interstate to find friends.

Today I’m speaking with Tennille about discovering her son is gifted and moving interstate to find like-minded friends and a school that worked for him.

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • Tennille’s journey of figuring out her son was gifted.
  • The challenge of figuring out your first/only child is gifted.
  • Her decision to move interstate to find the right school.
  • The challenges of finding friends and peers for gifted kids.
  • A gifted child who actually sleeps! They do exist!
  • The challenges of getting emotional and social needs met.

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“I always thought he was pretty special, he just got things very quickly, but I didn’t think it was any different, certainly not outstanding in any way.” – Tennille

“I started thinking about it [gifted] on his second birthday when he picked up a board book but just sat on my nan’s lap and read the board book to her.” – Tennille

“He couldn’t handle more than five minutes with one kid and he was regulating his own social [situation] so there was never any complaints, he was managing it,  but he wasn’t getting what he needed and we just hadn’t seen the affects yet. And that’s when I knew this is going to be a social, emotional, problem.” – Tennille

“He said to me “these guys get me” and I’m like, what, I didn’t even noticed that he had known the difference but he saw some of these other Dara kids saying stuff and he understood them and they were saying stuff that he felt that I didn’t know he felt.” – Tennille

“I had my car shipped across, and we each had two suitcases, and that was all we brought with us. We started fresh and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, it was massive. We have no family here, we’d never visited the school.” – Tennille


Subscribe & Review

If you enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments.

For more episodes, you can subscribe and to help others find our podcast please leave a review.

You can find show notes and more resources at www.ourgiftedkids.com

See you in the same place next week.


Connect with me on LinkedIn Instagram & Facebook!



 00:00:00               Today, I’m talking to, to Neil about discovering that her son is gifted and then moving into state to find the best school for him. Hi, I’m Sophia Elliot as a parent of three gifted kids. I’m here to talk about all things gifted because I’ve been isolated and uncertain. And I felt like that parent, then I found peace of mind support and my community.

00:00:27               This podcast is about sharing that journey, actually parenting gifted kids and connecting with advice and support. So we have everything we need for every member of our family to thrive. This is the, our gifted kid podcast. Hi Neil. Thanks so much for coming in and talk to us today. Very welcome. Safier I’m glad to be here. Excellent. So it’s lovely to take this time to talk about your journey with your son.

00:00:55               Your son is gifted. Yes. And you know, with hindsight looking back, were there little things in those early years that just kind of made you think that you might be gifted? Or how did it all come about from pretty early on? I was, I always thought he was pretty special. He just got things very quickly. Yeah. But I didn’t think it was anything very different,

00:01:26               certainly not outstanding in any way or anything like that. But I thought he was going to be pretty clearly. So he was, Barry is one of those kids where, when he finally gets something, you can actually see the light bulb go on. So little things like his playing with the DVD covers when I think he was three months old, just pushing them around or something.

00:01:53               Now I must have been a bit older five or six months. And he figured out that the picture on the front of the place called DVD was the same. It actually related to what he’d seen on the TV. And the first time he’d figured that out and you saw this light bulb go off. So he’s just one of those kids you just saw when he learned something.

00:02:16               And it was an instantaneous thing. So I was spotted lots of these little things over time. He was very talkative little kid. Yeah. So did he talk early? No, he wasn’t. He didn’t talk particularly early. Think he was about nine months. I don’t. Yeah. Some might say that’s a tad. This is what happens when you have a first child.

00:02:45               Yes. Or in my case, only child that’s gifted. You don’t have, and you haven’t had a lot of exposure to other kids. Absolutely. I was the same. I, and I had no nieces or nephews, cousins. Like I just, I didn’t think I’d held a baby, you know, and I saw it. It was clueless.

00:03:05               And similarly I thought, you know, yeah, he’s pretty sharp. And, and we had just no expectation Of, you know, what that Actually was when we figured that out. So yeah. Blows you away a bit. I think I I’ve found Angus Very, very teachable from very early on. I suppose that was, that was the big thing that seemed different.

00:03:31               Was he understood more, even though he couldn’t say it, I’d just give him instructions and he’d just do it. Yeah. He only I could teach him no, don’t come in the kitchen and it was almost an instantaneous thing. And then he’d play on it and try and wait till you’re watching and then pretend to do it, to see your reaction,

00:03:52               talking with the big cheeky grin on his face, just testing those boundaries. And did he just picked up on things really quickly. And he was just very open as far as instruction went, which my, my life an awful amount easier. But when he was eight months old, I put my back out. I wasn’t allowed to pick him up. So yeah,

00:04:16               that must have been hard. I’d have to, okay. Angus it’s time for your bottle. Come over to the couch and he’d just crawl over just a couch total over hade Toby. When he needed his nappy changed, she’d just Crow it, cruise over to the change table and read all the change table. And he was one of those kids who,

Continue Reading Transcript Here...

00:04:36               when it was bedtime and behold, if you do not put him to bed immediately, he would be at the car, shaking the car, put me to bed. Oh my God. I thought those children were a myth. No, no. I had one. I have no personal experience of knowing my friend, friends, Very jealous. Cause he he’d sleep 11 hours a night.

00:05:00               You just you’re just teasing me. And then three, two hour Napster. That’s just rude. It’s just, it is horrible. That’s interesting because one of those characteristics they talk about gifted kids is they can be very, what’s the word I’m looking for. They don’t have much sleep that. So, you know, and I love that. Just reinforces it.

00:05:23               They’re all different. They are all different. Right. And for me, I, because Angus was such a good sleeper when I finally met other gifted Families, it didn’t say expected them To say, yeah, my kid was a good sleeper. I mean, we all know Anyone else who said that. No, that does not surprise to me. It made sense because you use sleep to reinforce your memory as children.

00:05:51               I’m going to tell my kids that. Yeah. I just, I just read it. I saw a documentary on it just recently Netflix from babies and how those naps, they need more naps to reinforce what they’ve learned in between. Yeah. Wow. And so to me it always just made sense and I was just like, Whoa, he slept a lot.

00:06:13               And he learned very quickly and I just thought the two went together since then. I’m like, well, no, that’s not necessarily the case. No, everyone is jealous. My first wasn’t too bad. But then you don’t know because it’s your first that there could be worse until you have your second. And yeah, my second would 30 minute nap,

00:06:38               couple of times a day. And that was, it just would not nap and was a nightmare for sleep right up until she was almost three and something just flicked. And now it’s the opposite. My, my oldest really struggles to, to wind down at night, but my younger, but the middle child she’s just made up for it. She just goes to bed and I’m like,

00:07:07               Oh, bless your child making up for it now. Nice. Yeah. When he, when he was little, there was, yeah. So there were little things I’m going to say the child health nurse when he was 18 months. Yeah. Did other people pick up on that as well? No. The child health. No, certainly do them.

00:07:25               Yeah. I was really surprised when they gave you the sheet and said, that was your job, 10 words, 20 words or two 50 words. And I was like, Oh, it’s definitely got more than 50, but I hadn’t counted. And child health nurse rolled her eyes. Yeah, sure, sure, sure, sure. Or, and I actually listed the map in one of Angus’s crayons to do,

00:07:55               and it was well over a hundred before I stopped counting and, and I’m like, okay, so that’s in Tucson. Yeah. On the highest height. Yeah. But it still didn’t click. Yeah. So at what point did it click? When did it all kind of come to get started Talking about it on his second birthday when he just picked up a board book,

00:08:16               sat on my Nan’s lap and read the board book to my Nana, my pot. Wow. Simple single words. Nothing flashy, nothing flashy, but he’s seen over and over, but he was too. And he was reading it and we’re looking at it online. Is he remembering it? Is he just, is, he is parroting. Yes. There are pictures there it’s quite clear.

00:08:40               Nothing too drastic. So I had three days later, we were walking down the street. We lived opposite a small country school and all the cars were parked out the front. We walked past and he counted 17 cars. Oh 17 at two. Yeah. Okay. And I was like, no, that’s wrong. That’s wrong. That’s definitely a stain.

00:09:05               And he’s like, no, there’s 17. And so I counted it for him and noticed that he, from his perspective, he could see one part behind it. Now you couldn’t see that. I couldn’t see. And I’m like, Oh yes, you’ve got that. And then he just started going 1920 and then he just stopped 20. And I’m like,

00:09:30               yeah. 20 thinking that’s good enough. And he’s like, no. And he just looks at me and goes 11. Oh. Is figuring it’s that I know where it’s supposed to go. I don’t know what it’s called. Like you’ve kind of gotten the pattern. Yeah. But Anna’s like, Oh, okay. So it goes 21 and then 22.

00:09:50               And then he went up to 29th, straight away 11, But I know what the next one. I remember my old school teacher who had become the principal of this small country school was sitting out front and she was actually sitting on the steps of the entrance to the school because she knew we would do to come back from playgroup or something. And she goes,

00:10:17               I’d heard about this little boy, this stage he’s about two and a half. Yeah. Not quite three. And, and so she has a chat with him and there’s certainly other about Mike the night. Oh yes. Yep. And at one point she goes, he was really looking for the right word to use then I’m like, yeah. That’s course.

00:10:38               Yeah. I ha and she takes him inside and she starts giving him these little tests. Oh yeah. New lineup please. Yeah. And counting the animals in the fish tank. And then you’ve got all these receptionists and other teachers coming out or Hey, check this kid out. And he said, he’s counting how many fish? Ah, yeah. I remember one of the polling of our teachers.

00:11:02               And he was like, Oh yeah, well, it’s not really doing it type thing. And I remember that teacher first time he was in their class and he was doing a little reading test. He was so I’ll start before or in a few months. And he was doing this ABC reading eggs test on thing. And the word castle came up now,

00:11:25               Angus red castle. And this same teacher went just George dropped. Yeah. And cause I was in the classroom as a parent teacher helper. And he’s like, he actually read that, but there’s no other indicator he read word. And I’m like, Yeah, yeah. All that sort of stuff. But the big, big clue was when we went to the doctor and Angus who has had renal issues.

00:11:52               And he was in out of hospital quite a bit when he was younger, started telling the doctor what everything did, this is the blood pressure cough. And this is how you use it. And this is a thermometer and this is this, and this is for taking your temperature. And if you get too hot, then you’re sick. Yeah. In three-year-old language.

00:12:13               Yeah. Yeah. It was three at the time. It was, is actually a three-year-old checkup. Yeah. He’d just gotten these immunizations and he’d just had a lovely discussion if the nurse outside, when he’d gotten his immunizations about the difference between live and dead vaccines. Oh, okay, great. I should do. Yeah. Because it’s very nice to seeing the chicken pox.

00:12:33               Yeah. Yeah. You want to know all about it. And so we went in with the darken and they’re chatting away and all this sort of stuff and he gives him his usual development tests and that sort of thing. And as we’re leaving, the doctor goes, Oh, he’s, he’s pretty forward. And I’m like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,

00:12:53               yeah, yeah. I know. And I went to turn the knob to the door as I was leaving and he stopped me and he actually said, no, he is very forward and you’ll need to consider getting him tested. Oh wow. That, that was, that was the moment it’s like, no, no, no, no. And it’s a hard thing,

00:13:17               isn’t it? Because when it’s your first or when you’ve not got the experience of kids, you just don’t know what you don’t know. You’ve got no comparisons. Yeah. You don’t really imagine that your kid is like, you know, it’s like, yeah, they’re pretty sharp, but that’s just normal. That’s just, that’s just nowadays. Yeah. And I remember one terrible time Angus was at a play group.

00:13:43               He was talking about the different animals on the table and that sort of thing. And this other cake came in and he hadn’t started speaking yet. And then around two and a half, I’m not sure. And Hey, he wasn’t verbalizing and Angus was verbose. Yes. And, and I remember talking with this mom and she started getting really worried had she was the first time mum as well.

00:14:10               So she hadn’t had a lot of yep. Exposure with her child to other children remembering very small country town living out on. Yeah, absolutely. She’s probably freaking out. This is kind of first foray to that. Yeah. And so straight off the bat, she freaks. Yeah. She’s like really worried that I’m wrong with her kid and I was being ever so consent encouraging.

00:14:38               Yeah. Trying to be encouraging, trying to be helpful and not trying to compare kids or anything. Yeah. But I did turn to her and I go, well, if you’re really worried, maybe you should get him checked out. Yeah. Well not Realizing my checked out. I’m not always, I just remember that. And from that moment, yeah.

00:15:02               Well, once I realized that Angus was so far ahead that comparing kids is just not the way to go. No, you get yourself into real trouble. And I think that’s the tricky thing about the gifted label is I don’t know, there’s something about that term gifted that I feel just implies comparison in, in a way that prevents us from really seeing these kids as individuals and just as they are and,

00:15:36               and both their strengths and weaknesses and the challenges and, and yeah, it’s a hard conversation. And I, and a lot of parents, I talk to just feel that taboo, Oh my kid’s gifted, but God wouldn’t tell anyone, you know, like, because it just feels implied even though it’s really hard and it’s not what people imagine. I was lucky.

00:16:02               I was lucky being in such a small country, town and Angus growing up and teachers around were already familiar with him and we’re expecting certain things of him and just the way he was with shop owners and that sort of thing. And everybody knew him and everybody commented that how clever he was and that sort of thing. And so it was kind of just a given.

00:16:29               So when I actually, and then I did get him tested and initially I only told a couple of really, really close friends that he, he had gone through the testing and, and then it was okay now I got to talk to the school. Yeah. And I remember the kindie teacher who I spoke to and I brought in a stack of stuff that I hadn’t shown her,

00:16:55               that he had been doing at home after I’d gotten this report. And I given to report, which had freaked her out. And then I showed her what he was doing at home. And I was trying to figure out just where he was supposed to be and Shay all of a sudden, and I’ll never forget. She’s just like, I am so relieved.

00:17:21               And I’m like, Oh, That wasn’t, that wasn’t the response. I was expecting. A lot of parents get pushback if they stop kids from dentures and that sort of thing, I think because she’d seen him since he was two. Yeah. She was his daycare worker a little bit differently. And, and she was also our, now I love small towns.

00:17:45               That’s beautiful. It sounds great. But she was like, I have no idea what to do with him. Oh. But thankfully Be asleep. Thankfully someone does. And I know her honesty if I’m missing something. Yeah. She’s looking at this stack of stuff he’s doing at home and she’s like, okay. So at least he’s getting it. He’s going to get it somewhere.

00:18:08               Yeah. He’s going to be okay. And thank goodness, you’re not expecting me to do everything because I don’t have a clue. Yeah. So that was really good. Yeah. You do get a lot of information from that. And I remember one teacher having gotten this report and going, I just don’t have time to, And there was, there was a lot of information in that,

00:18:33               but yeah, so the school was, and the kindie where Angus was at the time was really responsive. And so that’s quite actually really positive. I know that you moved from, was Western Australia to South Australia to attend Dara, which is the Australia is currently only school for gifted children. And so What prompted that move? Where did you end up?

00:18:58               Because that’s a big move. It is, it is this school that we were in. They were very responsive, which is all, he went from kindergarten at three and a half to ye pre-primary at five to grade one at five and a half for full year of grade one before I left now he was actually doing well. Yeah. And we really had no complaints.

00:19:24               My issue was how things were going to progress in the future. One of the big things was looking for some a like-mind just one. Yeah. So someone, so did he have friends that he could, he had friends, He had friends that he had basically grown up with the same three kids in the daycare that he had. He had been with every day,

00:19:48               for years. So he had friends and he was well-liked. Yeah. That was to my mind a non-issue yeah. The biggest thing I found was seeing the differences cropping up. Yeah. He really wanted to be friends with this particular eight year old boy and he was four. Right. Okay. And this boy was super kind. He was just lovely and inclusive and invite him around to play and stuff.

00:20:16               And I was good friends with his mom, but Angus really wanted a closer relationship. And this eight year old boys, like, you’re really sweet, but not Thank you like for like four. So that was, that was never not going to happen. And the ones he’d grown up with, he was fine with outside. Yeah. So basically, yeah.

00:20:43               Hey, it wasn’t an issue. He was on path and everybody was around the same. I mean, these kids were kids would do my mountain biking competitions through the forest. They would they’re country kids in trees. They they’re out there. They’re very physical. And so he had a ball with them. Problem was when you got them inside and on a rainy day and you noticed,

00:21:13               but they only want to watch baby shows or they only want to bored or they don’t know how to play, guess who properly. And then the anger you’re cheating. It doesn’t understand the rules yet. You need to give him some time to learn or play something else. And it was like, I don’t want to play baby games. Oh, well how about you watch something on TV,

00:21:36               fine. Put on a DVD. He chose a documentary on swamp tigers and should do. And so one of these little boys sits in front of things and he’s mesmerized and he’s watching this documentary, which is great, except Angus doesn’t want to watch the documentary. He wants to discuss the documentary and this and that. And what do you think of this?

00:22:03               And this kid’s just glued to the TV. First time he’s watched it took French in that. Whereas I guess is what she’s 15 times. Yeah. So, but he wasn’t getting that feedback that he was yeah. Desiring. And I get that. My eldest very sociable. He had lots of friends. He was the type of kid who he’d known someone for two minutes and he’d be like,

00:22:27               Oh, I love you to come over and play, you know, telling people our address. It’s like, Oh, direction stuff to your front door, to the lady at the hospital. Absolutely. And, but, but I, and you know, I’d never actually thought about it before, but it was the same when he was outside playing rough and tumble,

00:22:49               it was fine. But when he tried to Connect about something that was, he was really thinking about, you could see that he just would, he just would bounce off people. Then he’d try someone else need bounce off. It was really sad to watch. But at that same time, him and a few other boys in the class had this real rough and tumble gain that used to play in the sand pit.

00:23:13               And as parents, you know, they’d be playing up to school and we’d be watching them going, Oh, like, they’re all right. They’re not hurting each other or anything, but it’s like, something’s going on? They weren’t going through something. But as long as they were playing, it was okay. Yeah. It was just that connection. Isn’t it,

00:23:31               it’s really hard. It’s just, they, a lot of the times I find people think that they’re gifted kids in particular, especially when you look at stereotypes in think Sheldon that’s right. It’s yeah. And they’re not, they don’t have that social capacity. Yeah. What I’ve actually found, at least in my experience is that they’re actually emotionally, socially,

00:24:03               probably not emotionally, but socially advanced. And at four years old, they’re looking for these connections that they shouldn’t be looking for till they’re. Right. Exactly. And they can’t find anyone to reciprocate. And without that reciprocation, then they’ve got four years, another four years or half of their life. Yeah. Not getting what they need. So it’s not surprising that by then they’re socially stunted.

00:24:32               They haven’t had that four years of that’s. It’s a really interesting, yeah. That’s my personal opinion. Yeah. That’s interesting. But, and I could, I was worried about that happening with Angus. I didn’t want him to turn into a Sheldon. I wanted him to be very well-rounded and that was my goal. I wasn’t looking for someone who was going to be the next rocket scientist or Nobel prize winner.

00:25:00               When I found out he was gifted, it was more, I’m worried about his emotional wellbeing. Yeah. And how, how is this going to affect him? So when he was, we were at this tiny little school and we joined mincer and I went on the website and I’m trying to find out who he can connect with. And this is Mensa group in Perth,

00:25:21               which is great. We were five hours from Perth. Oh, wow. That’s okay. We can try during school holidays, maybe when you’re a bit older and you can join in the programs. Yeah. That would be great. But I’m just looking for one person outside of that area. The closest one we found was three hour drive away. Wow.

00:25:40               Yeah. That’s hard to found a couple of other medicines in area two or three towns away, but they were adults. Yeah. Not children. So that was my big thing. He’s never going to find someone, one person is all I was after that he can connect with. And not long after I had joined Mensa, I actually got an email from Alan Thompson,

00:26:07               welcoming me and so forth. And sending me, I little video that some of the teachers at Dara had produced to the conference. Oh, I can show it at a conference. And he suggested that after having looked at Angus’s report, he suggested I considered R yeah. And so I had a look at it and I’m like, no way I can do this,

00:26:36               but it’s really interesting. And I went onto the dire website and found out the applications were closing in two days. So I went, well, let’s just do it. Nothing’s going to come of it. Nothing’s going to come up. So why did you think nothing would come with it? The application process. Okay. You just didn’t think you’d get through that or not smart Things you expect.

00:27:00               I mean, Particularly with older kids, school reports, Nat plan. Sure. Results and all that sort of stuff. We haven’t gotten there yet. So, and I knew Angus was going to be youngest of the kids type thing and all that sort of stuff. So I didn’t expect it, but I thought, you know what? Let’s just give it a,

00:27:18               go see what comes of it. Yeah. Two weeks later I was asked for an interview and then straight away I was, he was offered a place. Yeah. And I had two weeks to get the bone together, pay it and decide whether we were going, yeah, sorry. This all happened over a four week period Christmas that I had no idea how I was going to do this.

00:27:43               And I’m a single mum. Yeah. In this tiny little country town, five hours outside of hours outside of Paris, You don’t get more remote. So that’s not 500 kilometers away from where the nearest capital<inaudible> The serious, low socioeconomic area. I, I did have a part time job, but really like high and all the rest. And so it was basically,

00:28:08               we did a big garage sale and just said, everybody buy whatever you can. Yeah. Whatever you need. And everything’s going into flight to get us over there. And we started fresh when we came, I had my car shipped across. Yeah. And I, we H had two suitcases. Wow. And that was all we bought with us and we started fresh and it was the scariest thing I have ever done.

00:28:33               That’s huge. It was, it was massive. And we have no family here. We’d never visited the school. Yeah. I swear if I had seen this, Well, I wouldn’t have kept no Dara Having to start as it has in amongst it. A bigger public school. Yes. Yes. It’s it’s small. It’s small. Yeah. So for context,

00:28:56               Dara is, or was when Angus has started about 30 students in basically two rooms on the site of another primary school and then not glamorous rooms. It’s not, it’s not a new primary school. So when you, and I know what you mean. Cause when we went there for the interview, you’ve kind of got the meeting table in the admin. It’s just one room,

00:29:24               there’s a room for students and teaching and there’s a room for admin and that’s the school and Yeah. And it’s, and you definitely go there for the teaching. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, and it’s, I have to say though, delightful that next term, the school is moving into its forever home. We are sorting through it and it’s just this awesome,

00:29:48               like 19, early 1900 dimension. I just can’t see it. I can’t teach building. It’s going to be, it’s so amazing. I know. I can’t wait. It’s all this space and it’s just so awesome. So yeah. But, but nonetheless at the time it’s pretty underwhelming in terms of the looks, it wasn’t, this isn’t some fancy smancy private school with all the facilities,

00:30:13               but because it would have only been in its second year, was it? Yeah. Anger. Anger came in at the start of the second year and We accepted The position and I had then had to grow and tell yes, as teachers, it was in the middle of school holidays, we already finished. And there was changes being made at the school.

00:30:36               Principal had gone on long service life. There were other tapes, a new principal was coming in. They were mixing things up and teachers were making crosses and it was all for the teachers. It was a very uncertain time. And Angus was very well liked. And he, I had one teacher who had been the primary school teacher and she said, I missed out on having him.

00:30:59               She had been on long service leave pre-primary in that. And she’s like, and army out. And not only that, but she was one of the members of our church as well. And so we spent a lot of time with her. She taught Sunday school In there and all the rest Of it. So then I went to Leap of faith for you.

00:31:21               Wasn’t here. But I, I went to her and I said, look, we’ve decided we’re going elsewhere. And you could just see her face drop. Like she was going to cry. And I said, it’s not the school was in part of the school, given that it was such a small school and that we’re going to have a lot of resources and that sort of thing.

00:31:40               Certainly not. Yeah, no, it sounds like you have teachers, But I just it’s too good. An opportunity and that sort of thing. But I had shown Angus, this video that Alan had sent me and Angus, his face had changed. He watched it and he spiced lit up and he says to me, get me. And I’m like,

00:32:06               what? You act? I didn’t even notice no. That he had noticed a difference. Yeah. But he saw some of these other direct kids saying stuff and he understood them. And they were saying stuff that he felt that I didn’t know, he felt. And I’m like, Oh, okay. And I was telling his teacher this and she had said to me,

00:32:31               and so I had said, it’s not, not the teaching. And we’re really happy and we’re leaving our family. So this is a huge, it’s not, it’s not exactly something we want to do, but we feel we can’t pass up the opportunity. And I asked her, but how has he socially? Because I haven’t had any complaints. She’s like,

00:32:50               not everybody loves him. He gets along with everybody. And she goes into, describe her at lunchtime. She sees him with the kindies and then I, and then she sees him with the pre prom, primary kids. And then she’s playing, he’s playing with this grade one, it and all the way up to grade five. And I think, and that’s when the penny dropped for me.

00:33:08               Yeah. And that’s when it sensed that yes, we are definitely going, there’s no taking this back because speaking with her through it and going through it, we both realized that every lunchtime he’s playing with a kindie kid and getting bored, playing with the pre-primary kid, getting bored, playing with a grade one kid and getting bored right up until he gets to the grade five girls.

00:33:29               I think he’s so sweet because he is, But he couldn’t handle more than five minutes with one kid. And he was actually regulating his own social things. So there was never any compliance. No, but he was getting it, but he wasn’t getting what he needed. And we just hadn’t seen the effects here. And that’s when I knew this is going to be a social,

00:33:53               emotional problem. Yeah. This is not what I want. Yeah. We are definitely going. Yeah. And that was when, and coming to Dara and him seeing these other kids and they do get him, They do speak the same language. Don’t they? It’s beautiful. Ah, and I just, and I don’t always like the same stuff. No,

00:34:12               not all spice nuts. I don’t know. Yeah. My son. Yep. Hey human body. That’s him. Okay. That’s him. And it’s funny now because my son will be like, Oh yeah, we’ll be talking about something. He’ll be like, Hm. I’m not sure. We’ll have to ask such and such. That’s his area of expertise.

00:34:32               No, I’m not allowed to, my answers are never, ever accepted. His mom’s answers are never accepted. Not good enough. No, no. So yeah. So you got to Dara, he, he started day one. And so How, How instant was that kind of okay. We’ve done the right thing. When did that come for you?

00:34:54               The first week was deriding. Absolutely draining drain it. Yeah. That was, I have never seen him so tired. Yeah. Emotions. We didn’t even have house yet. Yeah. I mean, you guys were in the thick of it. Yeah. We, Our housing that we had planned on had fallen through. So we weren’t meeting from, we had housing OSI moving us from a hotel to caravan park to this and we’re catching buses for the first week.

00:35:25               Yeah. Until the cargo came over, came over on it. It was a mess. Yeah. But so yes, he was, he was utterly exhausted when we finally got our unit finally had a home and settled in, it was about a week after that. Yeah. And he’s lying in bed and he looks up at me and he says to me,

00:35:54               we made the right decision to come and that’s Yes, The right decision to come. And it hasn’t been easy. He is two years on. He is still struggling with not having his family around. His father is still in WWI, aunts and uncles that he’s really close to grandparents. He’s very close to. That is still really hard. So there’s that emotional thing that he’s dealing with.

00:36:27               And this has me wanting a completely emotionally well-rounded young boy and I’ve gone. Okay. So I bet the needs on one end, but the other ends really struggling. Yeah. I have to admit he is struggling on that end and we’re working through that. Yeah. But as far as being with other kids, being able to be challenged without being pushed.

00:36:51               Yes. Yeah. That was a big thing for me, because it’s so easy for me to try and push him, especially in math. I have a degree in math, so I would love to sit there and just push him in maths, just do math all day long, Which would not be his cup of tea. So even though you’ve still,

00:37:09               you’ve obviously he misses his family very much. You still think it was very much worth. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Even he will say that we made the right decision, but it is hard it’s time. Yeah. And you know what, we can’t protect them from everything in life, Kim North, you know, and let’s face it, a big move into state for whatever reason is something that a lot of kids have to deal with.

00:37:31               And it just is. Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. But now he seems to be going really well now and all settled in. He is he’s settled in his, he’s doing well in all aspects really is he’s having a grand old time for the most part. And it’s not just school. It’s sport. Yeah. It’s, he’s big into sport and he’s doing well there and he’s going to his violin lessons back,

00:37:59               which we quit when we left. So we’ve finally been able to give him those. So that’s, that’s been good. And yeah. So he’s, he’s settled. He’s doing well. He’s generally happy in that regard. CYA things have been, things have been great for us and it worked out really well for me too. So that was, that was fine.

00:38:21               I, I love being in Adelaide today. Oh, me too. We’d just, yeah. We didn’t never thought we would end up here, but we feel very lucky to be here. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to no worries. It’s been A pleasure. I do Like to end though. And hopefully something comes to mind,

00:38:42               but just looking back and thinking about, if you can think of one of those moments Where Just one of those gifted moments where they just totally surprised you, or you would just watch them do something. And they’ll like, Oh my God, what have I got here? What comes to mind? The one that comes Mine was after we got here and I’m sitting with a group of Dara moms yeah.

00:39:13               From during the school holidays and the kids are off playing, having a bit of a play date and that that’s all great. And, and we’re just sitting there having afternoon tea and all lovely bit of a chat and a laugh. And all of a sudden I hear the piano playing and it’s a familiar tune because Angus used to play it on the violin.

00:39:33               He’d only had six months on the violin. And so he was playing that and we heard this playing and I asked the host, mum, your daughter, is it your daughter or your son that plays piano. And she stops and gives me an odd look. And then she lanes back and looks around lanes around the wall to look at the piano. And she goes,

00:39:54               Oh no, that’s Angus. And I’m just like, what? And she goes, that’s Angus playing. The other mom goes to me. So how long has he been playing piano? And I’m like, He doesn’t. He does. And, and the third mum love it laughed. And I’m like, he Does, he did six months a piano and he Yeah,

00:40:20               six months of violin. And he did that Piece, but he’s never played piano. And he had transferred. Yeah. Worked it out onto the piano. Wow. Which he’d never played before. I mean, I’ve never played a violin, but they don’t say they don’t seem very similar. And I’m sitting here, They gobsmacked and these three mums just Burst out,

00:40:47               laughing The host hostesses. That’s just one of those weed things our kids do. And that was just the extent of it. And everybody else is just having a great laugh in their, like, This is so cool to watch somebody else have one of these, your drops. Oh, now I got to work out on the music as well. I had the intellectual,

00:41:16               I got the music is doing really, really well in gymnastics. I, sorry. I’ve been told his physically his gifted, advanced whatever. However, we’re going to put it and took him to the dentist. Right. Folk Christmas, dentist him for x-rays I think because his dental advanced, done. How can you be dental?<inaudible> I’m out. That’s the last of it.

00:41:49               I’m not listening any, that’s hilarious. Yeah. There’s a few, he’s one of a client. That’s for sure. I love it. I love it. Well, we’ll end on that note thing. Dentally advanced, beautiful quite of the day. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your story. I really appreciate your time. Love it. Enjoy this episode.

00:42:17               And it inspired you in some way. I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments for more episodes, you can subscribe and to help others find our podcast. Please leave a review. You can find show notes and more resources at ourgiftedkids.com and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. See you in the same place next week.

#007 Talking parenting and Megan’s (Twice) Exceptional Life  – Podcast

#007 Talking parenting and Megan’s (Twice) Exceptional Life – Podcast

Talking parenting and Megan’s (Twice) Exceptional Life

Today I’m speaking with Megan about parenting twice-exceptional children and the very important community we need around us as parents.

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • Megan’s journey of uncovering her son’s giftedness and twice exceptionality
  • The challenges of parenting 2e children – those intense meltdowns
  • How praise and perfectionism are big challenges
  • How intense anxiety is a daily struggle
  • Why we all need a community to support us

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

  • “Have you ever considered you son is gifted?” “No, I’ve never even thought of that.” – Megan
  • “There are challenges that he faces every single day but there are also cool and amazing things about him as a gifted child.” – Megan
  • “I remember thinking something isn’t quite right here. As he grew up, he continued to have massive meltdowns, big, big multiple hour-long meltdowns over tiny things.” -Megan
  • “If it’s not me that is going to support my child 100% and understand them as well as I can then who else is going to?” -Megan
  • “Who is my child? Meet him where he is, this is what he is capable of right now.” – Megan
  • “In the past year where I have had this new awakening to him and his needs, my relationship has flourished, he trusts me. Our relationship has this new understanding.” – Megan
  • “We have had a great year and I think that’s due to my patience with him and my demeanor. I want to understand him and connect with him.” – Megan
  • “Giftedness is not easy and there is a real myth that gifted kids are just a breeze. They are amazing but it’s also really challenging as a parent.” -Sophia
  • “Finding other people was a game-changer for me.” – Megan


Subscribe & Review

If you enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments.

For more episodes, you can subscribe and to help others find our podcast please leave a review.

See you in the same place next week.


Connect with me on LinkedIn Instagram & Facebook!


00:00:00               Hello. And welcome today. We’re talking to Megan from this twice exceptional life, and we’re talking today about parenting twice exceptional kids and the community, the community that we all made as parents around us, so that we can talk freely about parenting gifted and twice exceptional kids. So stay tuned and join us for the podcast. Hi, I’m Sophia Elliot as a parent of three gifted kids.

00:00:30               I’m here to talk about all things gifted because I’ve been isolated and uncertain. And I felt like that parent, then I found peace of mind support and my community. This podcast is about sharing that journey, actually parenting gifted kids and connecting with advice and support. So we have everything we need for every member of our family to thrive. This is the,

00:00:55               our gifted kid podcast. Hi Megan, thank you so much for joining us today on our gifted kids podcast. Absolute delight to have you with us. Thank you so much for having me. This is so exciting. And so you are a mom of a twice exceptional child, and you have got an Instagram presence of called this twice, exceptional life and website.

00:01:23               So tell me about your son. I have three children and my son who is twice exceptional is a twin. He and his sister are seven years old and I also have a four year old and up until recently, I had put a lot of blame on myself as a mother for thinking that I have done something wrong in raising him to be the child that he is.

00:01:53               And it all started when he was a baby, you know, to keep the story relatively short. He, he showed some signs as a, about a 10 month old of difficulties with kind of transitions in the home and normal life milestones, such as, for example, he never crawled or scooted or anything like that. And he would stand up and scream and scream because he wanted to walk.

00:02:21               And he couldn’t, that led to little moments like crinkling, a rapper that my daughter took delight in because it made a crunchy sound, but my son just screamed and it was very scary for him. And I remember thinking, you know, something isn’t quite right here. As he grew up, he continued to have massive meltdowns, big, big, you know,

00:02:47               multiple hour long meltdowns, over tiny things. Like the way I spread the peanut butter on the waffle or washing his hands. And it wasn’t until he was four years old that I heard the word gifted for the first time he was tested by a child psychologist. He was given a full neuro-psychological evaluation. We were testing for anything. I knew something wasn’t right,

00:03:14               but I didn’t know. I didn’t know what was wrong. Was it sensory related autism? So many different things were, were in my mind and halfway through the testing for my four year old, the child psychologists came out and said to me, have you ever considered that your son is gifted? And no, I had never even thought of that. It was,

00:03:39               it brought a whole new light to what I was experiencing because all of a sudden it was also negative, negative, but gifted sounded positive. Guessed gifted sounded kind of cool. It sounded amazing. I wanted to know more about it, but still even if he’s gifted, why was he melting down the way he was constantly and over everything. So we went home from that appointment and all of a sudden my son showed some gifted signs for the first time.

00:04:07               Maybe he had been showing them when he was younger, but I just never noticed he was gifted a, a world map. And within two weeks he memorized all the countries. He memorized capitals. He went to preschool and he memorized their worlds map the colors of the blocks, for example, in the world map. And then he came home and colored a paper map,

00:04:33               exactly the same colors with memorizing, what he did in preschool. So it was at that age at four that I started to see, okay, there is something truly wonderful about him. And it has been such a challenging few years. And I’ve taken that since then straight to the heart. You know, there are challenges that he faces still every single day,


Continue reading transcript here...

00:04:55               but there’s also so many cool and amazing things about him being a gifted child. And I still am learning, you know, there’s a lot to learn still at this point. Oh, absolutely. And I totally feel you in terms of both that, that questioning of ourselves as parents, it’s like, what am I doing wrong? This seems to be so hard.

00:05:17               And also on my youngest is just, just turning four this weekend. And he has been a really intense kid. And yeah, it’s really tricky when our idea of what parenting is of what having kids is doesn’t mean out in reality. I think a lot of parents feel that pressure of, is it me? Am I doing something wrong? It’s a very comforting to start to get those answers.

00:05:48               Isn’t it start to get an explanation for, for some of the behavior and some of those situations that start to, so he was a really intense little child and you started to get some answers around giftedness, but he’s actually twice exceptional. So I feel like there’s more to this story There, there sure is, you know, it’s a never ending story.

00:06:13               Oh, I took the diagnosis, I guess it was more of a label, but I, I was happy to hear what it was that he was struggling with. And other people would ask me, you know, why are you, why do you so desperately want a name to this? And I would say, because I feel that I’m doing something wrong.

00:06:35               I’m doing a disservice to my child. I’m not meeting his needs to throw a word on. That makes me feel better, to be honest. And then I, I can have a little more confidence in what I’m doing. Labeling sometimes gets a bad rep, but for me, I agree. It’s about actually having a language for something it’s less about putting someone in a box it’s more about actually starting to see them and understand them.

00:07:00               It can be really powerful. I think I agree completely what we have found over the last couple of years. And he is seven now seven and a half is that he is struggling with at the very least anxiety. And that is his, his E if you will, we notice this daily anxiety over things that he cannot control. It’s not really your typical anxiety,

00:07:24               like a worrying child. He’s not really a worrier. It is more like a deeper level anxiety over acceptance, acceptance from others and of himself. You know, it comes up in every moment of the day with that. We do believe, you know, he shows signs of ADHD. He very much gets lost and, and hyper focuses and I have read,

00:07:52               and I’m sure, you know, as well that there’s such an overlap between gifted behaviors and anxiety, ADHD behaviors. And it’s hard to know which one is in play or maybe it’s both. Absolutely. I find it quite fascinating that these neurodiverse characteristics and behaviors are seem so interlinked. We’d love to see more research and more information about that because I don’t think it’s a coincidence that if we say giftedness for one,

00:08:28               it is, and that is it’s being something that’s neurodiverse. Their brains are different than it makes sense in a way that it might have similarities with ADHD and, and even similar behaviors or characteristics to some autism spectrum characteristics too. Yes. In fact, we’ve had him, you know, looked at for an autism is such a very broad spectrum, but he was in an early intervention program as a toddler where they did a formal autism assessment.

00:09:01               And again, four years old, and again, at six years old and each time from three different people, they said, no, no, it doesn’t appear to be autism related in his early intervention assessment. We were told he was just quirky. Was the word she used Quirky. It’s it’s such a great word and fits so many things. Yeah,

00:09:23               It sure does. So, So you went through this process, you’ve been able to understand that autism is not a factor, but anxiety plays a huge role. And gifted kids are these hypersensitive little beings, aren’t they? So definitely prone to anxiety. But like you say, not your run of the mill anxiety, that would be too easy, like a very deep seated sense of,

00:09:55               yeah. It’s almost like their place in the world. Isn’t it? Their sense of self. And even as a young child, my son hates praise. He only likes praise. If he thinks he deserves it, if he has done something that he does not think deserves praise and you are to give him praise, he will just lose his marbles. And that started at age three.

00:10:20               It was very, you know, he does, he reads right through adults who talk to him as if he is, you know, a small child, but he read through that at age three and four as well. He was unable. He feels talked down upon. He feels used. He feels, it’s a very strange concept. And he doesn’t really use words to express this,

00:10:42               but over so many years of trying to figure him out, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. He needs to feel a sense of confidence and pride in himself and hearing it from other people, convinces him the opposite, convinces him. Otherwise, that’s just one example of his daily anxieties. Wow. That makes it really hard. Doesn’t it? There are certain phrases.

00:11:09               You learn your children, you as well. Of course, you know, I have learned that great job is not effective and it’s really not effective for any child. To be honest, you certainly need to be specific, but it has to be, you know, you have to read the child when he’s showing you a painting. If he feels that he didn’t do well on it,

00:11:29               or God forbid, he made a mistake because he is a perfectionist then for me to say, Oh, that mistakes, no big deal. This picture looks amazing. Forget it. That’s almost an insult to him. And it hurts more. It’s a tough situation to be in as a parent. And there’s definitely been years and moments where we are walking on eggshells,

00:11:49               trying to say the right thing or not say something that’s going set him off. And you know, what is a daily, a daily battle and some days are wonderful and some days are really challenging. Yeah. I empathize completely with the walking on eggshells. It’s really hard to live in that state of hyper alertness as well. Isn’t it like that’s exhausting.

00:12:12               And I know two things that are important to you is importance of connecting with your child, but also help for parents. So you’ve touched on both of them, just there, you know, the importance of first of all, connecting with an understanding your child and, and how they’re working, but also the need for us as parents to really try and look after ourselves and get support.

00:12:38               Absolutely. When it comes to connecting with your child. What I have come back to after again, many years of challenges is that if it’s not me, who’s going to support my child 100% and understand them as well as I can then who else is going to, certainly my husband is on board and family is on board and teachers are on board, but from my position,

00:13:04               certainly I feel this deep rooted need to take him as he is. And over the years, I have heard everything from, you need to discipline him better. You need to be tougher on him. You need to not tolerate certain behaviors. It doesn’t matter what his diagnosis is. You don’t tolerate behaviors. You need to put him in timeouts in terms of discipline styles.

00:13:29               I don’t really have any great ones. Honestly, I do think taking a break in another room is a great idea, but my twice exceptional son won’t take a break. So timeouts over the years, or, you know, let’s go to a new space. He feels isolated and actually scared when, when we do that, you know, so it’s been everything over the years to you or not.

00:13:50               I’m getting the message you are not doing what is right for him. And I kept trying so many different strategies and none of them came even close to working. And finally, I kind of just threw it all out the window and said, who is my child? Meet him where he is. This is what he’s capable of right now, get on his level,

00:14:10               get, you know, eye to eye and, and try to understand where he is coming from. Now. We still have moments where if you know that he might need a break in another room, there are moments where of course consequences are needed, but way fewer than there used to be, I was overdoing it. I was trying to exert my control.

00:14:30               None of those worked, you know, none of those things work at all, especially with a sensitive and intense child. Like I have, I, that absolutely resonates with me. And there’s certainly a pressure. I think, you know, I think it’s generational, isn’t it. In the past, there has been that acceptance of being much harder on kids.

00:14:53               And so modern parenting, I think gets a lot of flack about not being hard enough. And I, I totally understand where you’re coming from because all of my kids are really sensitive. They don’t need a heavy hands and that can come across as us not being hard enough. But actually it’s like you say, we do. We get our kids. And we know that they do not need that really,

00:15:21               you know, heaviness in, in terms of, if they’ve done something wrong, if they’re doing something wrong because it just, it just crushes them and you can see it, you know, anytime that you know, and we’re not perfect parents at all. And we all, we all have our moments, but like you say, we’re getting better and we’re getting better.

00:15:42               But if we have that moment where we come down a bit too hard on our kids, it’s kind of like, Oh, you can see them just fold in on themselves. And immediately it’s like, Oh my God, I’m doing damage. You know? And it’s like retracting and regaining that sense of calm and just dealing with it in a different way,

00:16:03               because they’re so hyper alert to the world and they don’t want to disappoint. And they’re very critical on themselves. And they’re very sensitive. And actually we had a situation once where I used to take my kids swimming and they would have a 30 minute lesson where the about half a dozen other kids. So they’d all jump in. They do whatever the teacher said to them.

00:16:28               And one day I noticed one of the teachers was being quite firm with my eldest and I just thought, Oh, he doesn’t need that level of firmness. I appreciate she’s trying to manage half a dozen kids. Some kids probably do need that. I didn’t say anything, but I just kind of was watching and, and paying close attention. And sure enough,

00:16:52               my son developed anxiety about the swim lesson to the point that when we went swimming, he wanted to vomit. Like he was so anxious and his stomach ate and he was, he would actually reach like dry reach sometimes. And we obviously stopped going swimming. But I, I know that it was due to just, just being too heavy with him and not in a malicious way,

00:17:18               but just that was too much for him. So they are really sensitive kids. It’s really hard to find that space as a parent. Isn’t it? It’s tricky actually. Absolutely. It’s funny that you mentioned swimming lessons, as we have tried swimming lessons a handful of times, and it has been a nightmare every time, my twice exceptional child, he cannot be convinced.

00:17:43               He cannot, you cannot change his mind. You cannot use your adult reasoning powers on him, you know, and say, Hey, I know what’s best for you. Just trust me and do what I say that is not going to work with my child. So we have really struggled with swimming lessons too. I have found that in the past year,

00:18:03               since I have kind of had this new awakening to him and his needs, my relationship with him has flourished. He trusts me. There is this, this understanding of who he is, and I don’t try to change any of it. I may guide him to a different choice if, if he lets me. But instead of, as you said, putting down that heavy hand of who’s in charge and I’m the mom and you’re the kid,

00:18:31               he is sensitive. And he, he is more critical of himself than I could ever be of him. So to get on For sure, to get on his level and, and appreciate him where he’s at, no matter the good and the bad, all of a sudden, he has been way, I don’t know, calmer with me. We have had a great year,

00:18:56               and I think that’s due to my patients with him and changing my demeanor around him, because I want to understand him and connect with him. A tool that We discovered through. One of the kids, psychologists was the zones of regulation, you know, and it’s not, yeah, you might be familiar with those. It’s not about good and bad. Cause all feelings are valid.

00:19:20               It’s a green is your karma, low energy. Then you get orange, which is higher energy. And then red is obviously anger and let you know more uncomfortable feelings. And so we use that language a lot and I use it. So sometimes I will just say, you know, like mummy is getting into the orange zone. I’m feeling really frustrated.

00:19:49               We all need to get out the house because we have an appointment and I’m, I’ve asked you five times to do X, Y, Z. I really need everybody’s help. And, or, or, you know, if I, in that moment, if I do lose it, I actually apologize. I say, mommy was feeling very frustrated. What I said was not nice.

00:20:10               I need to have some time how I actually give myself time out. And actually I think my son would have been about, Oh geez, he was about four. And at that time I had a four year old, a two year old and a newborn. Right. And so you can imagine not, not my finest parenting moments during that period of time,

00:20:36               none of my kids slept. And I was having one of those moments. And my four year old just said to me, mommy, Jeannie, some time in your room. And I was like, you know what? Yeah, I do put myself in my room and I, yeah. I try to model those things for my kids taking time out and just naming my feelings and also accepting when I don’t behave as well as I could behave.

00:21:03               And, you know, so it’s not just all about their behavior. So now I think that helps us. Connect just that being honest with each other about those moments as well. I agree. I have done similar things and I think giving yourself a mommy time-out is a very solid parenting strategy. Absolutely. For any parent, I often get all the kids in the car,

00:21:30               especially the, you know, the carpooling days and we’ll get everyone in the car, all the bags and I’ll go, right. I just have to get something from the house I run back inside and I just stopped. I’ve done that quiet. Yes. Right. Okay. Go back to the car a little mommy moment. And so that’s a big thing for you as well.

00:21:51               Isn’t it help for parents supporting for parents acknowledging how hard this is for us, because giftedness is not easy and there’s a real myth. I think that gifted kids are just a breeze and, and they’re amazing, but it’s also really challenging as a parent. Yes. I think there’s a couple things there. The word gifted first of all, is, is very stereotyped.

00:22:15               You know, even with friends, you know, by saying, ah, my son is, my son is gifted and it kind of, I think it can be interpreted as bragging and Oh, you know, look at your child. They’re so smart or whatever they think. And it really, it’s not about that at all. I do think that is a cool,

00:22:33               it’s a cool benefit. It’s, it’s cool that my son who struggles with so many things loves birds of prey and they’re different wingspans and, and there’s really cool things about that, but it’s just about the way his brain works and the way he takes in information and being twice exceptional means he’s also got some struggles on the other end. And so in terms of getting that help,

00:22:55               it’s one of the reasons why I have recently started my website when I was searching the internet, looking for help, I really struggled to find it. I struggled to find other parents in similar positions. People did have challenges with their children, but it was more about like we discussed before discipline and consequences and being a stronger parent. Even my son’s well-meaning school last year,

00:23:24               not, not this year, but last year even sent a parenting book home for me to read. And it was about how to give your child two choices. And I just, I, you know, they don’t know me and it’s okay. I side, because I’ve been giving my son two choices since he was born, he is a typical child and trying to find that can be extremely challenging and it was very isolating.

00:23:48               It was lonely. It was depressing. I was thinking that there’s something wrong with my son. I can’t meet his needs. I am not a good parent. Why is it, you know, why is this happening? What can I do? And I feel so alone. And so now that I can kind of see the light, I want to offer that support to,

00:24:09               to other families and parents and maybe mothers specifically, who just think that it’s their fault and that really your child is wonderful. And, and it’s about that connection piece to find who they are and change your whole outlook of the situation. And so reaching out for help is an absolute, crucial thing to do, you know, from friends, family, if they’re willing to help.

00:24:32               And certainly the internet can be helpful too. I think that it’s, it’s so tricky. And I think that there is a real process of mourning as well. Yes. In this journey you, because I think when we become parents, we have this idea and I was very naive to it. I didn’t have any relatives or friends with young kids. It was all very new to me.

00:25:00               You have this idea in your head about what it will be about you as a parent about your children. Inevitably, I think that vision is about fitting in because as humans, we just, we naturally want to be a part of our community, right. And I think that when it doesn’t seem to be working, things seem to be wrong. And then we get labels and acknowledgements that there are differences.

00:25:33               I think on a level we actually mourn that we’re not fitting into the box as much as we might enjoy and love of differences. I think there’s a real mourning that things haven’t gone the way we thought they would go, or we haven’t seemed to be like everyone else. And, you know, I think there’s many layers to that. I think it’s a part of that process of,

00:26:03               and a part of that journey is to acknowledge that and just work through it and accepted almost as a real thing. I don’t know if you felt that way as well. Yes. I agree with that. I think. And that’s even why it’s so important to find a community and it doesn’t have to be in person. It can be through, you know,

00:26:25               Facebook groups or Instagram pages or websites or whatever, but finding other people, you know, it was a game changer for me to join. Searchie I found a couple of Facebook groups. I found a bit helpful listening to podcasts and going, Oh my gosh, this is my child. Here. He is. He doesn’t fit into any other boxes, but here he fits into this one.

00:26:49               Finally, I have, you know, I have a name for this it’s twice exceptionality gifted. I see. Okay. And yes, there is a morning there. He struggles socially. He, you know, his, his struggles with making friends in an, in an assertive way. And he definitely, I, I worry about him feeling ostracized as he gets older.

00:27:14               And he said he has made comments, you know, he’s very self-aware and aware of the way other people might view him. So he, he keeps quiet in school. He doesn’t want people to notice that he feels different and that he knows things that they don’t. And you know, it is, it’s a, it is a morning. I had to come around and say,

00:27:32               you know, I have two other children and they, well, they do kind of fit in the box. So this is what it is. And we’re going to work together and see how I can help him. And one of the things that I think is helping him fit in the box is trying to find things that he is good at that make him feel confident that maybe we could enroll him in such as gymnastics,

00:27:56               or he’s recently taken an interest in climbing. And so maybe joining a climbing gym, he’s a fast runner. I hope to put him in some sort of, you know, running club as he gets older robotics and Legos and engineering and all of that. So those are the places where, you know, finding my crew and finding my people. It might take some time and I really still haven’t found them yet,

00:28:22               but I know that I will eventually, and he will find his people too. And I do think that is so important. Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re right. It’s a complete game changer and it was for me as well. And I think that’s probably at the heart of why, you know, you and I are sitting here talking to each other is because we acknowledge like how amazing that is.

00:28:44               And we want to share that with other people. And for us, we, we were lucky. We found a school for gifted kids. And so my, our children, I’ve got a daughter and a son there and my youngest most likely to attend. And so they found kids who spoke the same language, you know, they’re, they’re all a bunch of quirky kids.

00:29:08               They’ve all got different strengths and different weaknesses. There’s a whole mix of giftedness and twice exceptionality in there, but they are just who they are. Like, they are just normal, actually one, one child who, who started at the school, made the comment to his parents. He’s like mama, we found a school of just normal kids, you know,

00:29:34               because he’d felt so out of it previously. And, and as a parent community, I got to say, we’re a bunch of quirky parents who have also found a place to belong. And, and it’s really nice. And, and that’s, I think just what anyone is looking for, isn’t it. We just want a place to belong and be sane and feel as though we are valued and,

00:30:01               and just a part of that community. I wanted part of that community. So yeah, it’s, I think it’s, once you’ve been through that process of figuring it out, it’s the next step, you’ve got to find a place like that. Yeah. I think that’s crucial for a parent’s mental health. And, you know, I, I, I am jealous that you have a gifted school nearby.

00:30:27               We, we don’t, and, you know, we have a wonderful community. I don’t think people quite understand my son yet, but most people don’t and even I did not until recently. And so we’re just going to keep trying, I, you know, I, if I’m struggling to find a community, I decided, well, maybe I should just make my own.

00:30:47               And other people can find me because I’m really having a hard time finding local people who, who get it. And that’s, you know, an ongoing journey, like you said. Yeah, absolutely. There’s nothing better than actually being able to look at someone face to face over a coffee and share the parenting highs and lows. And I think as well,

00:31:11               that safe space is as much about sharing the challenges as it is about sharing the successes. Because I think there is a real feeling that we’re not allowed to celebrate our gifted kids successes because somehow they’re less valuable because they’re gifted, but they’re not less valuable. You know, it’s, they’re no less valuable than sharing the successes of a child. Who’s really great at sport or really great at art or really great at music.

00:31:40               I mean, they’re all gifted. I completely agree for me. This is a big part of why I created our gifted kids is so that we can start having these conversations and, and build that community together. Because when I started talking about this stuff and it has not been easy, there is that taboo. And I had to really get over that taboo to talk about the fact that I have gifted kids,

00:32:06               let alone splash myself all over the internet. I have been a here, right? I’ve been amazed at how many people have said, well, actually my child, myself, my grandchild, there is more giftedness and twice exceptionality out there than we realize, because I think we’ve not felt we’ve had a safe space to talk about these things. Yes. I agree.

00:32:35               I’m actually, I’m an elementary school teacher and I now can sort of look at my students in new way and, and recognize in them, you know, that looks like twice exceptionality. And I think it’s under appreciated. And part of the, the reason for that is because at least here in the States, you know, giftedness is really technically, it’s really a special need.

00:33:00               You know, it’s a child who is gifted needs something academically that traditional schooling cannot provide just as someone who’s struggling academically need something extra as well. But we don’t recognize giftedness as, you know, needing special assistance or, you know, acceleration and you’d have to find a separate school for that. And so, because it is not this general term society does not speak of giftedness in a,

00:33:33               a typical way. And so you’re right. It’s, it’s just this, Hey, you know, my son just mastered, you know, division and of, of fractions. Yay. This is an, a wonderful accomplishment and people may say, Oh, okay, crazy lady. But it’s really not. It’s the same as someone saying, I just learned this piece on the piano,

00:33:55               or I just had my, I hit a home run in baseball or whatever it is. It is something that generally speaking people do not understand. But I agree with you. I think there’s lots of people out there who are gifted and twice exceptional and they don’t even know it. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the funny thing when you, you meet more and more people and you,

00:34:20               you just start, you just start spotting people. It’s, it’s really interesting. I’ll be, I did a kind of a leadership program this year. And amongst that group, you know, there were times I’m just sitting here and I’m like, dang, you cannot swing a cat in this room for Haiti, a gifted person. Like you see the clues and you know what to look for.

00:34:42               It’s really interesting, but none of those people would recognize themselves as that or understanding that. But I think the really interesting thing is, and it, and look, it is a really unfortunate label, but it’s the best we’ve got at the moment is that when you, when you look at what giftedness is, it can explain a lot about yourself and it can make your life make sense.

00:35:10               And it, I think it helps you look at things about, about yourself and your life in a different way. That gives you a sense of relief and understanding. And for me, that’s really an important thing that I want to share that we go through this journey usually starts with our kids, but along the way, we learn a lot about ourselves as well,

00:35:32               because let’s face it. Our kids are little mirrors of, of awesome. They absolutely, you Know, it’s funny and looking at my son, I can see now how he very much mirrors my husband. And I do think that my husband is probably twice exceptional as well. And that flew under the radar, his whole life. And really when it comes down to it,

00:35:54               you know, parents, we want our children to be happy, right? This is not about my son getting the best grades in school, you know, proving his worth in terms of how smart he is. It is not about any of that. It’s cool that he can memorize a map, but it’s not about that. It is about self-love and self-acceptance and confidence.

00:36:17               And knowing that he has a support system at home in those challenging moments, those intense moments, not just the good, but the bad too. And that’s really the ultimate goal here. And when you, when you reframe it that way, well, that changes everything. And so now, you know, it’s my ultimate goal, as I’ve mentioned to kind of,

00:36:34               you know, understand my child as much as I possibly can. Yeah, absolutely. So where can people find you on, on the internet? Well, I have a website this twice exceptional life.com. It’s recently launched. I’m looking to use it in a couple of ways. It’s going to have a blog and talking about experiences we have in our house here that I think people can,

00:37:02               you know, relate to. But also I’m hoping to have some checklists and some guides for parents who have just heard that term twice exceptional, and they don’t know where to start. I have some resources there as well podcast. I can’t wait to add this one to the list. Of course, recommendations Facebook groups. I’m also on Instagram this twice exceptional life as well.

00:37:24               And I’m looking to build that community for those parents who feel that loneliness and isolation. And that’s, that’s kind of my ultimate goal here. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s a beautiful goal and I’m really looking forward to a future podcast when you can share with us what you’ve been up to as well. Yeah. And we can see how that journey is going for you.

00:37:47               So thank you so much for your time today. Yeah. You know, it’s a great opportunity. I really appreciate you. You giving me the time to, to share that message. Thank you so much. Thank you, Megan. That’s been great. Thanks. If you enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments for more episodes,

00:38:08               you can subscribe and to help others find our podcast. Please leave a review. You can find show notes and more resources@ourgiftedkids.com and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. See you in the same place next week.


#020 A Journey of Perfectionism

#003 Perfectionism & Heavy Expectations – Podcast

Perfectionism & Heavy Expectations 

Sharing Samantha’s Story

Today I’m speaking with Samantha about her gifted kids who are now all grown up.

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • Going from primary through to high school as gifted with her, now grown up, gifted kids
  • How giftedness expresses itself differently in her three children
  • The crippling effects of perfectionism
  • Different challenges of each child
  • Mental health issues and challenges of high school
  • Wanting to drop out of school
  • Hiding at school and not wanting to stand out
  • Living up to expectations of themselves and others
  • Being crippled by testing and schooling
  • Changing direction to find their happy place
  • The importance of finding peers to connect with

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

“The worst moment is when you can’t help them because they are feeling do desperate and disappointed in themselves. The perfectionism is so destructive. The depression and the anxiety that goes along with this; that’s the thing that as parents we need help with the most.” – Samantha

“It was always a pleasant surprise, the things they achieved… it was lovely to be excited about what they did do.” – Samantha

“You don’t have to be what people expect you {to be} I just want you to be happy.” – Samantha

“Take each child as an individual and do what works for them.” – Samantha


Subscribe & Review

If you enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments.

For more episodes, you can subscribe and to help others find our podcast please leave a review.

You can find show notes and more resources at www.ourgiftedkids.com

See you in the same place next week.


Connect with me on LinkedIn Instagram & Facebook!



00:00:00               I’m delighted to talk to Samantha today about her gifted girls who are all grown up and hear her story. Hi, I’m Sophia Elliot as a parent of three gifted kids. I’m here to talk about all things gifted because I’ve been isolated and uncertain. And I felt like that parent, then I found peace of mind support and my community. This podcast is about sharing that journey,

00:00:28               actually parenting gifted kids and connecting with advice and support. So we have everything we need for every member of our family to thrive. This is the, our gifted kid podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. It’s absolutely lovely to have you here and have a chat about you and your family. Thank you for having me. It’s really exciting.

00:00:54               As I mentioned earlier, I’m super excited to have a chat because now adult children who are gifted, a lot of the people I know closely, we’re all still in those younger years. So tell us about your family. Oh gosh. Well, I have five children in total, but the oldest one is 22 and they range in age down to nine.

...continue reading transcript here...

00:00:00               I’m delighted to talk to Samantha today about her gifted girls who are all grown up and hear her story. Hi, I’m Sophia Elliot as a parent of three gifted kids. I’m here to talk about all things gifted because I’ve been isolated and uncertain. And I felt like that parent, then I found peace of mind support and my community. This podcast is about sharing that journey,

00:00:28               actually parenting gifted kids and connecting with advice and support. So we have everything we need for every member of our family to thrive. This is the, our gifted kid podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. It’s absolutely lovely to have you here and have a chat about you and your family. Thank you for having me. It’s really exciting.

00:00:54               As I mentioned earlier, I’m super excited to have a chat because now adult children who are gifted, a lot of the people I know closely, we’re all still in those younger years. So tell us about your family. Oh gosh. Well, I have five children in total, but the oldest one is 22 and they range in age down to nine.

00:01:25               And my three older girls, they all showed a lot of potential quite early on as they all do. And I suppose for me with my eldest, um, when it was time for her to go to school because she wasn’t there, she wasn’t the stereotypical child that, you know, was crying and clinging to my leg and all that sort of thing.

00:01:54               She was highly independent and we turned up at school and she walked into the classrooms that Dan and said, thank you, mom, you can go now because it was almost like I wanted to clean on her hair and crying. They don’t leave me. I remember when my oldest went to school and it was, I think it was harder on me than him.

00:02:25               I’m like, okay, you can get through this without crying. I’m like talking to myself. Yeah, definitely. Um, she, she actually started school in new South Wales and you know, every state has a different, um, education system. So in new South Wales, she she’s a June baby. She was fine to start school up there,

00:02:47               but she only did one term up there, prep. And then we moved to Victoria and the age cutoff was different. So I didn’t think about that. I just thought, Oh, I’ve just got to move her into a different school. First sort of educational battle I had was actually getting her into school. Um, I had to get reports from her other school.

00:03:07               I had to go through a whole heck of rigmarole because she was younger than the age cuddle. Anyway, she, she finished prep and at the start of grade one, I was called into the school and was advised that they felt she was highly intelligent. And I actually wanted to test her to just see what sort of capabilities she had. And they’re actually wanting to take action to understand her better.

00:03:42               I must’ve been great. Look, it was, but it was also a bit scary because I never, I mean, she was always very good and she was very smart, but I had her and then I had the next one, two years later and then the next one, two years later, so I had three children, but she was the first child I had.

00:04:01               So I didn’t sort of know that she was exceptional because she was just my child. And I just thought, Oh, you know, children learn at different speeds and they all have their own abilities. So to me, she was normal, you know? Um, but anyways, so the school wanted to test her and I said, yeah, that’s fine.

00:04:29               But this is where I still didn’t feel like it, it wasn’t managed well at all because the testing I wasn’t notified of when she was being tested, I wasn’t told who was testing her house. She was being tested. They just asked me if I could. I said yes, but once again, my own ignorance of not knowing what to do or anything about this,

00:04:56               um, the test results came back. They called me into the school and the test results came back and they said it was highly unusual that they tested her in. Now this was a long time ago, so you’ll have to bear with me, but they tested her in two different areas. And one was language skills and one was mathematical reasoning. Now she tested about the 97th percentile in both areas.

00:05:23               They said, this is highly unusual. So if they, if they said we will get gifted children in one and not the other, it’s very unusual for someone to test in both. They’ve been handed me an I four yellow envelope full of brochures. And they said, read through all those brushes and they will explain your child to you. That was it.

00:05:50               That was, Oh, wow. A double whammy And a bunch of information. So were, was there ongoing conversations with the school? Did they have a plan or is it just kind of like, here you go off you go. Yeah, there was nothing, there was nothing. So, well, I, I think at the time I was in shock and so I did go home and I’ve got all this information.

00:06:26               They’ve given me all these brochures and I read through, you know, like there was information there on personality traits of gifted children. I think about that. And I was like, Oh yes, she’s ticking all those boxes, you know, the way her personalities and all that sort of thing. I think I relied a lot on the school to just do what needed to be done for her,

00:06:52               because I didn’t know any difference. Certainly didn’t know anybody else in this situation. And, um, and cause, cause I’m old, there was no internet or anything. Oh my goodness. Ah, okay. Now I’m really feeling your pain because obviously the first thing you do these days is you get on the internet and you Google like to all hours of the morning and then there’s at least more information out there rather than just a handful of brochures in an envelope.

00:07:20               So it must’ve been really isolating. You must have felt really alertness. Well, it is because it was like, you know, you’re friends with other moms and this is just no Mary public promise school, you know that and everyday school and it’s very difficult because I didn’t want to make it hard for her. So I never spoke to anybody about it because I had these preconceived ideas about what other parents would say,

00:07:51               what they would think. I didn’t want her treated differently In that initial moment. So did the school then cater for what she needed or because I’m, I’m looking at this now because you know, we’re talking about an older child, you’ve obviously been through your educational journey in terms of primary school and high school. So over those years, um, did she get the support she needed?

00:08:19               Was she able to learn the way that she needed to learn? She, she went through primary school pretty well. The frustrating thing is that that list of personality traits, because I had two more children after that, the personality traits, I would have to say with the biggest stereotype about, because two children don’t fit into what they say the child fits into,

00:08:53               But it was that express itself Differently. Yes. The personalities are all different. They’re all highly individual. So I think, I think that because she fitted neatly into what they said, she was, I think that’s where I sort of thought, Oh, okay. They know what they’re talking about. And they’ll just do with her, what needs to be done?

00:09:16               It wasn’t until a couple of years later, I moved to a different location and changed schools that was when the introduction of a little bit of the individual learning plans and things like that started to come along. But for the first few years she was just, you know, normal class, normal work, normal everything. So, okay. So she wasn’t sort of accelerated,

00:09:45               she was just in amongst with her peers. Yes. Yes, she was. She did, but I think that was helped, uh, because I was, I encouraged her into, um, to do other things and we did extracurriculars. So, you know, she wanted to try dancing. She did that. She, um, she was very much into music and did singing and folk.

00:10:13               She had these other outlets outside of school and I think it might have been different if she didn’t have that. So she was able to sort of dive deep in the outside of school hours and things that really interest her. And she’s kind of got by in terms of what she was learning at school and sort of filling those needs. Yeah. Yeah. But,

00:10:37               um, yeah, the next primary school she went to, you know, and as she got into the second half of primary school, it was a bit different, you know, a couple of years have gone by and, you know, cause the first school she was at with a smaller country school and now we’ve moved into a suburban school. So I don’t know how much of a difference that made,

00:10:58               you know, in terms of what it’s like generally for country schools. But yes, it was, um, like a said, they’d started doing individual learning plans for her and things like that and sort of concentrated a little bit more on her abilities as she went through this next climb with school. And did that continue when she moved to high school, luckily the primary school that she went to fit into a high school that was running the government high achievers program.

00:11:32               So she, she set the entrance for that and got into that. And I’m not confident. I don’t know. I think I felt a little bit guilty because I was always a bit surprised. She always surprise me about how well she did and she shouldn’t have really, but I don’t know, I suppose in trying to keep it grounded, always keep myself grounded as a parent and never tried to expect too much from her.

00:11:57               Cause I felt like there was already enough people sort of doing that for her. Do you think that there was expectations on her that maybe wouldn’t weren’t on other kids? I think there was, I think because the teachers knew that she was quite smart, so there wasn’t an expectation that she would always do things very, very well. Yeah. And how did that go?

00:12:21               That, that was a positive thing for her. Like it could have been treated as a negative thing, but for her it was a positive experience. It wasn’t. Yeah. Right. So out of that, she actually got the stretch that she needed. Yes. Yeah, yeah. It could have gone the other way if it had been, if,

00:12:40               if the teachers that she had had been negative towards her being smart, because, you know, she has a very, very well developed sense of right. And wrong always has done and will stand up. And if she doesn’t think someone’s right, including a teacher, As you can imagine the promise school, you know, there are teachers that don’t like that.

00:13:08               Yeah. I certainly know in my family that, yeah, it can be an interesting place for an adult to be and how people respond to that is always interesting as well. And sometimes not always great. Yes. Yeah. So, um, so I think she was lucky that she didn’t have people that push that doubt, you know, they accepted it.

00:13:32               And so she went, she went on and did the high achievers program at high school for a couple of years. And then where we look here in Victoria, uh, they built a secondary school for higher education and give to children. So it was, uh, if I call them, I don’t know what they call them elsewhere, but in Victoria they select entry school.

00:13:57               So you go and sit and entrance tests and you’re offered a place at this school. So there was one built locally. So she, you know, and hidden merit. She was the one that came, came home. She was the one that got all the information and found out what she had to do. And she came home and she said, you know,

00:14:15               she was wanting to go and sit the test for this school when I really didn’t know anything about it, but she did. And she got accepted there. So in year nine she went off and she went to Knoxville high school and, and that was the best thing she could have done, I think. Yeah, absolutely. It sounds amazing that you’ve had that on your doorstep available to her and,

00:14:36               and I love her motivation. She, you know, she’d sort of sussed it out. Was she always very motivated and independent in that way? Yes. Yes. She’s uh, she knows what she wants and she goes looking for what she wants and what she needs and finds it for. So You mentioned your other two are also gifted, but in a different way or it looks different for you.

00:15:00               It does look different because then the next child is the problem we had with her all through primary school. Is that her sense of perfectionism was so, and, and still is to be honest, she’s 20 now, but it’s still is. So she has to get things so perfect that she often doesn’t complete things. So all through primary school, I’d go in for my parent teacher interviews and they would say,

00:15:30               we know your daughter is very, very smart, but we can’t assist her because she doesn’t finish anything. That’s okay. Yeah. So that, that was, was hard. And it’s the same at that’s been assigned to her. I mean, she’s in university now, but, um, it’s been long, constant battle, but turtle, totally different personality type,

00:15:53               very quiet, very introverted. Um, I mean she has her, she has, her group has people that she socializes with, but, um, but yeah, she’s not outspoken and forthright or anything like that. She does not, she’s almost like the first ones opposite in personality. And I think this is the thing, certainly that I find like,

00:16:17               uh, I’ve got three children as well, and they’re all very different. And honestly, if my first is a very kind of interface gifted, he ticks all the boxes, uh, you know, in terms of the stereotypes. But my second is far more subtle. And I, I honestly think that had my first not gone through that process and been so easily just kind of spot,

00:16:41               uh, she may never have got picked up, like, because the, it doesn’t express itself in the extroverted way that it expresses itself in my son, you know, it’s far more subtle. Yeah, Absolutely. And I feel bad for all the children, lucky faith that they, they, the ones that will fall between the cracks, because this is why I think it’s so important to talk about this packet of information that I got that said your child is gifted and they will accept exhibit X,

00:17:11               Y said, personality traits. And this is how we recognize them and how wrong is that. That’s not what they look like. Yeah. It’s far more complicated than that. Isn’t it? It is absolutely. And then learn differently and yeah, it’s, it’s certainly not a one size fits all situation. Absolutely not. And I think that makes it even more challenging to communicate with the rest of the world about what is gifted,

00:17:39               what does it look like? How do we know, what do they need? How do we support them when it’s well, it’s, you know, it’s like any other group of children, well, they’re all different, you know? Yeah. Learn in a different way and they need certain support. And there are some, some threads like perfectionism is,

00:17:56               can be very crippling for, for gifted kids that fear of failure because they are so bright, they things come easily to them. And so when they have to actually confront something, that’s hard, they’re just not used to it. They don’t have that toolbox of, I dunno, is it resilience that they can turn to, or just maybe practice of doing things that are hard That really manifests itself when they get to high school,

00:18:28               because on top of everything else that teenagers deal with, um, a lot of them haven’t had to face anything very much. Like you say, at the, you know, the learning, unless the challenge, the learnings come easily to them. They’ve, um, you know, they’ve, they’ve been okay all through primary school that haven’t been challenged intellectually,

00:18:50               then they get to high school and, you know, even the, the way you mix socially and everything sort of changes in high school. And then people are a lot more aware in high school. So then you start to face, well, actually it happens in primary school now where the kids are facing the bullying, if they’re being too smart and all that sort of things.

00:19:12               So When your children went through that high school phase, um, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s sort of not an option, not to turn things in. So they’ve got to do, was your daughter able to learn how to manage that perfectionism or did she always struggle with that? Well, it was actually the third one that has absolutely struggled with that the most.

00:19:35               Um, and she, she went from primary school into, um, a high treatise program. And I remember actually when she set the test for entrance into the program at the secondary school that she was. So to I, when I went in for the interview with the principal, they actually said they had never had anybody test so highly. And they were really excited to get her into the school.

00:19:59               You know? So that was, that was, that felt pretty good, you know, to be told, Oh, it’s really sad. And tell you that the next 18 months with her would have to be the absolute worst experience as a parent I’ve ever had. Well, she did not transition to high school. Well at all, she did not perform at all.

00:20:27               She wasn’t doing work. She was disruptive. She really, really, you know, applied up in call, did not do any work. She would call me from school. Let’s just say, it’s I, I’m not exaggerating. When I say four out of five days a week, I would get a phone call from school, um, me to come and pick her up because she was not,

00:20:52               well, this is her calling me. I’m not, well, I have a headache, constant anxiety. Um, you know, and, and it started with phone calls after getting to school to the point where then I couldn’t get her out of bed to get her to go to school. And it was, it was just a constant battle with her.

00:21:12               She hated it so much. She did not want to be in the program. She did not want to be under any sort of spotlight at all, where that was coming from. I mean, it sounds absolutely awful for her and it must have been really, really difficult for you. It was an awful experience. And what made it worse? I spoke to the school numerous times.

00:21:39               I said, can I get her to see Capitola, anything at the school when no help. Um, once it was difficult, they just, they didn’t know what to do or they just, I look, I really don’t know. I was so frustrated with the way it was all managed. She was just, she was literally just too hard, too much work.

00:22:09               Um, the school didn’t offer any sort of counseling or anything. So they’re like, no, that’s not our problem. You go and see your GP, you go and find a counselor yourself. Um, and then, you know, so I tried to do the right thing and I did go to the GP and I got a mental health plan. And,

00:22:31               you know, I took her to a couple of different counselors over the years. Um, but she refused to talk. Um, our member are calling kids helplines and all sorts of depression, hotlines everything, and bringing people, anyone I could think of to say, what can I do to help this child? And nobody could give me any answers. And all I was told was you cannot force her to do anything.

00:23:03               If she does not want to go to a counselor, you cannot force her. I’m like, so what do you do with somebody? Like, am I supposed as a parent? You’re telling me I’m powerless, do anything until, you know, she becomes suicidal or attempt suicide or something like that. And then I will get some sort of help. And until then I can’t make her do anything.

00:23:28               And she’s a teenager who doesn’t know what’s best for her. Yeah. It was immensely frustrating. Let my stomach’s churning just thinking about that situation, force someone to talk and Hear, you know, you can’t force someone to kind of do anything that I don’t want to do. So how did it, did it get better since school get better? So,

00:23:58               So, um, I ended up, I moved her to a different school and it was, it was just an ordinary high school. She was not in any conduct program. Um, she became so overwhelmed constantly. If she could not do something 100%, if she was trying to do anything less than perfection, she would not attempt it Well. So Boiled down to I’m down to just absolute crippling perfectionism.

00:24:33               Yes, absolutely. So The head of the new school go, I went to this school, I had an interview with the principal and I said, look, this is what’s happening with my daughter. I was very upfront. And I said, you know, she’s, she’s not behaving the way she should. She doesn’t participate. I told her, I said,

00:24:55               she’s very intelligent, but this is just isn’t working for her. But I’ll move to, to a school that had ink in house canceling or said, you know, she doesn’t, she doesn’t want to stand out in class. She is going to hide. So she needs a lot of nurturing and everything, and a lot of encouragement to try things, you know,

00:25:17               because you get to the point in high school where like, everything is new, everything is learning. So we do debilitated by if I can’t do that a hundred percent perfectly the first time, then I’m not going to do it. That makes it really, really hard. We, yeah, absolutely. You don’t even get to put your foot in the water really.

00:25:39               Do. He sort of stopped right from the beginning. So how did they end up going, how did the school respond? The school has been really, really good. And she, she just finished year 12 last year, um, Like a very long hop. Right. And you know what, she did not even want to do your 12, you know,

00:25:59               in, in your 11th. She’s like, I want to drop out of school, drop out of school. I can’t do it. She, um, yeah. At an age yet that she’s reflecting on that or is she still very much in the thick of it just having finished grade 12? Like does she, I don’t know. I’m just trying to imagine what it’s like to be.

00:26:21               So, so bright, like off the chance, bright and yet, so unable to participate in the world. Yeah. Well, she, um, it’s difficult because I feel like with her being so unable to open yourself up to experience and looking a bit silly or, or not looking, you know, totally intelligent because you aren’t good at something or you potentially might,

00:26:55               and this is a thing it’s not that she’s not good at things, but in her head potentially, she might not be as good as to what she wants to be. So don’t go near that. But couple that we’ve a person who doesn’t know what they want to be, and you spend your whole entire education being told, you’re really smart. You can do this,

00:27:18               you can do that. You can be anything you want like that in belt. It’s overwhelming. So it’s is that sense of expectation being really overwhelming and, and having to live up to that. So you don’t even want to try it cause you might make a mistake and let yourself down or let other people’s expectations down. It’s hard. Isn’t it Very,

00:27:42               very, very hot. Yeah. And so she’s finished grade 12 that must’ve fell on that thing. And does she have some direction she’s just taking a bit of time out. Where, how is she going now Taking a little bit of Tom and, um, you know, she, um, it was a big thing for her to even apply to university and particularly because she was adamant,

00:28:09               she didn’t want to go, she was done with being educated. She, she, she feels, it feels like the whole process of learning and then being tested that, that testing part crippled her. Um, yeah, very, very difficult. But no, she, um, she’s taking the time she needs now to just figure out who she is and what she wants for herself.

00:28:32               So she’s deferred genie, which is absolutely fun. And also to hear, you know, if you need not the right place for you, then don’t go, you’ve got to make decisions feel locked now. So I understand one of your other girls. I mean, when they finished school were on a particular direction and then actually shift and ended up doing something creative,

00:28:58               That was my eldest. Um, I kind of feel like she went to primary school and they had career day. She came to be, if it’s morning. And she says to me, mom, we have to dress up like what we want to be when we grow up. And I’m like, excellent. What do you want to be? And she said,

00:29:17               well, what does the director where I don’t know. I said, what’s made the movie director. What do they wear? Anything that you would have mentioned your child would sound like, honestly, I don’t know. I’m sure it’s going high school. I think she sort of, she had that expectation on her that, you know, all you’re very smart.

00:29:47               You could go into law and all this sort of stuff. So, and honestly, she was so good at arguing her point. She could be a brilliant lawyer and she would understand that not only are they good at arguing the point, but they’ve actually got the facts and the knowledge to back it all up. Oh, absolutely. If they choose to,

00:30:10               they can run rings around. It’s very, very challenging to just say, because I said, sorry. Yeah. When I, yes. When I have those conversations, particularly with my eldest, cause he is very reasonable. It usually goes along the lines of like, I need you to do this thing. This is why I need you to do it.

00:30:32               Um, and just to map out that it’s a completely reasonable request and you know, and it’s helped me because I, you know, I’ve got to do this and that, and I’ve got to kind of unpack it. And, but to be fair, even if it’s something he really doesn’t want to do, if I unpack it like that and he can see that it’s completely reasonable,

00:30:51               he’ll be like, Oh, all right then, because I’ve managed to, you know, um, but yeah, because their brains just work differently. I don’t know. I don’t get away with, um, you know, because it just doesn’t work. I know. But when you, when that’s all you’ve got left and it, Yeah. Oh yeah.

00:31:13               For me, it’s usually all mommies in the red approaching the red zone. I’m in the orange zone. I’m feeling quite frustrated. I’m tired and I need your help. I need you just to do this for me, but it’s just like, okay, this is where we’re at, but okay. So, Oh, let, you’ve just had this amazing journey with your three beautiful kids and,

00:31:37               and you know, it’s still, you know, you obviously still you still on that journey. And so I don’t know as a parent, if you, if he kind of looking that, what were the highs and lows for you? Goodness, may I think there are, there are a lot of highs because like I say, I don’t, even though I knew that they weren’t very intelligent.

00:32:09               Um, it was always a pleasant surprise, the things that they achieved. So I don’t think I ever put my own eyes, they might feel differently. I don’t feel like I ever had these great, impossible expectations of them because the education system was saying to me, your child is this, your child should be doing that. I don’t think I ever did that.

00:32:36               So it was lovely to just, you know, be excited about what they do. I think for me, those highs, you know, on a daily basis, it’s just the stuff they come out with. It’s just this turn of phrase or observations, kind of look at them, what’s going on in their brain amazed. Cause I think there’s a big difference between being intelligent and being wise.

00:33:06               And I think when they’re gifted, they, it comes with this wisdom, you know, the way that they can interpret observations and things like that. So yeah, Yeah. That must be what makes it really hard, I think as well. Yeah. Yeah. I remember when my eldest probably was only about five, which would have made my middle child three and I think I must’ve had,

00:33:35               you know, the youngest is a one year old trying to get, get them off to school. You know, school and preschool in the morning was always fun out the door at that age. And one morning I was just kinda like, Oh, you know, it’s been a hard morning. I probably haven’t slept, I didn’t sleep for like seven years.

00:33:53               And I just, as I pulled the car door close, it’s one of those ones, you know, roll the door. I probably just closed it, not quite slim, but just a bit more forceful than necessary just to kind of get that, you know, out of my system, my five year old turned to my three year old and go,

00:34:18               she does that in that moment. I just have like, I feel like he’s fumbling and he’s only five. Yes, yes. They do call you out. Don’t they? So how are you girls going now? But I think What was that about some artists and look the most important thing for me as their mother was always trying to say to them that whatever you choose to do and you need to,

00:35:02               as long as you’re happy, then that’s okay. You don’t have to be what people expect you to. I just want you to be happy. So when she mentioned the oldest one went to university, but then, um, started that she was gonna pursue a different career. Cause she was doing a vertical degree in Canberra. So she was doing, I kind of remember it was economics in two other majors.

00:35:27               So there were three majors in this degree, but no, she’s, um, she’s gone down the path of the creative now and she’s exceptionally talented. So, but the thing is that that’s what makes her happy. She wouldn’t have been happy. She’d done what was expected of society and being a lawyer or something like that. She wouldn’t have been the same person.

00:35:52               Yeah. And that’s the thing, it’s an, um, it’s just, you just want them to be happy. Yeah. So what were the, we kind of glossed over there? What were some of the challenges, you know, of, um, having gifted kids and getting through those years? Oh look, the worst moments when you can’t help them because they start feeling so desperate and they get so disappointed in themselves that perfection they feel is so disruptive.

00:36:32               It really? Um, so yes, the depression and the anxiety that goes along with this, that’s the thing that I think as parents, we need help with the most. Yeah. I completely agree. I mean, thankfully I think, you know, my kids now are in a school that understands them. And so I feel very much that academically they’re looked after and they’re going to get what they need.

00:37:03               But so for me, it’s how do I help them navigate, you know, good mental health, you know, we’ve already had, my son was for a short period, thankfully, but very much depressed. And he was only five and that scared the life out of me. And, and so it’s like, how can I help them understand that?

00:37:29               Yeah. I just, all they need to do in life is be happy and love what they’re doing and happy with themselves. And that’s a challenge cause we didn’t even as, as adults, without those extra challenges of being highly profoundly gifted and you know, that’s a hard enough thing for us all to do on an everyday basis. Isn’t it? You know?

00:37:51               Yeah. Yeah. Because I think true particularly when they’re younger, when they’re in primary school, um, there’s a great sense of frustration in finding somebody that they can communicate with in the way they need to communicate and to talk about the things that they need to talk about, to have peers that I can have those conversations with and feel normal about it is really,

00:38:17               really important. Yeah. And then that can be really challenging. It can bake because if they’re, if the education system isn’t facilitating things, hubs where these children can congregate, then yeah. That’s, that’s where they feeling like they’re different and they’re sending out and they’re potentially getting ostracized and bullied and yeah. Yeah. I’m really interested in this idea and I’ve come across it a few times in my own journey with my kids that,

00:38:48               um, like a school has said to me, you know, we don’t want to accelerate them because we’re concerned about their social, emotional wellbeing. And um, and I was like, have you not looked at my son? He’s trying to connect any connect. Like, you know, he might be in a classroom with kids one or two years older or whatever,

00:39:09               but you might be able to connect with them. You know, the lots of point of being with his same age peers, if he can’t connect, you know, if he can’t find someone there who speaks the same language. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. You know, and just, and an example of that is my son who was able to speak quite well when he was quite young and he was in daycare when I was at work.

00:39:36               And I was very thankful that the coordinator at the daycare center recognized his language abilities. And she kept saying to me, I’m putting him up into the next age bracket because his sense of frustration with little ones and we’re talking, I mean, this is a stake here. So we’re talking like when he was in the room with under two year olds, he’s this little boy who is getting really frustrated and he started pushing other kids.

00:40:07               And during that sort of thing, you know, because he was not two yet himself didn’t know how to deal with it. But his frustration was that he could verbally communicate. And these other children that were the same age as him, 18 months to two years, they weren’t able to communicate with him in the same way. So I have to put him with the older ones because he needs to be able to communicate.

00:40:35               Absolutely. I mean, then that’s an extreme example because the younger ones in that situation, aren’t, you know, aren’t even probably quite talking and he’s obviously capable of more sophisticated language, but, but that just carries through, I think, you know, and, and just because you know, your five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10,

00:40:56               you may still have a different language to the kids around you. You know, if you’re wanted, if you want to deep dive and talk to someone about the periodic table and someone else has never heard of it, well, then you’re gonna struggle to connect aren’t you? Absolutely. Absolutely. I, um, I find it fascinating. I’m like hates this system that we have in this country that is purely age based average because there are so many fantastic education models over overseas in places like Europe that will focus on ability and rather than age and,

00:41:31               and focus on different learning rather than HR. I think we, you know, we make a huge mistake, just putting people in this you’re five that meant you’re in this grade. And you’re 12. That means you now have to go to high school and, and DBS it’s wrong. It’s very wrong Example that the principal at my son’s school always uses is,

00:41:53               um, you know, we may as well group kids by this, you know, in groups by the size of their shoe because, you know, they’re all so different. It needs to be about where they’re at. And they might be at different places all over the place, you know, but you know, they need, some kids are going to be more extreme examples than others,

00:42:11               but they need to be able to learn in the way they need to be able to learn. I feel very lucky that we’ve found the school where my kids go to Dara, where they do understand that and differentiate in that way. But, but yeah, it is, you know, it is an exception, not the rule. And I think it,

00:42:30               yeah, it needs to shift. Doesn’t it worry about where my kids will go when it comes to high school, I’m doing high school by then. Have you got any advice for parents who have yet to enter the teenage years? Goodness, me, I’ve been asked a lot about why I sent my kids to all different schools. Cause people thought I was insane of five children,

00:42:57               all going to five different places every day. And you’re insane, but yeah, I think take each child as an individual and, and work with what’s going to work for them because do you know what the hard work I did was just driving around all the time, but that’s what you’ll do as a parent. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I certainly feel that like last year we were doing through three different drop-offs because that’s what we needed to do.

00:43:34               Yeah. But you just get on with it and do it for them because they can always fight for themselves. You know, if you think you’ve got to push your child to getting to one place or another, then you should do that. But I think I’m very good at accepting things I’m told if it doesn’t sit right. Yep. Yep. Yep.

00:44:00               And I’m going to find it. Yeah. So thank you so much for that conversation today. It’s been really interesting to listen to you talk about your kids and in particularly those teenage years and, and just to have that conversation around perfectionism, because I feel like, you know, and I was, I was at a, was it a doctor with one with my son,

00:44:25               my youngest and I was talking about this particular issue. And I said, look is most likely, which means he may be accommodating. And you know, we might not be seeing it as bad as it might be. You know, he might be accommodating to that because he could be capable of that. So I just want to bear that in mind.

00:44:44               And the doctor’s response was, Oh, well, you know, gifted kids, I wish my kids are gifted and I didn’t kind of respond to that because I’m never quite sure because what I want to say to that is first of all, they just are who they are. And secondly, our idea of as a community about or gifted ears is so narrow.

00:45:05               I think people understand it just to be these high achieving kids who never have a worry in life and you don’t need to worry about them going to be fine. They’re going to achieve, they’re going to be, do whatever they’re going to do. They don’t need help. Then the reality is far from that, you know, they’re, they’ve got real challenges and there are real challenges in parenting.

00:45:28               And, you know, and I think perfectionism is a classic example of how debilitating it can be and challenging for themselves. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s fair enough. It’s hard enough figuring out what you want. Well, I, you know, I really do wish your, your daughters all the best in all your kids and, um, and yeah,

00:46:01               just happiness in the future, whatever they choose to do. So thank you so much for that. I really appreciate the chat. Yeah. And just sharing your story. So that’s lovely. Thanks. Cheers. Bye. If you enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaway in the comments for more episodes.