#022 Lessons from CTY Ireland

#022 Lessons from CTY Ireland

Today I’m speaking with Dr Colm O’Reilly, Director of the Centre of Talented You at Ireland’s Dublin City University, about their awesome program.

In the episode, you’ll hear all about the program CTYI offer, why they offer it and who get’s to attend. We also talk at length about tips for parents of gifted kids. The CTYI engages about 6000 and has operated for 30 years so I was keen to know what Dr Colm O’Reilly has learned about gifted kids and parenting gifted kids during this time!

Hit play and let’s get started!

Dr Colm O’Reilly

“Sometimes with bright kids. You need to relax that a little bit because they’re obviously doing quite well up to now. Sometimes you can be overly focused on what they’re getting in scores and exams and tests and stuff, because we’re constantly using that as a metric to judge them as to how well they’re doing when the passion and the interest and what they believe and what they like is very important, too.” – Dr Colm O’Reilly

Dr Colm O’Reilly has worked in the area of gifted education for decades, is a published academic and Director of the CTYI. Dr O’Reilly engages internationally with gifted education and is a wealth of knowledge and experience.


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[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: I’m delighted today to be talking to Dr. Colm  o’Reilly from the Center of Talented Youth in Ireland and good evening or good morning . It’s a delight to be talking to you again and having a chat today about gifted students.

[00:00:15] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Yeah. Thanks so much for the invitation. Delighted to chat about a topic that’s really close to my heart.

[00:00:22]Sophia Elliott:  And you’ve been with the Center for Talented Youth for quite some time. And it’s been operating for 30 years now, which I find just wonderful. It’s quite a legacy. Tell us what you currently offering students in Ireland.

[00:00:39] Yeah. So, uh, we’re based out of a university. So it’s a university based gifted program.

[00:00:44] Dr Colm O’Rielly: We currently cater for about 6,000 students a year, which is a nice sizeable proportion of students. Bearing in mind, population of Ireland is about 4 million. So we have a lot of students coming, attending programs. This can be primary school students who attend Saturday courses and do  correspondence courses and  some commuter summer programs.

[00:01:05] And then we have some secondary school program, students who attend some residential summer programs, they can attend commuter programs. And they also attend a program that we run, which is an early university entrance program, which they can do during a gap year that they have in school. And when they’re 15 and 16, after one set of state exams, we have what’s called a transition year.

[00:01:25] So these students can do work experience at different things at that point. And we’ve started offering in the last three or four years and early university entrance program for these students. And it’s proved very popular.

[00:01:36] Sophia Elliott: They sound like wonderful resources. And given the, the program’s been around for 30 years, what do you think has been the secret of your success?

[00:01:48] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Well, hopefully I think it’s that we’re offering good quality instruction for the students who come on the program who value us and many will come back from year to year. I think for the parents who are sending their children on the program, it’s an important thing for them to help  their kids, doing something that stimulates them both academically and socially.

[00:02:09] I think the success is, well, I like the easy thing to say is it says it’s currently the only program that’s available in Ireland for high ability students. Um, obviously Ireland is a country which is, you know, known quite well for education. We’d have a high proportion of people attending third level on different education systems in place, but very little within a school system for gifted  children.

[00:02:32] So I think we kind of started off 30 years ago, trying something out and seeing whether people would be interested in us. We found it was successful. The people who came the first year, once it to return, they went back to their schools and they told other people that it might be a good idea. And from then it just became more popular.

[00:02:51] And then really in the last we started initially as a secondary school program, we started with a residential summer program, kind of trying to emulate programs that are run in the States for high school students who can take college courses during the summer that  proved very successful. We obviously put a more Irish slant on things in relation to trying to replicate what a third level course would look like in Ireland.

[00:03:13] And that proved popular in subjects like medicine, obviously, and subjects like Law  and subjects like psychology things where you knew  they can’t offer them  in school, but they’re going to be good and universities. Have a much more, you know, resources and materials available to them to do that. Um, also would have teachers who’d be adequately qualified to teach in those areas.

[00:03:35] So from that it really got popular, but I think the main thing for how we have so many students now is really about. 20 years ago, we started a primary school program and that was to run on Saturday mornings for students. And again, we really tried to just replicate what we were doing at secondary, but with a view to making it more practical and hands-on, you know, the way primary school students would need a lot more kind of stuff to keep their attention and stuff, to keep them occupied and interested.

[00:04:04] So when you can offer things like medicine and Law and  psychology, which I mentioned before, you would obviously offer them with a more practical component and you would have kids with stethoscopes to in medicine doing moot courts for law, and also kind of doing some level analysis in psychology and stuff like that.

[00:04:21] It proved really popular. A lot of people started signing up and now like every Saturday on our university we would have 1200 students, which is a lot of people taking Saturday courses. And again, I think Ireland has a kind of a culture for that then on Saturdays, most. People would do some extracurricular activity with their kids or send their kids to one it’s mostly sporting would obviously be a popular part of it because most sports in Ireland  are conducted outside of school time and conducted through local clubs and communities.

[00:04:51] They’re small but there’s a lot of people involved in them. So while this was happening, we kind of said, well, if we’ve run Saturday class at the same time, maybe there’s kids who are very smart, who aren’t that good at sports, which is something that we hear a lot in this field, but. A lot of them said, okay, we’re going to send our kids to this type of program.

[00:05:11] They might have two or three kids and a might have some kids didn’t sports and other kids do music. And these kids are in this program. Um, then they weren’t surprised at the high numbers we had and I think that, that kind of normalises it. I think that if you run programs where you only have 10 or 12 people running them, then people are automatically curious or worried stuff.

[00:05:31] This is very elitist or very exclusive. But I think when, when you come to our university center on Saturday and you see. Kids age eight to 12, and there’s 60 different classes with 20 kids say in each class. And there’s so many things to offer on so many niches and so many courses. And somebody thinks that students are interested in, it becomes really kind of lively and a vibrant and engaging place to be.

[00:05:56] And then of course, a real, kind of a boom for us with the growth of technology and the growth of computer courses. And. Since I think people are probably familiar, you know, a lot of these places like Stanford and Harvard made a lot of these programs like MIT app inventor for free. And then there was courses like, you know, scratch for programming and also courses like game maker and game designer, which are free on the internet, but would be hard to have teachers are qualified people to teach them on.

[00:06:26] Also resources are needed for networking and computers to ruin these packages and programs and time. So universities are ideal environments for that  and a lot of kids wanted to sign up to learn how to make games similar to what they were doing and playing at home. And I think that the technology has made that much more advanced.

[00:06:44] It makes those games a lot more realistic now than they used to be saying. When I was in computers in school, we spent a lot of times writing long  lines  code and programming from very little outcome., hello world and stuff like that, which was stuff that we learned. Well, But I can see kids being very disappointed in it now because it doesn’t look like what they’re playing at home.

[00:07:04] Whereas intuitive programs like game maker and game designer, they’re actually designing games to look remarkably similar to stuff that they would play on their phones anyway. And they got a lot of achievement and pride doing that.

More Transcript Here

[00:07:17] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. You offer an amazing array of classes. I know my kids would be like, like kids in a candy store with all of that choice.

[00:07:26] It just sounds like a wonderful service. And so those programs that you were talking about are for students in the 95th percentile and over in one or more areas, but I also know that you offer a course for students and children in the 85th to 95th percentile. And I’m curious about that. How did that come about?

[00:07:52] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Yeah, like I think, um, you know, initially we, we run a program. We wanted to identify students, you know, like I think. I think when I took on these podcasts, you’re, you’re preaching to the converted and people don’t understand what you’re talking about. You want to identify bright kids. You want to give them opportunities that they can move at a fast pace, that they can do courses and classes that they won’t they’ll be able to fulfill their potential or move at the accelerated pace that they are capable of.

[00:08:19] And that’s why we would use an assessment criteria to try and identify these kids so that when we’re doing fast paced courses, they’re not feeling that it’s gotten too slowly, but also they’re not feeling. Dr. They’ve achieved at a level that we’re not admitting people who are not quite at the level and then are quite intimidated, cause the kids are all better than them.

[00:08:41] So that’s the kind of reason why you would have a cutoff in the first place, but we’d probably find that, like, I think that as the field develops and as we learn more about assessment, that it’s not an exact science, as we’re hearing a lot more about things like IQ, not being as reliable as we  thought they were certainly not stable over time.

[00:08:59] And that people develop at different rates and different ages and also related to what levels of interest they have in particular things at points in time. And we said, look, why don’t we try and look at kids just below what we would normally consider at the threshold and looking at kids between the 85th and the 95th percentile.

[00:09:17] And that really came about like, by. I was interviewing somebody for a position to work with those who had incredibly achieved very highly in the field of medicine that were just finishing their medical degree. They had finished first in their class for many years, studying medicine. There were only about 22, 23 at the time.

[00:09:34] And I said to them, you know, you really would have enjoyed attending our program when you were younger. I, I. Don’t, I don’t remember you attending or I didn’t see your name on any lists. And they said, yeah, well, I took the assessment when I was 13 and I didn’t get an, my scores were just below what you were requiring.

[00:09:52] And that made me think, you know, and that person was fine. They kind of laughed at that and said, look, maybe it gave them a boost to work harder subsequently. And they did very well, but I was kind of thinking if we’re not identifying kids like that, we’re missing out on super smart kids who are totally capable of doing, because they were probably surpassing the ones that we identified if they were finishing first in their class in a  medicine  college course subsequently.

[00:10:15] So I think we should be able to be more flexible on our admittance ratio and trying to give opportunities to those students. Particularly ones who have interests in subjects, particular areas, which is a big growth. Now, you know, you might have kids who are brilliant. A history are brilliant and archeology are brilliant on a particular topic or subject.

[00:10:34] Engineering for example, which is very difficult to measure in a maths and  verbal exam. It’s very difficult to measure because it was very curriculum based around it, in relationship to that. So those kids Excel on those particular courses, but they’re very hard to identify. So I think we need to have a little bit of a broader identification range and therefore we might get those kids in and then they can take speciality courses and actually do very, very well in them.

[00:11:00] So what we just kind of do is we run those courses for kids at the 85th to 95th, parallel to the ones we’re doing with kids at the 95th. So therefore it isn’t a situation where if we were doing like an advanced maths class that they might feel, gosh, the kids in my class are also brilliant at maths and I’m good at it, but I feel intimidated.

[00:11:19] They would be with other kids who  again, advanced to the level of what they’d be use to at school but  we’d be able to push them on and maybe expose them to stuff that they never would normally get an opportunity to study. And we find that they Excel in these particular areas too, and that’s worked very well.

[00:11:35] And now near half our  students are coming, would be attending at this 85th to 95th percentile and very much enjoying it too.

[00:11:45] Sophia Elliott: That’s wonderful. I just think it’s, it’s great that you’re offering that and being flexible and understanding those boundaries because it can be very tough on students to have that very fine line, isn’t it?

[00:11:57]And, and as we know, assessment is a moment in time and then that’s problematic with IQ and other things. So yeah, what a wonderful service to be offering. Now, I know that you offer a rigorous academic program for your students, but how important is the social aspect of your programs and why.

[00:12:18] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Definitely from experience and from. Talking to students from looking at the program myself from, uh, any kind of courses or programs that we’ve run a very familiar theme comes through. Particularly as the kids move to secondary school from 13 to 16, it’s that they prefer the social activities to the academic ones, and that it’s very valued to them and that the peer friendships that they make, the people that they meet are hugely  important in their development at that  point in time.

[00:12:54] And I don’t think we can overemphasize in any way, the importance of social development with bright kids. I think the, hopefully when you run a program, like we would run out of a university offering amazing academic challenges that we’d hope that academic standard would be sufficient to keep these kids occupied and stimulated.

[00:13:14] But I think that the very nice by-product of that is the bringing together of people who are interested in same things as themselves and the chance to meet those people, talk to them about various things. And some of those things certainly don’t have to be academic all the time. And they’re the things I would think that people who come on residential courses remember the most, the friends that they made, the  fun  that they had been away from home, the social things that they did outside of class time.

[00:13:41] I think that that’s a really valuable thing for these students, particularly in relation to their interests. So if you have a kid who’s really, really good at English or creative writing or reads  a lot  and they are in a school environment where they’ve read so many books, but the kids in their school are not interested in the books that reading and they don’t have as much in common with them and that they can come on a program like this.

[00:14:05] And they might be even studying something totally differently, like say philosophy. And then they’re talking about what books do you read? And I think it’s great for them to feel much comfort in the fact that most of the people in their class are reading the same book. So it’s them or interesting things as them.

[00:14:19] And that gets the social conversations going quicker. And what we’re always trying to do is to find these little niches that these kids have put them in touch with other kids who have the same interests as them. And hopefully they’ll find a little bit of common ground and they can kind of make friends easier or quicker than they would do in a regular school environments and that works so well.

[00:14:41] And it’s such a nice kind of a, and it’s a nice thing as a legacy of what happens when you’ve run these programs. And I think even a primary, it happens too, even though. Like sometimes the kids aren’t as you know, able to articulate it as much. But again, if you have a child who really is good at maths and doesn’t have as many people in school who they can talk to about it, and you put them in a class with other kids and parents at the age who are all like maths and are interested, they automatically feel more comfortable.

[00:15:12] They feel more at home, they feel more self-confident and they talk to each other a little bit more because they don’t feel that they’re going to be judged on what they say related to what their responsibility is. And I think that that’s a very nice thing and something that can prevent the child from feeling very isolated in the way that they could in a school environment where they’re surrounded by people who are just not interested in the same things they’re interested in.

[00:15:39]Sophia Elliott:  I think it goes to the heart of our humanity is that need to belong and feel  seen  and understood. And. Around people that have those similarities in place. And I know it can be really isolating for students who haven’t got that network. So again, like an awesome byproduct of your already wonderful programs is that opportunity to, to meet other young people with those same interests, uh,

[00:16:10] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Uh, the actually interesting thing about that is that now a lot of our staff, like when you’ve been working there for a long time  so a lot of our staff now are former students from the program.

[00:16:22] So this is really, really nice because, um, like nearly, I would say 70% of the people we employ, we employ like 350 people a year working on different programs. So 70% of those are people who’ve attended at some point. So number one, they automatically empathize with why somebody would put them on a course like this and they can get it and understand it.

[00:16:44] And that’s a huge thing because they were the kids themselves when they were younger. And also they’re great role models for those kids. When you think of it, like if they’re looking at somebody and all our stuff, are you on, you know, 22, 23, or they’re looking at these people who at college  or just finished college studying subjects that they’re interested in, it gives them something to aspire towards because I think that that’s something we have to be careful about with bright kids is that, you know, they can easily just get demotivated they can easily not do as well as they can. They can easily just, you know, lower their expectations because they haven’t  met or seeing people who they can see as role models, who they can aspire to do. Um, as well as in the future. And I think that, you know, if you’re always finishing top, sometimes that’s a pretty lonely thing to be, because the only way is down in that context and other people may not be as appreciative of you finishing top all the time.

[00:17:40] So therefore it really is important to have other people to have ideas around, to talk to about the pressure that you can feel with that. But also the benefitsthat can give you on the opportunities that subsequently could happen by doing well in these situations.

[00:17:57]Sophia Elliott: And I imagine your residential summer program, being with those like-minded peers night and day for it.

[00:18:04] For that time must be quite life-changing as well. And I know that, within your alumni videos, they talk very fondly of those experiences. I think it’s  it’s wonderful that you’ve got people coming back wanting to be a part of it.

[00:18:17] I think that says so much about how much they got out of it at the time. So I’m interested then for our gifted students, and those are probably at the higher end of the scale in particular, uh, what would you say are the most important skills they could learn? Because obviously a lot of the academics come very easily to, to our, our bright students.

[00:18:41] So what sort of skills do your programs help to.

[00:18:47] Dr Colm O’Rielly: I definitely think the most important skill that these kids can learn is some independent or self-directed learning. I think that, you know, we’ve all read studies have all seen students who may not do as well because. They get bored in school, on their unable  then to compensate for their knowledge by applying stuff, to doing so for themselves, until learning on and doing areas of interest to bring themselves on and they’re  incapable of reading texts, critically themselves, they’re capable of learning or being self directed or are moving on with what they know.

[00:19:29] I like to think that that’s a really can be damaging for them. And I think that what we’re always trying to do, and I don’t think there’s any young age that you can. Uh, not do this. You know, obviously I think that older, you can do more advanced tasks in relation to The, but even from a young age, to encourage them to do stuff for themselves, to reach them for themselves, to learn stuff for themselves.

[00:19:50] It’s so beneficial because it gives them a self of self. It gives them a sense of self-containment and a self of self fulfillment, and also gives them then a purpose to do stuff themselves and to perform and achieve at a level that they’re appropriate to doing. Because there will be certain stages where  other kids may not learn stuff as quickly as them.

[00:20:14] And they’re just constantly waiting on the teacher to teach them new things. They could be waiting a long time in their school environment for that to happen. Particularly if they give an example of somebody who’s very good at maths, they could be waiting. The rest of the year before the others have caught up to the level there are.

[00:20:30] And if they’re not doing anything to further their maths talent in that year, they’re going to be in difficulties in a year’s time. Number one from dying of boredom or frustration. But also sometimes when they start learning new stuff, they’ve switched off for so long. They Cant actually tune back in to when the new stuff begins because they constantly associate school with not learning anything.

[00:20:56] So they can’t reconcile that where they actually have to learn something. They think they know everything already. So I think that this is dangerous and it’s very important to teach them these kind of self-sufficiency independent learning skills because it’s very useful for them. And last really have any point.

[00:21:14] And it also gives them something outside what their regular zone of learning is that they can always fall back on and use on any stage of their lives. So I can’t recommend that enough.

[00:21:26] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. It’s lifelong learning, isn’t it. And surviving your own interest as well in so some ways,

[00:21:35] yeah, some great advice.

[00:21:37] Dr Colm O’Rielly: I think The like in, in those kinds of things, I always say to you, the other thing is to kind of like say to those students, I think is we have to be careful about saying, you know, my father’s a doctor, my mother’s a doctor. Therefore I’m going to be a doctor when these, some of these kids, you know, don’t want to be a doctor or  that’s , not a skillset that they’re interested in, or that’s not the thing that they’re going to be best at, or they’re going to enjoy the most.

[00:22:03] And I think that sometimes in  Irish schools  anyway, The career guidance. Like we would have a competitive exam based point system for college attendance. So the advice that they’re getting from their school career guidance teacher is aim for the course, which is the hardest to get into because you get the results to achieve that.

[00:22:25] And that might be  medicine  or that might be veterinary science, it’s quite competitive, or that might be, you know, um, philosophy in a certain college. And they haven’t really  thought about what the child’s interests are or what their actual learning skill set is. And it may not be in any way can, you know, associated with doing subjects like medicine .

[00:22:50] Oh, I think there’s so many students currently studying medicine in Ireland who were just put into it because this is a course for smart people. Not. Ever thinking that’s of course we have to meet people all the time where you constantly have a direct relationship with them, which may not suit people in any capacity.

[00:23:10] And it’s also a job that requires a high level of commitment and dedication, particularly when you’re early on in your career, that may not suit people. That’s the thing, I think that. That’s why there’s kind of a mismatch in those types of things for bright kids. So I think the great thing about like, look, obviously I’ll advocate for what we’re trying to do, but I don’t mean that it’s the be all and end all of our courses are.

[00:23:34] But the great thing about it is given them choice that if you are 12 and have studied a course in engineering and 13 taken a course in physics, and 14  taken a course in maths on 15, taken a course in computers, and you’re very like science-y STEM oriented. And then maybe in the fifth year you took a course in biomedical diagnosed six or something.

[00:23:57] At least after five years, you’ve taken five different courses related to where your abilities and skillsets lie. And I would always encourage the students to if. When they got a chance to go to third level, to pick the one that excites them or interest them the most, rather than the one that they think is going to get them the best job or the one that their parents are telling them, Oh, this is where you should do, because this is prestigious.

[00:24:22] I’m not saying they shouldn’t do these courses, but they should think about them related to where their ability is, because that will be the one, the ones who do the best are the ones who are motivated towards what they’re doing, who love, what they’re learning. And even though it might not be traditionally taught as prestigious, you will find that these students will rise to the top in these courses, if they’re interested in them and do some excellent, extraordinary things, as opposed to being mediocre in courses or colleges that they didn’t really want to attend in the first place.

[00:24:55] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely very wise words. And, early on in my parenting journey with my kids, I. I decided, I’ve kind of realized I didn’t want my kids to be restricted by the lack of imagination of the grownups around them. And I, look at my kids and I have no idea what they will end up doing and that’s okay.

[00:25:16] I look at it as supporting whatever interests they’ve got at the time. And sometimes you need to be open to changing your ideas of your own children. I, and I’ve certainly had that experience recently. My eldest albeit is only eight, but has had a very deep interest in science and astrophysics and all that sort of stuff.

[00:25:38] And it’s been quite consistent. His kind of science interests from age three, but recently has taken an interest in history because his grandfather is visiting, who is a history buff. And so that’s quite different for him. And it’s wonderful to see him branching out and I wouldn’t really have expected of him, but he’s been, Reading lots and, and watching lots of documentaries on history.

[00:26:03] So it’s a wonderful change and, and really makes us as parents think again. Well, you know, he may not go into a science, he’s still very young. There’s lots of opportunities for him who knows where he’ll end up.

[00:26:16] Dr Colm O’Rielly: I think that that’s really important. And that’s a really great thing for parents to do, to encourage their kids, to do as many things as possible, or to follow their kids kind of lead in relation to, I think I’m going to read this now rather than no, you should do more STEM because look, everyone’s saying in the papers, all the jobs are in STEM.

[00:26:35] There’s no jobs in history, all of these things, even themselves out, and the kids themselves go with what they like. I’ve thought some kids could get some great wisdom for things like that. You know, like I like when you talk to a kid after they’ve taken a course, they might’ve taken a course in say, you know, um, Global economics.

[00:26:56] And we would say, what do you think of that? I need a couple of kids gone. Why I really wanted to study business in college. I really did it for that. And then art, when it she’ll say, you know, I didn’t really like it. I don’t think it’s for me, it’s just not my thing. And then you’ll get a couple of say, I really liked that.

[00:27:09] I don’t think I want to study it in college, but this would be a hobby that I’ll always have. And I’ll always be interested in the economics of the world. I’d always be interested in economy. It will be interesting. I’ll always read books on it and this course is. Really kind of broadened my mind to what I could read and what I could be exposed in.

[00:27:25] I know I’m going to study something else, but have a great hobby and an interest in it. And that’s a great thing to have because it’s like, I don’t have the pressure of it being like career all the time, but it will be always something I’m interested in. I want to do. And I think that if you never tried it, I never did it.

[00:27:40] You’ll always feel like, Oh, you know, My interest level, always correspond with what I’m studying. And we always find the ones who actually do best. We send them in universities are kids who have broader interests. You know, kids who have, you know, they might be studying law, but they have an interest or a knowledge of biotech, or they have an interest thing that just makes them more better rounded and better kind of academics in the future for when they’re studying cases, which are like patents around biotechnology that they’ll understand, or be more interested in than the pure law students who will be very focused on the legal aspects of it, but will struggle with the understanding of the science of technical aspects.

[00:28:20] So anything you learn adds to your further knowledge of what you’re going to do laterally . And I think that people can sometimes be very narrow focused in what you should learn to become a certain profession, the more knowledge and the more information and the more things, you know, the better or rounded, better person you are.

[00:28:37] I totally think that.

[00:28:39]Sophia Elliott:  And I think, we all, as parents, we just need to chill out because not every interest has to be a career, and it’s this pressure of what’s the career. What is, especially as they get older, it’s like, well, we don’t have to figure that out at 10 or even at 14 or 16 or 18, careers, these days aren’t  lifelong and change and ebb and flow.

[00:29:00] And, if we just sat back and enjoy what they’re doing now and the next step, take that pressure off as well. So having worked with six thousand  students a year and even more parents, or even a year, I’m wondering, uh, you know, what do you think the big lessons for parents are, of gifted kids? What nuggets have you come across

[00:29:24] over time?

[00:29:26] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Like, I, I do think that sometimes parents, bright kids get a bad press, you know, like I think that sometimes people associate them, Oh, they’re always so pushy. You know, like I constantly get, you know, my colleagues and my university or whatever, who ironically are probably parents, bright kids. Right.

[00:29:43] They’re going, but there enough, these parents, according to them, Oh, you must, parents are so pushy on the phone or you must have parents who were so difficult or so demanding. And like, it’s not true because what we have is parents who want to advocate or do the best for their kids. Right. And that’s a totally different thing that might come across as being pushy or demanding, but where they actually wants the best for their child.

[00:30:06] So you do have parents who are very serious about their kids’ education. And sometimes I would say, you know exactly what you were saying there. Sometimes with bright kids. You need to relax that a little bit because they’re obviously doing quite well up to now. Sometimes you can be overly focused on what they’re getting in scores and exams and tests and stuff, because we’re, we’re, we’re constantly using that as a metric to judge them as to how well they’re doing when the passion and the interest and what they believe and what they like is very important, too.

[00:30:39] Well, how interests are motivated are good. They are, it’s still will actually be reflective on how well they’ll do and things later, and how deep they’ll go into it. And the level of depth of knowledge that we’ll retain with them. That’s important. So that’s why we kind of stress this idea that, you know, Oh, this would be a common when I reconcile this, the way it happens, you know, it’s like my child is ready to go to math,  andlike love maths, but I’m sending them to you to get them better at English.

[00:31:08] And you’re just going, why would you do that? Like, you know, we want them to be ready to go to  maths to get even better at it. And to really love doing that. And this is not what you know, it’s not to kind of. Oh, but I want them to be more rounded. Of course that’s an important thing, but it’s, you know, putting them in an advanced English course, it’s not the answer to doing that.

[00:31:30] You can encourage them to read and do stuff. We really want them in these types of programs thing, really try and get them doing stuff that they’re interested in. The  other stuff comes. You know, the other stuff happens by exposing them to a lot of things, but don’t be overly, Oh, I have to, you know, in order for them to do this, they need to do this as well.

[00:31:50] The first thing, the other thing is as well, it’s like school, you know, I think that you have to be careful about managing expectations in school as parents that’d be the most common kind of complaint we’d have from a parents as my child is bored in school. I can’t believe the school isn’t going to do anything about it.

[00:32:06] And I can a lot of sympathy for the school in that situation, as well as the parents look, nobody wants their child to be bored in school or to associate school with not learning anything. But I think that if you have a child that the 99% on and they’re in a school, which puts them in the top 1%, remember they’re in school with 20 other kids in their class.

[00:32:26] They’re already one in a hundred. So it’s quite unlikely that in that class, unless the class  for gifted kids, there’s going to be other kids who are at their child’s level. So that teacher has to teach two different ability. And they’ll normally teach to the middle. In that context, they’ll normally to teach kids who are between the 40th and the 60th or the 45th and the 55th or the 48 to the staff.

[00:32:48] And yet maybe they’re not going to specifically be able to teach the 99th all the time. And I think that some parents expect that that’s what they should be doing, but that’s not fair on the other kids. And that’s what we go back to this. If you have a child. Two has better skills, independent learning self-sufficiency and has other things to do while the kids who are catching up what they know already, and that that’s already been a great and advanced cause sometimes I’ll totally say the schools don’t facilitate that and they’ll just tell, well, they should just wait until we’re moving to the new stuff.

[00:33:20] It needs to be Matt halfway there. But I think the parents sometimes have unrealistic expectations that their child shouldn’t be bored in school ever. Of course, if you have a child through that, the 99 percentile and they’re at school all day, every day, There will be certain portions of the day that they will be bored because they will be sorting stuff that they know already that’s to be expected in areas where they’ve already excelled in.

[00:33:44] And it’s very difficult in a mainstream situation to change that completely for that particular child. And that’s why teachers and principals will think that’s unrealistic to do that. Whereas if you’re going to, I would often suggest to parents to try and meet halfway with, look, we think he knows that stuff.

[00:34:03] That’s The, can he do this while? This lesson is going on because we’ve established, they’re doing it. And that is a normal, like there’s a solution there and there’s something that can be done. But I think that that’s something to be considered. The other thing for parents is just to make sure, look, I think it’s, to me, look, I don’t think I’ve ever met a parents thing who doesn’t want their child to be happy, ultimately like that they might kind of have very high expectations for them.

[00:34:30] They might want them to do really well. And a lot of things, they might put them under pressure inadvertently because of that. But ultimately they want them to be happy. And I think that you have to always channel that because sometimes what makes them happy, mightn’t be exactly what you perceive that they should be doing.

[00:34:47] That’s not to say, you know, you just have to have. You have to let it kind of develop that in the thing and be careful to make sure you’re not over putting pressure on them. And you know, by that it’s like, what did you get in your test? Oh, I got 99%. Like, what does anybody say to somebody who got 99% in the test?

[00:35:06] If you’re a parent, where did you lose that 1%? And that’s a message that’s putting that child under a lot of pressure, really? Because they’re thinking, well, it’s 99, not good enough. Or what if I get 97 or 96 the next time are you going to be even more disappointed in me than you were when I got 99? I think that we have to be careful of the messages and the pressure we inadvertently put on our kids to do well.

[00:35:30] And what we’re trying to do is to reward. Effort rather than results, because if we have bright kids, they’re probably going to do very well in certain tests all the time without making any effort. What we want to do is to reward them to say the effort that you put in to do well in that question or in that test or that essay that you wrote.

[00:35:52] I liked that because your child will respond to that by going by. Parents liked me putting effort in on repeat the efforts you don’t, you can certainly be happy and proud of them doing well in tests. But if you overemphasize that the reason you like them to do the test is cause they got a hundred dentists.

[00:36:10] They will soon come to think that you may not like them anymore. If they got less than a hundred. Whereas if you tell them we like the effort that you put in, we’d like to time that you spent doing it, they will increase both of those things to further make you happier subsequently. And these are messages that I would think are very important because sometimes we can just get carried away.

[00:36:31] Particularly if you know, you have a child, who’s super smart, super thing, and you’re intimidated almost because you’re worried that you’re not doing enough for them. And therefore you have to think they have to be top of the class all the time. They don’t, they have to be your child all the time and be ultimately happy.

[00:36:48] And we have to kind of move back to reconciling to do that as much as possible. That would be. A ton of messages from parents over the years who might subsequent say, Oh, I wish I had been easier at that point in time because it just made them unhappy because I felt I was putting them under too much pressure, but I didn’t realize this.

[00:37:04] So it’s sometimes taking a step back and looking at the situation in the school, am I being unrealistic? And with the child themselves is what I’m saying to them, putting them under pressure or inadvertently making them unhappy. And if you think about those two things, they’re things to reconcile laterally that can make everyone’s life a lot easier moving forward.

[00:37:26] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely expectations. It’s, uh, it’s tricky to get rise in it. And I, I know early on with my eldest, because, you know, he’s quite extreme. It was, it was very overwhelming as a parent to know what to do. What are the expectations of me as a parent? Like, I don’t want to stuff this up because. My God, uh, you know, uh, we talk a lot about potential and, but one of the greatest lessons that I had along the lines of what you said was from my child’s psychologist.

[00:38:02] And, and he was going through this phase, he’d read all the books in the house twice. He said, you know, he was feeling a bit melancholy and we were looking for some guidance on, you know, as parents, what should we be doing? What are the expectations? You know, we didn’t want to, we didn’t want to stuff it up.

[00:38:19] And the best advice we got was it doesn’t matter if he’s read the books, because if he’s seven, he will read the same book when he’s eight or 10 or 14, and he’s growing each time and each time he’s going to get something different from that science book. And he’s going to look at it in a different way.

[00:38:38] And. Just because at that age they can do these amazing things. I think what I learned was I can take the pressure of myself as a parent to have to feed the beast, so to speak and, and constantly trying to find that level and just chill out a bit and understand that they young and maturing, and they’re going to learn different things, even from the same content that they’re interested in over time.

[00:39:08] And like you say, just kind of release that expectation of ourselves and all of our child in terms of, of what they are doing and can do. And, and, and like you’ve mentioned before, focus a bit more on being well-rounded and other activities. As you know, my son goes to Scouts, which is great for all sorts of reasons and he enjoys dance.

[00:39:36] And yeah, it really took the pressure off us as parents to hear that we don’t have to feel that intense expectations of ourselves to keep trying to find these different things for that, for him to do and learn because it’s okay if he revisit stuff, because he’s only young, he’s going to look at it in a different way.

[00:39:56] So yeah. Huge lessons there for, for co parents.

[00:40:01] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Yeah, absolutely. I think that sometimes, you know, people, we would get a lot of people wanting to, you know, visit our programs or come in and see classes and stuff. Like that’s obviously fine. I’ve no problem with it. But I think a lot quite surprised when they do, because that this expectation that they’re all super smart kids and they all like must be just studying for, you know, 12 hours a day.

[00:40:25] And they cons are designed to how relaxed the kids are and how, you know, easy they are with each other. Um, Heather joking, uh, messing around and still fund that, you know, while the. Classroom and the academics they do. Like it’s not a formal classroom environment. So I think people think that it is, and it doesn’t have to be, you know, it’s, it’s really just pushing them off.

[00:40:50] I see that people have this expectation, that bright cause they’re very serious about their academics. A very thing. Of course, they like learning what they like on the fun. I think you can balance those two things. And I think, uh, that’s a kind of, uh, you know, this it’s, is that what you’re saying about feeling under pressure to give them information all the time and stuff like that, that we can relax that a bit and that there’s different ways.

[00:41:11] They acquire information. There’s different things we can do, and that we don’t have to keep reading the books. We have to keep advancing their knowledge. They can actually do a little bit of that themselves so we can facilitate and help for that to happen. But it doesn’t have to be as serious all the time.

[00:41:27] I think. Yes,

[00:41:29] Sophia Elliott: absolutely permission to relax a bit. Um, so I know that you also are involved in research, um, at the center. So tell us a little bit about that. What kind of research do

[00:41:45] you look at there? Yeah.

[00:41:46] Dr Colm O’Rielly: And well, obviously, you know, when you like, look, we work at a university and we have access to some super smart kids.

[00:41:53] So we we’d like to do some research or, you know, like The, to keep on top of what the latest trends are like, obviously to make sure, first of all, I think from a teaching and classroom perspective, to make sure we’re keeping with the current trends, we’re doing stuff for the kids, like on the, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re constantly evaluating and changing curriculum to make it more relevant and interesting for the kids.

[00:42:12] We’re serving do that anyway. W that’s by asking the kids themselves, you know, what do you like, what do you not like St. Parents? What courses do you think your kids get really excited about? What would you like to do more? So we do a lot of that anyway. Well, I think in the general, in the fields, you know, we’re obviously looking at things like assessment, as we mentioned earlier, that’s a big thing to make sure that, you know, we’re identifying the right students, that we’re getting as many as possible.

[00:42:36] And I think that we, I think that’s sometimes a danger with these programs and people think they’re so elitist or, you know, Oh my God, it’s so hard to get in. And it’s so difficult. We actually want to be more open about people getting in. We want to have more people on it and more people to benefit from it because we think it’s a great thing and people can just come on, you know, and develop themselves and fulfill their potential.

[00:42:55] And there’s loads of people that can do that. So I think it’s, it’s trying to be more open minded about how we admit people. And then like, you know, there’s big things in the field. We kind of looked at stuff like self-concept on coping skills and stuff like that, because I think that obviously look, mental health is a big thing now with bright kids, you know, that we just have to be careful like mental health is a big thing with all kids, you know, but we just have to be careful that we’re.

[00:43:20] You know where we’re looking after our kids and we’re, we’re listening to them as best we can and we’re identifying problems and issues as they arise. And the relief for the good thing, or the news from perspective of parents give students, you know, mental health and gift to kids is not worse than mental health and kids who are not gifted.

[00:43:40] Okay. Like I think that sometimes people have this ancient association of, you know, the super smart child associated with madness and stuff like that. You know, going back to, you know, these kinds of van Gogh till I pay, you know, kind of era of, you know, the, or the composer select, you know, who, who, you know, was composing all the time.

[00:44:01] I went to kind of didn’t meet anyone, became onto social. So like, you know, I think these are extreme cases while they obviously happened. They’re not, you know, reflective of a regular what the norm is in those situations. So what we find is the actually. Right. Kids, Matt have the slightly batter done kids.

[00:44:18] I think the research that we found, so that’s a kind of relief for parents to split up, but it’s not like perfect. And doesn’t mean like, Oh, you’re a bright kid. And I got mental health problems. Of course this is possible. And something can happen. We just have to look at that and make sure kids are in the right framework and mindset in relation to that and to try and facilitate that in courses that we run and to talk to parents about it.

[00:44:38] But like parents are the best advocates because they know the kids the best. They see them in those environments. They see still stuff like has. They’ve become unhappy with us. They’ve got older stuff. That’s been more difficult to them. They don’t understand that they, they, they they’re the first one to go.

[00:44:55] I think we need to, I definitely recommend in those situations is go and see somebody about it. I think that the stigma about, Oh, I don’t want my child to see anyone that’s really should be in the past. These people are professional and able to help and bring it on. And it doesn’t, it’s certainly not a stigma.

[00:45:11] We have so many students on the program who are, have various mental health issues who are attending the course and doing perfectly well and getting help that they need. And. Are much more comfortable and confident doing it because of the I’m more comfortable with the problems or the difficulties that they’re facing and dealing with them because the professional have to talk about them rather than let’s hope this goes away, or they seem so happy last year.

[00:45:35] So I didn’t want to change anything. You know, I think that you have sets parents intervene if you see problems and problems and thing. And we obviously do research and we look at things like that to make sure that first of all, our policies and stuff are in place to ensure this health and safety of the child.

[00:45:51] That’s much more important than anything you would do with a child academically. Anyway, in my opinion, to make sure we have healthy kids in that context. And then we probably find the most vulnerable group in that regard, our LGBT gifted students. That’s quite interesting. Like I, if again, you know, going to conferences and writing papers and doing stuff for many years on gift to kids, bullets, and the lack of research or work done with LGBT gifted students is it’s incredible.

[00:46:20] When I think of, of the program that we have so many LGBT students on our program and who are all brilliant students, who all do really, really well and who are incredibly accepted and do well on a program with their peers, but would record some terrible stories of difficulties. They haven’t school-related, it’s been LGBT, uh, depending on the school they’re in, depending on the pair group they have, depending on.

[00:46:45] Situations related to things that are, you know, harrowing, I would think. So I’ve a PhD student at the moment. Who’s doing a PhD in gifted, LGBT. She’s our kind of equality officer and a great advocate and works on our program too. During the summer in a residential capacity with these students understands a lot of the issues and stuff and she’s doing thing.

[00:47:06] And I think that that’s so important because I think we need more research in these areas and we were talking previously. It’s just like, you know, you can have trends and gifted education. Like  like LGBT is not a trend. That’s something that’s going to be staying forever. You know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s an important aspect of the identity of a lot of gifted students.

[00:47:30] Um, we need to research and look into it to find, you know, make, I would personally I’m doing it, you know, while I’m interested in the students, I like the whole, you know, I like want to provide the best facilities for them, but also that we’re providing the best policies and that we’re like, look, we work in the university.

[00:47:46] So that’s fortunate. That’s the very open environment, but that we’re definitely advocating and making sure these kids have choices on have opportunities that may have been close to them even as low as. Short time ago is five, five years ago like that. We just have to open up a bit more in relation to that and that we’re also following best practice worldwide.

[00:48:09] And not because I think sometimes people think, Oh, we can just make a post-season this field. I don’t like the area of LGBT, you know, policy that, you know, LGBT gifted kids are pretty similar to LGBT non gifted kids. They’re pretty similar to LGBT adults, which they’re going to grow up to The, so we have to make sure that we’re advocating and working and making sure policy is correct in that field.

[00:48:32] So that’s a nice little research project that we’re working on at the moment. I always try like. Research is such a kind of a, you know, it’s a long, complicated field, but I was trying when we’re doing it to do still, that will be beneficial for the program that we’re running on. That, as I said, my early university entrance program or, or university or arts entrance program came out of a PhD project of one of my previous students.

[00:48:54] We have a program for social economic disadvantaged students that came out of a PhD from another one of my students. So like, I think I try and take on research students that we can do stuff to change what we’re currently doing to make it better or to change policy for what we’re doing to make that more current or better or so that we can be leaders in the field.

[00:49:14] I think The we’re fortunate, we’re privileged in that position that we’re running a program for bright students. It’s quite representative of most of the various students in Ireland. So look, it should be. Yeah, something we should have should be top quality and should be, you know, a framework of reference for other people to do it in other countries.

[00:49:35] It’s not to say it has to be the exact same, but at least they can look at the policies and go, yeah, look, I think we should replicate or do some of the, because if we can do that, then we can have a bit of consistency in how important issues are treated across the world. Particularly nowadays, when there’s so much money coming from middle Eastern countries, where there may not be as many, uh, friendly LGBT policies posts, we need to make sure that that’s not compromised when we’re accepting money for these programs to succeed.

[00:50:07] That it’s not at the expense of, you know, not having transparent and good LGBT policies. Sorry. That’s my little run Tober.

[00:50:16] Sophia Elliott: No, that’s a wonderful rent. Thank you very much. I think clot, right? It’s certainly something that we need to be. I think educated on or aware of and understand how to make sure that, uh, like you say, we’re open and accessible to all of our students, including our LGBT students.

[00:50:35] Uh, and because like you say, it’s a part of, part of their identity. It’s not going anywhere. We’re better at supporting them. Uh, so we’ve had a wonderful conversation today and I love talking about, uh, the CT, Y I, what you do is just awesome. I certainly wish I had that on my doorstep. Um, so as we kind of end the conversation, perhaps you could share with me one of your favorite CTY moments with your students,

[00:51:04] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Yeah, sure.

[00:51:05] And I tell you the story, which I don’t come out of this story very well, but it is quite a good story. Okay. Let’s suspense, the best stories are ones where, you know, I, I’m not the hero, but actually it ties in actually, it’s interesting because it does tie in to a few things that we’ve said earlier. Right.

[00:51:21] So, um, hopefully anyway, I think so, um, this is the ups say must be six years ago. Okay. Say about six years ago. Um, it was Saturday. We were doing some Saturday classes, you know, regular Saturday. And I would be more, my role on a Saturday these days is to evaluate our teachers more than like, you know, evaluating the students themselves.

[00:51:45] We’re hoping they’re doing well just to make sure the teachers are, you know, so many different teachers. And I think that they’re, you know, fulfilling what we set out for them to do. And this was, uh, was it sitting in a class. Uh, it was an advanced maths class. Right. And it was actually, you know, it was normally, you know, we adopted, these were kids who were 95th and 99th percentile in maths, you know, they were aged between nine and 12.

[00:52:11] And, uh, we were setting in, um, I was sitting out on this cloth and they were doing, um, they were doing kind of like a trigonometry, still a question. I actually, that would be okay at maths. You know, it would like, uh, be like a maths class would not be a bad one for me to sit in on. Let’s put it that way. I didn’t do a degree in maths, but it would be okay.

[00:52:31] So I was sitting in and it was really good. It was very engaging. The teacher was really good, who actually, she was a PhD student at the time. The teacher she’s actually a lecturer in our university now, so, which is a follow-up to this, but she was really good. So she was teaching, it was great. The kids were really engaged and there was a kid in the class and he was, and.

[00:52:51] Like brilliant, like that video, any Word, like, you know, look, we come across exceptional students all the time. This student was exceptional and, uh, he was just so good. You know, someone who stood all this stuff really quickly really thing, and he was answering questions and it was all thing. And then I’d say like, say the break time was about, you know, it was, we used, the clots have run from 10 to 12, 15, and we’d have a break at 10 45 to 11 kids stretch their legs and stuff, you know, and chat to each other and be social.

[00:53:22] So it was like, I might normally go in to the, up to the break, then talk to the teacher at the break time, took a couple of kids offline and then suddenly like that kind of class got really advanced really quickly. And it was like, I was completely lost. I was like, please don’t ask me a question, please.

[00:53:39] Don’t not speak positive. I’m sitting in the corner. You’re like, this is going to be very embarrassing if I got up, because I’m not going to know the answer. But the kid who was really good was excelling this stage, um, was like Juul us miles ahead. Of the other kids. I was literally, to me, such like laughing about it with the person teaching was as good as the teacher at that stage.

[00:54:02] And the teacher was, I could see asking kind of more complicated questions. The kid was still answering them and even the other kids in the class were looking at him. Wow. This kid is so good about this. It’s just incredible. So anyway, the break time came, so that was fine. I didn’t get to ask the questions.

[00:54:16] I was kind of very relieved. I don’t know it was coming up, you know, it’s coming to the door of the class and the kid was there, who, I won’t name the job, but I had known the job. I had met the job out of previous class before, but like, you know, I know some of the kids, I know we’ve put a lot of students, but I would be kind of friendly social person, but you know, like I was just a kid I’d sit in before it’s my set up.

[00:54:38] I kind of said to him, you know, look at this class. And he was like, yeah, yeah, that was great. He was more, you know, I’m going off to talk to my friends now. And I was like, yeah. And I said, yeah, I just kind of said, you’re really, you’re very good at maths. And he said, yeah, I love maths. You know? And I said, yeah.

[00:54:53] And I said, what about, like, I just kind of said to him, what about school? What do you want? Matson school? And he said, Oh yeah, it’s grand. And that was like the end of the conversation. I was thinking I was just walking away. And he said, I had a test in school the other day. And I said to him outta jail, I said, and what I said in maths.

[00:55:09] And I said, Oh, how did that go? He said, I’ve got seven out of 10. And I said, Okay. Seven out of 10 out of 10, the maths test. And so I didn’t say anything, but I was like thinking, wow, that’s a bit strange. I said, I deliberately got three wrong, you know? Um, I was like, Oh DJ do. I said, Oh yeah. I said, because seven is like a pretty acceptable number to get in the test that you don’t get a hard time from your friends and school and your teacher wouldn’t really notice.

[00:55:38] She only really knows if he got less than five at a time. So I just got seven out of 10 too. So I could fit in with my peers and be happy in that context. And I was like, wow. Um, and you know, like was finished. I had the 10, right? Like 10 minutes before I’ll do this. And I changed my answers in three of them.

[00:55:59] This was very funny. And I made mistakes that the teacher might think I’d make. I took, I deliberately made mistakes that I might’ve made if I was rushing, but I wasn’t rushing. Cause I was actually well finished and I just did that. Okay. I was thinking, wow, there was so many things from that story that that child is deliberately on was tan, was deliberately under achieving in school to fit in with their peers.

[00:56:25] But when they were out of the classroom of an environment of an advanced maths class, that child was new. There were miles better than the other kids in that class, but was still asking questions, advancing their knowledge and doing stuff in a high-ability classroom because they knew their peers would not give them a hard time, better than you.

[00:56:46] The teacher was very interested and motivated in what they were saying and interested in doing, um, was able to think how that child and pro it’s funny that I chose now is in secondary school. I know them well. Would be somebody who be very able to adjust to their social situation very quickly, as you can imagine, because we’re doing, but it is kind of a sad story, not for that particular student, because I think that they’ll be totally fine.

[00:57:12] But for other students who I’m sure that happens to put, who don’t have the social wherewithal to know what to do or what the best thing to do is why should people have to deliberate the underachieve and school environments when. Particularly childhood was quite social and quite I’d say had loads of friends, you know, but didn’t want their friends to really teach them because they were getting the questions wrong all the time.

[00:57:37] And that was how they coped with us. And I think that there’s so many, like the reason I was just saying that it’s a story there, that it ties in so many things we’re talking about. Social coping, adapting to environment. Doing well, when you’re in an environment where you’re encouraged to do so worried about what your peers think, what your teachers except for.

[00:57:58] Um, it was just quite interesting and that’s kind of like, to me, I suppose it’s a good way of advocating for why I think what we’re doing or why in the field, why working with kids of high ability is a good idea when they’re with their high ability kids. Um, what the benefits for them are for them to be able to fulfill their potential academically and socially, not to feel bad about that.

[00:58:23] And I think that that’s a huge, good message. It doesn’t have to be, I think I hope people will, if they’re hearing that story, reconcile it to the program that they’re running themselves or the course that they’ve sent their child to The, Oh, well, that’s more what I want my child to be, not the one. Who’s not the one who’s guiding seven out of 10 and getting three wrong because they feel the dots.

[00:58:44] A good thing or an acceptable thing that players should be, feel acceptable to do the best they can do in those situations. And that everybody is okay with that. So that’s my little funny anecdote of something that happened on timefully. Um, I was actually very funny because the teacher actually subsequently won a medal in trigonometry or something subsequently, and she always is talking about that contingency.

[00:59:12] And in that particular class as being the most abundant kids you’ve ever met a trigonometry, like in about 10 years of teaching or working with kids,

[00:59:22] Sophia Elliott: I mean, that’s phenomenal. Like what, why, why. But you said at what, how much brilliance is in that child and what a wonderful opportunity he has within your courses and programs to have that safe space where he knows he has an outlet for that.

[00:59:37] And, and a teacher he can talk to that understands what a wonderful opportunity, but also, like you said, how sad that he’s got to factor in all of those things at school and can’t be himself and that’s quite the heavy weight, isn’t it? Those social coping skills and

[00:59:56] Dr Colm O’Rielly: yeah. Um, you know, and some people are so much better at it than others, you know?

[01:00:02] So I like it. It is just so many questions in relation to the offer when you think about it. And it’s something to think about related to your own child, unrelated to things for anyone listening, who are parents of bright kids, you know, that. All these things about pressure, um, you know, making sure the kids are happy in the environment that they’re in.

[01:00:24] That’s such an important thing. And you know, the best thing we can do with eyes communication with your child all the time in relation to these things, rather than what you mean, you got nine out of 10, you showed up, got 10 to no, like we’re disappointed in this. You know, you got 10 last week, you know, we should be definitely communicating as to what the rationale or how this happened and not in a judgemental way.

[01:00:51] In that context, that would be my general advice and the things.

[01:00:55] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. Well, thank you for today. We’ve had a wonderful conversation. I really enjoyed it. And S so many words of wisdom in there and, uh, wishing you all the best this year through COVID at CTY and, and hope you guys are able to get through.

[01:01:13] Yeah, they’re impersonal online and keep doing what you’re doing, but it’s been wonderful to talk to you today. I really appreciated it. Thank you.

[01:01:20] Dr Colm O’Rielly: Yeah, no problem. I’ve really enjoyed it and look very up. Passionate about this field. I’ve worked in it for a long time, but I still am very enthusiastic. I like kind of new things and things that happen.

[01:01:32] So if anyone wants to get in touch with us or find out more about a sergeants, have questions about bright kids or gifted in general, please get in touch. You know what I mean? Like, look, um, that’s what we’re kind of here for we’re advocates or we’re trying to. Create the best environment. So look, we, we get a lot of queries like this from Irish parents, from international parents, from different people.

[01:01:53] It’s not that we’re doing it for recruitment all the time. We’re really doing it to see if there’s stuff, we can point you in the right direction or help you with. We can do our best. We may not know the answer ourselves, but hopefully I suppose, in the last particularly 10 years with so many people, who’ve worked in so many different programs and stuff that there must be somebody there who can help and answer queries that you might have in this capacity.

[01:02:16] I think that that’s an important thing to know that you have an outlet because I know the difficulty with, particularly for parents of bright kids, is finding other people who you can talk to about these things. Without people looking at you, going well, what are you talking about your child so brilliant that it does bring other.

[01:02:36] Great things, but also responsibilities and potential problems that are easier to deal with what we did communication on a do sometimes have to get excellent expertise help in these things too.

[01:02:48] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. And so people can find you at the center for talented youth in Ireland at the Dublin city university.

[01:02:56] And I would mention as well, I know your residential course, uh, when it’s on and COVID time issue, uh, is open for international students as well. I have to say when I saw that, I was said to my husband, when the kids get older, we have to have a look at this because it looks amazing. I could just see my kids.

[01:03:18] Thrive and that being quite a life changing experience. So

[01:03:24] Dr Colm O’Rielly: they’re sort of, so would there be anything better than sending your child to a program in Ireland coming over and seeing them the most beautiful country in the world while that was happening? Like, look, it’s a task that is not a hard sell from our perspective I’m in

[01:03:39] Sophia Elliott: pick me.

[01:03:40] No, uh, certainly would be a wonderful experience for everyone involved. So, uh, so yeah, so if you’re, if you’re not living in Ireland, don’t worry. You can still got

[01:03:51] opportunity.

[01:03:52] Dr Colm O’Rielly: We have last year we had a hundred international students, so. Oh, that’s wonderful from all over the world. And obviously, look, the only problem I ever received with Australia is time difference on the distance away we are from each other.

[01:04:07] But the fact that like everyone’s English speaking makes it so much easier to run to, you know, to come on these programs for the kids themselves that can make friends so much quicker and easier. So that’s, that’s a huge plus. Yeah,

[01:04:20] Sophia Elliott: absolutely. What a wonderful resource. Thank you so much for all the work that you do, and certainly looking forward to keeping in touch and see how you go.

[01:04:28] So

[01:04:29] Dr Colm O’Rielly: thank you so much for asking me wonderful.

#021 Parenting Gifted Kids Words of Wisdom from the first 20 Episodes!

#021 Parenting Gifted Kids Words of Wisdom from the first 20 Episodes!

Parenting Gifted Kids Words of Wisdom from the first 20 Episodes

Welcome to our new series of the Our Gifted Kids Podcast!

We’re starting this series by reflecting on our first 20 episodes. I’ve managed to select 12 of my biggest parenting aha moments and themes that have come from all of the words of wisdom of our guests.

It’s been such a privilege to talk to such generous and knowledgeable people, so committed to gifted kids that, out of respect and in thanks, I wanted to pause and reflect on some of the personal lessons I took away from our first series.

Thank you, sincerely, to all of our guests so far and we’re really looking forward to getting into this new series with many more awesome guests! Stay tuned!

Hit play and let’s get started!


Sophia: Hello. And welcome to the 21st episode of Our Gifted Kids Podcast. I feel incredibly grateful and I wanted to take a moment to thank all of my guests have been on so far.

[00:00:15] In our first 20 Episodes there’ve been almost  six and a half thousand downloads.

[00:00:21] Which feels really amazing and overwhelming and a little surreal from where I sit.

[00:00:30]And what that says to me is that there’s actually a lot of people out there. Who want to connect. Learn more about what giftedness is all about.

[00:00:42] So I feel quite humble and appreciate it, especially considering the first episode was three minutes long, the little welcome, and the last two were replays of our most popular so far.

[00:00:54]So I feel very amazed and grateful as well for  all of our guests who have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge and spirit to join us and share. In each episode, I always consider, what are the takeaways in terms of practical parenting? Which is why I really wanted to take this opportunity just to revisit our first 20 episodes with all of the things I’ve learned as a parent, I’ve walked away with so many aha moments. So much wisdom for all of us in those episodes. And I just wanted to honor and and thanks. Thank our guests for that. With just this episode of reflecting back on some of the biggest. I think, themes and aha moments that I’ve had. So I’ve managed to narrow it down to 12, which was really challenging because there is just so much knowledge and wisdom shared already. But there were 12 sort of themes, I think. And I want to go through those with you just now.

[00:02:02]So the first, big lesson was right back at the beginning. Our second episode with Lynda McInnes. Principal of Dara School, which is Australia’s  first school for gifted kids and Lynda’s quote that I wanted to share again and reflect on was she said, “When you have a relevant curriculum that’s relevant to that child, then all their issues disappear. Boredom disruptive behavior disappears.”

[00:02:35] And so my first big lesson is when you have a relevant curriculum. You get a happy child. So it’s finding the right education for your child. And I say that bearing in mind that every gifted  kid is different.

[00:02:52] That they all express their giftedness differently. They’re going to be different extremes of giftedness and what that right education looks like. Is going to be different for each child and family. But the importance of of finding that sweet spot.

[00:03:10]This quite also reminded me of a, of a quote by Maria Montessori. In the kind of early 19 hundreds, she was a scientist and she studied sort of the developmental milestones of children, which has developed into her Montessori philosophy of education. And her quote. Is, “one test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”

[00:03:36]So it’s amazing and really interesting. I think that a hundred years ago, Maria Montessori. Has noticed what. Lynda McInnes  is still telling us. And that is if we get the education, right, we get happy children. And so as a parent, this helps me because I know that if my children are not happy, Then something’s not working.

[00:04:01] Sometimes that thing that’s not working is not at school, but given how much time they spend at school. It is a critical, huge part of their life that needs to be right for them. And I certainly have seen the consequences of getting it wrong and education not meeting their needs. And that can be truly awful. And there’s lots of parents who’ve been in that situation.

[00:04:31]So the number one. Words of wisdom from our very first guest  episode. Is  finding the right education for your child.

[00:04:41]My second words of wisdom.

[00:04:45]Is to stop and wonder at the brilliance of our kids. And this comes from a quote from Amanda in our Episode 17, Which is What is Gifted Assessment And Other Quirks Of Giftedness. And her quote was “When I asked her, how is he reading novels when he can’t phonetically spell? She said, because he’s remembering the shape of the word. He’s remembering them as pictures.”  Now, Amanda was talking about when her son was diagnosed as being dyslexic.

[00:05:17] And Amanda was asking the assessor, but how can he be dyslexic when he’s reading novels? And she said, he’s remembering the shape of the words.

[00:05:28] He’s remembering them as pictures  could you imagine how many pictures that would be to remember, to even to read a novel. That astounds me. And it makes me appreciate the sheer brilliance of our kids. And why we need to get this right, because imagine that amazing memory that are amazing brain that’s able to remember all of those shapes and translate and find that work around.

More Transcript Here

[00:06:01] Being able to apply. That brilliance to something that later in life he’s really passionate about. And, and wants to pursue with all of that energy. We need our kids too, and all kids, not just gifted kids, but all kids need to be able to be in that position where they’re applying their brilliance to something that lights them up.

[00:06:29] Because it’s that intersection of our own  self-worth, meeting own strengths. And finding our passion. You know, is where people contribute amazing and wonderful things to the world. So a sec. Well, third, sorry. Words of wisdom. Is about life’s biggest lesson. And that is just getting back up. There were a number of episodes where we talked about perfectionism.

[00:07:06] And the first one was episode three with Samantha Perfectionism And Heavy Expectations where we talk about. Samantha’s journey of parenting, a number of gifted kids and perfectionism was a huge challenge in their family and particularly for one child.

[00:07:26] And this is what Samantha said.

[00:07:28] ” The worst moment is when you can’t help them, because they’re feeling so desperate. And disappointed in themselves. The perfectionism is so destructive, the depression, the anxiety. That goes along with this. That’s the thing that as parents, we need help with the most.”

[00:07:46]In episode 17 with a Amanda Drury again, Amanda just talks about dysfunctional perfectionism. She says it comes up a lot in twice exceptional children. That essentially that refusal to do any work because you’re too scared to fail.

[00:08:06] And this is at the heart of that very dangerous territory of seeing achievement, performance as a part of our identity. Who I am is someone who gets high marks and achieves things.

[00:08:23]The downside of that is when you’re too scared to fail, because what happens when you don’t achieve the thing? And the way that that impacts your identity, who am I, if I’m not someone who achieves.

[00:08:38]And I think that’s why talking about giftedness in terms of achievement is really dangerous.

[00:08:46]It’s not about who they are anymore. It’s about what they do.

[00:08:51]And that actually it came up in something I was reading recently.

[00:08:57] It talked about. For example, a child who’s really good at maths. We might be tempted to say that that child is gifted in maths. But that’s what they do. That’s not who they are. Who they are is a gifted child with a strength in maths. And so they get to be more than their maths. It’s not that all they can do in life is maths.

[00:09:24] It’s that they’re gifted. They have many strengths. And one of those big ones is maths. But that allows them some scope to do other things as well.

[00:09:34]And gives our  kids some scope to try things and fail. Because. If we’re not willing or able to try new things. With the possibility of failure. Then. You don’t really live. That’s not living. That’s just being in a scared box. And they’re missing out on so much. We miss out on so much when we’re too scared to try something because it might not work.

[00:10:10] This podcast may not have worked. I took a leap. It was a very uncomfortable leap. But.

[00:10:19] Well, all the messages I get tell me is it has worked. And so. I’m glad that I risk failing. To get that outcome. It was worth it.

[00:10:31]So the next words of wisdom.

[00:10:35]From our episodes. And this again came up in a couple of episodes. Is to be their biggest advocate.

[00:10:43]It came up. First of all, in episode five, Starting Over. When we talked to Tennille  who moved interstate  with her son to find the right school for him. And, and this is some of her story. That I wanted to share again.

[00:11:04] “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 effects yet. And that’s what I knew. This is going to be a social, emotional problem.”

[00:11:23] ” When looking at a video of the prospective new school, he said to me, These guys get me. And I’m like, what? I didn’t even notice 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 even know that he felt.”

[00:11:44]She said. “I had my car shipped across and we each had two suitcases. And that was all we  brought with us.

[00:11:54] 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.”

[00:12:04] Now that’s an extreme example. Of being the biggest advocate. But by no means, is she the only person I know of who has moved great distances. To find that. That right educational environment for their child. And sometimes.

[00:12:22] That’s about having. The ability to do that. And sometimes like Tennille  it’s just about making it happen even though it was a really scary, massive thing to do.

[00:12:36]In episode seven. Talking Parenting and Megan’s Twice Exceptional Life. We talked to Meagan about her journey of parenting as well and a big part of her story was.

[00:12:50]  That realization about being her son’s biggest advocate. And she said. “If it’s not me, that’s going to support my child 100%. And understand them as well as I can then who else is going to.”

[00:13:04]It may seem an obvious thing, however, we can get so concerned about being that parent.

[00:13:11]And as parents we can feel as though. Shouldn’t the school know better. Shouldn’t the health professional, the people that we go to for help shouldn’t they know better than us because they’re the experts. And sometimes. They don’t. Sometimes our gut instinct is a better measure. And actually the research shows, this is academically proven that parents are a better measure of whether or not their child is gifted than schools.

[00:13:47] So we should trust our guts. And we should know that it’s okay to be that parent. Because we need to be their biggest advocate.

[00:13:57]Now. The fifth kind of words of wisdom. Is a big one.

[00:14:07]And it’s about acceptance and identity. It’s about understanding this is who they are and not what they do.

[00:14:17]In an episode 11 with Marc Smolowitz who’s the director behind the G Word Film.

[00:14:27]He says, “one of the kinds of beliefs of this movie is that giftedness is like an identity. And then it functions in very similar ways. You can either be empowered or it can be traumatic. And that there’s a sort of continuum that the child experiences around that journey with perceiving themselves as smart or  not right. “

[00:14:50]He says “when we first launched in 2016, we immediately out the gate. We’re hearing from people all over the world. I would say from Switzerland to Singapore, we were getting emails and these emails were often quite chilling because they would be from parents who are struggling.”

[00:15:05]The giftedness thing is tricky. As parents normally our introduction to giftedness is when something is not going right. And we’re looking for answers. And we come across this giftedness thing.

[00:15:25] But what we need to understand as a community is that like Marc  Smolowitz says. This is like an identity. It’s who they are. It’s not what they do. It’s fundamental to who they are. In episode four Gifted Kids Books with Gloria and Peter Van Donge. Gloria says “the underlying theme of the series is of acceptance.

[00:15:50] And it really is okay to be gifted. It’s okay. To be creative and innovative and enjoy the results. Or  successful negotiations. “

[00:16:01] And Peter says “it’s okay to be curious, to have a desire to learn.” And I think that’s an important thing to pause on. It’s okay. To be curious. It’s okay. To have a desire to learn because a lot of our kids. In this classroom of 30 other kids with a teacher who has not been adequately trained in giftedness and is probably already differentiating across six years. Can find it very challenging to manage a gifted child who is continually asking questions. Questioning information, maybe even correcting the teacher.

[00:16:46] Gifted kids can be really intense. I can attest to that. I can also attest to the incessant of them. And the relentlessness of them. And I can appreciate how challenging that would be.

[00:17:01] But the message that the kids get in that situation is that, sometimes, don’t ask questions, stop being curious. Stop learning that way because you’re not fitting in with what other people are doing. And that’s tragic because we’re telling kids to stop being who they are. And it’s not okay to be curious. Or  learn. Or have these deep interests or share all the knowledge that they’ve got.

[00:17:31] And so we need to do better. We need to understand that giftedness is very much a part of their identity.

[00:17:42]So number six, in our words of wisdom from our first 20 episodes, we’re halfway through, we’ve only got six more. Thank you for bearing with me.

[00:17:52]Is that empowerment comes from knowing yourself.

[00:17:58] And I really loved. A couple of quotes  from Nadja Cereghetti who is the host of the Unleash Monday podcast. If you’ve not checked it out yet, check it out. Nadja has a podcast for gifted adults and she has some wonderful guests, it’s well worth a listen.

[00:18:21]And. She said “first, I thought this is like a puzzle piece. But now I think it’s more like a red thread. It goes through all of my life. My life decisions and my CV.”

[00:18:38] She talks about the empowerment that came from knowing herself and discovering as an adult that she was gifted. And how the pieces. The puzzle pieces of their lifestyle to fit together, but then actually it felt like more of a thread going through her life and that visual. Really resonates with me.

[00:19:02] That thread going through our lives.

[00:19:06] And she said, “isn’t everybody like this? Doesn’t everybody see the world like this, because that’s the only experience I knew. And it turns out it’s not. I started reading these checklists and I read books and it was quite an emotional process. I was crying. It was this kind of relief of finally having an answer to so many unanswered questions, but also on frustration.

[00:19:32] Why didn’t anybody see this?”

[00:19:36] She said “after a little while embracing this, it was very empowering. I got this empowerment that I wished for my friends. I got it for myself. And it gives me more self-confidence in what. Who I am and what I do. And so I thought I need to share this.”

[00:19:58]So in that Nadja  talks about the sense of empowerment and confidence. That came from understanding that her brain worked differently to other people.

[00:20:12]And that meant certain things for her and the way that came out in her personality and her identity. So imagine the empowerment and the confidence that our kids can gain. From knowing that they’re not broken. It’s not that they’re not fitting in with other kids. It’s not that there’s something wrong with them. But actually just their brain works differently. And they’re going to have different strengths and different weaknesses. To those around us, as we all do.

[00:20:44]In episode six, with Selena who talks Is Montessori a Good Match For Giftedness? She says “it’s not about the label, but it’s about the information that report gives. And it helped me. So much to understand my son.”

[00:21:02] And so again, it’s that empowerment that comes from the understanding. And I think that that’s something that giving our children, the language. And parents the language. To understand giftedness can really bring and offer.

[00:21:20]Number seven in our words of  wisdom. Is the cost of masking or not being yourself is far too high.

[00:21:30]In episode 14, Understanding twice exceptional with Amanda Drury.

[00:21:37] We talk about masking and there are actually different types of masking. So masking is when you’re pretending to be someone else that you’re really not because pretending to be that other person helps you appear to be like other people. It helps you fit in.

[00:21:58]Fitting  in of course is not about belonging. It’s not about being yourself. In all your quirky gloriousness and being accepted. It’s about changing who you are, so that your difference doesn’t make other people uncomfortable. Or so that your difference, isn’t a challenge for others. It’s pretending to be something that you’re not.

[00:22:24] In episode 18, Looking at Giftedness and  Autism with Kate Donoghue.

[00:22:30]She says, “while  they concentrating so hard on fitting in. And understanding others and not making mistakes. And not being found out and not being ridiculed. There’s so much anxiety going on.

[00:22:46] It’s really hard for them to learn. And it’s really hard to have joy and freedom and expression. And to become that authentic version of themselves. So masking does have a high cost to people who mask.”

[00:23:00]And I think she says it really well, that that cost of masking of pretending to be something that you’re not.

[00:23:11]A lot of parents will talk about when the children get home more than not even home yet. You’re just getting in the car and you’re picking them up from school. Sometimes it doesn’t take long and. And you say one little thing and there’s a massive meltdown. And it’s not about the one little thing.

[00:23:29] It’s because they’ve been holding it together. All day. Masking pretending to be. Not themselves. And like Kate said,

[00:23:39]They’re concentrating on fitting in. They’re concentrating on understanding others and not making mistakes and not being found out and not being ridiculed. And in that quote, Kate is talking about. Autism and giftedness. But that very much applies to gifted kids as well as twice exceptional kids.

[00:24:00]Wanting to fit in and not being seen as, as different the way that giftedness is. Trying to understand your peers, who frankly talk another language and you don’t have a lot in common with trying not to make mistakes and standing out as being smarter than other people. Try not to be found out. As being different.

[00:24:24]And, and being ridiculed because of it.

[00:24:27]For gifted kids. It’s that anxiety. That concentration effort that goes into doing all those things. How could they possibly have the energy. The joy,  the freedom and expression to be themselves and learn. When they’re so busy, just getting through that social situation. So that is the highest cost.

[00:24:55] Of masking or not being yourself. It’s far too high.

[00:24:59]Number eight is all about finding others. So it’s essential to find your tribe to find your village, your community.

[00:25:11] That is what this entire podcast is all about is, is knowing that you’re not alone knowing that you’re not broken. Knowing that there are other people out there having a similar. But different, but similar life experience that you are right now, that validation that actually, it’s not just my parenting.

[00:25:30] That my kids won’t sleep. Or they’ve got really sensory issues are a bit crazy or or, or any number of situations, actually, other people are facing these challenges as well. And we can talk about them.

[00:25:46]And I talk about this in episode nine, which was the episode about our journey. Him. This feels very odd. Quoting myself.

[00:25:58] But I said  “parenting  gifted kids is really tough. And you can feel very alone and it’s easy to think that you’re slightly bonkers. You feel like there’s not necessarily a bunch of people out there. Who are going to understand what you’re going through. But there is”. And I still say that. There is.

[00:26:17] And, and within that community, we can get that validation and the understanding. And the initial just sense of relief that we can then build on to help us all do it better. And get through the days that little bit easier.

[00:26:35]   Number nine is finding the tools that work for you.

[00:26:40]And I say the tools that work for you. 

[00:26:43] I hope that from this podcast, you’re walking away with ideas that you can go home and, you know, try out in what your family situation. And I don’t just mean this podcast for any of our podcasts, because. I’m really hoping that there are tools for parents. Within these podcasts. But they’re going to be different for every parent and every family.

[00:27:09] We have talked about some different things along the way. In episode 10, we talked about the Growth Mindset. With Big Life Journal, Founder, Alexandra Eidens .

[00:27:19]And she talks about, of course growth mindset and being able to retrain the brain. So she says,  you know,” if you can influence their brain structure and how the brain is wired, you can literally set them up for success in life.” So there’s all sorts of tools there. If growth mindset is one of your challenges.

[00:27:42]In episode 18, Looking At Giftedness and  Autism with Kate Donahue. She talks about understanding what the gaps are. She says, “it’s not about the behaviors on the outside. It’s not about someone who looks autistic or doesn’t look autistic. It’s about what the gaps in development are. Or what their sensory system is doing, what they need to know to understand other people.

[00:28:07] And then supporting them to get the support that they need.” So it just comes back to at the end of the day when you think about your child? Where are the gaps that may need support? Where are their deficits or their weaknesses? What do they find hard? And then it’s about as a community, helping each other to find those tools and resources to arm, us as parents so that we are able to support them. To fill those gaps. Overcome those weaknesses. Find the work-around

[00:28:47]Number 10. So we’ve only got three left. Is using screens to connect. Episode 13 was all about screen time with Jocelyn brewer. Jocelyn Brewer has this philosophy about Digital Nutrition. Which is brilliant. So she likens screen time and using devices to nutrition. You’re going to have screen time that equates to broccoli, and you’re going to have screen time that equates to a Mars Bar.

[00:29:18] Obviously in life we’re wanting to eat more broccoli than Mars Bars. And so we’re wanting to have more screen time that’s has broccoli goodness, than has Mars Bar  cavities. And it’s a really great philosophy because I think there’s already a language around that in terms of nutrition and she’s tapped into that and it makes it really accessible.

[00:29:45]But this was actually one of the biggest aha moments for me. Over this last series.

[00:29:55] And. You know, like any family we’ve been through various trials. And and journey with screen time and devices. And we’ve tried something, it hasn’t worked. We’ve tried something else. Yeah. Like we all do.

[00:30:12]And, and this was Jocelyn’s quote.

[00:30:17] “You don’t have to be a gamer. And I guess this is what I encourage parents to really look beyond. We wouldn’t say, oh, I’m not much of a Booker. If you could just go over there and do your booking and like, just, don’t ask me to want to know anything about what you’re doing with your books. We wouldn’t have that same kind of attitude.

[00:30:37] And so this is what I mean about curiosity.”

[00:30:41] So what Jocelyn is saying is, and I’m like always like, Oh My God. That’s totally me because I’m not a gamer. I’m really not interested in computer  games. I never have been. And in all honesty, it pains me to have to play them with my children. And I just have not been interested. And she totally called me out on it because I loved books.

[00:31:07] And my kids love books too. And I will sit and read books with my kids. And talk about books and buy lots of books. But when it comes to the video game thing, I’m like, it’s just not me. My husband can deal with that. Whatever.  And she totally called me on it because I wouldn’t say all, I’m not much of a Booker go over there and do your book thing. And don’t ask me to want to know anything about it because the truth is.

[00:31:34] Like it or not. Computer games are a big part of our kids’ lives, or if your kids are like mine. They all love Minecraft and various other computer games. And some of those computer games are like broccoli. There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s actually a lot. Like Minecraft is actually an, uh, an amazing educational tool.

[00:31:57] And so there’s, there’s really no reason. Why I shouldn’t be interested in what my kids are spending time doing. What they’re interested in doing. What’s giving them an opportunity to learn and explore and be curious. And that’s kind of on me as a parent, too get over myself and sit down and learn. With them. Or give them the opportunity to teach me. Okay. Tell me about what you’re doing and how this works. And so that has created a shift for me. In my thinking around screen times and using screens and different devices actually as a way to connect with my kids and showing an interest in what they’re doing. And.

[00:32:45] And demonstrating to them that I think whatever they’re interested is in is important. And I want to know about it. And I always come back to that. That quote, and I can’t remember who said it, but.

[00:32:58]I read it somewhere. And it was, if you want them to talk about the big things later on. You need to talk to them about the small things now.

[00:33:10] And if computer games, screens devices are a part of our lives. Then I need to be a responsible parents and engage with that part of their lives. So that was personally a big moment. And the fact that she used books as the example, I just cut me to shreds. So it got totally called on that one. Thank you Jocelyn.

[00:33:35]So yeah, so there has been a shift in our family when it comes to screens and I even made a commitment to play World Of Warcraft with a friend, which we haven’t done yet, but I said I would I would, I’m leaving that in her basket to pursue me on But I will. I. We’ll totally do that. She can teach me. Okay.

[00:33:57]So number 11 second, last one. Is. Understanding kids are little people and not adults. And again, this comes from. The episode 13 with Jocelyn Brewer  and she also talks about you know how to engage and communicate with our kids being, not just a cyber psychologist by a psychologist. So it was a really rich episode.

[00:34:23] And she uses this a kind of metaphor of, of lighting the match and this is what she said. “What , we noticed with young people, especially around relationships or thinking they know everything is that they’re walking through this big. Dark. I usually call it a warehouse of their life with a match.

[00:34:43] What  they can see is only, as far as that match gives them light  and they think, oh wow. I can see everything.

[00:34:50] Whereas the process of brain development and the experiences of life start throwing on bigger and better light bulbs.” So as parents, we’ve kind of. You know, we’re in this warehouse with them, but we’ve got this gigantic spotlight because we have all this life experience. And we’ve learned a lot of lessons and we can look at our kids sometimes making mistakes because we have that context, but they’ve just got this little match. So they can’t see the big picture.

[00:35:21] And I think it was really just about appreciating that difference in perspective. Having that compassionate empathy for where our kids are. And she also had another quote. And I don’t have the exact quote with me, but. She talks about acknowledging. You know, we can get frustrated with our kids, especially in the teenage years.

[00:35:44] Because we expect them to be reasonable and see the world. Like we see it. But like on the 40 something grownup. And my children are like children, or if they’re a teenager. They’re not going to look at the world the same way that I’m going to look at it. And it’s just about taking that step back as a parent and.

[00:36:04] Acknowledging. The very different perspectives. The little match versus the floodlight. And just approaching with that different sense of empathy, but maybe even using that metaphor with our teenagers. As these are my thoughts and opinions on this. And that’s based on all of my life experience and I appreciate your where you’re at.

[00:36:29] But.

[00:36:31] We’re both coming at this from different points of view.

[00:36:34]So, okay. Our 12th and final words of wisdom from the first 20 episodes is. To consider their experience of life. And this was a huge one for me as well. From episode 15. How Do I Talk to My Gifted Child About Sex With Dr. Matt Zakreski? If you have not listened to that episode. Look, it is a bit long.

[00:37:00] But that’s just because it was so good. There’s so much in that I got so much out of that. In terms of not just,  how do we talk to our gifted kids about sex education? But why actually we need to consider that that conversation or experience might be different because they gifted. Right.

[00:37:21] And, and what. What I sort of, um,

[00:37:26] I learnt what I really, really appreciated since this episode.  Is.

[00:37:34] How they heightened sensory experience in their heightened, emotional experience of life. Is going to impact their relationships and puberty. So, first of all,  Dr. Matt says. “We’re going to change. We’re going to start wearing deodorant or we start having to shave, maybe wearing makeup, wearing a bra.

[00:37:57] Does the bra have an underwire, right? These are all sensory things that we have to consider.” So if we’ve got kids like mine, who don’t like creams, Wearing certain things. That sensory experience smells you know of life. Well, that’s, we need to factor that in.

[00:38:19] And then you’ve got the emotional sensitivity and Dr. Matt says.

[00:38:24] “Then when we get to the emotional overexcitabilities, all the, those emotions are going to be felt to like 14 on a one to 10 scale. Which means when our kids crush, they go into crush hard. And they might get a little obsessive. They might have their hearts broken, and that is something we need to anticipate as adults.”

[00:38:45] So it’s acknowledging that.

[00:38:48] Yeah, those big emotions that they, and we know that they have.

[00:38:52]You know, when they go through those crushes, the first love relationships in those teenage years or before. That. Yeah, they could, they could. Go really hard. And. Get their hearts broken really hard and we need to be prepared. I think as parents. For right. When that happens, what am I going to do?

[00:39:16] So listen to that episode. If you’re like, what do I do? It was an awesome episode. I really appreciated talking about that stuff with Dr. Matt and just finally.  This was a great quote in terms of why we need to start. Having those sex education. Conversations with our kids age appropriately. From an early age and, and ongoing.

[00:39:40] He says “most schools, if they have sex ed at all is in eighth grade. Right before they go to high school. And at that point, you’re probably at least two years into puberty. Maybe three. So you can imagine. Let’s use driving the car, you start driving the car and then three years later, I’m going to teach you how to do it.”

[00:40:01] And that was a quote from Dr. Matt. I think that puts everything into perspective into. Why we need to be having this ongoing age appropriate conversation throughout kind of childhood. And he talks about how we do that and the kinds of things that are appropriate to know at different ages. So that episode is just totally gold and I highly recommend giving it a listen, if you haven’t already.

[00:40:25] So that was my 12 words of wisdom. From the first 20 episodes.

[00:40:31]Very quickly. Number one, finding the right education for your child. Number two. Stop and wonder at the brilliance of our kids. Number three life’s biggest lesson. Is getting back up. Number four, be their biggest advocate. Number five acceptance and identity. Giftedness is an identity. Number six empowerment that comes from knowing yourself.

[00:40:59] Number seven, the cost of masking or not being yourself is too high. Number eight, finding your community is vital. Number nine, finding the tools that work for you, your family and your child. Number 10 using screens to connect. Number 11. Understanding kids are little people and not adults. Number 12.

[00:41:26] Consider their experience of life. They’re different reality. As influenced by the way, their senses and emotions work. I hope that you enjoyed that little recap on my biggest takeaways from the first 20 episodes. I’m really looking forward to. This coming series. We’ve got some wonderful guests lined up.

[00:41:52] And I’m really looking forward to, to learning more. Words of wisdom and parenting hacks. From the guests that we’ve got coming up in this series. So I hope to talk to you again next week. Thanks very much for listening and I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.  


#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:

More blogs and podcasts at www.ourgiftedkids.com and subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Find show notes at:

Check out this episode!

#019 What is Gifted?

#019 What is Gifted?

Tune in for our first holiday replay of our most popular episodes!

This episode talks about What is Gifted?!? with Lynda McInnes, Principal of Australia’s first school for gifted kids.

For more info about what gifted is all about check out our blogs and podcasts at www.ourgiftedkids.com and subscribe so you don’t miss out!

This week and next week we will be replaying our most popular episodes so it’s a great chance to catch up on any you’ve missed!!

Find show notes here!

#018 Looking at Giftedness & Autism

#018 Looking at Giftedness & Autism

Today I’m speaking with Kate Donohue from Dynamic Parenting about the intersection of giftedness and autism.

In the episode, we talk about highly and profoundly gifted children, what autism looks like in gifted children, the intersection of giftedness and autism, and what we need to look out for.

Kate has been working in the disability sector for more than 20 years. She has been a DIR Floortime therapist, kindergarten and schoolteacher, service leader mentor, support worker, and workshop presenter.

Kate’s learning journey really began when she became a parent to 2 neurodivergent girls.

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

“They need to be able to comprehend our children. Some people just cannot comprehend how diverse our kids are because the giftedness skews all of the disability. So, the disabilities don’t present the way they’re doing the textbooks.  .. the clinician needs to have an understanding of the interplay between the disability and the giftedness and sometimes multiple disabilities and giftedness. So, it’s this really unique profile.” – Kate

It’s not about the behaviours on the outside. It’s not about somebody who looks autistic or doesn’t look autistic. It’s about what the gaps in development are, or what their sensory system is doing, what they need to know to understand other people, and then supporting them to get the supports that they need.” – Kate

“While they’re concentrating so hard on fitting in and understanding others and not making mistakes and not being found out and not being ridiculed. There’s so much anxiety going on. It’s really hard for them to learn. And it’s really hard to have joy and freedom and expression and to become that authentic version of themselves. So masking does have a high cost to people who do mask.” – Kate


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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.


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Check out this episode!


Sophia Elliott: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome today. We’re talking to Kate from dynamic parenting about autism and giftedness. So welcome Kate. Thanks for coming down, talking to us today.

Kate Donohue: [00:00:12] Thank you so much for having me

Sophia Elliott: [00:00:14] It’s an absolute delight. So we might. Just dive straight into it with our first question. First of all, when we’re talking about autism, the autism spectrum,  Aspergers, like what’s the correct terminology because it does change over time. So when we’re talking about these issues, what, what’s the kind of language that we should be or could be using?

Kate Donohue: [00:00:40] Yeah. So it’s always great to check with the people in your life who are autistic, what they like to be referred to, how they like to be referred to. So some people want to be called autistic, and that seems to be quite prominent in the autistic community to, to refer to themselves as autistic and to be spoken about in that way.

But some people like person first language. So I am Kate with autism rather than I am Kate and I am autistic. So majority of the autistic community are now becoming very clear that they would like to be referred to as autistic as it’s a part of who they are. It’s a part of their identity. It’s the way they see the world and perceive their surroundings and process and think so it’s not something that’s attached to them.

It’s really an ingrained part of who they are in the world.

Sophia Elliott: [00:01:33] so it’s that difference between being seen as having a problem or a deficiency versus this is the way that my brain works. This is who I am.

Kate Donohue: [00:01:44] exactly. Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:01:46] And some folk might feel as though if they’re referred to, as a person with autism, it’s akin to being, you’re a person with a problem. So that might become offensive if they’re preferring to identify as being autistic and that’s just who they are and the way their brain works.

Kate Donohue: [00:02:07] That’s right. And there are many, many positive things about having a different brain wiring that the autistic community are wanting to celebrate. So there’s a lot of people who say they would like to get rid of their anxiety or their OCD or strong reactions to smells or sounds and sensory processing, but they don’t want to get rid of their autistic brain.

They don’t want to get rid of the way they think because that’s who they are.

Sophia Elliott: [00:02:32] Absolutely a different way of perceiving and being in the world, like a lot of neurodiverse, what we call them labels, I guess, or when we talk about neuro-diverse I know there’s a whole bunch of things that fit into that category. So what would some of those things be?

Kate Donohue: [00:02:52] So being dyslexic, ADHD, sensory processing. Oh, I’m not sure if sensory processing disorder. Is in that because that’s more sensory system,

Sophia Elliott: [00:03:04] Oh, a sensory system, as opposed to necessarily brain wiring.

Yep. Yeah

Kate Donohue: [00:03:08] there’s mental health illnesses can be in that. And it’s, it’s really anything that changes the way or is different to the way typical people process and think.

So some of the things are amazing and brilliant, but some of the things make it really hard to function in society. So it’s not about ignoring the challenges or it’s not about over focusing on them, but just looking at the, in each individual and their profile and knowing that they think and experience the world differently.

Sophia Elliott: [00:03:42] And so we’re also of course talking about giftedness and we can deep dive a little bit here. And what I’d like to have a chat about is that I don’t know, differences, similarities between being autistic, being gifted. And being profoundly gifted cause we were talking earlier about the distinction between gifted and profoundly gifted in terms of that kind of standard deviation the bell curve that, IQ is classically tracked upon the difference between gifted and profoundly gifted would be as much as I think gifted and highly intelligent.

So there’s quite a, there’s quite a gap there as well. So let’s dive into that a little bit. Those similarities or differences of those different ways of being

Kate Donohue: [00:04:29] One of the really fascinating things about our kids who are profoundly gifted and very highly gifted is that they are going to perceive their world very differently. So they are going to see things differently than their peers. And so often our kids. Get so much information that their peers just aren’t having to process.

And what this can do is it can really mean that it’s can sometimes be socially a bit hard for them to navigate the world. So when we have our five-year-olds who are really trying to dive deep into topics that sometimes even adults grapple with, with why the world is the way it is, then they can really have a different social experience.

And this can sometimes be confusing for us looking on and wondering whether they are autistic or not, or whether they are gifted and trying to understand their world differently. But there are some key differences about understanding whether our child is gifted or whether they have autism as well. So one of the big differences is where is their differences coming from?

And often it can sometimes be, look like distress. So when our kids are trying to grapple with the injustices of the world, it can. Really be quite intense and it can sometimes lead to a lot of tears or upset or anxiety. And I guess the big distinction between understanding if, if there is autism involved or if it’s just giftedness, is where is that coming from?

More Transcript Here

Is that coming from their intellectual curiosity? Is it coming from them understanding and having a broader reach in the world and having to process so much more? Or is it coming from other social differences coming from within them and whether they’re able to navigate the world intuitively, do they understand other people?

Are they understanding the normative social rules in this world? Or are they acting in a way that’s indicating to us that they’re not quite getting other people? And if they’re not quite getting other people and we’re seeing little things where. It appears that they’re missing cues or they’re really not reading into other people like their peers are.

Then that might be an indicator that they might be autistic as well, or it’s worthwhile, definitely worthwhile investigating and seeing a professional. And I always recommend talking to the receptionists about what sort of profile the clinician has, because it’s really important to understand both giftedness as well as autism, because sometimes some of the behaviors can look like they cross over.

So when you have a clinician who understands both, you can really tease out what’s happening inside your child.

Sophia Elliott: [00:07:22] so it’s having that good understanding of both giftedness and autism so that you can pick up on those nuances between the two. So we were talking earlier and I was telling you about my eldest who had this moment when he was five standing in front of our fireplace. My husband was home. He was putting the kids to bed.

He came out and my oldest is standing there in tears, but like devastated, just absolutely beside himself crying. And it took my husband 10 or 15 minutes to calm him down. And eventually, you know, in that time I like, Oh my God, what has happened? I’ve never seen him this upset, but eventually my son just says, we’re burning life.

Now he’s looking at this fireplace. And the wood burning is like, we’re burning life. And it took my husband and another half hour to, to calm him down and talk about, that circle of life and, and try and, and ground him a bit, or just kind of pulling them out of what was this existential crisis.

And it was five at the time. And he’s always had that depth quite, you know, that scary depth of understanding. So that would be considered a trait of.

Kate Donohue: [00:08:41] Yes. I would see that as he’s five and he, his emotional maturity just isn’t quite developed enough to keep up with what he’s cognitively comprehending and understanding. So there’s a mismatch within his body to be able to regulate emotionally what’s going on in his brain. So that would definitely may be an indicator that it’s his, he’s struggling with his profound giftedness, as opposed to having maybe something else going on.

Sophia Elliott: [00:09:13] yeah, although I did share another example of my son and the, and I do have quite a few of these kinds of examples from his younger years. And I was saying that, you know, less so as he’s getting older, which is interesting within itself when he was younger. And I’m thinking that kind of age two, three, cause he was a very early talker, very social.

But he, he would make some social errors, like for example, many a time, if we were out, he would think nothing of sitting in between a mum and their child. If, you know, if we were, I’m thinking of one situation, we’re on this little train like at our train museum. And he thought it was quite reasonable for him to go and sit between this mother and child work.

Clearly it was not what one would normally do. Normally one would sit with their own parents rather than feel like that was okay. And yeah, lots of little scenarios like that. And so that’s not a typical behavior and that would be misunderstanding those social cues

Kate Donohue: [00:10:21] Yeah, and was really important to look at. And it’s hard for us as parents. Sometimes we don’t know what other kids are doing. Like we don’t know what typical development is. So really looking at what their peers are doing and asking questions of others around you and watching other kids as well to see what is sort of typical or, or the age that your child’s at.

So sometimes things happen because our kids are young and, and they’re maturing. So, so for example, the case where He was so upset and beside himself for nearly an hour over the fire, that would be an cause he was four. And he was comprehending things about his age level. When you put that age and the cognitive ability together, you come up with an explanation and reason for that.

That makes sense. But if you’re seeing things continually in your child, that they appear a bit different to their peers development socially, then I would advise us, just start writing them down. Just, just start taking notes, because then when you do go and speak to someone, you’ve got that log of history, that of the things that you’ve been.

Sophia Elliott: [00:11:30] It’s tricky. Like it’s really hard as a parent, especially with your first child. I think with any child to know what to look for. And we rely so much on the people in the experts around us. So if we have, you know, one of our children and we have some concerns about these things, and is it giftedness? Is it autism?

Is it both what we’re really then looking for is a assessment. Ideally with someone who has a really solid grounding of both, so they can see those nuances.

Kate Donohue: [00:12:11] It can be confusing for even therapists and psychologists to understand the 2E profile. So two is twice exceptional, so gifted with something else going on. So when our child is gifted, it skews all the other special needs. And it is really tricky because autism looks a bit different in kids who are gifted.

Because they can use their intellect to navigate. They can actually avoid some signs or out external signs. So what we really need to do is look deep within our child and see, are they struggling? Socially? Are things confusing? Them are things not making sense to them because sometimes they can modify their behavior to appear like they understand what’s going on.

And sometimes so some of our kids who are socially motivated that, and they use their intellect. So they put their social motivation together with their intellect and they study other people that can be very fluent socially and often for quite a long period of time. But there are signs. So there often are cracks when they get home because they are so exhausted from having to cognitively navigate and do extra tasks that neuro-typical people don’t have to do to fit into the world and to be social. It can also big changes in development can, can also show signs that something else is going on. So when kids transition into school at five and it can be a really tricky transition, sometimes that’s a period where you can find that your child’s struggling more than you expected, or sometimes when they hit through the teen years.

So when the, when kids particularly girls around 13, if they didn’t get diagnosed early, it sometimes comes about when all their peers start to mature and their social skills. I have a good foundation, intuitive foundation of social emotional understanding that our autistic kids don’t have. They can then launch off and continue to develop where our kids can’t keep up.


Sophia Elliott: [00:14:23] And so girls are, there’s a whole other thing about girls isn’t there, you know, and

let’s talk a little bit about our girls and what that might look to look like if they’re both autistic and gifted. So how would that differ? Or, I don’t know. So what yeah, what does that look like?

Kate Donohue: [00:14:45] Sometimes it, it doesn’t look different. There’s there’s girls who and these are usually the girls that get diagnosed that their presentation is quite similar to boys. And they’re the ones that get diagnosed. Now there’s a lot of information out there around the trajectory that understanding autism has gone along and primarily it was the research was around boys, the boys presentation the girls weren’t really researched and put in to that information.

So what we’re looking at is really more of a boy profile. That said, sometimes boys do have more of a what is known as the female presentation. So it is really just an alternative presentation.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:25] Yeah. So it’s not The, so the research isn’t saying it’s a masculine, feminine thing or a gendered thing. It’s just more of an understanding that actually it can present itself in different ways, but at the moment, we’ve our knowledge is really based on this one particular way that we, we call boys.

But actually isn’t boys. It’s just one way. Okay. Good to know.

Kate Donohue: [00:15:44] Yes. And so there’s this profile that is more known as the girl profile. That is really the person who is very socially motivated. They tend to be able to mask well, but, and people will often say, Oh great, that’s good. They can then fit into school. They can then fit into life.

They’re more likely to be successful. Right. They’re also more likely to have mental health problems because. They don’t know who they are, their identity and their sense of self is, is really quite unsteady because they’ve always had to pretend to be someone else they’ve always had to pretend to be different.

And also why they’re concentrating so hard on fitting in and understanding others and not making mistakes and not being found out and not being ridiculed. There’s so much anxiety going on. It’s really hard for them to learn. And it’s really hard to have joy and freedom and expression and to become that authentic version of themselves.

So masking does have a high cost to, to people who do mask.

Sophia Elliott: [00:16:46] And I know, I know a few not just women, but men as well, who have had diagnosis of various things as adults. And I always think there’s that power in knowing yourself isn’t it. And they always talk about the huge relief that, that brings that they finally understand themselves the way they ticktheir life makes sense.

And they can start to. It’s almost like, um, exist in the world in a new way, but a way that is better for them. And not at that cost that you talk about, you know, it’s not coming out that cost, but they’re, they’re understanding themselves so they can navigate it differently. So there’s not such that high cost.


Kate Donohue: [00:17:27] what we want for our children. And we want them to understand themselves so that they can become their own advocate. If they don’t know that they have sensory processing differences and they’re not supported to understand what works for them and how they can support themselves in stressful situations.

We’re not  we’re not equipping them with a toolkit that they need to navigate successfully. So when we help our children to understand who they are, then we can empower them to then. Understand themselves enough that they can then be independent or with support and, or we support depending how their profile goes to be able to go, right.

I’m going to go into a situation. That’s going to be really overloading for me. So these are the things I’m going to do before I go in. And these are the things that I’m going to do during, and these are the things I’m going to do afterwards. But if we don’t help them to understand themselves, they don’t know what to do.

And then they just have to grin and bear it or avoid it or shut down and, or these other secondary behaviors and anxieties and other things that don’t necessarily need to be there if they understand themselves and they’re supported to understand themselves,

Sophia Elliott: [00:18:35] Which leads to that idea that there’s something wrong with them and that they’re broken because they don’t

Kate Donohue: [00:18:41] you

Sophia Elliott: [00:18:41] manage in the world the way other people do. And, and all of those mental health issues, like you say, and that could lead to all sorts of anxiety and depression. No doubt. Okay. So that leads me on to, I’d asked you earlier about the idea of autism as a spectrum, but you’d actually said.

Actually we’re moving away from the idea that this is linear into a different model. So tell us a bit about that because I hadn’t come across that before. That was really interesting

Kate Donohue: [00:19:12] Yeah. So traditionally we’ve as a society thought of autism. As at one end, we have people who struggled to talk, struggle to go to the toilet by themselves, struggle to have Autonomy and go to work or engage in school, engage with other people. At that end, we often used to call that end of the things more like severe autism.

And then at the other end, we had what people would label as mild or a little bit autistic where people were intelligent. They could go to school and communicate and appear typical in the world. The problem with this model is that the people that severe end ended up getting a lot of therapy and supports and help, but they weren’t necessarily empowered and given as many opportunities to thrive in the world and to find their unique version of themselves.

Whereas at the other end of the spectrum where people were sort of just placed in our mainstream schools and expected to be okay, because they could. Appear to be okay. At times they didn’t get the, all of the supports that they needed to be able to understand themselves and navigate. So neither end of the spectrum really got the support, the individualized supports that they needed.

So what we’re moving towards now is really looking at a profile or sometime it’s pictorially drawn as a wheel where we look at the individual parts of the person, look at their profile and see what they individually need. Some people who would have been called mildly autistic actually have need  quite a lot more support than somebody who might be severely autistic because of their profile because of what they need to feel.

Okay. And be okay in the world. So we can’t really judge somebody by what we see. It’s not about the behaviors on the outside. It’s not about somebody who looks autistic or doesn’t look autistic. It’s about what. The gaps in development are, or what their sensory systems doing, what they need to know, to understand other people, and then supporting them to get the supports that they need.

 Sophia Elliott: [00:21:23] Thank you. That’s really helpful shifting away from that linear concept to a different model of thinking about it and yeah, that really rephrases it for me.

Kate Donohue: [00:21:35] There’s also some really exciting new research around reframing how we say autism, where we’re looking at what they’re calling double empathy. So when we have a group of autistic people together, they can really communicate, understand and empathize with each other really well. When we have a group of neuro-typical people together, they can also communicate, understand and empathize with each other really well, but where the problem lies is when we mix these two different communication styles.

And that’s where the barriers to communication and understanding arise. So what the research has now starting to show is that it isn’t that. People who are autistic at a deficit in their communication and empathy at all, all it is showing is that there’s a mismatch in understanding each other, but because the autistic community are in the minority, they’ve definitely been labeled as the ones with the communication and empathy problems.

But it’s coming out now that it’s just differences.

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:37] It’s just different. So it’s in that scenario where you’re just miscommunicating with someone, but it’s like, you know, you’re doing it wrong because clearly I’m doing it. Right. But actually they’re both different.

Kate Donohue: [00:22:50] just different.

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:51] That’s a whole new way of looking at it. Isn’t it?

Kate Donohue: [00:22:53] that’s right. And people aren’t meeting each other’s needs, so they’re not connecting, they’re missing each other. And it’s just a difference. And I know many, many beautiful, empathetic, caring, autistic people who.

You do communicate in their way that works for them. And together they support each other. I know other mums who come and visit each other when one’s in hospital or supports each other with their kids. So they really provide a lot of care and support for their friends, but they do it in a way that they understand.

Sophia Elliott: [00:23:24] Well, that makes me think of just in terms of that communication example is I was reading an article recently about companies who are getting more savvy to the many strengths of an autistic person in terms of the way their brains, wired  differently and, and where those strengths can be in terms of different industries and obviously tech.

Maths kind of computing is one that comes up a lot, obviously not the only one, but certainly comes up a lot. And this particular company had adjusted the way that they do interviews because they were expecting people to communicate typically in that situation and those interviews, weren’t catering for the fact that autistic people would communicate differently and therefore they weren’t getting the job, but actually have the ex excellent skills for that job.

So there’s that situation where expecting communication to look like one thing. And because it doesn’t look like that, they’re not jumping through those hoops that, they weren’t getting the jobs, but it didn’t mean that they weren’t excellent candidates for that job.

Kate Donohue: [00:24:33] Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:33] So, but it’s just means yeah, we have to adjust.

Kate Donohue: [00:24:36] the environment to suit the diversity that we naturally have in our population.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:41] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Really important. So, okay. So given that conversation.  I know and have been in that situation where I’ve been talking to parents and about their child and they have raised with me that the teacher at school has suggested that they get an autism assessment because they’re having some challenges and, and they’re immediately thinking it’s autism, but we know that giftedness can get misdiagnosed as both autism or ADHD as well.

 So there’s obviously some crossovers between them. So what does that look like in the classroom sometimes? So we were talking before about meltdowns passions, those kinds of things.

Kate Donohue: [00:25:34] Yes. So there’s some interesting changes happening as well, because obviously over excitabilities were quite  heavily used to explain

Sophia Elliott: [00:25:44] the buzz word for giftedness,

isn’t it? Yeah.

Kate Donohue: [00:25:47] really stating that gifted kids do everything a bit more intensely, including, you know, emotional regulation or sensory staff could, all we described as over sensitivities, that’s changing as well.

And the line that I like to support parents to go along would be like, is this what your ex, what your child’s experiencing, whether it’s intensity of emotions or some of our kids are really energetic and seek a lot of movement, or whatever’s going on, ask yourself, is this affecting their function? Is this affecting their ability to engage in learning or friendships or bedtime?

Is it also affecting our family as a whole? Is it something that we’re really having to juggle and consider and put a lot of effort into? So when we’re looking at whether something is just. A part of who they are or is it something that we need to see a professional about? I always like to think about, is it over the line of effecting our daily or our family life and our functioning, so that way we can really try and get

a grasp

on, is it something that we really do have to have accommodation of support for?

They’re not really able to navigate very easily on their own. Another thing that I always like to consider when we’re looking at a child or supporting a child who’s gifted and may have other things going on as well, is that there can be some considerable crossover in presentation. So things like The.

Robust intellectual curiosity can turn into very passionate inquiry and something that our little people loved talk and explore and go deep into just the same as the passions for somebody who’s autistic, where they love to go deep down and talk about and, you know, sort of roll around and, and, and, and just explore their passions in, in depth.

Those two things can look very similar. So sometimes people might be like, Oh wow, that kid might be autistic because they don’t understand giftedness very well. So it could be giftedness, but it’s when you start putting all the dots together, when your child has a lot of the traits, say such as, you know, sensory processing differences that are quite significant and need support when they sometimes are confused or misunderstand other people, or they struggle to either make friends, or if they can make friends, sometimes they struggle to maintain friendships.

And you’re just starting to put these puzzle pieces together. When my daughter was quite small, I was off, I would go to professionals, go look, I’m concerned about this. And then she might’ve got it. You know, she got diagnosed with hypermobility. So I was like, okay. So that’s explaining some of, of the fatigue issues.

It’s explaining some of the things that are going on, but then she also got gut issues, which are not neither of these things are part of the diagnostic criteria, but they’re quite common in kids who are autistic. So we started to get a bit of a collection of things that there were enough dots for me to kind of go, actually, I feel like we need to do a bit more thorough investigation.

So when we were putting some of the sensory stuff together, some of the friendships. Troubles together. Some of the extra things that autistic people experienced research does show there is more gut issues in our kids who are autistic. There’s more prevalence of hypermobility and other muscle related issues.

So for me as a parent, I kind of went, I’m going to these individual people  and, and I’m getting these dots, but they’re not joining up and they’re not making, they’re not all these dots together and making everyday life really challenging. So that’s when I kind of was like, right, I need to be really robust because I’m not getting the answers as a parent that I feel my daughter needs to be able to get the support she needs and to be able to thrive.

So we went interstate , found somebody who understood these dots individually and could put them all together for us. And I have two very complex children with multiple things going on. But I really needed to find the right professionals to be able to put all those dots together and find a path and advise us on how to move forward.

Sophia Elliott: [00:30:08] Yeah, it’s really complicated, isn’t it? And it’s not simple. And I’ve found as well. You do need to keep looking, like you say until you find someone who would you say response to your gut instinct? Do you know, like as a parent that you’ve clearly followed your gut until you found those, those answers and someone who’s familiar enough with everything that needs to be known and and got the answer.

Kate Donohue: [00:30:37] They need that, but they also need to be able to comprehend our children. Some people just cannot comprehend how  diverse  our kids are because the giftedness skews all of the disability. So the disabilities don’t present the way they’re doing the textbooks. So our kids are complex. So you, they need the clinician needs to have an understanding of the interplay between the disability and the giftedness and sometimes multiple disabilities and giftedness.

So it’s this really unique profile.

Sophia Elliott: [00:31:13] absolutely that understanding of giftedness. I’ve definitely encountered that myself. It’s a must. Isn’t it.

Kate Donohue: [00:31:19] Yes. And really being a person centered therapist, someone who looks at your child for exactly who they are and how they’re presenting, rather than trying to fit our children into boxes because our kids do not fit the boxes. They are the kids that are, are different in their presentation. So finding someone who’s willing.

To go outside of the boxes and see, and to really go deep with you in terms of exploring what does your child need? What are their needs? Where are there gaps? What supports do they need? And sometimes often tailoring therapeutic approaches to fit and meet your child.

Sophia Elliott: [00:31:59] Absolutely. And I love that as a way of ending the podcast on a note where we’re seeking people who will see our children for who they are, because that’s the crux of it. Because if we can find people to help us see them, understand them, then we can help them to understand themselves and avoid hopefully many of those adult scenarios and decades.

It might take otherwise for those undiagnosed individuals who have to then figure it all out as an adult thinking the whole time that there’s something wrong with them when actually they just need to understand that their brains work a bit differently from most. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming in today and having a chat.

It’s been really interesting. I love talking about this topic. Because it’s like you just said so interesting how giftedness affects the way that other quirks look. And it’s a whole other level of understanding those quirks and, and it’s harder to dig into that as well. So I really appreciate your time today and coming to talk to us about that.


Kate Donohue: [00:33:10] Thank you. Absolute pleasure.

#017 What is a Gifted Assessment? & other Quirks of Giftedness

#017 What is a Gifted Assessment? & other Quirks of Giftedness

Today I’m speaking with Amanda Drury from Gifted 2E Support Australia as we delve into what is in a gifted assessment and a bunch of other quirks of giftedness. In this episode you’ll hear:

  • The different subsections of WISC (one type of IQ assessment)
  • The hidden messages in IQ assessments
  • 3 types of masking
  • 2 types of ADHD
  • Red flags that help identify gifted & 2E kids in the classroom and at home
  • 2 types of perfectionism, and
  • What is a melt-down?

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

“Dysfunctional perfectionism comes up a lot in twice-exceptional children that, that essentially that refusal to do any work because you’re too scared to fail.” – Amanda

“When I asked her, how is he reading novels he can’t when he can’t phonetically spell?… She said because he’s remembering the shape of the word. He’s remembering them as pictures.” – Amanda

“They might be distressed or ashamed of their anxiety or their depression, or maybe they’re scared of it…They will spend the whole day masking their anxiety putting up a persona… over the top of their anxiety because they don’t want anyone to know that they’re anxious and then they go home and they completely lose it. And it’s bad, it’s back to back meltdowns for the whole afternoon.” – Amanda


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Check out this episode!


Sophia Elliott: [00:00:00] Hi Amanda. Thank you so much for joining us again. It’s a delight to have you back on the show we talked to you recently about what is 2E and we enjoyed some of the stories around your journey with your children.

But today we’re going to have a chat about assessment. And you support and advocate for parents of twice exceptional children and a big part of that is helping them to understand the assessment and what that means for their child. Is that right?

Amanda Drury: [00:00:32] Correct. One of the things I do is write write a report with the twice exceptional lens..

Using the reports that their child has, however many that might be combining them all into one report makes it easier for teachers to access. I try to do it in language that is easy to read as well. Sometimes psychologists’ reports can be really hard to decipher for the average teacher.

So it just makes life a bit easier for the teacher.

Sophia Elliott: [00:01:01] That sounds like a dream. Cause I know some of the reports that we’ve had, not just from the psychologist, but from the OT, the occupational therapist and the speech pathologists. I mean, I’ve had a 16 page report from the OT before and that’s really intense. So you have a look at the big picture for a child.

Help to nut that down into what it really means for that child and their educational experience, because your background is teaching as well.

Amanda Drury: [00:01:31] Yes. I’ve been teaching in schools for About 18 years. And some of that was actually in the United Kingdom too.

So I’ve taught in very systems as well. And I know what it’s like when you’re a teacher, you’ve quite time poor.

to a file

that’s very thick on one child. It’s kind of the first thing. The first thing you do is groan.

Sophia Elliott: [00:01:54] Yeah, read it all and you’ve got digest it and interpret it. So yeah, there’s a lot to go through

isn’t there .

Amanda Drury: [00:02:02] And some teachers just won’t bother because they don’t have the time. And so my thought is if I can take those reports and I can combine them into a 10 page report that’s a lot easier to read It makes it a lot more digestible for teachers.

Yeah. And also other professionals that parents might be working with

Sophia Elliott: [00:02:26] because you’ve done a master’s as well. And within that, master’s about twice exceptional students, but also helping identify the red flags that teachers can look out for. And within that. How to accommodate some of that. So you bring all of that knowledge and experience together, as well as being a parent of twice exceptional students to, to help advocate parents and their students with their schools.

So I imagine all of that coming together is really helpful. So what are some of the things that we can learn from an assessment?

Amanda Drury: [00:03:01] Depends on the assessment, but if I was to use the WISC, which every twice exceptional child is likely to have a WISC done at some point in their life. And WISC is your standard gifted assessment done in Australia.

Most psychologists use the WISCand it uses 10 subtests. And then that’s what children are. I think adolescence is 12 to subtests, but for children it’s 10. And they take pairs of scores from those sub tests, combine them together to get an average. And they come up with five different percentile point averages.

And usually the report you get from the psychologist will be those percentile. Points for each of those areas

Sophia Elliott: [00:03:49] And a percentile being. An expression of where your child is compared to other children of their same age. So if you’re in the 90th percentile, you would be in that top 10% of children of that age.

Amanda Drury: [00:04:09] that’s correct.

You’re working at or above. 90% of children your age. So you’re in that top 10. And if it was 97 it’s at, or above 97% or in the top three. Yeah, they work on percentiles to make it easier for parents and teachers to understand that. However, The, initially they use a formula that it’s a mathematical program that they, that comes with the WISC assessment package.

And it will work out a scale scaled points. So each of the 10 tests has a scale score. And usually when I am deciphering the WISC assessment for parents I communicate with their psychologists to get the original scaled scores, because you can tell a lot from the sub scores, the 10. The scores on each of the 10 tests.

Sophia Elliott: [00:05:01] Yeah, that would be really interesting because as you said, They do two tests per subsection, and then they average that out. So there could be really insightful to see how they’ve scored on both tests, if there was a big variation or if they’re very similar. I imagine that would give you quite a bit of insight as well.

Amanda Drury: [00:05:17] Absolutely. And sometimes with twice exceptional children, there is a very big variation between the two scaled scores, which is why it’s really important to look at the 10  scaled scores. But you need to know how to, and I actually have a textbook that I use to decipher all that. I wouldn’t recommend a parent try and work it out.

More Transcript Here

Sophia Elliott: [00:05:38] Oh, no, it’s a very complex, there’s a complexity built into this. Yeah. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but that’s why we have people like you helping us. us parents.

Amanda Drury: [00:05:50] Another thing I can do, some parents will come to me because their child is gifted.

They haven’t had any other assessments done, but their WISC come back with scores all over the place. So they’re looking for. Where do I go next? Because it’s a very expensive venture to go out and get other assessments done on your child. And when they expect that, when it’s expected that when they think their child might have something else going on they don’t want to spend a thousand dollars on it to find out that was a wasted thousand dollars.

So the WISC assessment actually gives you a lot of pointers and can. I mean, it can’t definitively tell me whether they’ve got ADHD or dyslexia or autism, but it can point to those. It can say, well, because they got this score or this variation in scores, it is possible that they’ve got an ADHD going on.

Sophia Elliott: [00:06:51] let’s talk about some of those. So earlier we were talking about working memory and processing speed, how sometimes one can be higher than the other, because they are often compensate for each other. Is that right?

Amanda Drury: [00:07:07] Yes. Yeah. In in a twice exceptional child, those two actually have the most discrepancy usually.

Sophia Elliott: [00:07:14] Working memory is that part of our brain. And if you, if we’re working on, let’s say a maths equation, it’s remembering the numbers that we were using a minute ago and bringing that back into an equation, or if way reading is remembering what we just read the sentence before and bringing that back into what we’re doing processing speed is How quickly our brain processes really


Amanda Drury: [00:07:43] Yes. How how quickly information goes from one part of your brain to the other. And. I guess turns into the information needed to, I don’t verbally speak a sentence or or write a piece of writing.

Sophia Elliott: [00:07:56] yeah. So knowing how our children’s score in these areas can help us understand them. So for example, Processing speed. If we know a child’s got a really quick processing speed, then they’re just going to go zap and there’ll be onto it. But we know if they’ve scored lower in this area, it might be some, an area that they need accommodating for, or support in?

Amanda Drury: [00:08:18] Yeah, that,

that is right. Sometimes children get, this is actually particularly common and twice exceptional children.

There’s quite a bit of research literature on this. The short term memory and the processing speeds can be quite far apart and they can have very fast processing, but very slow, short term. Memory or very low short-term memory. So while they’re able to process the information really well, they’re not able to hold it for long or sometimes maybe it won’t get put into their long-term memory. And it can go the other way too, where the processing speed is very low, but the short term memory is very high.

Sophia Elliott: [00:09:00] So they’re just two components of the subsections and five. What were the five again?

Amanda Drury: [00:09:07] We’ve got verbal comprehension, which deals with essentially language. It has two tests.

One is a vocabulary test which looks at different, or it basically goes through a number of words. Which the child then needs to decipher and meaning, but each of the words on the test and the other test is I think it’s a memory test around comprehension, but it, it mainly assesses just verbal ability to speak. Which often get to children are quite well ahead and

Sophia Elliott: [00:09:44] Yes. I can vouch for gifted children being able lot and talk under water.

Amanda Drury: [00:09:49] and the ability to understand it

Sophia Elliott: [00:09:51] That’s right. Yes. Very sophisticated vocabularies is I will always remember my youngest at age two using the word literally in the correct way. Like any, he would, you know, he would say something, he’d be like, literally, you know, and I’d be like, you’re two and you’re using that correctly.

And every time he said it, I would be like, Is he using that correctly? And I’m like, damn he is. So what were the other areas we’ve talked about? Verbal comprehension processing speed and working is there’s two more

Amanda Drury: [00:10:27] There’s visual, spatial, visual spatial, commonly in particularly in children with dyslexia or ADHD tend to have very high scores in your visual.

Sophia Elliott: [00:10:39] Oh, okay. And the final one

Amanda Drury: [00:10:42] There’s fluid reasoning, which is that mainly tests looking out outside the square kind of stuff, being able to answer kind of.

Philosophical questions, being able to

Sophia Elliott: [00:10:56] sort of Yeah. Yep.

Amanda Drury: [00:10:58] And then your working memory in your process. Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:11:02] so we can interpret those scores in different ways that can give us an insight into. An exceptionality or a potential exceptionality. So as you said before, was it dyslexic? Kids can often have high visual spatial scores. So there are some trends that you look out for when you’re interpreting an assessment.

Amanda Drury: [00:11:26] Yeah. Typically ADHD and dyslexia comes out higher on your visual, spatial scores than your other scores. Also the usually the, well, often the Processing and the working memories will be very, very big difference.

Eight or nine scale points difference between the two with an ADHD child or a autistic child, but I’m not a psychologist. And I must stress this. Isn’t always the case. This is just a trend that has come up in the research literature. So. It’s really important that people don’t take the WISC and literally think Oh my child’s ADHD, because of this, it’s simply a trend that’s come up and worth investigating further.

You can’t just assume.

Sophia Elliott: [00:12:21] Absolutely. And when you’re working with parents, you’re talking to them about their child. You’re looking at other reports they may have had, you’re talking about different concerns that they’ve had every conversation as for every child is very individualized and we need to important that it’s important.

And it’s also, I think one of the things about giftedness is every kid is different. So we’ve got to take that Take that into consideration when we’re were talking about, trends and generalizing things. Absolutely. So in the work that you do and supporting parents, I can definitely see, very useful role in pulling reports together, having a close look and being able to interpret that in an easy way for teachers.

Tell me about some of the experiences you’ve had during that work.

Amanda Drury: [00:13:18] So far very positive. I’ve had some very positive feedback from the parents I’ve worked with. I have worked directly with some schools as well, and they have been very appreciative of having the report all in one place.  Very thankful

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:34] Especially, I’m imagining you’re looking at it also from a teacher’s perspective. So you’re talking their language as well.

Amanda Drury: [00:13:41] That’s right. The parents will somehow one parent in particular investigated further on the ADHD lines after I told them that it might be worth investigating and did actually find the

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:55] clues there

Amanda Drury: [00:13:56] That they were ADHD.

However Like I said before these conditions, particularly the likes of autism and ADHD, they’re very complex condition. And I always say to my parents, it’s really important that you get that investigated further, that you don’t just think, Oh, I’m going to treat this child like a person with ADHD now.

Yes. Because it’s a very complex thing and that’s not my area.

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:23] Absolutely. And each of these exceptionalities have their own assessment that looks at that and is going to give you additional information as well. So,

Amanda Drury: [00:14:38] and autism particularly looks very different from child to child. They say, when you meet one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:49] says lot Doesn’t it expresses that

Amanda Drury: [00:14:53] It is very different from child to child

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:55] and it’s also very different as well from gender to gender and girls express autism very differently Yeah. Do you see that in other exceptionalities?

Amanda Drury: [00:15:07] Yes. You do. ADHD is very different in girls to boys.

Often there, the research points to ADHD being more commonly when it is found in girls. Often it isn’t, but when it is it’s more commonly the inattentive type. Whereas in boys it’s more commonly the hyperactive type, but that’s a very general, it’s not all the time. It was not the case all the time.

It’s just more common. Commonly goes there.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:34] Have you ever seen any research around giftedness being expressed differently between boys and girls?

Amanda Drury: [00:15:40] I haven’t.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:41] Yeah, it’s something

Amanda Drury: [00:15:42] a gender perspective. No.

Sophia Elliott: [00:15:44] I wonder about that. And because anecdotally, I wonder if there’s perception that gifted boys more easily fit into the Misbehavior category and gifted girls fit into that I’m gonna conform and people please but I’ve not seen any research around that area yet It’s just personal curiosity know that there can be gender differences Let’s talk a little bit about your research I know that part of your research was in. Identifying some red flags for teachers, things that they could look out for within their classroom.

Amanda Drury: [00:16:31] Yeah. The idea behind my research was to, I don’t like to put children in boxes, but. One of the things that comes up again and again, throughout the research literature is the concept of masking and twice exceptional children, more often than not not found in the general classroom because of masking.

Masking is when the disability masks that giftedness or the giftedness mask, the disability. So one co one basically counts the other out. And then so. A teacher who doesn’t have any training in these areas. Many teachers don’t even have training in giftedness, let alone anything else.

Sophia Elliott: [00:17:17] Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:17:17] Won’t, won’t see it.

So my idea was I was going to go through the literature. I had to do a systematic literature review for my master’s research. And so I sifted that literature to find. Things that commonly come up in children who are twice exceptional across the board. And like, for example, one of the things that came up in many areas, there was dyslexia.

There was autism ADHD. All three of those areas was the processing score versus the short term memory score on the WISC assessment. Much being hugely different, three different studies looked at that. And there was another thing that came up is mental health came up a lot as well. That kind of dysfunctional perfectionism that is common in giftedness anyway, but can be more pronounced exceptional children by

Sophia Elliott: [00:18:16] dysfunctional perfectionism. Do you mean perfectionism? That kind of goes too far and becomes a barrier to engaging and trying things out.

Amanda Drury: [00:18:27] There are two types of perfectionism. There’s actually a healthy perfectionism. That is actually really good because it, it drives us

Sophia Elliott: [00:18:35] strive. Yeah. We strive to Yeah

Amanda Drury: [00:18:38] terms and striving to do better.

But dysfunctional perfectionism is that kind of fixed mindset of. If I make a mistake, I’m not going to be successful. And you can imagine twice exceptional children make a few more mistakes than your average gifted child because of their learning blocks. So dysfunctional perfectionism comes up a lot in twice exceptional children that, that essentially that refusal to do any work because you’re too scared to fail.

Sophia Elliott: [00:19:12] yeah, absolutely. Which can be crippling. So you researched focused a lot around. The masking to help teachers identify red flags and masking. You talked about how one can compensate for the other. So if a gifted child is also dyslexic, their strengths in their giftedness is helping them to compensate for theirsay, dyslexia or whatever their exceptionality is, which makes the dyslexia harder to see because.

You know, they’re they do they’re on their strengths and which makes them more difficult to identify within the classroom

Amanda Drury: [00:19:55] And I can use my son as an example for that again, his dyslexia. Wasn’t found initially, because he was memorizing the shapes of the words.

Sophia Elliott: [00:20:06] all right. Had a great memory and he, yeah, he’s like,

Amanda Drury: [00:20:09] That’s what his dyslexia specialist told me. He had no phonemic awareness at all. Yet. He was reading novels. When I asked her, how is he reading novels he can’t, when he can’t phonetically spell The, or read properly, they break up words.

She said, because he’s remembering the shape of the Word. He’s remembering them as pictures

Sophia Elliott: [00:20:30] because gifted kids are great problem solvers aren’t they? And they it’s the work arounds that become really interesting. That’s phenomenal. That’s. Really that’s really good. And he’s got a great memory.

Amanda Drury: [00:20:44] He had a lot of trouble in high school though. Initially, because those longer words you get in textbooks, he, his little trick wasn’t working. Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:20:53] yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So,

Amanda Drury: [00:20:58] With the masking, there’s actually three different types of masking.

Sophia Elliott: [00:21:02] Oh, tell us those. Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:21:04] The first one we’ve already talked about, which is the disability versus giftedness, and then there’s the dumbing it down, which is actually common in all gifted children, especially in Australia.

Cause unfortunately Australia has w many Australians. Schools have this kind of tall poppy syndrome problem is actually research on it. And now due to the ridicule from ridicule, from their peers and teachers they dumb it down because they don’t want to appearit smart.

Sophia Elliott: [00:21:36] that’s right. It’s not cool to be smart.

Amanda Drury: [00:21:38] putting a mask  over their intelligence.

Sophia Elliott: [00:21:41] Yeah, absolutely.

Amanda Drury: [00:21:43] And then there’s the The other one is mental health looking at invisible mental health issues. So they might be distressed or ashamed of their anxiety or their depression, or maybe they’re scared of it.

Maybe they don’t understand what it is. So they will spend the whole day masking their anxiety putting up. A persona. Normally they’ll put up some sort of persona along the lines, be very creative from a gifted point of view and make a persona over the top of their anxiety because they don’t want anyone to know that they’re anxious.

And then they go home and they completely lose it And it’s bad it’s back to back meltdowns for the whole afternoon for poor mum and dad and family because

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:33] had to use all their energy all day to hold it the mask on And yeah they get to their safe environment They just they’re releasing I’ve heard the example of the the shaken Coke bottle So day the Coke bottle is getting shook, but the lidis on.

And as soon as they get home in their safe, that lid comes off.

Amanda Drury: [00:22:58] That’s right.

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:59] Yeah. And

Amanda Drury: [00:23:00] often now I don’t want to appear different.

Sophia Elliott: [00:23:03] no, of course we we? Yeah.

Amanda Drury: [00:23:06] They know that if they do lose it at school, they’re gonna be tired based about it.

Sophia Elliott: [00:23:10] Yeah, absolutely.

Amanda Drury: [00:23:11] And usually this kind of masking begins typically from about year two onwards, because this is the time when they’ve become really aware of what other people are thinking about.

Sophia Elliott: [00:23:24] Yep. Yeah. So that’s a good red flag for parents. If the school is saying, and I’ve actually been in that situation, the school was saying, no, Child’s perfect at school, no problems here and at home, I’m like, this is seriously not perfect. There’s lot of melting meltdowns and frustration yeah. All sorts going on.


Amanda Drury: [00:23:47] and to clarify for those that. I don’t know what a meltdown is. It’s essentially where their emotions have become so intense that their whole body is reeling with that tension and they need to release it.

And that’s done through what essentially looks like a really bad temper tantrum, but it’s not a temper tantrum. It is a complete loss of control of their emotions. Are they? Because. It’s really scary for them.

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:18] Yeah,

Amanda Drury: [00:24:19] scary

Sophia Elliott: [00:24:20] It’s a total disregulation. Isn’t it? Yeah, and I think that’s a really important distinction. It’s not a temper tantrum. It’s so much more than then I’m not getting my way and I’m going to be upset about it. Yeah. It’s a very big thing.

Amanda Drury: [00:24:36] And it can be the smallest thing that sets them off because they’ve been masking all day at school, you come home and maybe they wanted a Vegemite sandwich and there’s no Vegemite left in the cupboard or something.

It’s something really, usually something really inane Or they needed to take their shoes off at the door. And you feel like, how can my child have this huge tantrum over this tiny, tiny thing, but it’s not, it’s a buildup. It’s like the the tipping point, the last straw.

Sophia Elliott: [00:25:05] Yeah, absolutely. Just that straw that broke the camel’s just this tiny little thing but yeah The lid of that Coke bottle just comes they just they can’t hold on any longer it’s really intense gifted kids twice exceptional kids They’re really intense I liked the definition you’re sharing with me the other day about how they’re just more You know they’re just more intense They feel more learning more quickly. There’s just this little people and it’s just more, I just thought that was a great way of explaining them.

Amanda Drury: [00:25:41] more everything and they notice more. Which can actually add to their problems if they’re ADHD or autistic.

Because they’re already struggling from a sensory point of view in a very busy environment. And then their giftedness allows them to notice every tiny little detail of everything that’s going on. It’s just a bombardment on their senses and it doesn’t, it really doesn’t help their autism or their, or their ADHD, which, which is.

Sensory processing issues are common with those two.

Sophia Elliott: [00:26:18] Absolutely. And so in your work parents and students It’s really interesting that you’ve been able to assist them in helping to interpret report data that they’re given and and be that bridge between parents and teachers to help teachers be in a place where they can support these children quickly and easily By being given that information I can see that that’s like a dream for parents and teachers to get that, that service. And I think that it’s really interesting that you’re talking about your research in terms of helping teachers to identify some of those red flags that can help us then start to spot these kids who are going under the radar in classrooms.

Amanda Drury: [00:27:08] Another one that’s very common is the asymmetry, which you get with giftedness anyway, but with a twice exceptional child if you find that a student in your classroom has very scattered grades, they in this subject, a D in that subject, a B in that subject, it’s all over the shop. That’s usually a good indicator that something’s going on.

Sophia Elliott: [00:27:33] so lately and again, we’ve talked about this before. It’s that opportunity to not just focus on the deficit. Not just focusing and looking at where they’re getting the D but also questioning the whole picture and the fact that they’re getting, you know, DS and A’s, there’s, there’s something more than just a simple deficit going on here, you know, potentially that giftedness is in the mix as well as a learning challenge in a particular area.

Amanda Drury: [00:28:00] That’s right. And also if you get the child in your class who was doing really well in other classes, and then they come into your class and they’re just bluntly refusing to do any work for you. I’m thinking like a child that may have been getting A’s in maths and they come to your class and they’re not getting.

I can’t even do the work for you that just refusing it could be that you’re not giving them hard enough work. And sometimes teachers some teachers have this attitude of, well, they have to sh they have to prove to me that they can do it before I give them harder work. And I would suggest always in that instance, talk to the teacher that came before you and see,

Sophia Elliott: [00:28:41] See

Amanda Drury: [00:28:43] Because collaboration is really important.

Sophia Elliott: [00:28:45] Absolutely. And unfortunately do hear that quite a bit. The idea that gifted programs or harder work that enrichment or acceleration needs to be a reward when. In fact, if kids are refusing to engage or perhaps misbehaving, it’s actually maybe a real sign of extreme boredom and disengagement because they desperately need that harder work and it shouldn’t be held off as a reward.

It just needs to be a part of their learning plan or

a part of the way that they’re allowed to learn and be taught.

Amanda Drury: [00:29:23] Yeah. Yeah. And no, another one twice exceptional children, some of them don’t test well either. So if you’re using a standard.

Test for the whole class, just to see where everybody’s working at, that won’t necessarily give you the correct result for a twice exceptional child.

Sophia Elliott: [00:29:42] we talked earlier about how, for example, an ADHD child might need a quiet space to focus, to get the best results. Which

and accommodation takes a bit more effort for a teacher, but sometimes we just need to go that extra mile for a student to see, help them be in a situation where they can do their best.

Amanda Drury: [00:30:06] or a dyslexic child might need access to a laptop, which isn’t connected to the internet so that they can’t just spell, check everything.

Sophia Elliott: [00:30:15] Yeah. right.

Amanda Drury: [00:30:16] But yeah, because it can make it easier for them to access to text, especially dysgraphia.

Because they will be able to usually type faster. Then hand, write

Sophia Elliott: [00:30:28] Thank very much. They’re all really interesting insights. And I think it’s really important for us to understand the challenges that gifted children can have that gifted children. Aren’t just children who. Who breeze through life. On the contrary, they have their own gifted challenges, as well as being children who also have challenges where they’re twice exceptional.

So the, the research that you’re doing and the support that you’re providing for parents is really important to help us share that knowledge and understand these students better so that they can reach their potential. And. And find their confidence and happiness. It helps them reach their potential as well.

Amanda Drury: [00:31:14] Yeah. And to help parents not fall into the gutter of  mental illness as well, because they’re watching their children fail. It’s it’s a horrible thing that can happen. And so if, if I can help a parent advocate for their child and that child succeeds, then I’ve made a difference, you know, and I’ve helped that family move on in life and help those parents be happier.

I I’m happy.

Sophia Elliott: [00:31:42] And and that is a whole other podcast that we need to do is about about us as parents you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head Yeah It’s very difficult for us to watch our children with those challenges And and yeah this support and these conversations are crucially important to helping a whole bunch of kids who are under the radar and parents who just don’t know what’s going on They haven’t you know it’s hard to figure this stuff out as a parent let alone teachers and other experts and professionals who may or may not have training in various areas as parents we don’t get the on know what is gifted What these exceptionalities? It’s really tricky to figure this stuff out.

So thank you so much for the support that you offer and for coming in today and talking to us about these issues really appreciate it.

Amanda Drury: [00:32:35] Thank you.