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

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

Talking parenting and Megan’s (Twice) Exceptional Life

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

In the episode you’ll hear:

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

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Continue reading transcript here...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#003 Perfectionism & Heavy Expectations – Podcast

#003 Perfectionism & Heavy Expectations – Podcast

Perfectionism & Heavy Expectations 

Sharing Samantha’s Story

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

In the episode you’ll hear:

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

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quotes

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

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

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

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


Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

See you in the same place next week.


Connect with me on LinkedIn Instagram & Facebook!



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

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

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

...continue reading transcript here...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#002 What is gifted? Podcast

#002 What is gifted? Podcast

Today I’m speaking with Lynda McInnes, Principal of Dara School for gifted kids about What is Gifted?

Find out what Bart and Lisa from the Simpsons can tell us about being gifted! It might not be what you think!

In the episode you’ll hear:

  • There is no single definition of giftedness
  • Giftedness is also called highly abled
  • Children are usually gifted in particular areas but rarely in all areas
  • Using psychological assessment to identify strengths
  • Asynchronous development – being age-appropriate in some areas and gifted in other areas
  • Learning at their stage (not age) in each subject
  • Differentiation and the challenges of teachers to cater to variance of six years in a classroom
  • The importance of differentiating for gifted kids
  • Gifted kids need more than differentiation in the classroom
  • What Bart & Lisa Simpson can tell us about gifted kids
  • About starting a school for gifted kids
  • Gifted kids not fitting into mainstream schools
  • Finding your tribe
  • Gifted kids don’t have all the gifted characteristics

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“When you have a relevant curriculum that’s relevant to that child then all their issues disappear… boredom, disruptive behaviour disappears.” – Lynda

“We’re falling behind internationally and …within our current context of education, it’s an inclusive education, so, all children of the same age are placed into the same classroom to do the same work then each teacher is expected to differentiate the curriculum so you can accommodate their needs…. the research shows… there are 6 years of difference in one classroom… how can a teacher do it?” – Lynda


Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

See you in the same place next week.


Connect with me on LinkedIn Instagram & Facebook!


00:00:00 Today, we're talking about what is gifted and who would know better than Lynda McInnes, principal of Australia's only gifted school stay tuned. 

00:00:00 Today, we're talking about what is gifted and who would know better than Lynda McInnes, principal of Australia's only gifted school stay tuned. 

00:00:09 Hi, I'm Sophia Elliott as a parent of three gifted kids. I'm here to talk about all things gifted because I've been isolated and uncertain. And I felt like that parent, then I found peace of mind support and my community.

00:00:28 This podcast is about sharing that journey, actually parenting gifted kids and connecting with advice and support. So we have everything we need for every member of our family to thrive. This is the our gifted kid podcast. Welcome to the podcast. 

00:00:44 Thanks so much for your time today. One of our first conversations I'd like to have is just quite simply, what is gifted?

00:00:51 What does it mean to be gifted? I think the term gifted is probably being used over the years in a variety of different ways. There's no universal definition. And I think that's part of the problem when it comes to what does it mean? I prefer along the lines of highly able, so, what is a highly able student, how does that different from a,

00:01:16 what we would say to normal student, you know, you've got your students in your class, what do those students look like? How do they behave? Are all kids gifted? I think Some people will use that term quite freely to say that all children have a gift, but at the end of the day, we all learn differently. When you use that term gifted or highly able,

...continue reading transcript here...

00:01:41 what you're doing is characterizing a particular student has a particular trait in a particular way. So it may be that for example, take maths for instance. Cause that's my, probably my biggest passion when you've got a child that can actually do quite abstract maths thinking. And they're several years ahead of other students, the same age to me, that's the student.

00:01:41 what you're doing is characterizing a particular student has a particular trait in a particular way. So it may be that for example, take maths for instance. Cause that's my, probably my biggest passion when you've got a child that can actually do quite abstract maths thinking. And they're several years ahead of other students, the same age to me, that's the student.

00:02:05 That's highly able in a particular area. That's the student that's gifted. And so I gifted students gifted across all, Not necessarily. You can me have a real passion for maths, for instance. And that's where all of your energy goes in, but you might not be strong when it comes to the written word. So you may be average ability in,

00:02:32 in, you know, you, your written, your spelling, your grammar is a gifted students aren't necessarily gifted in all areas. They could be just in one particular focus. It could be in art for instance, that there are amazing at the art that they do, but not necessarily gifted in other abilities. Say there are a few children that would be gifted across every area,

00:02:59 but they would be very far. And few between My oldest son is very passionate about all things, science and space, but when he was in reception and even now he's very much age appropriate in terms of writing in English, which he considers to be quite boring. And initially at his previous school, that was quite a barrier for them to being able to acknowledge that he needed acceleration.

00:03:30 It was like he was already reading three years ahead of his peers, but he was age appropriate in his writing and storytelling because it was all about facts for him. I often feel like people struggled to see a child as gifted or highly abled when they're kind of age appropriate in some areas. Do you see that Quite often used to see that where teacher would say,

00:03:57 well, I'm not accelerating him in for instance science, because he can't write. There are other ways that you can assess the child. It's not just in written word. You could actually record them, ask them questions, you know, assessment, shouldn't all be about written, you know, and I think that just boils down to how different teachers assess different children when you've got,

00:04:22 you know, some of the teachers that we've got that are, you know, been around for years, they will assess children based on just general conversations that they're having at the time going, you know, they're able to recall facts, they're able to analyze those facts. So some children could give you the results of everything for the last 50 years on a particular football player,

00:04:45 for instance. But when you actually ask them to analyze and what does that mean? That's when that other level of understanding comes in and that's what you search for it. Are they able to make connections between what they're passionate about and other areas that they're just hamstrung? Yeah, no written words. Not part of their strength. Yeah. And that's okay.

00:05:13 Yep. So I think I quite often say, so what, So at Dara Dara school, Australia's first school for gifted children. What do you look for when you're interviewing students? What's the process? You know, the criteria you go through, What we do is we actually asked for a psychologist report that they've had, they've been tested so that we can actually see what,

00:05:38 what do the results that she's shy. I don't look at the final IQ product at the end. I actually break the data down and look at what, where are their strengths located? What does that mean for that student? Where are their strengths? Where are their weaknesses at the end of the day, it's about providing an environment. That's actually going to nurture that child to support them in their learning journey.

00:06:04 If a gifted child's, environment's not supporting them, then there are some significant problems can occur that become bored, disinterested. They have social issues. They don't relate to their peers. The list goes on. These children are the ones that actually end up dropping out if they're not looked after. So we're very mindful during part of that process that we actually look for.

00:06:35 Do they fit? You know, do they have areas that they are gifted in? Are there areas that they're not that's okay because we actually split up the curriculum in such a way, is that we allow them to Excel in the areas that they are and the areas that they're just they're age appropriate. They work at age appropriate curriculum. So it's not about pigeonholing a child into a year level.

00:07:03 For instance, you know, we could have a child that will describe a child at the moment. That's, you know, currently he's working at year six maths and his, you know, age appropriate. He would in any other school, he'd be in a year, two class. He's actually doing year for English curriculum year six, maths for him,

00:07:25 he's happy. He's content he's well adjusted. He's actually got friends within the classroom. And then not necessarily in his age group, they're all across different age groups, depending on what his interest is on any given day. So for me, that success of where he is at this point is happy to see him, you know, move on. Yeah.

00:07:53 Yeah. So I've heard you in the past, describe gifted children as children who learn more quickly than others. And as you've already said, they're able to make those connections. So you've been able to create that environment where they get to learn at their own pace in whatever subject that they do. Yeah. Yeah. And you're, you're seeing those results in terms of their happiness.

00:08:16 Yeah. And if they've completed part of a curriculum, we don't make them wait till the end of the year. It's about, they need to move. Now it's halfway through the year, let's move them to the next level. And we just keep adjusting those levels. So, you know, even within maths, there are four different streams. And in some,

00:08:33 some areas of maths, they may be exceptionally strong in our other areas. There may be some gaps that they haven't quite understood. So it's about supporting them, giving them the information so they can actually progress to that next level. Yeah. I know. I went, I've spoken to parents in that kind of early phase of wondering is my child gifted had that conversation where they'll say you,

00:09:01 my son, he loves maths and I can get him to eat his vegetables by say, right. If you eat that, I'll give you an equation to do, but in other areas it's very much age appropriate. And so parents, I think, doubt themselves and their interpretation perhaps, or where their child is at because at the end of the day,

00:09:21 a six year old is still a six year old. And some areas there always is going to be a six year old by in other areas, there might be a years ahead of their peers and gifted in those areas. So I think it's a real challenge for parents knowing that that's okay. You know, it's, it's not that every gifted child is,

00:09:41 you know, Sheldon Cooper from the big bang theory and just sort of genius excelling in all areas. So it's exciting to hear that you're offering something that will fit them. So why do you think that gifted children are so misunderstood? Because in my conversations with pretty much every parent I've come across with a gifted child, the stories, you know, are often very similar in that their child has been at a school or many schools.

00:10:09 And they've just, they've just not been understood. They've been labeled as disruptive or hard to engage, or their behavior is really, um, disruptive at home. And it just feels like there's a lot of people just not getting these kids. What do you think that is? I think when you have a relevant curriculum that's relevant to that individual child, then all the other issues disappear.

00:10:37 So, you know, they bought them all there. You know, this has captured me, you know, some boredom disappears, you know, disruptive behavior disappears. I know personally, if you heard the same thing over and over again, then you, you start to go on board. Um, a lot of teachers will come at the curriculum and they will teach different things that you get several opportunities,

00:11:04 but delve into it when a gifted child has done it once and they've got it, they just want to move on. But when you re constantly repeat the curriculum, which is what we do in the classroom as a teacher, to make sure that they have understanding or to get bored, you've shown me the equation. Yep. I've got it. Yeah.

00:11:23 I've done a few practices. Let let's move on. The other part of this is within our classrooms at the moment, and I've just been reading some research. Um, that's being pulled out that we falling behind internationally and it's been, was explained that within our current context, that education it's an inclusive education. So all children of the same age, uh,

00:11:51 placed into the same classroom to do the same work. Then each teacher is expected to differentiate the curriculum through inclusion through that inclusive practice so that you can accommodate their needs as a teacher. Yep. That's possible when the research is that she's shown that from your, the least able to the most highly able, there are six years of difference in the one classroom.

00:12:20 Wow. That's huge. It's huge. Um, how can a teacher do it? Um, it's the next question. A lot of teachers have never been exposed to the differentiation or they see differ initiation as a lot of hard work. So they actually tend to teach content. Yeah. You know, the default is Australian curriculum says, I need to teach for this year level.

00:12:47 So this is what I'm going to teach. Even though the Australian curriculum, diversity document talks, um, very much about how you can actually use different year levels. It is an art in itself. The other part of problem, I think, is as a teacher, you know, we do our three or four years at university. We are not exposed to gifted it.

00:13:13 Yeah. It may pop up in a lecture where somebody might mention it, but how do you cater for them? How, you know, and trying to understand these children is another minefield. I know when I did my training as a teacher, it wasn't mentioned and I was in a classroom. And I could tell that I had students that with high abilities and I had students that were struggling.

00:13:39 I felt as a teacher, that I was failing. Some of these children as the Australian population has become increasingly multiple cultures. You know, you see also in your classrooms now you have English as a second language as well. So, you know, I've got highly able, I've now got, you know, students with a disability. I've got English as a second language and I have other children.

00:14:06 Yeah. We're demanding a lot of our teachers, aren't we And central format. And some of these classes, you know, it can be 30 students and trying to cater for all of those students can be problematic. Differentiation is one way of managing it. When I realized that there was six year levels in one class, um, just horrified me because My mind,

00:14:29 I mean, I've got three kids. I couldn't imagine teaching a class with 20 little 30. And, um, yeah, my understanding is that a lot of the universities within Australia in their teaching courses, they may do an elective for gifted education, but there really is very little, you've got to go and do a master's in gifted ed if you really want to get across the subject.

00:14:52 So, and that's where I went in the end was how, how am I going to accommodate these children? So I actually went on and did a master's degree in gifted education, which opened my eyes up, um, around how I could differentiate what their characteristics, what and what these students required from me as a teacher. You know, I changed my headset.

00:15:13 You know, I put the student at the center of the universe and everything that I do needs to evolve around them, which made an enormous amount of work for me. But as I've gone through my career, it's become easier and easier to deal with those. But the other part of the problem that I've faced, you know, having a master's degree in gifted education is one thing.

00:15:37 It's getting your fellow colleagues to understand what these students need. Uh, so you know, administration in most schools will be, yes, we cater for them. We do it inclusively. We do it in the classroom. You know, you should be happy with that. These children need far more. They need a teacher that actually gets them and understands them.

00:15:58 And there are some exceptional teachers out there. I'm not saying that all teachers, you know, it's that exceptional teacher that really gets really, what is the curriculum? What is this child need and trying to program that's where you problems when you've got six years of difference in a classroom, it's extremely difficult because the concept that you're trying to teach can't be done globally.

00:16:24 It has to be done very individually. So, you know, at the end of the day, you know, with the lack of administration support, lack of teacher training, what we're getting in our classrooms are misconceptions. Teachers just don't know how to deal with them. They see that, you know, putting them in an into a special program is a reward,

00:16:49 but they need to behave. So in order to get into that program, they actually have to behave the end of the day. They're a child and they board Absolutely. I came across this as well. It's that kind of idea that, Oh yeah, that students, and actually this was in my son's previous school. They said, Oh, we do have,

00:17:08 we've got an English program for highly able students within English. And they do a class for an hour a week. And I just felt like as a parent, my child is not gifted for an hour, a day or an hour away. Like they're just 24, seven gifted. Like what would they be doing the rest of the time? And I must have gone to at least six primary schools in our local area.

00:17:35 And all of them, I asked, what do you offer gifted students? Most of them had no particular program at all. One of them had a gifted program and that was it. And, and I got varying responses when asked the question, you know, do you have any gifted students? One principal says we have students with many gifts. And then I just felt like,

00:17:58 well, that's really not the question I asked. And, and other schools would say, look, we do have one or two gifted students. We don't have a particular program, but we, you know, we try and differentiate as much as possible. So at least they were honest and upfront about what they could offer, but it was really challenging.

00:18:17 And I definitely felt as a parent that a complete lack of confidence that my child would be supported in the way they needed to be supported. And that's, it's really quite confronting. It's pretty scary. And, you know, we were just very lucky to have Dara on our doorstep here in Adelaide in terms of gifted kids though, I've heard you in the past talk about Bart and Lisa.

00:18:41 So you're not getting out of this conversation without telling us about Von Lisa. So what's the deal with the same sentence. Uh, people quite often, you know, ask me about, you know, defining what is a gifted child. And quite often go to my default, which is Baton Lisa. She asked the question, which of, which of the two is gifted and everyone's going to say Lisa,

00:19:03 right. Everyone says Lisa. And I actually say, Lisa's a high achiever because she puts all that energy, getting, you know, everything right. And she's out to please, everybody she's always studying, always studying, you know, but on the other hand, it's the one that's gifted. And when I sat down and I watched many, many episodes,

00:19:27 part of course, I spent many hours, you know, watching Bart episodes with my son and started to compare my son to Bart. I could see what was going on, but on the other hand is the one that's gifted. Um, you know, like quite often say, you know, he must have had ADHD, um, because he's hyperactive,

00:19:50 he's always getting up to mischief. He's, you know, out and out, bored with life in general and makes his own entertainment. He's always thinking outside of the square, there's one episode where they show him, you know, he's thinks he's going to Spain. So he gets on the airplane. And by the time he gets off the airplane at the other end,

00:20:13 he can speak fluid Spanish, which is not bad for someone that, you know, we would consider as the naughty child in the classroom. He's the gifted one in the classroom. He can turn on when he wants to. He turns it on when he wants to there's another episode where they put him on medication and he actually turned into what he called himself,

00:20:34 was the super geek, you know, and started to wear glasses and could answer questions and whole range of things. You know, he turned into this, you know, amazing genius, but the bottom line was he could see how unhappy his sister was. He had this and gifted children have this strong sense of social justice. And he actually got really sad and very upset because the limelight was now on him and not his sister.

00:21:08 So in his wisdom, he actually stopped taking the medication reverted back to the bar that we know and love so that his sister could have the limelight, you know, in his eyes, ill always do what he always does and it'll always get what he always wants. Um, you know, to me, that's the gifted one. Yeah. I love that.

00:21:30 I really do. My youngest is three and that's sometimes feel like he's a bit of a Bart. You know, if, if this, if the silence in the house, it's always like, well, what is he up to? You know, he's the first one out of all of them who will be taking something apart or deconstructing something or just carnage,

00:21:53 he just gets into it. I think he gets a bit bored and he just looks for trouble. You know, it can be quite challenging A bit like my son, um, my son's now in his thirties, but you know, going through school, he, I never saw him do homework. Just did what he wanted to do. He got twenties for,

00:22:15 you know, in his sys he did it all in a matter of couple of weeks because the assignments were all Jews. So let's just throw this together, have a raid. Yep. That's good enough. And submit, you know, he then went on and decided he'd be a motor mechanic. And I thought, interesting career path, he was bored.

00:22:35 He could pull a car apart, put it back together with his eyes shot. You know, he would help the lecturer when he went to trade school, sitting up all the PowerPoints, uh, locking everything because he'd actually completed the two weeks or three weeks of trade school in the first week. And what do you do for the next two weeks? So they put him to get to work,

00:22:56 doing a whole variety of other things since then he's gone on now, works in it. Um, how long that career path will last, we'll find out he's just who he is and becomes bored. I look back on my career and I've probably had five career changes, so I'm not going to question my son says I too, get bored very quickly.

00:23:24 Um, so yeah, I think it's just part and parcel now being gifted. And so, you know, were you just bored one day and you decided to create a school for gifted kids? Is that how that came about, Came about through the injustice, as you spoke about your own story, where you've been to schools and, you know, the kids were bored.

00:23:48 I noticed, and many of the students and I was actually a coordinator of a gifted program that the teachers just didn't get them administration wouldn't allow them to accelerate because it didn't fit the timetable. Was it a bit of inconvenience? And I just kept shaking my head going, there has to be a better way of educating these children. Um, and I remember talking to a colleague,

00:24:14 um, in the staff room and she said, well, why don't we do something about it? So we started talking and we came up with this brilliant idea, why don't we start our own school? And from there, we just actually started to talk to people, our rec. And within three months we held our first committee meeting. And that was back in the October, 2013.

00:24:39 And the idea was born before long. We had a committee probably 12 working really hard on what were the needs that we had to achieve to be able to open a school, a curriculum we could do, um, policy we could do, but it was the most important thing was we actually needed a physical site, um, having no money. Um,

00:25:05 how do you get a site? So it was, you know, digging into people's pockets to be able to rent a space, to be able to take the next tick off the next, you know, the next step saying, we now have a physical dwelling. We've now completed all of the paperwork. We've now done all of the curriculum, what next?

00:25:25 And that's how the story sort of in a very quick nutshell was born. And it was, I think, predominantly teachers in the beginning. And then it was teachers and parents, and which is unheard of, uh, you know, two different sets of groups of people to actually come together and work towards a common goal. But the vision was very strong that we wanted to achieve a school where these children could thrive rather than just survive.

00:25:57 Absolutely. And I think that's the thing for me, thriving is just crucial today. It's one of my core values and it's, it was devastating to see my kids, you know, not thriving and certainly not getting what they needed. And I talked to a lot of parents where, you know, the glaring inadequacies of the current system, breaking children,

00:26:22 breaking their souls and making it very challenging for families to figure out what to do and what steps to take, uh, talking to a parent recently of quite a young child and about four or five who had already been to, I think was about five. And I'd already been to like three different schools, you know, and then they were trying to homeschool,

00:26:47 you know, just been in and out of different, um, educational institutions. And it just hadn't worked. And another parent whose child just had been bullied basically, you know, and said to his mom one day, why am I weird, mom? Why my weird, what can I do to be normal? How do I become normal? And one of the things I struggle with is this idea that kids don't know that they're gifted,

00:27:15 that they're different because they do they're in the playground with their peers and they know that they can't connect. You know, one of the I'll never forget when my son was five and just observing him in the playground. And at that time, his favorite topics was Google Plex, the number and planet nine. And cause he, you know, he had,

00:27:40 he'd gotten onto space by this stage and I could see him kind of bouncing around the playground, trying to talk to other kids about, you know, these concepts and just kind of every time he tried to engage, it would just bounce back because they just weren't interested in planet nine and just desperate for that connection. But there was just, there was no connection.

00:28:04 And you know, it was very obvious to me that he realized that he was different. You know, you can't second guess I think the experience that they have for themselves. And it's just because they're younger doesn't mean that that's any less difficult, that sense of not belonging and what I love and have loved, you know, the out time at Dara has been hearing,

00:28:26 uh, when your kids come and their parents say things like, uh, you know, after a week or so I think one child said, mom, thank goodness we've found. I found a school full of normal people because they've just found their tribe. They found people that they connect with, uh, or, you know, think just that sense of being somewhere that they belong.

00:28:50 Yeah. I've heard many, many of those stories over the years where someone said, I've actually got my weekends back. I don't have to go and find your, you know, as you put it a tribe for them to connect with, they've actually got everything that they need here. A one parent said, my child comes home, exhausted, wants to go to bed early.

00:29:16 I don't know whether this is good or bad. And they said, you know, it took me a couple of weeks to work out that their mind was being stretched. It was being exercised. They were actually making connections. You found a friend that they can have a play date with where they argue over the periodic table. You know, things that haven't even been taught within a normal system.

00:29:42 But know here we are discussing the intricacies. You know, it reminds me of, um, talking about the playground where add on playground duty as a teacher, yet you, you watch them and they play and they do a whole variety of things and you get you to your normal things happening in the playground. But this one particular day, um, I had two children.

00:30:06 They had been arguing over the correct generic name for jellyfish. And so there's me with Google on my phone, looking up to see who's right. I gotta, I've got to settle this argument. Well, in the end, what I discovered was both of them were right. That the scientists were even out on this same argument. I love that we then wrote an email to both of the scientists that were arguing,

00:30:34 coming up with what their thoughts were so that the students could actually converse through my email to the scientists about how the jellyfish should actually be named. So that was, you know, from a playground incident to actually conversing with a scientist. Um, I never thought I'd even be doing that, but Hey, here we go. You know, and I got home and I tell my husband,

00:31:03 you know, some of the stories that happened during the day and he just says to me, well, you will have a bunch of Sheldon Coopers at your school. This is what's expected. So how do you find the answers? And I said, it's called Google. Okay, go yet. Thank goodness for Google. I think. Yeah. You know,

00:31:21 and I think that's a particularly sore point for me because, um, our experience at the previous school was very much of really lack of understanding. And we, we sought to accelerate, um, my son at that school just by six months, because just due to his age, he had started reception six months early. He had, so he had completed a year of reception halfway through the year.

00:31:46 Uh, he was already of his peers and he was actually depressed. Wasn't diagnosed depressed, but if you've ever seen a five year old with a complete lack of joy or a complete lack of being able to find joy in his life or laughing that went on for a number of weeks because he just felt that disconnection. And he was desperate to delve in deeply on those issues that he was really passionate about.

00:32:19 And he would come home from school, which I think he then just saw as a place to go and play. Uh, and he would spend four or five hours absorbing, like you'd just inhaling books on space, um, before eventually getting to sleep. And I think that depths of misunderstanding was other, one of the conversations I had with the deputy was about this acceleration request.

00:32:47 And she said, no, well, we didn't want to do that because he was only age appropriate with his writing. And they were concerned about his like social, emotional consequences of accelerating him. And they didn't say that he was already suffering the social emotional consequences of not accelerating him. And she actually said to me, you know, at this age we really want our students to experience life and learning and to be able to hold a rock and know that it's a rock and feel that rock and really understand the context.

00:33:21 And I just thought, we're talking about a child who wants to take two buckets to the sun to collect, um, hydrogen, to create water. It's like, he could probably tell you the elements in that rock and it's sad, but I keep hearing stories like that grave misunderstanding from a lot of parents and which is why, you know, I've been very keen to start this podcast just to start having that narrative and dialogue about what is gifted out.

00:33:51 So that parents out there and kids out there feel less alone and isolated. Because another thing that parents say when they do find out tribe is, is just that sense of relief of being able to talk to other people who understand those quirks and those crazy moments of having a gifted child and just being able to connect without it being seen as, I don't know,

00:34:19 gloating because they're so ahead in their reading or whatever it might be, but that's just who they are. And so just very quickly as we end, I think I'd like to touch on what a asynchronous development is, because I think that's a word that parents might hear, uh, and, and just important for them to have a good understanding of, we have kind of touched on that already,

00:34:43 but that's, that's basically the terminology for like being age appropriate in one area, but perhaps really advanced in other areas, Synchronous development can cover not just your ability, but your, a social, your maturity. It could have disability thrown in there as well. So, you know, necessarily, yes, I'm six years of age. My maturity might be a few years ahead by sets of social stuff,

00:35:14 justices strong. I could be a student that's brilliant at maths, but not necessarily in English. And I could have a disability thrown in there as well, where dysgraphia, which is, you know, Paul poor writing skills. Um, so they're not necessarily doing everything at a six year old. So it's scattered across, you know, multiple year levels and that tends to lead to what they use that term as asynchronous development.

00:35:47 You know, it's not a once age fits all. Yeah, Yeah. That no one, one size fits all yeah. Appropriate. Yeah. Well, well, thanks for that. I think we've covered a fair bit of ground there. Probably my last question actually might be just for you, what would the difference be between, because other terms that,

00:36:10 you know, we hear as parents, when we go through the assessment process is, you know, gifted Molly, mildly gifted, highly gifted, profoundly gifted. What does it all mean? And what's the implications of those terms? Lots of terms are used and bounded or around this no universal recognized term, but when it comes to psychologists, they'll actually use an IQ rating.

00:36:38 And in that IQ rating, they talk about, you know, disabled average, mildly gifted, profoundly gifted is sort of just ranks you across a spectrum, I suppose to say, where you are in the scheme of things, a bit lucky year level, um, you know, you might not necessarily be profoundly gifted in all areas. You might be gifted in one particular.

00:37:06 So profoundly just refers to a very high IQ, whereas mildly gifted, you know, you're just gifted, you know, you just made it over that magic number of threshold and each psychologist's report has different, different wording that goes with it as well. So I think, you know, we've got the term gifted, then we've got all these other terms that pop up and I think it's just a minefield.

00:37:34 Yeah. It can get very confusing as a parent because when you do Google those things, I've noticed that, you know, it depends what website you go to. It'll give you different names for different levels or IQs or numbers. But I mean, I think at the end of the day, you know, if you're assessed in that area, it's indicating that your child is learning differently to the general population and therefore requires something a bit different in how they're educated and parents sometimes.

00:38:07 And quite often, when you talk to a gifted child, they articulate things completely different. They'll come up with different solutions, um, different ways of doing it may be a very long convoluted way of coming to the end product. Um, but it's what works for them. And it's about their logic, their understanding. One thing I have sort of had to recognize over the last sort of year or so is,

00:38:34 so I've got three children, two have been assessed as gifted, and my youngest is three. So he's not had any assessment yet, but he's developmentally very similar to the other two, but they all express, I think that sense of that giftedness very differently. My oldest is I feel quite in your face gifted, you know, people will talk to him and inevitably kind of go,

00:39:01 how old are you? What grade are you in? You know, you're telling me about, I don't know, black holes or space link or whatever it is. And whereas my daughter has always been far more subtle. Uh, I mean she has had some speech development challenges, but even still, she sort of expresses herself differently. And obviously they're all very different people.

00:39:27 She's very much a creative problem solver and yeah, I don't know how else to say. It's just, she's just a lot more subtle than her brother, but, but yet they're, they're all gifted and have scored highly in that regard. But I guess it's just emphasizing that it's not even a one box or one size fits all amongst gifted kids. They're all going to be very different people,

00:39:52 aren't they? Yeah. And I think that's one of the hardest problems is, you know, you can't say if you, if you have all of these characteristics, then you're gifted. Um, you could have some of these and a few of those. I mean, it's all over the place and, and it depends on the area that you're gifted in.

00:40:10 It also depends on, you know, your upbringing, whether you've been bullied at school, whether you feel confident, you know, there's a lot of social issues that come into play as well. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Uh, well, Linda, thanks so much. I think we've dived pretty deeply there into what he's gifted and hopefully that our listeners find that really helpful.

00:40:33 Uh, and I look forward to having some future conversations, uh, certainly about Dara and, and that journey. And, um, also about some of the myths of being gifted. So thanks so much 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 out forecasts.

00:40:56 Please leave a review. You can find show notes and more resources ourgiftedkids.com and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. See you in the same place next week.