#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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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.

#016 Exploring the Gifted Identity with Marc Smolowitz from The G Word Film

#016 Exploring the Gifted Identity with Marc Smolowitz from The G Word Film

Today I’m speaking with filmmaker Marc Smolowitz about his upcoming documentary, The G Word Film. The film is currently in post-production with an expected release date in early 2022.

The G Word Film is the first major documentary on giftedness and asks the question, Who Gets to be Gifted In America? The shorts released so far describe a scenario that is seen globally.

In the episode, we talk about trauma, hope, and empowerment, gender and sexuality, identity, and more!

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“Trauma is a huge theme in every story. But I’m not here to beat you up. That’s just not my, I don’t believe that’s my job. I believe my job is actually more about giving you hope or leaving you with a sense of possibilities, prospects for change prospects, for making things better. I’ve dealt with, all kinds of traumatic stories and, trauma is, one side of the story. The other side is empowerment.” – Marc

“I had a sense of being other in the world.” -Marc


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Introducing Marc Smolowitz

Marc Smolowitz is a multi-award-winning independent filmmaker based in San Francisco.

With three decades of experience in the film and media business, Smolowitz is a director, producer, and executive producer who has been significantly involved in 50+ successful independent films wearing many hats across the entertainment industry.

The combined footprint of his works has touched 200+ film festivals and markets on 5 continents, yielding substantial worldwide sales to theatrical, television, and VOD outlets, notable box office receipts, and numerous awards and nominations. His long list of credits includes films that have screened at top-tier festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Chicago, Palm Springs, AFI Docs, IDFA, DOC NYC, CPH: DOX, Tokyo, Melbourne, Viennale, Krakow, Jerusalem, among others.

His film company — 13th Gen — works with a dynamic range of independent film partners globally to oversee the financing, production, post-production, marketing, sales, and distribution efforts of a vibrant portfolio of films and filmmakers. Founded in 2009, the company is known widely for being active on some 10-15 concurrent projects, both independent and inside Hollywood, and it has successfully advanced Smolowitz’s career-long focus on powerful social issue films and filmmaking across all genres.

In 2016, he received one of the prestigious IFP Fellowships to attend the Cannes Film Festival’s Producers Network and Marche du Film marking him as one of USA’s most influential independent film producers.

Join in the social media campaign! #MyGiftedStory

Check out this episode!


Sophia: [00:00:00] Welcome everyone. I’m delighted to be back here today with Marc Smolowitz the man behind The G Word Film. And as I have said before, in our previous podcast with Marc, a multi award winning independent filmmaker, who’s joining me today from San Francisco and almost decades of experience in the film industry with over 50 films under his belt.

Marc, I’m delighted to talk to you again. And welcome back to the podcast. How are you?

Marc: [00:00:32] I’m good. Thank you so much for this opportunity. It’s great to be here again.

Sophia: [00:00:37] We’ve talked before about The G Word film. We got to know about the project  and the inspiration behind it and for anyone who hasn’t listened to that episode yet, please check it out, dig down into our episodes and you’ll find our first episode there with Marc.

What we’re going to talk about today is your background as an activist and a filmmaker. And you’ve mentioned before in our previous conversation, how, within that body of work that you have already, you, you’ve never shied away from challenging conversations or topics. And you’ve certainly covered a lot of challenging topics within your body of work of all your films.

That’s  for sure, so in terms of giftedness, what I thought we could have a chat about today was  those controversies within giftedness and talk about those stories that you are unraveling within the film.

Of people who aren’t  the typical stereotype of giftedness. And so I thought we could dive a little into what some of those controversies are that you uncovered through your journey and what some of those different expressions of giftedness have been for you. So I guess my first question is.

We talked a little bit briefly in our last conversation about trauma and looking at giftedness through that lens of trauma. So in terms of when you did your research on the film and you follow those different journeys, how did the trauma express itself, where was the most obvious or what stories can you share with us about where that, that came up?

Marc: [00:02:25] Wow. So there’s trauma in every story that we will be sharing in The G Word documentary. So I say extensively, there’s seven stories in the film. That’s where we landed.  We have we’ve, we debate that internally on the team. Sometimes there’s eight, sometimes there’s nine, but I really think there’s seven stories.

So there’s seven places on the map where you’re going to go on, with us on a journey. And. Each of those places in spaces is a point on the map where trauma resides and that’s for sure. So let me Telegraph for you, some of those traumatic flashpoints. So number one you meet Ilon and Church or both, who

were transgender and gender nonconforming youth or artists. Okay. There is trauma baked into being a transgender or gender diverse person in the United States. No question. Okay. That’s one. We take you to San Luis, Arizona, which is on the border with with Mexico in Southern Arizona, in the desert. Primarily Latin X immigrant migrant families.

Some, really poor and impoverished families, poverty and racism and border politics. There’s trauma. We have a story on the native American reservation in then in the Northern part of Minnesota where there’s a gifted and talented program inside of tribal school. There, the kids are dealing with multiple generations of trauma, that go back to a phenomenon called the boarding schools, where they took native kids from their parents and they forcibly put them into these institutions, just horrific stuff.

Twice exceptionality and neurodiversity come with great trauma. We meet we spend a lot of time in our film with a family here in Northern California called the Hayes family. And we learn a lot about the trauma that comes with being 2E through their family experience. So yeah, we spend time in Baltimore and, deal with racism and giftedness and what it’s like to be black and gifted.

We’re in a prison. I told you in the last podcast briefly. So we have not shied away from trauma. And trauma is a huge theme in every story. But I’m not here to beat you up. That’s just not my, I don’t believe that’s my job. I believe my job is actually more about giving you hope or leaving you with a sense of possibilities, prospects for change prospects, for making things better.

You are talking to a guy today who believes that the glass is half full. Okay. That’s just really how I live. That’s how I roll. If I didn’t believe that I probably couldn’t get up every morning. Especially in this moment in our country and our, in our, on our planet, we’re living through a horrific pandemic.

The United States is going through huge upheaval and craziness. If I, if I. If I got bogged down by that, if I really woke up and believe that the glass was half empty, I wouldn’t be able to do this work. I take on tough subject matter. I’ve dealt with PTSD, I’ve dealt with poverty, I’ve dealt with aids,  I’ve dealt with, all kinds of traumatic stories and, trauma is, one side of the story.

The other side is empowerment. Okay. Those two things always sit side by side there, but for the grace of whatever you believe, some people have resilience in them to combat the traumatic aspects of their journey. And I can’t tell you exactly why, because it’s very complicated.

Each of us is a unique expression of our human journey. But I am a guy that has a deep well of resilience. Okay. I somehow know that I am okay. And I have a background where, my mother and grandparents were Holocaust survivors from Poland. I’m openly gay. I’ve been living with HIV since the late nineties.

These are all things I talk about very openly in all aspects of my life. You know my storytelling because I feel that as a documentary storyteller, like if I’m gonna, if I’m to, if truth is stranger than fiction, I’m in the business of truth, either when I’m working, when I’m making nonfiction, I also make fiction, but that’s another podcast or another time, when I’m making documentaries, like it’s actually who I am is in the room.

Okay. It’s ostensibly I’m there, right? I will never not be Marc making this movie. Okay. And the fact that I am gay, that I am HIV positive, and I am Jewish that I am a child of Holocaust survivors, all these things. Our filters through which I see my world every day. That’s the world I walk through every day.

So I bring those filters to the, the stories that I encounter in giftedness. And that’s what kind of got my tentacles. I noticed the trauma because of my own experiences with trauma and. What I understood very quickly was that there were amazing people in the room trying to help folks, find that resilience.

There’s an incredible community around people who are struggling and, really holds people close, in this gifted world and this gifted landscape that I have been able to witness and encounter that are, taking care of one another. So it’s not all just darkness. If it was only darkness, let’s just  it’s call it a day.

You know what I mean? There’s always light and I really try to show you the light and really show you the hope and really remind you that there, that hope and light are right there. Even if you can’t see them, they’re right there over there. Let’s move our attention over there. I think that there’s a certain kind of Comfort that I have with these dark stories.

I, I can, it, sometimes it’s clear to me why sometimes it’s not, I just feel comfortable, talking about these difficult subjects with people and being in, the moment with my characters, and creating environments of trust, where they open up to me,  I talk a lot about Ilon who is our trans character and

they, they met me when they were female, and were Gabby and they were 16 years old. And because of the trust that we created, they came out to me as trans, and that didn’t just happen because, it happened because I was listening and supportive to them on their journey.

And that’s the thing like with documentary, like these are real people with blood, sweat, and tears,  I have a soul, they have a soul.  There’s something that happens here that you have to trust and,  you’re giving someone an opportunity to represent you and to put you into a movie and to tell your story.

But, I don’t see myself as telling other people’s stories. I see myself in a collaborative dynamic with my subjects and characters, and I really want them to be a part of the storytelling and figure out ways to contribute or have their own voice in this journey. Because that too is a part of the empowerment piece for me.

More transcript here...

Like with a Ilan, Ilan is an artist and a Ilan is an animator and they are contributing like to the movie. And that’s vitally important to me. It’s not just about me taking the story and putting it in, on screen. It’s about how can we all create something? It may sound a little like idealistic, but how can we all create something where everyone has an experience and feels some ownership of their part in it.

And in the last podcast with you, I talked about how, when I interview people, I try to make people feel like they’re the most important person in the world for 30 minutes or however long I’m seeing, sitting across from them. I do that with every person, no matter what their sort of, their social status might be, you might be the most important doctor, in the history of medicine or you might be someone in prison, I’m going to treat you with the same level of respect and I’m going to like actively listen for the points in your story that I can help bring out through documentary storytelling that might be relatable to an audience.

Yeah. It’s, it’s trauma is a sess pool of, potential for storytelling, and there’s a lot of ways to dive into that pool. And a lot of strategies for, diving in and thinking that, it can be done in a way that is helpful for people. I really believe in hope.

When you watch the movie, there’ll be some dark scenes, there’ll be some tough scenes. There’ll be some chilling scenes you talked about, tear-jerking scenes, but they’ll also be laughter and joy and all that, because I really think those things co-exist side by side and we as storytellers, we get to highlight what we want to highlight in that process.

Sophia: [00:10:25] Yeah,

absolutely, and I completely understand where you’re coming from there because I’m very collaborative in nature as well and really liked to be able to bring people in and have that sort of joint ownership over the process. And certainly what I’m trying to do with Our Gifted Kids too. And. A lot of the stories I hear certainly have those elements of trauma.

And I think it’s certainly a connection point, but like you say, there is also a lot of hope in the world and a lot of people doing great things and it, I know that your filming and you’ve talked about this already. One of the short films that you have out and people can see in a number of small videos that you’ve spun out of the film looks at the I’m thinking of the North shore district.

Where it’s quite an affluent post code, zip code. And they had someone come in and do a review of their high achievers program or their gifted program. And they got that feedback that actually it’s like a, I think the words were a country club, your gifted programs, basically a country club because of the sort of affluent white students.

That were within that program. And it’s really interesting to see. I think it was the leader of that district in the video take on board, that information grapple with it. And. And then seek to do something about it, which is that it is that moment of hope in that journey. And there’s a lot of people out there certainly trying to improve.

And in that situation I think they went into universal screening and had some great results in finding a more diverse student body that were gifted because they were looking for them. So a lovely story there about race and about, like the movie says who gets to be gifted in America, but people doing something about that.

Tell us a little bit on the flip side, you mentioned already St. Luis. I think I’ve said that correctly, St. L uis on the iborder of Mexico. Quite a different situation there, again, another story, very much about race. So tell us a little bit more about what’s going on in St. Luis, which is. Not affluent, it’s on the border of Mexico and quite a different demographic to our, country club in the North.

So tell us a little bit about that.

Marc: [00:13:03] Sure. So it’s actually San Luis

yeah. All good. No worries. Yeah,  there’s. So officially San Luis is the second poorest zip code in all the state of Arizona. So it’s pretty poor. And when you go there, it feels poor. Okay. That’s just something I can say, because I’ve been there. I was very interested in.

Finding stories that sort of dove into sort of the experience of Latino and Latin X people in gifted what it might look like, what it might be to deal with your immigrant status and being gifted and what it might mean to be an English language learner. Okay. And so in that way, San Luis is a perfect place to explore those stories because that’s the entire town,  that’s really who lives there.

And this story I uncovered was it in the sort of backdrop of the, intense border politics. Of what was going on in my country. Okay. So under Trump, it’s been crazy with the U S Mexico border and his whole immigration policy. So we’ve been making the movie over the arc of the Trump years.

So these things are filtering into my own thinking all the time. And again, education is a social contract, so I’m thinking a lot about who gets to do what and. So the way that I discovered the story was that here in the United States, we have these advanced learners summer camps for students, they will, there’s the others also there’s these zooming out there’s these place called these talent development centers.

And they’re usually connected with very large and influential research universities. And so there’s about nine or 10 of them around the country. Maybe more than that, but nine that are really well known. And one of them is affiliated with Johns Hopkins and they’re called the Center for Talented Youth.

And they’ve been around since the seventies. And, I was doing some storytelling work with The G Word in Baltimore and they happened to be in Baltimore. And so I met with them and we had a really good meeting. They really liked this sort of spirit and kind of your stall of this movie. And it started a long form conversation because I was very interested in  they, clearly cost a lot of money to go to these camps, but the center for talented youth has a robust scholarship program.

They’re really, they have had, a track record of being an institution that was trying to do the interesting things in Baltimore with disenfranchised kids. They also are a big a part of this. Yeah, like the history of giftedness and the 20th century. So there’s there was a man named Julian Stanley.

He was a big part of the Movement, the push for acceleration and in, in the sixties and seventies. And this was all hubbed out of that, out of Johns Hopkins. And eventually that moved to another university. But there’s no question that CTY or the center for talent is an important stakeholder in this gifted landscape.

And, long story short, I struck up a nice relationship with the executive director at the time. And I met her at one of these advanced learners, summer camps, and spent the day with her and one of my producers. And we just walked around and talked to students and talk to teachers and different staffers.

And she orchestrated this very thoughtful lunch because she knew I was looking for stories. And one of the, one of the young gentlemen at that. Table was a 20 something who had grown up in San Luis. And so as people were going around the table at lunch, just introducing themselves, like at any lunch table, right?

You say who you are, what you’re doing, you’re where you’re from. And this young man is telling me that he grew up at the border, and, With telling his story and I pulled them aside and I’m like tell me more about where you grew up and, he was describing the place and how there was this man named Homero, who was the guidance counselor who had been this kind of, Unmatched cheerleader, for the community and its kids to unpack, the potential of these young people. And as I dug more into it with Elena was the executive director. This town sends more students to CTY learner camps than any other town of its kind in the nation. And it competes with the top 10 in the world.

So they’re performing extremely well. And it’s an interesting question. Like why is this poor town that is mostly immigrant, mostly migrant, mostly English language learners, mostly Latin X doing so well, especially when you put them alongside all these other white affluent districts. And so it just was immediately in the wheelhouse of the movie.

Because, and when we went there to film. It was clear that there was this kind of communal commitment to the kids. So it’s a town about 25,000 people, we’re walking around, we literally met the mayor. Like that’s the kind of town where you meet the Mayor, right?

Yes. Everyone knew we were, everyone knew we were coming to film every way. We were on the news, it was that kind of thing. And. Because these people care so much about their kids. And so there’s a beautiful virtuous cycle that is just like unfolding there every day, every school year. And it’s not something that happened overnight.

It’s been going on for over 20 years. And so they’ve had many of their students go to some of the top universities around the country and then they come back and reinvest in this town. And so that cycle of virtuosity was really appealing to me from a story perspective. And the fact that it was happening at the border was remarkable because it went so against the stereotype of what, like the mainstream media was feeding us about like life at the border and you go down there and it just doesn’t feel like what the media tells you, it’s going to feel like.

And it just was a delightful place to uncover. Students and families and teachers and administrators and community members who are all in for these kids. And it’s brutally hot in the Southern Arizona desert in the summers, like 120 degrees. And we were there filming in the summer. And I always joke what do you think kids are doing in the heat of the summer in San Luis?

They’re going to summer school because they’re in their indoors and air conditioning. And so they spend their summers just when they’re not going to CTY, because there are cause CTY is for a certain age, like learning engineering, learning, chemistry, learning, really being pushed to their, capacity and their potential.

It’s a pretty special place. The other thing I highlight about San Luis and the movie, and this is something I encountered a lot in, more poor and impoverished communities. Is that the way they got these kids excited was through music and culture, music and art. And so it was the music pathway that they emphasize to get these kids to learn how to love themselves.

So through music and art, these kids felt a sense of self worth. And then they were, had an easier time transferring over that excitement into math and science. And so it’s just, the whole story was just like brimming with beautiful views.

Sophia: [00:19:50] I love this story. I totally do. Having just said that  worked in Scotland with a cohort of, they have some of the most deprived areas within Europe, in these pockets of Scotland.

And I worked as a program manager there where we use arts to instill that self-worth resilience and confidence into these very vulnerable young teenagers to then help them shift them on to educational work and there’s something about the arts as a gateway. It’s really lovely. And why I just love about this story of San Luis.

And when I refer to having tears and getting the tissue in watching your videos it’s actually not about the trauma that sometimes, it’s discussed I think that in a way connects us, it’s these moments of absolute beauty, where people are stepping up and in this video San Luis

which I just encourage everyone to watch, it shows us the power of a teacher who believes a teacher who gets it, it’s not about resources. If they can get these results, if they can meet the needs of these students and all of their students individually, that, it shows us that the barriers, aren’t perhaps what we imagined, but it’s having the right adults there.

And I think one of the lines that I might get this slightly wrong was the. One of the teachers said, these children are our hidden treasures, so that sense of we’re doing it for the kids is incredibly strong and beautiful. And if we can have more people like that in the world who had just there to respond and meet kids where they’re at.

And you also talk in the video about, there. It’s it, they’re the way that they have helped these children to grow. It’s basically teaching them how to do hard work, teaching them to dream a but, how to make things happen, which is a huge thing for gifted children that. Resilience in terms of doing hard work and doing hard things.

And so they’ve really got this wonderful dynamic and I love that you’ve told this story of San Luis it’s one that we can all treasure, I think respect. So it’s really lovely.

Marc: [00:22:06] So I’d like to just on that really quickly. So what, so your audience understands what these shorts are. These shorts are a snapshot and then the movie will go even deeper, right?

So th the shorts are really a way for you to get, where are done some filming. This is the sort of, this is the tone of the film. These are this, the point of view of the film. This is the visual style, the pace and the editing, the music. And if you like it. Make sure to come back.

Sophia: [00:22:30] I look forward to hearing more of what they’re doing there it’s an absolute gem, so we’l shift  slightly there in terms of unexpected places to, to consider gifted expression.

Another one of your shorts as you talked about earlier centers around sexuality and one of the stories is about a transgender, as you said she was Gabby when you met her and and then they  , disclose to you about their transgender journey and right.

Because I want to touch on this because I think when we talk about giftedness there is an immediate misunderstanding about giftedness that it’s this kind of elite thing. But the truth is San Luis shows us it’s, gifted children are everywhere regardless of  demographic or race or culture.

But also I think something that we don’t look at very often is sexuality and how giftedness is expressed with that additional layer of sexuality. So I think it’s a really important thread.  In terms of the shorts that we’ve seen so far, and obviously you dive deeper into that within the movie as well.

Marc: [00:23:53] Yeah. What was interesting was it very early on when I was making The G Word? And I was started getting invited to conferences and being in gifted and talented spaces, if you will. I was being confronted with the fact that there were a lot of transgender and non-binary and gender non-conforming kids and teens and adults in these spaces.

And. I just noticed it anecdotally, it just was there. I, couldn’t not notice it because I’m queer and I’m an advocate of trans youth and I believe in, transgender empowerment and that’s baked into who I am as an activist and one of my own interests and priorities. And I’ve done other work with trans filmmakers and I’ve done other trans projects.

So my sort of, again, my tentacles were poised to notice this information and because of Ilon and Church and meeting them early on with the filming, both of them.  I found them both to be fascinating and amazing people. And I just wanted to tell their story. And I was also, there was a, the backdrop of their story was also of interest because I met them at an early entrance program where they were basically teenagers going to full-time college.

And that’s a special phenomenon that is available in some universities here across the country. And I met them at a  like a, not very prestigious school. It’s Cal state, Los Angeles. It’s not Stanford. It’s not MIT. It’s not some big Ivy league school. It’s a public university. No, as city campus, mostly commuters people of every age, every background.

And so these kids were blending in and you’re just going to college. And I thought that was really interesting. And that program in general was very diverse that early entrance program at Cal state LA, but Church and Ilon, then Gabby were super interesting students within that community that I encountered.

And so I go on glommed onto them because I was just interested in them. And not an out of that kind of there started to be this. Just increasing number of young people like them that were appearing in the rooms. I was, occupying in this movie and I have a very clear memory. I was at one conference in Chicago with, for gifted, where I was giving a keynote in 2017.

And I,  show, I must have shown the Gabby video, to that audience. And that night I was surrounded by parents of trans kids, and yeah. And  it just was so apparent that there was something going on. And. So much. So there’s  what’s going on here?

Has there been any research, has anyone ever looked into this? And so from a storytelling perspective, I figured out that there had been some research. There was some, there’s been some interesting research on transgender and autism, transgender and neurodiversity. And I just was interested in the fact that, that.

I needed to have, I wanted to have an LGBTQ story arc because it had really merged,  through my interactions with her, with a very prominent  author named  Andrew Solomon who wrote a book called far from the tree and far from the tree is a book it’s a very big read. It’s like 1200 pages, but.

The way that the book is basically a book about parents who had children, that they didn’t expect. That’s what the book’s about. Okay. And each chapter is as a different focus. And one chapter is on having a deaf child one chapter’s on having a dwarf child, one chapters on having a gifted or prodigy child, one chapters on having a transgender child.

And so I started seeing all these sort of, abnormal narratives, quote unquote in the same kind of space. And so I was just predisposed to it and we spoke very openly. Andrew and I, when I interviewed him about. The idea that when you are LGBTQ plus, when you’re raised as an openly gay person, when you grow up in a, as a gay person, you are predisposed to parsing out identity and experience and knowledges in ways that are pretty nuanced in part for survival, just to make sense of the world, to navigate the treacherous way of being in the world. And so he says very eloquently in Martin, my interview with him, About that. And and I’ve always felt that I knew that my gayness early on was a huge part of my giftedness. I didn’t connect those dots until I was an adult, but I know that was my understanding of the world, like when I was in those gifted programs, this is the joke I tell I was a very popular kid.

Like I was, my social skills were off the charts. My leadership skills were off the chart. I was good in theater. Good art, good. In language arts, great at history, super high achieving high-performing child. In those gifted programs, there were a lot of geeks and dweebs and kids who were bullied and struggling.

And I always used to fight for them. I used to stand up for them. I was a big social justice warrior, back in the day. And. I attribute that to my sense of knowing that I was different because I was gay. I didn’t know. I didn’t know the name. I didn’t know how to name it when I was seven years old, but that’s what was going on.

I had a sense of being other in the world. I could parse that meeting out at a very early age. Okay. Yeah. So I was able to figure those things out early. And then, so when trans kids were coming at me in this space of gifted, it was natural for me to want to explore it. Anecdotally as a storyteller.

And then as I did research, I saw that others in the kind of traditional research settings in universities and scholars were also researching. So it wasn’t just that I was like dreaming this up. When there are a lot of kids in the room, you start to notice them. It’s just how the world works.

And so I couldn’t not notice it. And so yeah, so the Ilon and Church’s presence in the movie is very much about exploring that question. Is there a correlation between gender identity and the brain and intelligence and creativity and giftedness and. Was thinking about that together, it’s really just, it’s another part of identity that I feel like is in the room, and I think I said on the other podcast that, we treat giftedness and neurodiversity in this movie as a vertical of identity. And so it’s your sex, your gender, your race, your class, your zip code. These are all verticals of identity experience that all show up with you when you walk into a classroom as a child.

And so if you have, a transgender child in your classroom, it would be who of you to be trained, to try to understand what’s going on with that child. It would behoove us as a society to understand that, I think that, this sort of long and the short of like why trans is so challenging, in this moment for so many has a lot to do with it.

It’s just new, it’s just, we have, and anything, anytime things are new and largely misunderstood and charting new ground. We do, people are like, what is this? That’s the thing is that new ideas around identity and how people express their identities.

Always throw people off, in large number. And that’s just how identity works. But the more we talk about these things openly, the more that we lean in to support, the more that we think of ourselves as allies of people who are different from ourselves, the more we will see that gender is not a binary expression.

I just really don’t. I think it is. And I’m delighted to be living in a century where we finally seem to have. A growing number of people who are open to the prospects of that. And I don’t think it’s going to be like the most, easily resolved set of, aspects of our lives, because I think gender is very complicated for a lot of people who are not comfortable with the idea of non-binary expressions of gender.

But. From my perspective, these stories belong  in The G Word because giftedness is everywhere.

Sophia: [00:31:15] Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. And I think you, you really hit on something there that I can relate to. I wonder or feel that at the moment, because back in the day you just didn’t come across.

Trans children at school who are transitioning or even acknowledging that, or, coming out as trans. But with, I feel like we’re starting to see that now, but those children and parents are very much those trailblazers and in the decades to follow, it will, like you said, become normal life because it’s a new thing now, we’ll all get used to that and there’ll be less and we will know.

Where those children and parents are coming from will be better able to support them and understand them because yeah. Within my communities I know a few parents with trans children who have gone through that process. But I see that as this I think first wave of coming out in that space that can only be a good thing for the future, but certainly suddenly I think we need to.

I acknowledge and work to understand and support. And so it’s good to have that conversation within the gifted conversation as well and acknowledge that, of course, giftedness is everywhere and those expressions of giftedness  are everywhere as well. And that’s a part of that beautiful expression of being, neurodiverse and but also part of our identity and who we are.

Yeah. So thank you for touching on those issues and bringing them. And I look forward to digging deeper in the film, as you say your shorts. So your videos are just a snippet and a top level. So certainly look forward to digging deeper into those issues within the film, when it comes out. Now I’m very conscious of the time I had one last question before we wrap up these you’re okay for that, because there’s so much to talk about.

Okay, great. I was listening to a conversation that you were having recently with Nadja from Unleash Monday which is another podcast for gifted adults, which is great to listen to. And within that conversation, you were talking about the I, essentially IQ and the, how.

Gifted education relates to special education. And it’s not something that I’ve seen come up in your shorts, but I wondered if that was something that you’d come across in this journey within the film. And it piqued my interest because. About six months or so ago, I met with a friend of a friend.

Who’s a teacher within a special school because I was interested in how my gifted children and give to children, which are very much at one end of the spectrum how their their challenges might relate. Or if there was any connection to the challenges and the way that children within the special ed sphere experienced the world because in both of them in their extremeness and difference from center.

And I was interested that you were talking about that recently as well. Is that something that has come up within that journey that you’ve had.

Marc: [00:34:41] Absolutely. Absolutely. So the movie really does contemplate gifted ed alongside special ed. And what’s interesting is that in a lot of rural school districts here in the United States, the gifted ed coordinator and the special ed coordinator is the same person in part because of resources, because there’s so few.

Positions in some of these districts. So these people wear multiple hats, but it’s interesting that in an under-resourced environment, they put those two things together, because they see them in the same way. And they’re broadly a part of special needs intelligence, if you want to think of it like that.

And this sort of. Strange sauce of it is that, in part thanks to families and advocates and activists, special ed, had some, a wave of like explosive consideration that got it on the table in the 20th century, primarily in the sixties and seventies where, those families and those advocates and activists were able to get things changed and get things into law that got their kids, assurances in this kind of, free and fair, appropriate education model.

And, for all kinds of complicated reasons, the gifted ed side of that conversation became less and less. Of a priority, right? So in an environment where education, resources, was shrinking which was like very much the eighties it was really easy to say, Oh, the smart kids don’t need to don’t need special services because the number smart kids do, right?

Like you can make, you can justify what we have to fix that. Yeah. Especially in the language of, up down smart, dumb, all that sort of, not so nice way of thinking about the world. That’s why I like non-binary thing, because it’s like it leans into this sort of nuance of identity that is much more realistic and probably likely than not.

The, yes, there are people who are. Very much on this side of gifted very much on that side of special ed, but there are more people who reside in complex nuance. Aspects of intelligence. And we, the movie does lean into all kinds of things about sort of new ideas about intelligence.

Okay. So there are a lot of movements in the 21st century that are rethinking what even intelligence means and the, the movie does lean into this idea that. We’re overburdened by IQ. And that IQ is not a fair assessment of, of anyone’s intelligence. It’s bias, it’s Euro centric.

It’s, essentially doesn’t meet that need the child or the student or the person where they are. Given their cultural or other aspects of their experience. It’s interesting that earlier in our conversation, you talked about, giftedness and he used the word regardless of identity or regardless of gender, regardless of.

And I actually, and I guess, I understood what you were saying, but I think that’s a really simple sort of. We can just change our word there. It’s not regardless of identity, it’s actually because of identity. And I think, or gifting it’s, it operates like identity, and so I think, whenever you w when gifted is in the room, someone’s sex, gender, race, zip code classroom in the room, it’s just, that’s how that works.

And. You never bring you can’t you always bring your whole self to given moment. And so I think that’s, that’s extremely important. And yeah, Scott Barry Kaufman, who’s one of the experts that we interviewed in the movie. He talks a lot about personalized i ntelligence and how intelligence is,  much more personal than not.

And I think that is Likely, we’re, I probably feel comfortable sort of thinking about all these big issues is that it’s, each person is unique, and there are things like industry standards, education standards, there’s certain ways we have to put structure around conversations that help us understand programs and services and protocols and evaluation.

All, I get all that stuff like I’m not like lofty in my sort of, sense of reality. There has to be a way of, creating common language and common understanding of how we serve these students. But, in an increasingly personalized environment, each of us is unique and, if anything, the pandemic has shown us that, in a really powerful ways, right?

Like each student is unique and how they are not being served in the pandemic. Think of it, just take that basically out to the larger culture, in a non pandemic context. And it becomes pretty scalable to think about it that way. You just, things like pandemics show where the cracks are, show where the inequities are, show us where the challenges are.

But man, once we get out of this pandemic, we got to think differently about how to fix those challenges, highlight the strengths of people. I think, I’ve talked a lot about how there were this deficit based culture here in the United States, and I’m imagining it’s probably pretty similar in Australia focusing on problems we can fix as opposed to strengths we can highlight and cultivate.

And it seems so. Captain obvious, but for lots of reasons, we just don’t focus on people’s strengths. And we just, and we, and this is the century where we going to either break out of that stuff entirely and rethink systems and education among those systems or not. I really believe that I say this a lot.

I think the 20th century created a lot of problems. The 21st century, we got to fix those problems and that doesn’t, and that doesn’t mean that I try to fault everybody who comes before us, it’d be like, great work was done, always. That’s,  that’s, narrative of progress, but at the expense of what, and so we have, we always have the opportunity to learn and relearn how to. You know how to do this thing called civil society, and if there are, huge numbers of students not being served, isn’t that a worthwhile conversation to have, like, why are we not serving them and how can we serve them better?

And maybe there’s more there, right?

Sophia: [00:40:07] Yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. There’s so much in that. It’s hard to know where to start. I think one of the challenge of giftedness in terms of that broader understanding of giftedness is certainly interesting related to that deficit model of where we focus on people’s deficits or where they’re having challenges and where they’re not being seen to be typical. But for some reason in giftedness we think giftedness is all.

Sunshine and lollipops, that’s the misnomer and the broader community doesn’t have that understanding that actually within giftedness, there are lots of challenges. There are challenges relating to the way that you’re experiencing or perceiving the world and being in the world as a gifted person because you’re so highly sensitive and that causes a lots of challenges as well.

So very much like you said, it’s about seeing. That wholeness.  And it’ll be interesting to see if, language and perception shifts around that, over the next 10 years, certainly, hopefully And,

Marc: [00:41:08] I think we’re all on a journey, I think that it, this movie for what it’s worth has been fortunate to join with that journey at a pretty dynamic moment.

And in the narrative of what gifted looks like in this century, what intelligence looks like in this century. So yeah. I’ve certainly been enjoying that. And I really want to partner with people who are passionate about, steering this journey and interesting and important directions.

We’ve got to ask as these tough and important questions and the movie hopes to be of service, to this, these conversations. I don’t think that the movie can be all things to all people. There’s only one movie and it’ll be about 95 minutes or whatever. And it can’t, It, our stories will be the stories that I’ve selected, that we have curated, that we are putting into a package that we hope will make, broader sense to a large audience, but what we can support our public conversations about things that may not be featured in the movie.

So the way that I highlight that for people is that. You may not see your exact family in this movie. Okay. That doesn’t mean that we’re not saying your child isn’t gifted. That doesn’t mean that your version of giftedness isn’t real or important or powerful or even, potentially worth, being featured in and.

In a movie. But these are the things that I have spent time noticing and uncovering, and I’m trying to package them in ways I feel will be of interest to the largest possible audience. So I think if people come with that, open-heartedness when they watch our film, they will be surprised and delighted.

We have had pushback, from different corners of the gifted community, around different things that we’ve prioritized and. And people are allowed to believe whatever they want to believe, but the way I always frame it, this is go out and make a movie. If you’re, it’s so important to you to, chime in about moving on, making, go out and make your own, you go out, you go try and do that.

And you see how easy it is, how easy it is.

Sophia: [00:42:50] Absolutely. Absolutely. No, I look, I can’t, wait to see the movie.  As you said at the beginning, it’s in post production at the moment we’re looking for early 20,22 release, which is very exciting. So I just want to wrap up with how people can support the movie.

Our Gifted Kids is a friend and partner of The G Word film, and I would certainly encourage. Anyone out there who’s in this space to, to have  a look at The G Word film website and look into that it’s very accessible and it gives us the opportunity to support the work that Marc is doing.  And so Marc, where else can people find you?

How else can they support that what’s going on here and get involved in this conversation? Because I think this is a great. Spotlight on giftedness and certainly a wonderful opportunity for us to have all of those broad conversations.

Marc: [00:43:44] I certainly encourage people to go to our website, follow us on social media.

We are active on social media. I’m a real believer in the power of social media. I try to create a welcoming and inclusive tone in our social media. So I think people will enjoy, following us and being in community with us. In the earlier podcast, I talked a little bit about our storytelling initiative, which involves photo-sharing called hashtag #mygiftedstory.

So please go to our website to learn more about that. Anyone anywhere in the world can contribute to that tapestry of photos. We’d love to have thousands of visual contributions from around the world to create that visual tapestry. And you can learn more about our impact manifesto, which is our statement about how we want to change hearts and minds about giftedness.

It’s, in part focused on US initiatives, but I think a lot of those will translate over to Australian, supporters. What about our impact manifesto? And yeah, you’ve joined our partnership yet. So organizations of all kinds that are committed to gifted and talented and neurodiverse education populations, services programs if you like this sort of look, feel, smell, taste of these, of what you heard here today, go to our website, look at the link and you can join with us.

Partnership starts at $250 US dollars, so we would be delighted and honored to have anyone who wants to join with us. Join with us and thank you so much for giving me a chance to be a part of your podcast and to amplify our message around this movie. It’s been great.

Sophia: [00:45:11] It’s been wonderful to talk to you.

I really appreciate the conversation and I feel like I’ve probably kept you up a little bit but thanks for being with us today its wonderful thanks.

Marc: [00:45:22] Thank you Sophia. 


#015 How do I talk to my gifted child about sex? With Dr Matt Zakreski

#015 How do I talk to my gifted child about sex? With Dr Matt Zakreski

Today I’m speaking with Dr Matt Zakreski about sex education for gifted kids. Dr Matt uses a  lifespan sex education model with a gifted education lens to talk about sex to our gifted kids.

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • Looking at sex education through the gifted perspective.
  • What gifted traits you need to consider during the sex education talks and puberty.
  • What to talk about during each phase of your child growing up.
  • 3 Biggest tips for parents – own the awkward, it’s a series of conversations, you don’t have to go it alone!

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“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 can you imagine… let’s use driving the car. You start driving the car and three years later, I’m going to teach you how to do it.” – Dr. Matt

“We’re going to change, start wearing deodorant, or we start having to shave, maybe wearing makeup, wearing a bra, does a bra have underwire, right? These are all sensory things that we have to consider.” Dr. Matt

“Then we get to that emotional overexcitability… All those emotions are going to be felt to like 14, on a one to 10 scale, which means when our kids crush. They’re going to 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.” – Dr. Matt


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Check out this episode!


Sophia Elliott: [00:00:00] Wow. I’m super excited to have Dr. Matt Zakreski  here with me today talking about a very important topic.

So Matt, you’re a psychologist. You were a school counselor you’re importantly for today’s conversation are a sex educator. Because we’re going to talk about sex education, because when I saw on your website that you did talks on sex education for gifted kids, I was immediately like, Oh my God, is it actually different?

So welcome. Welcome today. I’m super excited to have this conversation.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:00:46] Well, I’m excited to have this conversation with you. Thank you for joining me from halfway across the world. Super fun for me. Yeah, I mean, yeah, this is when we think about education for gifted  kids. It’s easy to think about. You know, the academic acceleration and the maker space and and independent projects and all that fun stuff.

And it’s important, but we also need to send sex and health education through the same lens through those same standards, because we want to educate well-rounded kids. And so adapting sex ed to the gifted and twice exceptional populations is a, I would say vital thing that we do. And like, yes, it’s a hard conversation to have if there there’s a lot of, you know eeek about it, but hopefully by the end of this hour, you’re going to feel a little bit better about it.

And we’ll give you some guideposts on how to talk to your kids and how to even get this in your schools.

Sophia Elliott: [00:01:43] Yeah, absolutely so important, especially in today’s media, saturated world. And so. This morning for me this evening for you, you’re coming to us from Philadelphia. Is that right? Outside Philly? Yeah.

And so it’s quite early in the morning here, so I’m going to confess to being half dressed. I’m in half jammies this morning, but I thought that’s okay. Importantly though, I’ve brushed my teeth. So you’ll be happy to know that there’s no bad breath, so, okay. Sex education and gifted kids.

I think my first question is how is that conversation different with gifted kids

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:02:29] And it’s different in a lot of ways, but what we’re going to start with is asynchrony. I think that’s the most important place to start. What we have is we have kids right in the asynchronous model who might be chronologically 10, intellectually 14, academically 15, emotionally nine, and have the physical skills of an eight year old.

So they’re, you know, and the more a kid has that  asynchrony , there’s more of a spread and  that spread leads to tension and stress. You know, I, I often reference a kid that I work with who he’s nine years old, he takes graduate level math courses. He’s brilliant, but he struggles to tie his shoes. And he said to me, more than once you like Dr Matt  how is it that, that I can go to this fancy college and take these fancy math classes and I’m screaming and crying because I cannot figure out how to tie my shoes and you know, and that’s asynchrony, right?

That’s it laid out there and what that’s going to mean for your gifted kids. Is that as they move into that age where chronologically their peers are going to start dating, being interested in, you know, going on dates and you know, we’re gonna start talking about puberty. They may not be at a developmental state where that sort of stuff is what they want to do, what they’re able to do.

And, and there’s a lot of frustration and pain that can come with that. You know, why is it that everybody else is going on, you know, to boy, girl parties, right? Why is it that everybody else is, is dating it? I don’t even know how to start that conversation because here’s the dirty little secret, the model for teaching kids, how to get along with each other has always sort of been, they’ll figure it out in schools, right?

And dating is incredibly complex and it’s very nuanced. And here we are just saying, you guys got this right. You’re all will be fine. And, and, and it’s not like kids can’t figure it out because we are all standing here and somehow teenagers have figured out how to make out with each other since the Dawn of time.

But in my line of work, if I can give kids tools to help, you know, sort of soften that landing and smooth that path, I’m going to always choose to do that because then we’re going to put them in positions to succeed and maybe help them avoid some of that pain and frustration.

Sophia Elliott: [00:05:06] Absolutely. It’s so tricky.

So like you say, giftedness is so complex already with the asynchrony and I totally hear I’ve got that kid who can’t do shoelaces, but can do crazy science  stuff and. Yeah. So there  is nothing more complicated than the human relationship. Let alone adding, that kind of dating sex stuff on top of that.

Like, Oh my God, my heart is aching for my kids already. So

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:05:36] it gets better. I promise

Sophia Elliott: [00:05:37] it gets better because I tell you now my eldest is like, nine this year, I’m not ready for that stuff. Like, I’m not, can we just stop there at nine? So there’s a lot of challenges. We’ve got asynchrony being a big factor.

So as a parent of gifted kids, what do I need to know about the giftedness and how that impacts their world when having these conversations about dating and sex with my kids.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:06:01] Yeah. So when we’re having these conversations, we need to think about three different kinds of overexcitabilities. I feel like, well, all five in show up, there’s three that we’re going to focus on.

The first one is the sensory overexcitability. So as your body starts to change, your knees are gonna hurt, your, you may be developing breasts, you may be developing pubic hair. Right. And I bet. I bet I’m the first person to say pubic hair  on this, on this podcast.

Am I right?

More Transcript here

Sophia Elliott: [00:06:30] You are, I’m going to send you a  certificate. Yeah, well done, I think there will be more firsts today..

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:06:37] Oh yeah. I mean, trust  me, that’s not the first time we’re going to do that either. But all of those things are sensory in nature. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to change our clothes. We’re going to change start  wearing deodorant, or we start having to shave Maybe wearing makeup, wearing a bra, does a bra have underwire, right?

These are all sensory things that we have to consider. One of the kids that I work with when he was going through puberty he came into my office one day and he sort of sat down and I could tell he was really grumpy about something. I said, what’s wrong. He goes, why does everyone, I go to school with smell terrible?.

And I laughed. I was like, well, that’s puberty for you buddy. Like, you know, you guys are, your bodies are changing and I know that’s a well-worn line, but it’s true. And I never noticed before I, it never bothered me before. He said, that’s because it’s changed. Right. You guys, your bodies are changing and what used to be go run around on the playground for awhile.

And we come in, it’s not a big deal, but now that you’re 12, 13 years old, there’s a difference to that. And he couldn’t regulate himself in school, math community at all, just because once he got became aware of that, he couldn’t. Get through that. So the sensory,

Sophia Elliott: [00:07:45] So he just, he just couldn’t focus on anything else because the smell is overwhelming because,

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:07:50] Overwhelming, and if you’ve ever sat through with tweens or teens, you probably understand what he’s talking about.

Right. I have, I’ve had some stinky kids in my room, but it’s fine. It’s part of the gig, I, I have less of a sensory over extendability and

then we get to that emotional over excitability, and it’s this sort of thing. All those emotions are going to be felt to like 14, a one to 10 scale, which means when  our kids crush. They’re going to crush hard and they’re going to get a little, they might get a little obsessive.

They might have their hearts broken and. And that is something we need to anticipate as adults, right? Because we can’t necessarily, we can’t keep our kids from getting their hearts broken. I mean, that’s not the point, but the idea is having those conversations. If you have a crush on somebody, what do you do?

Who’s ever had that explicit conversation because there’s a lot of social nuance to that, that our kids, especially if they are a little bit more concrete or a little bit more socially delayed, may struggle to navigate the complexities of that. And let’s be honest. We both know adults who’s, who struggled to navigate the complexities of that.

We have these conversations the better, or the more our kids are at least informed and have the ability to navigate this. And then lastly and I think that this is the one that tends to slide under the radar is the intellectual over excitability. Because. Ultimately relationships are about connection.

They’re about shared values. They’re about shared interests and it’s not just, who’s the prettiest on the playground. It’s about who do I connect with? Who do, who shares my values? Who is, who can hang with me? And what’ll end up happening is we need to set up our kids in a situation where they’re going to meet people who think like they think, and maybe it’s, I’m not saying that your kid loves Dungeons and dragons.

So he has to date somebody else who likes Dungeons and dragons. But somebody who gets the intensity of that world, who gets the engagement with that. And it’s like, Oh, you do D and D I’m more of a magic, the gathering person, but we both live that fantasy role playing life, teases that intellectual over excitability, because otherwise you just get bored, and it’s in, it has to be.

We have to make space for not only the physical attraction, but the intellectual attraction. And I think having that  conversation with your  kids empowers them to find people who really do meet them and make them happy rather than this sort of well who’s everybody else dating.

Sophia Elliott: [00:10:31] Yeah, absolutely. So three things that we’ve got the over it over excitability, sensory emotional and intellectual.

So sensory, all our kids are really different, sensory wise that can mean a whole bunch of different things. But the important thing to remember there is that when they go through those teenage years, it’s all going to be heightened and, and those consequences. So just can, I think, and I think the thing about sensory for me is it’s so individual and personal that you’ve got to take your kids word for it, so for example, in our family actually, so my husband has like super hearing and it drives me nuts because he’s, I can’t have a clock in the house, and he can hear the bass in the kids’ room at the far end of the house  and stuff like that. And he’s like, Aw, it’s just driving me crazy, but I’m good to take his word for the fact that it drives him crazy.

And so my kids have similar, quirks and a part of that I think is acknowledging are all very different experiences  of the world . So that’s only going to get more intense during those sort of big puberty changes potentially. And, and like you said, very distracting.

How can I possibly concentrate on schoolwork when I’m completely overpowered with smell the same way that you’re going to get overpowered with noise? So. I’m looking forward to that.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:11:57] Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:12:00] So I, and I also, I really resonate with what you’re saying about the crushes, cause we’re kind of at the crush age here in this household, we have, we’re having some of that experiences, kids at school, having crushes and as a, a couple of kids and their boyfriend girlfriend and figuring out what that means.

And I’ve had to had a conversation recently with one of my kids who was getting some attention from another child who obviously really thinks a lot of my child, but my child was like, Hm, not really feeling really uncomfortable and obviously feeling really uncomfortable. And it was actually feeling a little bit obsessive.

And obviously there, the demonstrating that crush in a way that was making my child feel uncomfortable and we had to have that conversation around firstly like when someone has a crush on you treading carefully with their feelings, but at the same time, it’s okay. If you don’t feel the same way.

So that’s tricky right. At any age, isn’t it. And so we, we, we can’t assume that our kids are going to know how to deal with that. We need to give them some strategies and really kind of help them talk through those issues. Okay, great. Noted. And finally that the intellectual compatibility. Yeah. Again, and that can be really hard for gifted kids, gifted people because you.

It can be very isolating being gifted. You don’t necessarily have a community of gifted people around you. And it’s not to say that if you’re gifted, you could only get, intellectual, happiness out of another gifted person. But finding someone who understands your intensity and your quirks is going to be really important.

So, okay. That’s very gifted, specific and really helpful. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty because the idea of sex ed is going to freak out a lot of parents, because in generations past, I’m not sure. Yeah. Well, Right. Do I talk about it? And I look, I have to say, and I’m possibly, I’m going to have to give a shout out to my mom today because when I was growing up.

Yep, absolutely. My mom was actually a midwife during those formative years.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:14:20] Wow. That’s so cool.

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:21] All right. So we had some very Frank conversations and we actually had this pop-up book which was this biologically anatomically, correct? Pop-up book of the whole kind of process those genitals popping up.

There was this baby in a womb popping out. It’s the most incredible book I’ve got it somewhere still. It’s in a box in the shed and I’ve got to dig it out for my kids. So thanks to mom. I’m totally cool talking about this today with everyone. But not everyone’s going to be okay about that stuff. And I think what I would like you to talk about is.

I think parents get stuck at this idea that the sex ed thing is all about the conversation about intercourse, but it’s not, there’s so much more to it than that.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:15:08] Yeah. And I think that you hit the nail on the head, right? So here in the States, right? Most schools, if they have sex ed at all is in eighth grade eight, right before they go to high school.

And at that point you’re probably at least two years into puberty, maybe three. Right. We know that puberty starting earlier and earlier all over the world. So can you imagine that you say, look, let’s use driving the car, right. Okay. You’re going to start driving the car in three years later, I’m going to teach you how to do it.

So if we start the sex ed conversation in kindergarten and grade one grade two, right. All the way through, up through university and university should have. Sex ed classes as well. And I’ll tell you a really funny story about that later. You know, like a little  teaser guys. Okay. It was having a meeting when I was talking to school about this and I was explaining to them how life, what we call life span, sex education.

It’s going to be five weeks for the kindergartners first graders, second graders on all the way up the chain and people were nodding and they were taking notes and they were generally agreement, but there was one, one dad in the corner I saw him and he was sorta like, just not a very happy face, so I said sir,.

You look upset, I love to engage with you in a dialogue. And he looks at me dead in the eye and he goes, I just, I just, I just, I don’t think it’s appropriate. They’re going to be talking to my kindergarten or about blowjobs.

Sophia Elliott: [00:16:35] Oh wow.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:16:36] And I, took a beat, and he said, well, sir, I’ll, I’m happy to let you know that that’s not a conversation we have with our kindergarteners because that’s inappropriate.

Okay. Kindergarten. Doesn’t need to know that stuff. I kindergarten needs to know what the name of their body parts are. And kindergarten needs to know about hygiene. How do you keep yourself clean? Right. And then we build in things like, how do you like yourself? How do you like other people? How do you make friendships?

How do you know when something is more than a friendship? But by that point we’ve developed, we’ve built on it, like climbing a staircase all the way up to the grade six, seven, eight, when these things are starting to happen. So the idea is that foundationally we’re giving the kids the information they need from a very young age.

So they know what the name of their body parts are, and they know how to stand up for themselves. And they know what a good friend feels like and  for our kids our  gifted kids our neuro-diverse kids who might be a little socially delayed or asynchronous being explicit about those conversations. Is really important.

I know you mentioned, right? Um, that there’s a kid at the kid. Who’s getting attention from someone else and doesn’t really like that. So part of a good comprehensive lifespan sex education program is, is how to have those conversations say, I’m flattered that you like me. I’m flattered that you’re interested in me.

I unfortunately don’t feel the same way about you. I value you as a person. I just don’t have that level of attraction to you. And that becomes part of the discourse part of the dialogue. I mean, it’s not, it’s not about not hurting because you can’t avoid hurt.. And  maybe its giving our kids the tools for both kids on that conversation to treat eachother  with empathy and respect.

 So good sex ed is really a natural offshoot about social, emotional learning. We’re just putting it in a very specific type of relationship. And I think that’s really vital for our kids.

Yeah, absolutely. So I’d like to then touch on what those what the reasonable expectations that kids would know at different ages before I do that.

I just want to check. Right. So I can’t just teach my kids to never have sex abstinence, like lock them in a room till they’re 30. Is that an option? Does that work? Cause you know, just checking

Well, so the data on abstinence is so interesting, right? Because at least here in the States and I can’t speak for Australia but there’s many schools who do what we call abstinence only sex education.

And what we find in abstinence only sex education is it plays to this sort of binary style of thinking you’re either having sex or you’re not, but as adults. And we know that there’s all sorts of things we can do that are not sexual intercourse that are still sexual in nature that are romantic in nature.

And what it does is it creates this sort of duality of either as long as you’re not having sex. It’s okay. Or I can’t talk to anybody about this because I don’t know if I’ve broken a rule and we know our kids can be so black and white. And they’re very focused. So it’s the sort of thing, you hear things like, I can’t hold somebody’s hand because I don’t have a girlfriend or  if I kiss someone,  does that mean I’m a bad person and what the data show on this and it’s my favorite thing about  lifespan sex education is that abstinence education doesn’t impact pregnancy rates. Right? So if we do abstinence only sex ed, it has no impact on pregnancy rates in the school. But if we do lifespan sex education, and we talk to kids about what sex is, not only do fewer kids end up having sex, but some of the kids who are having sex stop, they return to  a space in which they’re not having sexual intercourse.

And that to me is that there’s so much power to that because we are, is we’re informing our kids where we’re treating them with respect and dignity and saying, there’s so much pressure on you both internally and externally  to be sexual with other people. And you may have felt those pressures, you may have succumb to those pressures already.

And it’s not like you’re tainted in some way. It’s not like your ship has sailed. You know, you broke the seal on the package and now you’re, we’ll never be able to sell you, like one of those toys, right. And like in the perfect package right. Your body and yourself doesn’t work that way.

The idea is making an informed choice is all based on your values is always going to lead you in the right direction. And if you decide to wait until you’re 30 to have sex, that’s your choice. If you just have to sex, when you’re 15, that’s your choice as well, whatever you want to do, I want you to be able to have all the information you need, having an adult or several of those that you can talk to about it and know that the choices we make are, are evolving.

They involve other people, and that a choice you make isn’t forever. If you should have sex, once that doesn’t mean I have sex now, right? Like this is just where I’m at, right? This is where I live. I tried that once I’ve decided to step away from it or, you know, or take a break, I know things are okay, but nobody talks to our kids about that.

And that’s, that is a, there’s an incredible suite of information to present to them.

Sophia Elliott: [00:22:07] Yeah, the more information they’ve had, the better decisions they can make around and having that real understanding that sex is not just this one thing. When we say sex, it’s like I said, this is so much that that covers in terms of intimacy and relationship and our very black and white kids can get, Oh my God confused so easily with their, like, I’ve, I’ve got a rules kid, I’ve got two kids who consider rules to be a challenge.

And I’ve got one who, yeah, right. They’re like, really, how can we play with that? And I’ve got one, who is  just like straight up and down a rule as a rule. And if I can just see  how that child could really within this context, take some of those rules and really, could get it out of hand.

So it’s important to have this really broad conversation about. Relationships and intimacy and all those different facets so that they’ve got all that information to, to help them make those good decisions. Okay. So early childhood to about five years old, what kind of conversations could we, should we be having, because the other thing about sex, we need to acknowledge as well in, in what you’re just saying is, in previous generations and let’s hope we’re starting to get better but is the shame attached. We need our kids to know there’s nothing wrong with sex. Sex is not bad. It’s natural. It’s, you know, we want to have a healthy sex life. You want to have healthy intimacy in relationships.

So, all right. So we’re starting in early childhood to five. What kinds of things?

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:23:48] So early childhood to 5 , we’re going to focus on naming our body parts, right? Yeah, penis, testicles, breasts, vulva. Right. We want our kids to know that. And there’s two reasons for that one. It demystifies it, right? Because there’s a lot of code words around.

There’s a lot of sort of other terms,  and the, the other piece of this is that the research shows this very clearly kids who know the words for their,  genitals are less likely to be sexually abused. And, and people always sort of start when they say that because you, our brains don’t want to think about a five-year-old being sexually abused.

Right. And then it breaks my heart, but it’s the sort of thing that God forbid that happens. I want a kid empowered and they know the words and they know the rules. I mean, that’s fundamental to this, right. We’re also going to talk about relationships. So this is a funny story. My wife and I are both sex educators.

We’re both psychologists. So we were teaching a sex ed class for first kindergarteners and first graders at our church actually. And so we were talking about, what makes a baby? And we went through, there’s a great book. We used, we went through it and we were talking about what that means.

And finally, one of the kids sort of raises her hand. I said, yes, sweetie. And she goes, so at the time, my wife was eight months pregnant. This is an important fact, you said, was that what you guys did? And we looked at each other, right. And we went and I went bright red. I was, I’ve been doing this a long time.

I still went bright red yeah. That what we did. And she said, Okay. And that’s it, it wasn’t there we take our adult brains. We sort of like send them, like, send those questions through that filter, but she’s five. She just, is that what you guys do? Okay. Yeah. Cool. Right. That’s I, now I know that there wasn’t anything lecherous about it.

It was just, okay. So that’s, so that’s what a pregnant lady looks like because you guys had sex eight months ago. And we said that pretty much. Yeah. That’s what happened. She goes, okay. You know, and

Sophia Elliott: [00:25:48] Yeah, I had a similar experience with my eldest. He went through a big, uh, learning  about the body phase. He was quite obsessed about the human body, uh, when he was about three, four.

And. And obviously a part of the human body is making babies. And so, you know, we did the thing that, what we thought was age appropriate of, you know? Yeah. A bit of mommy and a bit of daddy comes together and the baby grows and he was like, well, how, how did, how does that come together? Like how well there’s a bit of mummy and a bit of daddy totally trying to brush him off, but he’s like, but, but no, how, and he just, how right.

And I’m like, Oh my God, I’ve tried a few times to fob him off with the bit of mommy bit of daddy  was not working . I finally just said, well, you know, this is how it works. There’s, there’s a penis, there’s a Volvo, this is what they’re made for. And he’s like, okay, no worries. And moved on. It’s just facts.

It’s just facts to him. It was not interesting. And I also noticed when you’re talking there in terms of naming body parts, that when we’re talking about females, we’re talking about vulva, not vagina because. There’s a big misunderstanding that misunderstanding the female body part is actually called the vagina, but that’s a part, all the female body part.

So I,  encourage parents to Google correct terminology for, well, I don’t know. Maybe find a book, maybe find a book.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:27:18] There’s a lot of, yeah, I would definitely say books over Google. You don’t know what’s going to  pop up, but all Sophia I want to return to something. If you don’t mind, is that, you know, is it you in telling that story, right?

You, you sort of reference that it was hard for you, right?  And this is the thing, and I’m speaking to all the grownups out there, whether they’re your kids or you’re teaching this or your community leader, whatever it is okay. That it’s awkward. It is okay. That you struggle with it. This is one of those things where.

Where  that’s, that’s fine. That’s to be expected. You don’t need to get to a place where you’re super comfortable with this and you can sort of spout out the terms and it’s fine if you, if you get there. Great, phenomenal. Right? I’ll tell you this. I’ve been doing this a long time. And at the old place I worked at the old community mental health center.

I worked part of our intake question. Was  I had to ask if kids had had anal sex. Now I am a, at the time it was 34 year old man, right? Talking to mostly teens, many teen girls. And I never got comfortable asking teen girls as, as a man whether they were having anal sex. Right. It got less awkward over time, but it was never not awkward.

And my advisor, my mentor was like, that’s okay. Right. You checking into that feeling and you owning that feeling and still having the hard conversation shows these kids that it’s important. Right. And I would even encourage you guys to own that and check that with your kids, bringing that meta  communication.

This is an uncomfortable conversation for us, but you know, it’s important because we’re having it anyway. And I think our kids value that authenticity, they value being treated with with that kind of respect, right? Like, Oh, wow. Like, okay. And there’s this, it’s like any other co-regulation thing, there’s this mythology that we need to be calm to do what we’re going to do.

And that’s not true, whether you’re whether your kid’s having a meltdown or you’re talking to them about sex, it’s owning whatever emotion you have. This makes me uncomfortable. Great, right. Own it, rather than saying, I’m fine.

Because nobody’s ever calm themselves down by saying our new calm down, it doesn’t work that our bodies don’t work that way. Say it’s like, yeah, this is a little weird, right. This is a little weird, but I’m here to have this conversation with you because it’s the importance of this conversation is, is more than my discomfort with it.

And I think our kids always will always respect that.

Sophia Elliott: [00:29:52] Yeah, absolutely. So just own the awkwardness name, the awkwardness yeah, we’ve got a great practice in our house of, yeah, we’re just, we just own our stuff and we cottoned on to the zones of regulation. So we have that language in our house.

So I will say, look mummy is yeah, I’m feeling like I’m in the yellow zone at the moment, I’m feeling a bit frustrated. I could really use your help and that kind of thing. And it’s okay to say this is really hard conversation. We didn’t have conversations like this when I was a kid, this is a bit new for me, but I really want to have this conversation with you.

So great tip.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:30:28] Uh, okay. Well you said that beautifully. I mean, that’s right.

Sophia Elliott: [00:30:33] Okay. I’m going to play that back later to use that. So middle childhood, so age five to eight, what kind of conversations are


Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:30:46] So we’re going to keep layering in the stuff about body parts, and then we’re going to start to move into relationships.

And we’re going to do two things here. We’re going to talk about what relationships feel good. And we’re going to talk about what things don’t feel good. And this is where we start to have conversations about consent.  I’m about two meters tall, you know, little, little over six foot, and I’m a little over 200 pounds and I don’t know what that is in kilograms.

Don’t ask me. Um, it’s a

lot. I think

I’m a tall guy. I’m a big guy and I have a beard. I have a big, booming voice. So I am very potentially very intimidating to a kid. So when I talk to a kid, I get down on their level and I will give them the ability to choose to physically engage with me. So I’m big on high fives, fist bumps, waves, things that, that filled the negative space between us rather than.

 Rather than sort of using “give me a hug Billy!”

Like can you imagine s saying no to that, I’m an adult authority, right? So we should to say, this is what consent looks like that I say, Hey, fist bump. And they go, no, thank you. I’m never going to be mad at you about that. And that’s really empowering for our kids because our rule followers are worried they’re going to get in trouble. And, but we’re giving them a tool that we can say, I’m not consenting to this. I’m empowering myself to have to say to adults that this is a thing. This is not how I want my body to be touched. Now, once again, obviously we hope that this plays out in these sort of. Typical social interactions hugs, high fives, fist bumps,  but once again, it’s, it also empowers our kids.

If an adult is touching them in a way that they don’t like, and they feel very uncomfortable with it is once again, giving them that power. We’re really starting to get into the idea of physical touch and, and  if we’re ever lucky enough to meet in person and we hug, I’m going to ask you if I can hug you.

Right. That’s just, that’s just who I am. That’s how we model this because consent is never assumed and it doesn’t last forever. We should check in every single time. And maybe you get to a place with someone where you don’t need to as much. Right. But it is always a good idea to check in. Right. And, and have that, you know, And, and have that be part of the dialogue in your home.

So if you go to your partner and you say like, Hey, I had a rough day and they say, can I give you a hug? And you say, yes, not only is that great dialogue between the two of you, but your kids are seeing that. Right. And, and how cool is that, that they’re seeing like, Oh, these are these adults that I love are using this language.

And then when I go to school and someone says, like give me a hug. I don’t want to, I don’t want to touch you like that. That’s a good thing. That’s a good thing that our kids have that language. So we’re really gonna focus on,  what positive relationships feel like and how to use consent to navigate touch.

Sophia Elliott: [00:33:50] Like you’re saying they’re like about the fist pump or the high five. And I know sometimes I’ll go to my kids. Oh, fist pump and that will not hear me or whatever. I’ll be like, Oh, you’re leaving me hanging, but actually, if they haven’t heard me that’s okay. But if they’re kind of going, no, I don’t want to do it, having that language around well that’s okay. And, and, sometimes we’ll say, Oh, do you want a hug? Oh, come on, give me a hug. There’s a bit of a boundary that it’s like, Nope, that’s okay. That’s cool. Maybe changing our language there about the little bit of coercion that we sometimes, tap onto the end of those those  moments that we do unconsciously.

But realizing that actually this is the moment where we teach consent in those early years. Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent because there’s often memes and stuff on social media, around allowing our kids the opportunity to decide whether or not they hug family that they don’t have to. Yeah.

And supporting them in that. So that’s where all that kicks off. So, so then they get to this between nine to 12 age. I’m a little bit scared about the tweens. We’re not there yet. The, the tweens it’s like, they’ve got a bad rap already. Tell, tell me what to be talking about as my I like the analogy you had before was like if they’re going to be driving the car as a teenager, we need to start teaching them about the car now. in the tweens is that right?

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:35:14] And so this is where we really start to talk about relationships and we, and that starts with friendships. They starts with, how do you be a good friend? How do you call, how do you have a conversation with someone if they’re not being a good friend and then how do you know if your feelings towards another person are changing?

And this is where we start to really focus on LGBTQ plus relationships. You know, kids can identify their gender as early as age two, they can identify their sexuality or early as age seven. We want to sprinkle in some LGBTQ stuff throughout lifespan sex education, but th the tween years are really where we’re going to  make that front and center.

I used to do an exercise with kids where I would spell it, all these different kinds of families. Right? So we have a man and a woman who have three children and they live in this town is this  a happy family. Sure. Yeah. Right. In this family, we have two men who are married and they’ve adopted three children and they live in this town.

Is that a happy family, I suppose. So. Right. And this family, we have a trans individual and a cisgender person who got married. They had children. And are they happy? Right. And what did the idea here is that it,  it talks to our kids about that the point of relationship is joy, right? The point of relationship is making your life better in your connection with another person.

And what that relationship looks like is, is sort of secondary to the outcome of it, which is joy. And, and what that does. And then The give space for kids to ask questions like, well, how did two men have a baby? Well, let’s talk about that. Right. You know, what is a trans gender, man? Let’s talk about that too.

Right? And by, by bringing these things to the foreground, we accomplish two vital goals. One, if, if our kids have been thinking about those sorts of things, as it pertains to themselves, they now have language for that, where they can talk to us or their peers about it. And to information fights, bigotry, it fights transphobia and homophobia because what we’re laying this stuff out, they’re not, you know, I often say it’s not my role as a sex educator to tell your kids how to feel about something.

I’m never going to do that. My job is to lay out the information so they can make an informed choice, you know, if you’re, so it. If you’re someone who’s hearing something about, say, you know, a trans individual and that makes you uncomfortable, that’s your right as a human being to be uncomfortable with it.

I don’t ha I don’t happen to agree, but you know, it’s your right to be uncomfortable. But the idea is we, we use that information to demystify it. De-stigmatize it. And make it just a part of the general discourse. Right. And you’d be amazed how often kids, when they get that information will say to their parents who have maybe a less informed idea.

Well, yeah, actually, Dr. Matt said in sex ed, that this thing is true and the parents go, Oh, right. Because it’s so easy. It’s so hard to know all these things, presenting it as part of a broader dialogue and making it just something to normalize that we talk about can really help all of us feel better and know what to do.


Sophia Elliott: [00:38:41] Yeah, absolutely. So really important conversations to have in that kind of age and what I’ve experienced over the last kind of five years, having my kids in primary school, that was not on the radar. When I was at school is actually I’m aware of two trans kids who were like identified or transitioning or in those early years.

Hopefully what that’s showing us is, , an understanding and a shift in our awareness as a community where,  we’re supporting those kids earlier to be who they are and navigate what is, I can only imagine a hugely complex challenging growing up. So it’s really important that our kids are understanding these concepts as well.

And you know what I love about that. But so we were at a school and there was a child who was transitioning. And it was just very matter of fact, and all the kids were like, yeah, whatever totally cool. Now we call them this other name and no big deal. It’s just, it just is right. Because it’s just a, yeah, whatever about the, they’re growing up with that. And I just thought that was incredibly beautiful because as, as adults not growing up in that norm where we’re understanding it better, it’s, arguably more challenging for adults to go on that journey. Then it was for the kids at the time which can only mean where we’re starting to understand that better more broadly as a community.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:40:22] So yeah. And and gifted individuals are significantly more likely to be LGBTQ. And th that it’s hard to get a percentage and that the research is a little mixed, but we know that gifted kids are significantly more likely to be LGBTQ. So it’s even more important to normalize these things and make these things kind of part of the process.

And that gives kids room to experiment, to try on different identities, to really feel like they have a space to explore that stuff. And I just think that’s, like I said, it’s beautiful because kids are really resilient and they say, okay, I’ve been presented this information now. I know, and one of my, one of the things I say to schools, right?

Hey, If you take nothing else away from me coming today, just do me one favor. Do not ever split your kids up in school, boys and girls like boys over here, girls over here. Cause that potentially outs a kid that kids who were gender non-binary where do I go? Right. Count off by ones and two’s is easy peasy, right?

And, and teachers will say that I can do, I may not be comfortable with everything else you’re talking about, but that I can do, I can do ones and two’s. I was, I was talking to a group of kids. I said, all right, guys, and one student said, Hey, that’s a gender term, Dr Matt. I. You’re right. And so I, I, yeah, I navigate to the term folks, friends, another good one. Right. Okay. Okay, gang. Right. And this is a great Dr. Matt. And the other thing, it was this nice moment of, Hey, right. And we don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to have this totally locked down. We can evolve alongside our kids.

We’re just going to  evolve with them, which is pretty great.

Sophia Elliott: [00:42:08] Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. Okay. So that leads us into the teen years. Okay. As a parent, I’m freaking out over the conversations we have in the teen years because  there’s so much that goes on the teen years. Those brains are going crazy.

They’re doing their thing. And what are the important conversations? If my child is between 13 and 18.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:42:29] So we are going to talk about hygiene, right? How to keep our bodies clean. Right. And that’s important. And that actually starts with,  with not only with showering and deodorant,  because and,  taking care of your face, but also making sure we talk about periods and this is the sort of thing.

Right. And I, I, part of the reason I bring this up is I to check my own struggles with this is that for a long time, I was The,  like I’m a CIS cisgender white man. Right.  “oh periods!” It’s the sort of thing that it’s,  it’s the body is doing what it’s supposed to do, right? Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:43:10] There’s a huge taboo around periods.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:43:16] And I was sitting  in therapy session. And one of the girls I see was very uncomfortable. I said, what’s wrong? And she goes, I just, I don’t want to talk to you about it. I said, well, what’s wrong? Like starting to get concerned. Right. My therapy radars. And she’s like, well, I’m getting my period and I don’t know what to do.

And I said, okay, well, here’s what we’re going to do. Right. We have tampons here , and, and it was the sort of thing. By the time we took care of all that stuff, the session was, was almost over, but I got a call from her mom the next day. She said, she’s never felt safer with you. And, and it’s the sort of thing, like, you know, if we, you don’t have to be comfortable with it, you don’t have to enjoy it.

I don’t know. I don’t know a single person who has periods. Who’s like, yay.

It is a medical thing, and we’re just going to talk about it like a medical thing, and here’s the things, and here’s what we do with it. And it’s this,  so those are other things.  Another piece that we’re going to talk about here is masturbation. So, you know, you said like, I’m dreading this, I’m worried what I’m walking into.

Well, here’s the thing, if you don’t have a conversation about masturbation, you are going to walk in on it, right. That’s going to happen.

. And so safe sex or safer sex conversations involve masturbation. Right? How do you do that safely? One of the questions I get from kids more often than you think is, can I masturbate in a public bathroom? Right. It’s like, if I’m at school and I feel aroused, can I masturbate and So this is when we get to can  versus should, right?

Sure you can do it in terms of should, is that the safest choice for you? Right? What does that look like? Having those conversations, talking about places at a home where you can do that, right? Talking about,  how to access in materials that, that people use for masturbation, but do so in a safe way.

Internet safety is a part of sex, safe sex, because of just how much of our lives are online right now.  And so, and it’s this sort of thing, like parents will say sometimes as well, are you giving my kid a license to masturbate? And I said, well, yes, I am.  Because this is the thing they’re going to do it, or they’re going to want to do it and feel like they can’t.

So when we demystify and we talk about that, there are significant health benefits for masturbation. When we talk about it,  it doesn’t say, okay, go ahead, have at it right now, because we’re not going to have that conversation. We’re going to say that when you want to do this, here’s how you do it safely.

Here’s how you understand your own body, your own pleasure, your own, you know, the things that work for you because ultimately we want our kids to take that information into a healthy sexual relationship. This is how I like to be touched. These are the things that arouse me. These are the things that don’t feel good.

And,  and masturbation  is really, it’s a lot of fact-finding about that sort of thing. And it also gives us an opportunity to talk to our kids about realistic expectations.  What does sex look like in pornography?  How realistic is that? What does sex look like in,  in drawings, in graphic novels and things like that.

And. No, we want our kids to be informed consumers of all media. Right. And pornography is a part of that.

Sophia Elliott: [00:46:51] Yeah. And so I I read something once and it was around, , these  younger generations who have grown up with the internet have also kind of grown up with internet porn and how that’s affecting their perception of what sex and intimacy is,

and it’s skewing it to something that’s really not healthy in terms of,  for young men or young women. Like there’s no winners there and it’s kind of skewing this conversation or,  understanding  what healthy intimacy looks like.  In the absence, I would imagine all of. Healthy conversations about sex ed,  because if they’re not getting,  this kind of quality information from like that we’ve been talking about, then they’re filling the gaps in with things like internet porn, and that’s kind of skewing what they think it’s all about.

So the teenage years you could look at that and go, Oh right. There’s lots of taboos there, periods, masturbation, previously, those things have been layered with shame and taboo, but the reality is these are all just natural, natural things, a part of our biology, we need to kind of get over that stuff.

And like you say, embrace the awkwardness if there’s awkwardness because yeah. There’s probably going to be, but just have those conversations. Cause I like. There’s so many women, who  think,  it’s normal to have extreme period pain or, bleed extremely heavy. And if you don’t have those conversations about what normal looks like, they don’t know that actually, maybe I should go see a GP,  and get some help, because this isn’t actually typical and life could be easier and better.

And like you say, masturbation, if we don’t want our kids feeling like shame about their bodies and we want them to have that sense of confidence about themselves and take that into nice, healthy relationships. And if we don’t talk to them about it, give them this information, then how are they going to get there?

Right. So I I’m conscious that  we’ve talked almost for an hour, but it’s so important. And I feel like we’re just like the tip of the iceberg. Yeah. Right. So coming back to gifted specific, we’ve talked about the overexcite abilities. And I know that you’ve identified some other kind of areas.  Our gifted kids are going to typically be heavy internet users.

So we can’t stick our head in the sand about talking about porn,  that I asynchronicity. And like, in as much as we were talking about different ages there. Presumably where we’re adapting that to where our kids are at,  because  our kids aren’t necessarily, so don’t think, Oh, there,  I can only talk to them about that thing between five and eight, if your kids are ready to talk about it at four, three it’s.

Okay. Cause they’re gifted the asynchronous don’t it’s not a rule people don’t follow the rules.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:50:07] Let’s not be black and white as well. Right.

If you don’t know something, your kids want to ask about, look it up together in a book not on the internet. How empowering is that to our kids, to, for you to be authentic? I don’t know, but I would love to learn that with you and let us look it up together. Right. So,

Sophia Elliott: [00:50:36] Yeah. And of course, talking there about gender and sexuality and.

Again,  depending what generation you are, it may feel like there’s lots of letters and it’s a very overwhelming. And what does it all mean? And,  I don’t know, Dr. Matt, maybe we could get you back and we could have a conversation and unpack gender and sexuality because yeah. Like that’s a whole other hour right. And, and it can feel like that stuff,  has moved a lot and it’s hard to keep up with the terminology and what all that stuff means. Yeah.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:51:12] Right. And because  it is evolving constantly and it’s the sort of thing, like, it forces us to approach this with humility because the terminology that we’ve used in my,  decade or so involved in the sex education, I mean, Easily a dozen times, probably more.

And I think can make you feel frustrated because it’s like, well, how am I supposed to keep this straight? And here’s the beautiful thing. There are fundamental skills, right? Listening, empathy, respect that cut across everything, what we’re trying to do. So like I said,  good sex education, like good gifted education is, is rooted in fundamental principles of honesty, authenticity exchange of information.

Right. So, you know, it’s the sort of thing. If I make a mistake in that in a term, I go up, sorry, I missed that. And I own it. I check it and we, we move on. And so to the parents out there thinking like,  I can’t, there’s no way I can. First off we have a real, I have really lovely PowerPoint, which I’m happy to send you.

 This is something that I share readily with the families that I work with because I want. There’s no way you can keep all of this in your head. I’ve been doing this professionally for a decade and I can’t keep it all in my head. So  use the tools at your disposal and, and because knowledge is power in this particular circumstance.

Sophia Elliott: [00:52:38] What’s the three biggest tips that you would have for parents as we depart from this conversation?

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:52:45] Three biggest steps first is to,

is to own like, own your awkwardness, right? That’s the key piece of this,  he’s gonna hate that I’m telling the story, but my dad is a clinical psychologist, right. So when he decided to have the sex talk with me, we drove around in the car. Cause that’s what men do. Right. We stare straight ahead.

And after a while I was like, so. A lot, a lot of pretty girls in your grade. And I was like, dad, no stop, fully shut down. Which meant he totally shut down. And he dropped me off at home and I did some homework. And later on,  there was a Playboy on my bed that I certainly didn’t buy.  And that’s what sex ed looked like in 1996.

 But what that showed me was that that was hard for my dad, but he still did it. And that meant that a couple months later, when a girl at school had a crush on me and I didn’t know what to do, I could talk to him about it. And, and it’s the sort of thing you might sit there as a parent thing. Like if I don’t do this perfectly, my kid’s not going to talk to me.

Your kids are desperate to talk to you about this. Right? So even cracking the door a little bit, then lets them in. So own the awkwardness. Second thing is there’s this perception that it is just a singular talk, right? You download all the information. Like we can’t even do this in an hour, right. Let alone.

So it’s a series of conversations about biology, about relationships, about passion, about pleasure, and, and knowing your yourself, knowing your own values and preferences around those, around those areas. That the beautiful thing about sex education is that it, it gives us an opportunity as the adults to sort of check in with ourselves and say, well, how do I feel about this?

 How do I feel about,  my daughter bringing her partner over and. And they want to have a sleepover or they want to go to a dance together, or they want to go on an overnight ski trip or beach trip together. And has parents, if we have these conversations, now we’re aligning ourselves with our values early, rather than having to make a snap judgment in an emotionally charged situation, because your daughter’s like, I’m going, you’re like, aye.

Aye, aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Right. So we get to align with ourselves.  And third is you don’t have to go it alone. There are. So there are a lot of really great sex, positive, pieces of information that are written for parents that are written for kids to be to themselves. There’s great stuff for teens.

There’s great stuff for LGBTQ youth.  We just, it was just announced that,  DC comics is doing a,  a pride focused. Series of comics over the summer for pride month. I’m so excited for that, that’s right. And that’s in, in your kids can guide you in where these conversations go because the information is out there.

So don’t feel like you’ve got to read 13 books and watch and watch this podcast over and over and over and over until you’ve memorised it until you remember. Though  obviously feel free. But there’s information out there. So don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:56:17] Excellent. And like permission, not to feel like you have to be seen to be the perfect parent, like to others or to your kids, like embrace our humanity in this moment, role model being a bit clueless or not really knowing, but being willing to find out and have awkward conversations because it is really important.

So. That’s just been an incredible conversation. Thank you so much for your time today. Like just wonderful to get information and start that narrative. Uh, I want to just end with tell us a little bit about the work that you do and how people can get in touch, because I know obviously we’ve talked a lot about sex ed today, but you’re a psychologist, you’re a specialist in gifted.

So tell us a little bit about that.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:57:08] My practice is a mix of therapy consultation and intelligence testing. And, I’m a, I described as a, I’m a grown-up gifted kid. The reason I do this work is I want to be the professional that kids like me would have benefited from growing up and.

So and sometimes that means sometimes therapy is classic therapy and we talk about depression and anxiety, and sometimes it’s more, you’re a really smart kid who wants to talk to a really smart adult for an hour once every other week. And that’s okay too. Right. Cause being gifted can be very isolating.

There aren’t that many of us, so creating community and plugging ourselves into these, these networks, even if they’re halfway across the world is a cool and beautiful thing. So I’m on Facebook at Dr. Matt Zakreski  and my website is www.drmattzakreski.com. And please feel free to email me at drmattzakreski@gmail.com because,  the information is out there to support our kids in the classroom and outside of the classroom. And I think that whatever we do as parents and professionals. To support our kids and make them more well-rounded citizens. It just, it brings joy to our lives and our kids’ lives.

And isn’t that why we’re all here?

Sophia Elliott: [00:58:32] Oh, 100% totally. And you talk to people over zoom it’s the world of zoom. It doesn’t matter where you are, what time zone, you can do this sort of conversation. So

If you want me to come to Brissy  or Adelaide

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:58:44] please feel free.

I mean, that, that would be lovely.

Sophia Elliott: [00:58:47] That’s true. Let’s do it. We can do maybe there’s an Our Gifted Kids  conference in the future.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:58:53] Yeah. There we go and I miss Tim Tams so much!

Sophia Elliott: [00:58:58] Yeah, totally. They are. They’re something to be missed. So I hugely appreciate your time today. So if you’re want to get in touch with Dr.

Matt, I will put all of those links in the show notes so that you can find him easily and, we’ll continue to share his stuff through our page. And, and hopefully we’ll talk to you again about, I don’t know, part two gender and sexuality I feel, yeah. Wonderful. Thank you so much for today. Hugely appreciate it.

Dr Matt Zakreski: [00:59:32] This was an absolute treat and I just, I mean, thank you for. Thank you for not only having me, but being willing to have a difficult conversation, it’d be really easy to sit here and talk about, how do we do science for gifted kids, but that’s out there this too easy.

Would we not be gifted kids if we didn’t challenge ourselves and like really like get out there on the ledge?

Sophia Elliott: [00:59:55] Yeah. A hundred percent. And, thanks mom for the, the popup book when I was a young child, so that I can have these conversations now. So wonderful. Thank you.

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

#014 Understanding 2E / Twice Exceptional with Amanda Drury

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

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

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

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

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

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


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See you in the same place next week.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finish Transcript here

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Drury: [00:13:14] And

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

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

Congratulations, your child is gifted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Percentiles have a better meaning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it looked at,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So she understood him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s kind of exponentially,just grown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




#013 Screen time, help! Jocelyn Brewer talks Broccoli & Digital Nutrition.

#013 Screen time, help! Jocelyn Brewer talks Broccoli & Digital Nutrition.

Today I’m speaking with Jocelyn Brewer, creator of the Digital Nutrition concept. We’re talking about screen time and a new way parents can look at this challenging topic!  Jocelyn helps us stay human in a digital world.

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • A new concept for managing screen time – Digital Nutrition.
  • Gaming and computer games – an opportunity to show growth mindset and connect!
  • Using technology (games) to build on our weaknesses.
  • Communication and understanding – tips for parenting!
  • How to win a spot in Jocelyn’s Engaging (Tech Obsessed) Adolescents course!
  • The competition closes on Friday 26th March at midnight. The winner will be announced on Saturday 27th March 2021 via Facebook. Competition T&C’s are here.
Image for Jocelyn Brewer Competition


Memorable Quote

“Actually having a person sitting next to you with the controller and having that easy cool presence while engaging is like a digital super food.” – Jocelyn

“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. And so this is what I mean about curiosity.” – Jocelyn

“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. What they can see is only as far as that match gives them insight and they think, oh wow, I can see everything. Whereas the process of brain development and the experiences of life, start  throwing on bigger and better light bulbs.” – Jocelyn


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Sophia Elliott: [00:00:00] Hi Jocelyn. Thanks for joining me today in the podcast. I’m super excited to be talking to you.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:00:06] Thank you. Thanks for having me. I love a good chat.

Sophia Elliott: [00:00:09] Absolutely. And I. I’m really excited because screens, is such a huge issue for parents.

And when I was thinking about this conversation last night, I was thinking, well, we’ve always had technology. And obviously technology shifts, but you know, when I was a kid and I’m watching, wanting to watch lots of TV and my parents nagging me about getting off the TV and then I’m like, is it just the same now?

But now I’m the parent, the shoes on the other foot, it feels worse and more overwhelming or has technology actually shifted as well?

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:00:49] Technology has absolutely shifted. Right? I guess part of the nature of technology is that rapid change and what we’ve seen is an incredibly rapid change over the last.

I dunno, 10 to 15 to 20 to 30 years with the internet. And the way I sum up the main ways that it’s changed is around how pervasive and persuasive technology now is. So it’s, yes, there’s lots of functional ways, but our life is easier and things that we forget about. Like, I have two different cars, one that’s 10 years old, and one that’s brand new and the different technology that sits within the safety of that.

It’s driving two very different vehicles, but then when we come to the screen based media use and young people and the developing brains, then that’s obviously a very different kind of conversation and deep learning paths. And I guess what you’re alluding to, as now we’re parents we do have, I guess, a whole new digital playground that we’re dealing with.

The playground has, a real life version, but then the online version. And it’s so different to when we grow up. When you know, I grew up in the eighties, finished school in the mid nineties. We had one TV. Then we had the second TV, which was a really big deal, but it was still only four, maybe five channels.

If your area was good enough to get SBS there wasn’t huge amounts of content, personal devices and your own digital identity and rabbit hole that you went down. So I think now the kind of big ways that technology and screen-based technology is really different to that one TV that we all crowded around.

Sophia Elliott: [00:02:20] That is so true. I remember going from two channels to four channels, it was during the Gulf war because I remember flicking between all of these amazing channels. And now if I think about our home, we’ve got Google, we’ve got lights that go on and off with voice command. My husband’s building this interactive screen with the kids, it’s you’re right.

It’s pervasive. It’s in all of our cars. It’s. It’s everywhere in our life. And, in your words, how do we stay human in a digital world? I’ve heard you say that. And I’ve gone,  that is the crux of it. Isn’t it? How do we stay connected and human?

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:02:59] I think some of it is really just about pushing back to some of what comes through technology and social media, this idea of like, Super  duper positivity.

and we’re  all thriving and we’re glowing and all of that kind of stuff. It’s just like, no, no, I just want to keep it real and keep it simple. So for me, staying human is really just staying connected to one another. Like keeping some of the things that we know as humans are good for our wellbeing.

And I think definitely through the pandemic. We we came face to face with that a lot more, even though it was face-to-face via zoom. A lot of the time, like we really recognized how important our communities are. We we’re recognizing how important it is to stay conscious as consumers. And I think this is another really interesting area around like media literacy and what we have given up as participants in the digital economy, because everything has seemed free and last week and Facebook’s media ban, I think we started to go, Oh, look how dependent we actually are on so many aspects of this digital space. So for me, staying human is, staying kind empathetic, conscious, connected A At a ground level, and then yeah, if you want to thrive and do all those fantastic other things great.

As long as it’s not coming from that toxic positivity, good vibes only, zone, which drives me as a psychologist, really quite mad because it’s not about just being able to tolerate some of the crappy things in life. 

Sophia Elliott: [00:04:21] And I’ve heard you talk about, The digital detox, not all of us can afford to detox or, and it’s not that simple.

And you’ve come up with this idea of digital nutrition. So tell us, what broccoli has to do with screen time.

Read the rest of the transcript here

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:04:36] Yeah, it’s a really good question. So digital nutrition is really a concept to help parents and really everybody think about how the activities that we do with our screen time, time being just one metric that we can look at how we can actually think about the virtual vitamins.

If we were to consider, two hours on a screen, We, and then look at what actually, each person is doing. That’s very, very different. Like our time here, having this conversation is very, very different. If I was sort of just looking at different diets on Instagram or hate  stalking my ex or something like that.

So considering what is some of the cognition, some of the things we’re actually thinking, the content and the quality of the content who generated it, whether it’s full of misinformation. The context that we’re doing it in, obviously the pandemic and homeschooling, remote learning and all those things changed, change the context that our screen-based media use was happening in.

So I have talked for about seven years, the idea that there’s a really big difference between digital broccoli and  digital candy, the kale or the candy, and really how that, there’s a place for a little bit of candy. There’s a place for a little bit of, mindless scrolling, but that if that’s a really big chunk of your digital diet and that’s probably not going to be healthy, So similarly to much of the good stuff  is also not necessarily healthy, either like four kilos of kale, isn’t going to necessarily jive with your guts. So really this is not prescriptive or there is not one digital diet that is going to fit everybody.

It’s really about thinking. What do I need to take from this? What was my family need when my kids need? And again, thinking about kids who might have, neuro-diversity be twice exceptional will have, gifted giftedness, their own personalities. They’re always going to have slightly different interests in that online space because it is such a massive playground to one another.

So yeah. Yeah, it’s just trying to use, everything we’ve learned about food over the last 30 years and piggyback that on to the things we’re doing with screens.

Sophia Elliott: [00:06:35] Yeah. That’s a really interesting way of looking at it because like you say, Even too much of a good thing is too much. If you eat too many carrots or whatever, it’s like you say it’ll wreak havoc and it’s still not necessarily doing the right thing.

So it’s about finding that balance the same way that we need to find that balance with food that’s really going to help stick actually. And I like that you’re talking about. Basically it’s consuming consciously isn’t it. And really thinking about what we’re doing and that connection. So how can we help our kids or how can we help parents make better decisions around that?

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:07:14] I think the first thing is all about the literacy aspect and the understanding what we’re participating in. When we step into the attention economy, there’s surveillance economy, whatever you want to talk about in terms of the trade off of our time and our attention for participating in these spaces.

So, I guess that’s why I’ve used that food analogy. So it’s not another thing to burden parents with in terms of all the things you have to learn about parenting that no one ever told you, and he’s not actually in any of the books. So it’s really about those conversations and it, for me, it starts with.

Rather than us as parents, othering young people and their online activities being curious with, ah like what is it that’s so amazing about that game that you would literally play for eight hours and not stop unless you needed to go to the toilet. Why is this much more fascinating to you than doing maths or science or talking to your grandmother?

So bringing that curiosity, but also knowing and doing our own due diligence as parents to have a sense of what You know what that, what is in that digital playground, because if we just looked at games and I guess your audience and the children of your audience are potentially going to be really, really heavily involved in gaming and very focused and passionate and engaged in that space.

And we really want to understand, like what’s the content of the game and what’s the game design that is going to tap into sometimes those vulnerabilities of their cognitive development and their brain architecture to create really deeply entrenched patterns that can be sometimes really hard to break.

Sophia Elliott: [00:08:41] That’s really interesting because I am not a gamer. I am, my brother was growing up and I just, and even now I just can’t get into it as much as I have a few friends that are like, come on and try world of Warcraft or this or that. And I’m like, okay, I’ll have a look at Minecraft, but thankfully my husband is, and.

When it’s come to our, in particular, our eldest, but all of our  kids wanting to engage in that space. What we’ve noticed is like our eldest loves certain games, uh, and some of them, I think, fill that sort of cognitive need they’re  very realistic technical games where he can build spaceships and all sorts of things, manage resources, you know?

And thankfully my husband’s into that too, but my son actually really loves playing with him and if he could do anything, yeah. He’d play a game, but he’d play with dad. And so we try and work that into our weekends. So that would be a good way of providing the connection, getting to know what they’re doing.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:09:47] Yeah,

absolutely. So gaming side by side is probably the best way to do gaming, according to a lot of the research. So we know that lots of kids obviously game with their friends in  their online kind of mods and little groups, whether that’s on discord or all those different places, but actually having a person sitting next to you with the controller and having that easy cool presence while engaging is like a digital super food. Let’s just say so, 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. And so this is what I mean about curiosity. Being willing to be absolutely  shit  house at the game. A lot of the games that I play, I don’t play to win. I play just to have fun. So because again, couldn’t red, dead redemption, which is basically setting the wild West in the U S and I just get on a horse and ride around and the graphics are so amazing.

I can’t go horse riding in the middle of Sydney. I just ride horses and I trade my horse for a better horse or I’ll rescue a horse. And all of that, I get zero points. I usually get shot by a cowboy, but I’m riding a horse, which is something that I love to do. So kids  will  loved that we take some kind of interest again, don’t be creepy and don’t be like, Oh, I’m really want to game.

And like, they’re like, Oh God, leave me alone. And how embarrassing. But find a way that you can dip your toe into that digital kind of playground and be willing to be awful at something which I think. Again we usually try to get kids to try different things and try it, even though they’re not good at it.

And all those sorts of things that may be gifted, kids are always like, no, no. I only do the things that I’m going to be amazing at show them your willingness to screw up and have fun learning that experience. They will actually then teach you a lot. And that is another like really great relationship glue to help build connection with your kids.

Sophia Elliott: [00:11:51] That’s yeah. Great tips there and yeah, it’s all about modeling that growth mindset. Isn’t it? It’s like, yeah. I don’t know what I’m doing. You can teach me, let, just give you an opportunity to be in that space as well. That’s right.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:12:03] That’s right. And if you’re looking for new games, I have to give a shout out to this incredible website A guy called  Andy Robertson in the UK, he’s known as the geek gamer dad, or  gaming  geek dad or something like that. He’s created a gaming website called taming gaming.com. And it is this incredible database where you can search by a whole range of different factors. So  if you have accessibility issues around hearing or vision, if there is neuro-diversity, if you need some kind of quiet  or reflective games, games to tap into emotions strategic games. He’s created this database where you just search it. So if you’re on a kind of digital diet of Minecraft, Roblox  , Fortnite, some of those big kind of well-known games, and you’re really looking to supplement that digital diet with some diversity, that is absolutely an incredible resource that it’s free.

You don’t, it just opens up so many different opportunities for families. It’s I’m so glad it exists.

Sophia Elliott: [00:13:00] That sounds awesome. I’ll definitely put that in the show notes and check that out myself, because I feel like I need to break into this gaming world for my kids and something I’ve learnt about as well.

In the last couple of years we’ve gotten quite into board games. And I’m saying, board games, like online games, there’s all sorts of different categories and styles of gaming. And so there are options out there to find something that suits you and your family and your family values and that kind of thing.


Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:13:28] Yeah. Tabletop gaming is like massive. There’s lots of little courses that you can do to even design your own tabletop games. So, gaming doesn’t have to be through a screen that can be a handy way of doing things, but absolutely, there’s a huge Renaissance of tabletop in board games as well.

Yeah. PAX , which is the kind of big gaming festival that’s on in Melbourne used to be on in Melbourne when we had massive gatherings of thousands and thousands of that’d be huge sections of, retro gaming, tabletop, gaming, alternative video games. And then that. The big kind of Hollywood blockbuster style games.

It’s it’s massive, beautiful community too. Yeah.

Sophia Elliott: [00:14:06] Yeah. It is a whole new world. I’m certainly learning that. So with our gifted kids, you alluded there before, they’re going to have particular interests and certainly the gaming world, the technology world  has a certain appeal for a lot of gifted and 2E  kids.

Have you got any particular. Tips for parents of gifted kids. Like, is it really any different, the whole managing screen time to your neuro-typical kids? Yeah. Thoughts on that?

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:14:36] Yeah, look, it is quite complicated because it’s really about we, how that shows up, like what traits, if we think about, let’s say if we take autism, that’s not a spectrum from just high to low.

We know that there’s actually so many different sliders within that. And so if some of your sliders are. To not necessarily be great at social communication or social connectedness, then gaming actually is a place that you can go into and avoid developing some of those skills sometimes. So there’s certain types of games that are much more appropriate for kids who maybe need to develop those social skills.

So I’d really look at it, but the difference between what needs you need to feed and what things you need to foster. So for many kids, like the knowledge-based stuff, the strategy, we’re thinking that kind of the strategic thinking. Great. You’re already amazing at that. We want to foster and get some balance back into the sliders.

Maybe across that neurodiversity spectrum when you’re not performing as well was something that you can improve some of your executive functioning. So what. Again, it shows up so differently for different kids and then there’s the age appropriateness as well. That’s again, why  Taming Gaming is something that just is such a relief for me, because I finally have a place that I can say to families.

Okay. You go and plug in how old your kid is, and that’s going to give you a very different list of games if your child is 11 versus 14. And th the kind of. Almost the vibe or the mood within games. So some games, some researchers would say high dopamine or high sensory. So there’s a lot of that stuff coming at you rather than there’s lots of other games that are much more narrative and story-based.

The kind of like walking through a meditation. And there are some of the games that some kids would benefit from fostering more skills rather than just feeding  what their strengths and the things that we know that they’re already good at. So again, no one prescription. When I work with families, we really go into looking at what the characteristics and the traits of the  kid are  what their strengths, and then what their weaknesses and what we want to foster are..

Sophia Elliott: [00:16:42] I just feel like there’s a whole, , there’s a, we could spend a week talking about just that. And so it’s, so tell us about some of the work that you do. You obviously work with families and offer different services.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:16:56] Yeah. So I do a little bit of everything. I was somebody who wanted to be a vet and then worked out the  mark  was really high.

And  went , Oh, I’m not smart enough. And so I gave up on that and floundered around for most of her twenties. I was, it was a teacher. I ended up teaching at Sydney boys high school, not because I was a really great teacher, but because. That would desperate for teacher. And I got a job in two days and I stayed there for about five years.

I developed thier  really big debating program there and the nineties training program and became a school counselor. So I spent 10 years as a school counselor. So psychologist and teacher working across all different settings. At the moment I am here in  my office where I do see any human who wants to engage in therapy, but I do have a kind of specialty working with adults and working with families around, traditional family therapy, but usually what parents are coming to me for.

And the big conflict piece  at the moment is around screens and managing screens. The tech jeanie  is out of the bottle. Trying to pop that back in with a young person. Who’s probably quite desperate to hold on to some of those not quite great technology habits. Then I obviously do a bunch of presenting and speaking consulting.

And basically, w we’ll talk to anyone who wants to listen about this stuff to really try and break down some of the big myths, and some of their fee mongering kind of moral panic tactics that go around, but from people who don’t really understand some of the big opportunities that games and digital technologies present, there’s also a big divide between ed tech, like where if you’re doing technology for learning, that’s all good in some kind of beautiful utopia and then learning.

Oh, using technology at home, which is some sort of addictive, horrible cyber bullying space. So we really need to blend those two things to try and understand that even in those ed tech spaces, there’s some of the dark stuff going on, but also at home, the social learning that happens in the leisure spaces can also be really important as well.

Sophia Elliott: [00:18:51] And so on that note, you’re also about to start another course about engaging teenagers and this particularly around tech obsessed teenagers. Yeah, so that’s an online course where actually taking parents through that nitty gritty and I’ve been engaged in the previous one, which is really good.

And I found it interesting that of course. How do we talk to our kids about technology? And so there’s a lot of content in there about first of all, connecting and how to communicate.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:19:19] Yeah, absolutely. Because if you want them to put the device down  then  you’re going to need to be able to bridge to have communication to them, so that they’re going to listen to you and not just hear the nagging mum voice.

And we get into habits of communication and some kind of toxic ways of communicating because our desperation for them to see what  we see  is really strong. And we have to remember that their brain architecture is simply not there. We’re asking, a kid to ride a bike. When we haven’t put them on the, even the tricycle to begin with, there’s just skills.

They might get what it looks like, but they physically can’t operationalize it. So engaging adolescence itself is a three-week course. It was written by a psychologist called Michael Cortner, who runs parents shop. Many people would know. Michael’s work. He’s trained thousands and thousands of people in engaging adolescents over the years.

So I’m trained in at engaging adolescents. And then he’s given me permission to add on the digital nutrition  piece  or the tech obsessed kid piece  so that we can actually apply it to the challenges that modern parents are having. Yeah, webinars because then people can access it wherever they are trying to get.

Even trying to run an event and get people into one space is always really, really tricky. Let alone with COVID changing our lives every two seconds. So yeah, online it’s I try and make it as interactive as possible. I know that lots of parents are kind of shy about sharing and they’re reticent to put themselves out there and say, this is a massive problem.

Help me help me. That generally is better for a a kind of private. Therapy space, but it’s a good way to start developing some of these skills. And it’s all about like  make a plan   to communicate. When you communicate off the cuff out of stress, when the proverbial is hitting the fan, it’s going to go wrong.

And that’s okay. You just need to do the cleanup later.

Sophia Elliott: [00:21:02] Absolutely. And two of the biggest takeaways I’ve got from it so far, and I don’t think will ever leave me, first of all  is remembering that I have a fully functioning brain, my kids don’t. So like, I’m the adult with the fully functioning brain.

My kids are still developing. So I’m going to take that responsibility for not behaving like a twat  when things get stressful and, and calming  it down. So that in itself, I think is parenting gold. But also the anecdote about the kids with the match. Yeah. Can you tell us about that one?

Because I think that is brilliant.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:21:37] Yeah. So when, and this is to illustrate exactly that same point and a lot of parents get, have the same aha moment when, I just jokingly say, yeah. So what you’ve realized is your 17 year old son is not, he’s not a 43 year old woman. Cool. I’m glad we I’m glad we leveled that out.

And 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. So what they can see is only as far as that match gives them insight and they think, Oh wow, I can see everything.

Whereas and the process, of brain development and, the experiences of life, start  throwing on bigger and better light bulbs. And it ends up being like, I think of it, those cars where they’ve got like massive flood lights, Like when I think of it like that, like we started the flood lights on and we can see their entire life playing out in front of us  because we have that insight of experience.

So we really want to reframe, yes, I can see what’s going on, but I don’t want to stop your learning because you feel that your match is really helping you. I can give you some different perspectives. And it’s the way you give that perspective. I think that’s really important and the way that you model what you’re talking about.

So if you’re saying, I know everything and I can see what’s going to happen a lot of the time kids are just going to be reactive to that. So psychological reactance is another really interesting thing. If you say this is banned, they will want it more than if you said, okay, let’s negotiate because it doesn’t take things off the table.

It doesn’t take things away. It doesn’t take their efficacy and their control away. So lots of little tips like that, just to reframe why we’re so frustrated with kids, especially gifted kids, because they get the concepts, but then they don’t operationalize things. You can’t see them. It’s a, should I know I shouldn’t do it, but I don’t actually make that happen.

And again, the storage system, the cognitive, like knowing  isn’t  in the same part as the doing, especially under stress.

Sophia Elliott: [00:23:43] Yes. Yes, yes. To all of that. And I’m thinking of my kids and it’s a wonderful reminder that we do offer all of our life of experience to our children, because quite often, especially with gifted kids, they, they think that they know everything.

And on some topics they are, far more knowledgeable than us. And even, one of my children in particular is so emotionally mature , but. But, at the end of the day, I’m the parent I’m putting in those. Boundaries and guide rails and yeah, I’ve got to take that responsibility on board.

Even though, they’re feeling very mature and knowledgeable, so, yeah.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:24:21] And as a teacher, like I was about 26 when I started teaching at Sydney boys high, which is in the top 10 schools in new South Wales. And again, I wasn’t there because I was an excellent teacher who did well in her HSC I remember being at the first assembly where the principal said, if your aATAR is under 80, then you’re not performing very well.

And my ATAR  back in the day was 75 and I thought, Oh, okay. I wouldn’t actually get to go to this school. And while a lot of other people might be quite intimidated then by the boys and need to pull a lot of power tricks to teach them. I was always really open about how intelligent they were, but how would I had, which was the emotional intelligence, maturity, and insight was something that they could really

stop and learn. So I think that’s the same, as parents go, you’re probably going to do a lot better academically than I ever did, but this is what I’ve got that you can learn from. And we’re going to exchange based on that kind of mutual respect.

Sophia Elliott: [00:25:16] Yeah. That’s great language. Isn’t it exchanging and respect.

I love that. So the course is starting up again in April. People have the opportunity to join you online and hear more about. All of this and it’s just been an absolute  gold today. Thank you so much.. And so where can people find you? You’ve got a website?

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:25:36] I do have a website amazingly and it’s a brand spanking new one that I spent a lot of time in the pandemic  re-doing.

So it’s jocelynbrewer.com. That’s where you’ll find digital nutrition being homed there, as well as information about my psychology services, which I do do via telehealth. So some of the parent digital coaching. And the programs and packages that I do up for families. We can do via tele health if that’s of interest.

I also in my little space here, I work with another psychologist, Kate Plum , who was a   school counselor with me as well. And she does a whole bunch of assessment for giftedness IQ assessment, but really has a passion for the giftedness space as well. So she’s does the assessment, so we’ve got a whole little, practice here in collective, as psychologist, which is lovely.

Sophia Elliott: [00:26:23] Then that’s wonderful to know because it can be really tricky to find psychologists who know giftedness. So they’re very prized among parents. It’s always in the parent chat who knows a good psych and it’s like, Oh, this one, but they’re booked out. So I’ll put all of those  details on the show notes.

 And I have to say, I do love the logo and the new website. So if that’s new, then Bravo. Thank you so much for today. I feel like we could just talk for weeks. There’s so much in there and I encourage everyone to check out your course.

I’ve found it incredibly helpful already. And. And there’s just so much parenting help in there. So thanks again for today.

Jocelyn Brewer – Digital Nutrition: [00:27:05] Pleasure. Love to chat.


#012 Unleash your Giftedness with Nadja Cereghetti from Unleash Monday

#012 Unleash your Giftedness with Nadja Cereghetti from Unleash Monday

Today I’m speaking with Nadja Cereghetti host of the Unleash Monday Podcast. It was so much fun to find a kindred spirit, she’s on a mission to create space for gifted adults with her awesome podcast!

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • Nadja talking about her journey of discovering she was gifted as an adult
  • Her immense relief in finally understanding herself
  • What it means to be a multipotentialite or generalist
  • The diversity of giftedness

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

“Isn’t everybody like this? Doesn’t everybody see the world like this, because that’s the only experience I knew, and turns out it’s not.” – Nadja

“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 frustration. Why didn’t anybody see this?” – Nadja

“First, I thought, this is kind of 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.” – Nadja

“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.” – Nadja

“There’s too much interesting stuff. I cannot just focus on one thing and knowing about this [giftedness], it really gives me, personally, permission to just do and not having to justify to anybody else.” – Nadja

“I would encourage adults, gifted adults to embrace it. I think it’s so much easier to recognize giftedness in other people in your children, in your friends. And you can clearly see the signs, but when it comes to us… they struggle to say, yes, I am part of this gifted community.” -Nadja

“We recognize greatness in other people, whatever they do. But for ourselves, we always feel like we need a certificate. We need a diploma, we need some sort of proof, but you don’t.” – Nadja


Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

See you in the same place next week.


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Sophia Elliott:  Hi, Nadja and welcome to our gifted kids podcast. It’s a delight to be talking to you the this evening and of course the wonderful host of Unleash Monday.

[00:00:11] Thank you for coming on.

[00:00:13] Nadja Cereghetti: Thank you for having me.

[00:00:15] Sophia Elliott: So let’s dive into it. I’m desperate to understand the journey that led you to doing the podcast Unleashed Monday. So where did it begin? Where did it all start?

[00:00:27] Nadja Cereghetti: So it started a year ago where I had this idea of creating a podcast to empower women like me.

[00:00:36] But at the time I didn’t really know what that means. I have to say now, in retrospect, but over the years, I, I love learning and I love networking. And I met all these incredible women the last three years. Especially like through mentoring, women, mentoring women for women, and also tools like strengths finder.

[00:01:01] And I thought, Oh my God, this is amazing. There’s so many tools out there. And I have a lot of friends, women, friends in academia that I thought could profit from this knowledge, but because academia is still very male dominated. And so I thought I should create a podcast. And as a perfectionist and procrastinator, I invited my friend who has this incredible story of being identified gifted at the age of 37 by chance.

[00:01:38] And I thought, okay, she’s going to be my guinea pig. I’m going to invite her. And we got to do this trial run of an interview. So she started sharing her journey and she started talking about. Being recognized as gifted by her therapist because she’s a pain patient. She was in therapy and she complained about some things.

[00:02:01] And her therapist said, well, that’s not because of your pain or to medication that’s because you’re gifted. And she goes, huh. So that’s when her journey began. And I just started asking these questions in this interview, this mock interview and the more she’s shared. The more I could relate and I’m like, Oh, but isn’t everybody like this.

[00:02:25] And doesn’t everybody see the world like this because that’s the only experience I knew and turns out it’s not.

[00:02:34] Sophia Elliott: Oh my God, I love it.

[00:02:37] Nadja Cereghetti: So then yeah, it was like a lot of gifted adults that learn about their giftedness later in life. I can see it in my friend, but I asked myself, I couldn’t take it without some clear data or test or analysis.

[00:02:56] So that was, that was in May. So we had this lockdown going on and I just Googled and found somebody here in Switzerland that was. The head psychologist for Menza at some point, and I knew this lady knows about giftedness. So I just emailed her and asked her if she does like tests or assessment. So she wrote back and she said, yeah, we can have a Zoom call.

[00:03:20]So that’s what we did. We had just an hour conversation and afterwards she said, yeah, I don’t have like a score for you, but you’re probably clearly in this category. And so I said, okay, if this lady tells me this, I don’t need to go further and do more in depth assessment. I just take her word for it.

[00:03:40] And I just thought, okay, but if I’m in this category, I have at least five other people I can think of in my circle that need to hear about this. So immediately I pivoted this whole idea of empowering women like me. So it’s more like empowering women, but I don’t want to be exclusive. So I just say I empower all  gifted adults embracing who they are and actually getting to know who they are. And when I found out 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.

[00:04:31] Also frustration. Why didn’t anybody see this? Like the signs were clearly there. And so, yeah, I just had to kind of take a few days to reflect on my whole journey. And first I thought, Hmm, this is kind of like 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.

[00:04:56] Is a little bit like yours goes in all directions. I did all the things and if I want to do something else, I just, I just Google and learn. Yeah. And so, yeah, I just thought, wow. After a little while embracing this it was very empowering  it. 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.

[00:05:26] And so I thought I need to share this. And I started. In the summer and I Google, but probably didn’t do such a good search because at the time I didn’t find anything about gifted adults. It was a lot for children. Well, as we know, not a lot, but there was some stuff about children. And so I thought, okay, I need to do this for adults.

[00:05:49] Sophia Elliott: I absolutely love that. I love that you had the podcast idea first and then, and in that process, you figured out that you’re gifted. That’s brilliant. That’s absolutely brilliant. I, I don’t know. I just think that in itself is so amazing. I love that you just kind of latched onto this and then go on going for it in terms of finding out more, because

[00:06:18] you obviously felt very deeply that this. Was fundamental for you, this understanding. And so how much has it really changed your life? That knowledge that you’re gifted?

[00:06:36]Nadja Cereghetti:  Well, I would say the internal shift. Is immense, I would say so I haven’t been out in the open world yet because we’re still all locked down here in Europe.

[00:06:49] So basically I’ve been in home office or working from home for my day job since March. So I’ve been creating this podcast here in my room. And I just. Put it out into the world and people give me feedback saying, Oh, you’re so brave sharing this personal journey. And I’m like, well, it feels like I’m just talking to myself, just release it into the world.

Keep reading Transcript Here

[00:07:12] I haven’t really gone out into the world yet and gotten all the feedback, but it has been a shift like this reflection and really understanding who I am and where I want to go in life. It’s little things that. You know, being called from an early age, this too much, you know, I was always talking too much.

[00:07:36] I was too loud. I was too bossy and constantly,  I was told to take myself back, make my self smaller, more quiet, be more this girly  girl. And. I knew it wasn’t  me and I always tried to be, and I kind of, I wasn’t envious, but I always thought, why is it so easy for other kids? Or why can I not be, you know, this cute little girl and.

[00:08:10] So looking back, I’m glad I was very self-confident and I did have support in my family surrounding it was more the teachers that were constantly telling me to be quiet. But luckily in my family, it wasn’t such an issue. I grew up an only child. I do have a baby half sister, I would say she’s 13 years younger than me, but we didn’t grew up in the same household.

[00:08:37] So I consider myself growing up as an only child and gender was never an issue. For example, like I was always allowed to do whatever I wanted to do. The gender luckily was never an issue, but yeah, I think looking back now, it just. Gives me permission or just knowing I wasn’t wrong that much. I remember, incidents where I had let’s say not conversation, more arguing with teachers.

[00:09:10] And at the time you  make … , How do you say this in proper  English. They made me feel like I’m wrong because I’m a child. I don’t know better. You will understand once you grow up, but growing up, being an adult, looking back on the situation, I still feel the same. And so, yeah, it just, it validated my life, my decisions.

[00:09:38] And when people have these. Well, meaning tips or, you know, telling me why do you do another project? Like don’t you have already on your plate? Why do you do a podcast? Like, why don’t you just sit on the couch and watch some more Netflix? Why do you do this to yourself? And it just validates me because this is who I am.

[00:10:03] Sophia Elliott: I can certainly resonate with that one. Why? Yeah. Why is it so much why this one doing that and yeah, I think it’s just needed, isn’t it? Yeah. I love on your website. You talk about multipotentialities so let’s share everyone with everyone, what that means.

[00:10:27]Nadja Cereghetti: Yeah. So basically I studied biology. I’m an infection, biologists and epidemiologist by training.

[00:10:35] So that’s an interesting field to be in at this point in time. However, so I did a master’s degree and then I didn’t pursue a PhD, but in this field, if you don’t pursue a PhD, there’s no career path for you. After my master teases, I was like, okay. So why? Like I always ask myself why and where do I want to go?

[00:10:59] So I need to have a clear goal in order to be motivated to do something. So a lot of my peers, they just went on and said, Oh, I’m just going to do a PhD. And then I’ll figure out my career path afterwards. So then to do a PhD then to do a postdoc and. Then they’re overqualified for what they want to do.

[00:11:16] And I realized I didn’t want to become a professor. And so I was like, so what now? And then I had all these other interests. So I also worked at the bank in pension for a year. As we already talked before we have so many similarities. I also was looking into sustainability and I always had this urge of being an entrepreneur.

[00:11:43] So there were all these different things. And I was like, why can’t I not just focus on one thing and go for it and want to become a CEO of like, you know, this huge corporate company. And the more I learned about this giftedness, there are some people that really find their  one calling and they’re really like into it and they go all for this.

[00:12:07] But apparently there’s a few people that just have vast interest in so many different fields and you don’t need to become a specialist in one field. And I also, in the past, I felt a little bit. Maybe ashamed or guilty that I didn’t focus on one thing and had to like justify or it was weird to talk about my, my CV. It was all over the place. And now I’m like, what? Well, I just embrace it and say, well, I’m a generalist. I call myself this multipotentialite there’s also famous. Great Ted talk around this topic of this lady who says, well, Yeah, I cannot just stick with one thing. And so I was like, well, I guess there’s also lots of other people like that.

[00:12:54] Just embracing it. And yeah, we in our society, I think. We look up to the people that are highly specialized, but people that are really a generalist can bring also together and bridge different subjects. And so that’s where I see my strengths. I speak many different languages, but not in terms of language, but in terms of like technical language .

[00:13:20]Sophia Elliott:  It’s so funny that you say that in that particular way, because that’s exactly how I how  think of my career. And then that’s exactly what I understand it to be. You can work in one industry and then move to another industry, and it’s just about learning the new language and then new content, isn’t it like, it’s so funny that you use those words because that’s exactly how I think about it.

[00:13:46] It’s just like each one has its own language and you’ve just got to learn that. And that’s just content. And then you’re on the go. And I think this is really important because we talk about giftedness and it’s a big word, and it means so many different things and you don’t. There aren’t a lot of conversations out there about being a generalist or a multipotentialite and I a hundred percent resonate with what you’re saying.

[00:14:14] And I remember in the early years of researching my children’s giftedness, I particularly remember one day where I was sick. I must have been pretty sick. Cause I remember I’m like laying on the couch and I was actually like just sick on the couch and. Normally I have to be pretty sick by the time I get afforded that conduit or I forward myself that luxury of just sitting on the couch and I was feeling a bit miserable and had my phone.

[00:14:45] I was just going through Ted talks and I got onto this multipotentialite thing. And I listened to all of these Ted talks. I’m like, Oh my goodness. And I had always, like you said, just now that kind of shame about not just doing one thing and I’d always wished I could just be an accountant or just go be a teacher and do that one thing, or just go do a thing, pick a career profession, do the thing, except I just there’s like too much choice.

[00:15:18] I couldn’t. And. And it, but it makes looking for jobs quite tricky because I would read the job description. I’m like, yeah, I can do all of those things, but I’m not that, you know, I don’t necessarily have ticked those boxes. You’re wanting people to tick in terms of qualified qualifications, but I can do all those things.

[00:15:39] So I wouldn’t go for a job because. I’m not that title. And I haven’t necessarily got that qualification, but I can do all that stuff. And it was really, it’s always been really challenging for me to find that direction. And so I’ve always just. I guess had quite, intuitive career and taken leaps and when I went overseas and stuff like that Oh, it’s just resonates so much what you’re saying about that.

[00:16:08] Nadja Cereghetti: It’s yeah, so I, I said I’m a biologist by training, but I also did some account when you said accounting. And then in 2018, I found Marie Kondo, the tidy guru, and I went to her seminar. So I’m also a certified Marie Kondo consultant on the side. And so that was, but I really think that it really helped me clear, you know, clear your space, clears your mind.

[00:16:38] And I think. So now I want to also bring that into the gifted sphere, like the whole kind of brain health and brain spa kind of thing. But yeah, I want to do all the things. There’s too much interesting stuff. I don’t, I cannot just focus on one thing and knowing about this, it really gives me. Personally permission to just do and not having to justify to anybody else.

[00:17:05] Like, yeah. So what, so what my CV is all over the place.

[00:17:10] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, like you say, there are many benefits to having a generalist within the team and it’s that ability to look at things from different perspectives and gather people and just that different approach as well. And just. I just love that because like you, I have a fine arts  degree, I have an MBA, I’ve worked in politics. I’ve worked for the festival of chamber music  and actually, yeah, one rollway, which really brought these things together. I was working as a program manager for an arts charity that worked with vulnerable young people, and we would use the arts. To build up self-esteem and resilience for vulnerable teenagers in some of the most deprived areas of Scotland.

[00:17:56] And it was the most wonderful, rewarding, awesome job and company. And so I was that bridge between the artists, and getting a program together. So I really understood the artists because I am, but I really have that kind of organizational business kind of mind as well and was able to be that bridge.

[00:18:19] And so I think like you, it’s given me permission to appreciate myself and not feel like I’m actually just broken because I don’t fit into a box of being  a thing. And I think that’s a real message for me. Like what I hope our listeners are appreciating and hearing is that we’ve all got those different strengths and giftedness looks  so different in everyone you express it  all differently. And it’s like, if you’ve seen one gifted person, well, you’ve seen one gifted person, in, in as much as our journeys quiet parallel they’re in completely different areas. So we express that very differently.

[00:19:00] Nadja Cereghetti: Yeah. And I would just want to add, like, it’s not just, as you said, like where you can, you actually found one job that brought all of that together.

[00:19:10] And that’s why currently my role in my day job is also kind of a bridge between the scientists and the administrative part. So I’m also bridging the vocabulary, the vocabulary between the administration. Of like scientific academic research setting, but, and the scientist itself. And yeah, one, one example is for example, if a mathematician talks about uncertainty, He ,has a totally different meaning to an accountant  or somebody from communications than it does to the, to the mathematician.

[00:19:48] And sometimes I feel like they talk to each other in the same language, but they’re not speaking the same language.

[00:19:55] Sophia Elliott: Yes, a hundred percent. That’s so true. And I think that has a lot to do with misunderstandings. Doesn’t it? It just, just that acknowledgement or understanding that we need to define our terminology and really have a sense of what we’re actually talking about and finding that common language with each other.

[00:20:15]Yeah, absolutely. I’m just thinking of. An example with my husband actually like many couples, we were in this situation where we kept having the same argument over and over again. Right. We’ve all done it. Like it was different things, but it was basically the same pattern. And I kind of got to the point.

[00:20:35] I was like well, we’re  not able to figure this out ourselves. Let’s go talk to someone, help us figure this out. And so we went to a marriage counselor and she sort of sitting there going, why are you here? You seem really happy. And I’m like, Oh, well this is thing. And she’s like, wow, you should see some of the couples that.

[00:20:56] I sit with like, okay, right. What, what, what can I help you with today? But we, what we learned from that experience was we now go not every year, but. I don’t know every couple of years or so back to her. Right. And she just kind of thinks they’re a bit odd. It’s like maintenance, there’s always one or two things and we can chat about it, but it’s an opportunity for a third person to help you find that common language.

[00:21:26] And then we’ve come up with a few nifty tricks. And one of the things that we still use regularly is what we called our percentage care factor. And so the percentage care factor is identifying how much each party cares about particular issue. So come up and I would seek to find out what my husband thought about.

[00:21:52] That felt about that. Cause I’m a collaborator. I want your input. I want to know what you think about it. I want the data, you know, and, but he would be like, Why are you talking to me about this? Uh, just, you know, and so there’s this clash and when then we figured out, he could say, look, I have zero care factor about this issue.

[00:22:12] Like, you can just do whatever you want. Right. And, and that just opened up the world immediately. We had the same language about topics. And now when we talk about things, I’ll be like, nah, my care factor is  like. Minus 10, do what ever you want , or we’d be like, like now I’m a hundred here and he’ll be like, yeah, I’m a hundred.

[00:22:34] And so that’s a sign that we both need to work it out together. And I think that’s one of those examples of just giving a common language it really helps the communication. And so, yeah.

[00:22:47] Nadja Cereghetti: Oh, I will definitely use this care factor in my relationships.

[00:22:51] Sophia Elliott: It’s an absolute winner, absolute winner.

[00:22:55] So the podcast has been very exciting. I’ve listened to a number of episodes that you’ve done so far. Like Bravo pulling all this together from your bedroom in lockdown. It’s quite the achievement. So what has been the most, I don’t know, exciting or interesting or revealing part of. Talking to different people about giftedness and different topics.

[00:23:19] Nadja Cereghetti: So the first thought that comes to mind is this generosity and a sense of community. Like I’ve been embraced from day one from the gifted  world. And first when I started doing this, I thought. Nobody else is doing this I’m alone. I’m just going to put it out there. But then one-on-one like people with big names and in this field started reaching out to me and wanted to come on my show.

[00:23:52] And they were like saying stuff like, Oh, I heard about your podcast. Have you come across my work? And I was like, yes, but I have like three episodes up. So I wasn’t going to go reach out to you just yet, but sure. You can come on my podcast. So that was really a very interesting experience. And also I think validated the need for more.

[00:24:20]Podcasts on giftedness that really people want to come on the show and share. And yeah, the, the stories are similar, but also very unique, but I think we all have a common goal and yeah, I’m just so overwhelmed by the love that I receive. And I think the most. Aha moment I had, when I talked to Marc Smolowitz who’s doing the documentary The G Word.

[00:24:55] And when he brought in the how do you say he brought in the angle of diversity inclusion and equity, and this is where. I had this aha moment, because this is such an important topic to me as well. And I thought, Oh yes, like who gets to be gifted and why? And so I think that that’s really now why I’m also so passionate about this topic is to advocate for people.

[00:25:29] But first, I don’t know, but also for people that might not have the resources.

[00:25:36] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. I totally get that. It’s  certainly something that I’m very conscious of and the, all the research shows that we’re  not identifying children, let alone adults from different cultures, different low socioeconomic backgrounds different race.

[00:26:02] We need to do so much better. We really do. It’s yeah, it’s just  it’s not . Okay. And it’s something I’m very passionate about as well and very conscious of trying to have that conversation as well. Here in Australia. We, we don’t do a very good job of recognizing the strengths of, and the, and just how much our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures have to offer us.

[00:26:34] And. And there are gifted kids there too. They, and of course they going to express that giftedness differently. And we need to understand that and make sure that we’re meeting those needs as much as we’re meaning educational needs across the board and from low socioeconomic backgrounds. And, Australia is a very multicultural country.

[00:26:59]Yeah. It’s just, it’s not okay that people are missing out because they don’t fit this whitewashed image of what giftedness is. So yeah, I think the important, the work that Marc is doing with The G, Word Film is really important and certainly looking forward for them to see that coming out in the next year or so.

[00:27:19]So with Unleash Monday podcast, what’s what’s your kind of goal or your big aim. You’re going to continue doing some podcasts for us all to listen to.

[00:27:31] Nadja Cereghetti: Yes. So I started in August. I have a bye. Weekly show because as I said, I’m still working almost full time. And so it takes a lot of time.

[00:27:46] Really. We want to do this as a high quality production. So it takes me quite some time to do an episode. But I’d rather do it. Continuously and just didn’t put myself too much under pressure for a weekly shows or at the moment it’s a biweekly show, hopefully in the future, I can make it a weekly show.

[00:28:05]But yeah, I really want to keep going and. Advocating fighting the stereotypes, just educating people what is giftedness and just showing the range, the whole rainbow of, and also talking about twice exceptionalities, just. The neuro diversity. There’s so many terms and vocabulary that comes up. I didn’t even know where it was going to go in August.

[00:28:36] And so it’s just, it’s just this journey and this evolution. So I’m just going with the flow currently and see where it leads me. But Definitely want to continue doing this. And as you do, I love creating community and hopefully that’s something I can offer at some point to the gifted adults who sense of community or as a space for community.

[00:29:00] But. I want to do this, right. So I’m taking my time, a little bit of figuring this out, but yeah, I really want to keep going and learning and diving into this and just, yeah. Advocating for giftedness and just creating awareness because I think it’s not, obviously there’s stereotypes and prejudice, but I think it’s also just a lack of awareness.

[00:29:27] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. We definitely need to raise the awareness and thank you. Thank you for, for being there for gifted adults. And I really want to encourage parents, anyone listening to tune in to Unleash Monday. Okay. Because I think a huge journey for parents of gifted kids is those little aha moments. And when the penny drops and suddenly you realize this thing with your kid, actually I do that too, or actually my life now makes sense because, and you referred to this earlier statistically, and I did read this somewhere and I’ll probably get the numbers a little bit wrong, but.

[00:30:09]You know, a child’s IQ siblings are likely to be, I think within five or 10 points, parents, I think were a little bit out, kind of 10 to 20 and grandparents between sort of 20 – 30. And now don’t quote me on that. I think it’s. Maybe a bit, a bit wooly , but that kind of thing is sort of steps out like that.

[00:30:28] So there’s a reasonable, or, statistically reasonable perhaps chance that if your child is gifted, you two, are gifted and you’re expressing your giftedness in the way that you express it. And it’s worth digging into because if you know yourself better, your children. You can help your children know themselves better because they are just a mirror to us.

[00:30:51] really. I was only  thinking about something the other day and my eldest has  got this little OCD thing that he’s starting to do with his fingers. And, as a concerned parent, of course, I was like we should talk to his psychologist about that because I’m keen to understand that.

[00:31:11] And I would hate for OCD to be a thing you later in life that is, um, debilitating in any way for him. And then I was actually doing a podcast only last  week. And I’m sitting there unconsciously doing the same thing that my son does. And I realized in that moment, I’m like, Oh wow, that’s interesting.

[00:31:33] Okay. We both going to go see the psych and talk about that. And  because they are mirrors of us if we’re, if we can see that sometimes. And I know for me much like yourself, this is about knowing ourselves better and through knowing ourselves better. Being open to seeing that in others as well, and having this place to belong in a community and understanding, because I think there’s nothing more powerful than just being seen for who we are.

[00:32:03] It’s a really moving, I think, experience. And to have that from people in your life.

[00:32:11] Nadja Cereghetti: Yeah. And I do hear from gifted adults that find out about their giftedness. It’s mostly through their children, but yeah, they’re also, obviously, if you don’t have children, then you might never find out. So that’s also why my podcast is there.

[00:32:26] But if you have children then definitely come and listen.

[00:32:30] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So where can people find you?

[00:32:36] Nadja Cereghetti: So you can find me on Unleash Monday.com. That’s my website. And from there, they’re all the links to the podcast providers. So I’m on Apple podcasts and wherever people can find me. I’m also on Instagram at Unleash dot Monday.

[00:32:57] And yeah, so also starting on LinkedIn and Twitter and everywhere, but I think going to the website is the best chance. There’s all the links to all the things I’m doing.

[00:33:07] Sophia Elliott: Excellent. Thank you so much. And as we finish, is there any final words that you’d like to share with us?

[00:33:17] Nadja Cereghetti: I would encourage adults, gifted adults to embrace it. I think it’s so much easier to recognize giftedness in  other people in your children, in your friends. And you can clearly see the sign, but when it comes to us, I see that with my friends as well. I have some friends that I. They’re clearly gifted and they read the checklist and tick  all the boxes, but they struggle to say, yes, I am part of this gifted community.

[00:33:50] They still are waiting for some sort of external evaluation. But I think nobody’s going to ask you for a certificate for having a conversation or to evaluate or take this. As your truth, because it will help you. It will really give you a sense of empowerment, but if you do need this external evaluation, there are places that you can reach out to and you don’t need to do an IQ test.

[00:34:23] There’s no testing involved. Like you can have a conversation with a specialist. So I really urge people to find out because. If you’re in the state of you think you are, but you’re not really owning it yet. It might not be as powerful. I think I really urge people to take it and just us. as their  truth.

[00:34:51] I think that’s what you say, right? I think just, just owning it. And I was, I was talking to a friend of mine and she was saying she felt. Insecure as an artist because she didn’t finish art school. And then we were saying like, yeah, but we don’t think Beyonce , went to singing school, she just did it, right..

[00:35:14] Right. Nobody wants to see Beyonce’s diploma. Like she’s amazing as a singer. So nobody cares. And I think the same goes for a lot of things. We. We recognize greatness in other people, whatever they do. But for ourselves, we always feel like we need a certificate. We need a diploma, we need some sort of proof, but you don’t.

[00:35:39] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Wise words. I shall listen to them as well wise words,  thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed our chats and I have a feeling we’re going to be catching up in the future and chatting some more. It’s been delightful to talk to you and absolutely parents out there. Grownups out there.

[00:36:02] Please check it out, belong, know yourself. Do it, so thanks. Nadja.

[00:36:10] Nadja Cereghetti: Thank you, Sophia. Thank you for having me. I love this conversation.

[00:36:14] Sophia Elliott: No, it’s been wonderful. Thank you so much. See you soon.