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Archive for the ‘Overexcitabilities’ Category

I think starting Kindergarten is hard for any parent; but I have found it especially hard as a mom with a child who has over excitabilities. There was no doubt in my mind that my son was ready for the academic aspects of Kindergarten. But what to do with those OE’s. Do you tell the teacher? Do you tell anyone or do you let life happen as it may, and divulge after.

This summer prepared us for the transition into the world of formal schooling. We sent out oldest to Camp Invention through the recommendation of our school’s gifted coordinator. The silly new mommy in me thought this week-long camp (full day) would give me a nice time to catch up on the household items always put to the side (never mind the benefits for my little man). Well my bubble got popped about hour 2 into the first day. The phone call… my son was workin’ it: didn’t feel well; missed me; cried, etc. So I spent pretty much the whole 1st day with him (along with my un-napped 2-year-old and my dear friend). Day 2 I compromised and meet him for lunch, etc. My son was present when the director of the camp called me and told me my sons list of ailments. She then suggested that he might just have a nervous tummy (as perfectionist often do). He now uses that phrase when he is trying to maneuver himself out of new situations ” you know Mrs. H told me I have a nervous tummy.” Clever kid!!

That experience – hard for us both for different reasons – actually made the transition into kindergarten much easier. The first week of kindergarten I have found both hysterical and stressful all at the same time.

Knowing the experience we had over the summer and that my son has OE’s I did all I could as a parent and early childhood professional to help my child transition into his new setting : picture of the teacher ahead; color of village; set up play dates with other children listed in his class. I was prepared and so was he….until the school changed his room assignment 3 TIMES (all within 2 weeks of school starting).  After several phone calls and my wanting to bulldoze the principal and hearing all the same crap I dish out “children are resilient, etc.” – Yes most children are very resilient (and it is often the parents who are not) but my son is not most kids he has OE’s – emotional OE’s. We got through that.

About day 2 my son cam home (loving his teacher) and saying “she did the cutest thing….FOR THE KIDS THAT DIDN’T KNOW THEIR NUMBERS.” I thought a minute about his sentence before asking the next question (The “kids” that didn’t know their numbers – he was excluding himself from that group on day 2). He explained how she had them sing a song to remember how to draw the number 5. I asked what he did during that time: he said he drew four 5’s and then figured out that four 5’s would equal 20 if you added them all up. So do you share that with teacher after day 2?

Day 4 the gifted coordinator emailed me to say she popped in to meet TJ – good sign.

I have spent countless hours in my sons early childhood experience both as mom and as his teacher intervening and preventing some emotional meltdowns from OE’s through my controlling the situation or my talking him through his own control. I can’t do that at school now. I am not there to see that the frustration is due to perfectionism and talk him through that. I am not there when someone makes fun of him for knowing the answers most of the time to let him know it’s OK to be smart and be proud of that (yes that has happened already too). Or to tell him to let others answer the question even when he knows the answer 1st (this one has been hard; but we talk about it at home).

We all do it… we let go little by little…allowing them the spread their wings and hopefully use the tools we have instilled (both coping and other) to go to school. I just didn’ think this would be so hard on me!

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Tonight my dear friend and I went to a OE workshop given by our school district. In a room filled with maybe 15 people – I thought to myself, this is such an unrecognized aspect of education and “caring” for our children but SO important! We know the importance as we live the meltdowns, the over reactions, etc.

I took away a few things on the subject that I was compelled to share immediately with my husband upon coming home from the workshop and now I will share with you.

1. Don’t ignore your child’s OE’s as if they don’t exist – respect them enough as people to respond to their over response.

2. You are not able to “change” your children (or your spouse) – they are who they are. They are MORE EXTREME

3. Ask yourself during a OE moment – “What does it matter?” or “Does it really hurt anyone?” My son does not like the feel of paint on his hands – does it matter that I will not be getting a painted picture from him in school – no – there are so many other areas he expresses creativity.

4. “RISK” – this was my favorite part of the workshop tonight. The word came up in a dual context. The word was used in a gifted group as a vocabulary word that many children were not familiar with; the word is also (as I learned tonight) something so many of our overexcitable kids have reactions to because they are afraid of it. RISK – to try something new and possibly fail. To a perfectionist ( a trait very common among gifted children) this is a scarey aspect. I liked this aspect so much because of how I left my house tonight for the workshop. My 4-year-old son was on the computer doing a math game (adding subtracting) and when things got “hard” for him, he shut off the program. My last words to him before leaving tonight were ” it’s OK not to get the correct answer – that’s how you learn.”

Before going to the workshop my co-editor and I enjoyed a quite child free dinner – talking about our children. I shared a story of how my son asked what selfish ment today. I used examples of him in our family to define the word for him. The day came full circle for me tonight when listening to te OE workshop and the items mentioned above. I leave with you this; that of which I discovered tonight – Don’t be selfish when it comes to parenting your OE child. It might not make sense to us or fit into “our” plan, but respect their sensitivities enough to not ignore them and wish they (the OE’s) didn’t exist. Tonight I appreciate my child’s OE’s and all the “more” he and she have to offer. (Tomorrow might be another story 🙂

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We celebrated my mother’s 60th birthday this weekend. One of the many festivities included children – my overexcitable children! (Remember one is the psychomotor poster child and the other is the sensual /emotional poster child).

So going into this evening event – I knew were we in for a fun evening. Not sure if I was more worried about the kids or how the OE husband would also handle the kids. Never mind over who – I was stressed!!

Upon arriving early to the function with my oldest (son) – we began to prep the banquet room. Now my son for years prior had strong aversions to smells and become very emotional over them. Children with OE’s have heightened awareness. Whatever we experiences (smells, sight, sound, touch) they experience it times 100. We had taught him (and family members) coping skills with this issue – although we had not experienced it to this degree for a while.

No food in sight, my son sinks to the floor and covers his mouth and nose. I did the immediate stressed mommy throwing a party reaction: “this day is about your grandmother, let’s not do this now.” Not very early childhood, but a somewhat typical stressed mother reaction. He collected himself – for about 10 minutes and did it again. He insisted that something smelled horrible in the room. I am looking and looking and finally see on the table salad dressings… italian and creamy GARLIC! BINGO!! I brought the garlic over to him and asked him if this is what the smell was – his face gave me the correct answer. So I removed the dressing from our table and life was good again.

Two things ran across my mind: #1 thank god my husband was not here yet (he doesn’t handle his smell issue (or any issue well)). #2 I am glad I took a moment (even when I didn’t have a moment to spare) to respectfully acknowledge his OE to the senses. I have learned the hard way, that although we try to teach most children to cope – these are not most children we are dealing with. I have found that the more I respect his OE’s that he really has no control over – the more I will get a bit of the normal in return. If you have not done so – and your child has overexcitabilities – read the links on how to help those type of gifted children.http://www.sengifted.org/…/Lind_OverexcitabilityAndTheGifted.shtml 

This link was a great resouce I gave to my husband who was a bit tired of me telling him on how to “handle” our very specail children. He’s a bit touched himself as well.

Once my husband did arrive with the psychomotor child, who ran circles around the banquet tables – chaos began again. It was a nice 30 minutes of living without chaos. We try – and that’s all we can do as parents!

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Putting children to bed in general is not always an easy task, but putting a child to bed that is gifted with overexcitabilities is at times an impossible task. Now try putting two of them to bed – UGH!!!

When my son was one, I literally hated and dreaded bed time. I so enjoyed our day time together, but as night approached I hated what I was in store for. I found myself saying “no” to many social invitations, with the knowledge that 3-4hours of uninterrupted sleep might be the best I could hope for. I wish I knew then what I know have learned about these little brains that don’t always shut off.

I think I finally stumped my sons brain. You see that is the trick to getting one to bed whose brain doesn’t shut off. Ater years of telling him “time to turn your brain off” after hours in bed of “what if ” questions and mathematic problems in his little preschool head…I figured it out with the help of a song and a book. “The Ants go Marching “- it’s a great book with the theme of the old traditional song. Howev er this book has each ant multiplied on each page. Yes we had to count everyone on every page. This struck a nerve in his little 4 year old brain and we love multiplication. He asked on night how I know my facts so well. I said you memorize them. So I asked if he would like to hear them. Big shocker… he said yes. So I began going through the multiplication tables and by the time I got to the 9’s he said “you gotta stop, I am so tired.” I layed next to him in his bed, rubbing his back and reveling in my moment of stumping and exhausting his brain to sleep.

Now the little lady in our life, as I sit here and type now, was put to bed about an hour ago. She has since recited (word for word) 4 separate children’s books. She is 2 (newly) and just recited Brown Bear, Baby Bear, Bear Hunt and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I have yet to stump her brain. Suggetsion s welcome!!!

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So it has been some time since either Ecemom or I have written. I think that we have both been so immersed in daily chaos life that we have neglected this poor blog. {sigh} That is not to say that we have not thought of it, it is just that there have been more pressing matters…some pertain to our wonderful children and some do not. Also, the dilemma – what shall we write about? We want to focus on ‘giftedness’ and how it is afflicting affecting our families, but is the approach more personal or more clinical? Do we stick to the Dobrowski elements only or share more? What to write? What to write? So in an effort to move forward, I think that we write about whatever the ‘issue du jour’ happens to be.

So what has been happening in our little world? All the ‘normal’ life stuff. Birthday parties. Work. Volunteering. Sickness. Housekeeping. And then there is the ‘covert’ side of our lives. LOL! Yeah, right. Covert? Who are we kidding? It is only covert as much as people on the outside looking in don’t get it. I will share a perfect example. (And I am sure Ecemom will share more as she finds the time. You do know that she is superwoman – right? Mom to 2 very precocious children, wife to a ‘touched’ hubby, teacher by day, college professor by night and an awesome friend. Whew, I am exhausted just typing all that…think how she feels? Did I mention that her muffins don’t sleep??)

On to the story/example…

So EE’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago. It was a wonderful day. We had a spectacular (if I may say so myself) ‘kid’ party based on one of his favorite books. It was a smashing success. Pulled off with a little LOT of help from friends and Awesome A (AA) {She is Ecemom’s nanny and former student and the word AWESOME as a descriptor just doesn’t quite do her justice, but it is the best I’ve got for now.} and her sister. Since I am a glutton for punishment wanted to get the whole party thing over with, we followed the ‘friend’ party with a small ‘family’ celebration. It was small by my family’s standards, but I have to say infinitely more enjoyable. But I digress…

Since Ecemom (and her clan) are like family, they joined us for the festivities. DD was so adorable with her ringlets. She enchanted the entire crowd with her cuteness. Even my BIL who is rarely seen smiling in public had no choice but to grin at her. She was her normal bouncy little self. And when I say ‘bouncy’ – I mean bouncy. The. girl. does. not. sit. still. EVER. To us, this is not a big deal, we are ‘kid’ friendly and more to the point – very accustomed to DD and her activity level (Can you say psycho-motor overexcitability?). I dare say that Little Miss enjoyed the party more that the birthday boy himself.

So what is the point, here? Ecemom looked exhausted when she walked in. Now, this was a different kind of exhausted. A different level. Not physically exhausted. She looked emotionally exhausted. After a few minutes – once DD and SS were situated (read – playing with EE and his cousins), she relaxed. They had been at a baptism/birthday event before arriving at the house of havoc our home. She had not been looking forward to attending this earlier event because she knew it would be a ‘challenge’ to keep DD somewhat contained during church and then at the restaurant afterward. However, she thought that with a little help from her parents and sister that it would be ‘okay’. Now any mom worth her salt knows that a restaurant is not a fun place for a kid….particularly an active kid. Ecemom avoids taking DD out because she knows that it is physically impossible for her to be still that long. However, there was no avoiding this. It was an obligatory appearance. This is not to say that she didn’t want to share in the joy of the day – I think she just knew that it was going to be a ‘challenge’.

And unfortunately for her – it was. DD was in constant motion. No amount of bribery or cajoling was going to change her desire/need to move. So they stayed as long as they could and then used our party as an excuse to get the hell out of there leave. However, before leaving, Ecemom noticed 3 little girls. They were all dressed similarly. All sitting quietly and calmly. In a word – ‘angels’. Knowing Ecemom, I can only imagine what was going through her head. One thing that I am guessing is that she was probably a little jealous. A little envious of the fact that this other mother got the opportunity to sit still for a time. Perhaps {gasp} even enjoy a little adult conversation. Does this woman even realize how wonderful this moment of ‘normalcy’ would be for the parent of a gifted child (with overexcitablities) to experience? Does she know that when we leave our houses with our muffins that we never know what to expect?

  • If a car backfires, is my child going to dissolve into a heap or completely shut down because he hates loud noises to the point of agony?
  • Yes, you have to wear those shoes! You can not wear gym shoes with a suit – it is just not acceptable. And yes, I do realize that you are going to whine and probably work yourself up into a tearful mess because the ‘seam’ on some article of clothing is ‘rubbing’ you.
  • No sweetheart,  the hosts of the party did not realize that this week you have decided that the texture of anything fried will send you into shock the moment it touches your lips. He or she just assumes that all kids like chicken nuggets. And I am sorry that my meal has ‘slimy’ gravy all over it. Have some bread, okay? I will see if there is some pasta somewhere.
  • I completely understand that the music of the organ and violin combined with the vivid stream of colored light through the stained glass window were so beautiful that you just could not find the right words to describe it and thus, there were tears streaming down your little face at Aunt Suzy’s wedding. It had nothing to do with the fact that you were nervous about being a ring bearer or flower girl. And by the way, you really wish all the well intentioned people would’ve  just left you alone so that you could ponder the magnificence of the world in peace.
  • No dear, I do not know if God is a man or woman. And no, I do not think that your teacher is going to know or care to debate this at preschool. Nor do I think your classmates are going to understand it when you tell them that the Earth is just a fragile and temporary holding place for our spirits.

No – this woman has no clue. Most people have no clue. Most people – even if we explained it – would think we were nuts. They would simply turn away and make a judgment. Heck, even our own parents and siblings don’t get it. They just assume we need parenting classes or to be more heavy handed with our kids.

So what happened at said party? Ecemom in her admiration of these young ladies – actually took the time to compliment the mother on her daughters’ exemplary behavior. What was her response? Well it was not a polite ‘Thank you.’  This woman’s response to my very tired friend was this….

Well, in our house we have rules.”

Seriously! Really? Did you really just say that???? How rude. I think that in that moment, I probably would have decked her. Cried. Or maybe both. How dare you judge my friend and her child(ren). Who died and left you the queen of proper parenting? Why could you not just politely smile and say,  “Thank you, very much.” And kept your nasty judgments to yourself. Because Mrs. Mother-of-3-angels you don’t have a flipping clue! Instead of being polite, you took the opportunity to kick my friend when she was already way down. Thanks so much. Witch!

So friends, this is where the blog comes in. Because in all seriousness, we could not make this stuff up – even if we had the energy to try. We also know that we are not alone in this world. Luckily, Ecemom was able to find refuge at EE’s party. A place where she and her kids were accepted and loved for who they are and NOT what others think they should be. Not everyone is as lucky as we are. We have built in support 2 houses and 1 text message away. This is why we started this blog. This is why we share our slices of life, because no matter how rude the outside world is, everyone needs a place a refuge. Everyone needs validation. Everyone who is struggling needs to know that they are not alone. There are others who walk amongst the masses that feel your pain and share your joys. We just can’t always do so in ‘public’. Please feel free to ‘share’ here.

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Okay so we are back from our much anticipated (and very needed) vacation to Walt Disney World. (It has been a month now – I want to go back.) It was an amazing trip, despite the icky weather. (I will take rain over snow – any day.) We had a great time. However, when we first arrived, it took EE some time to acclimate – which is funny because this is usually one of his strengths. He is pretty good at adjusting to new situations. Disney was complete and total over stimulation! We did not see this when he was four. He was just so excited to be there. But this time….different story. I think all the sights and sounds and sensations were just too overwhelming for him. He almost completely shut down which is not like him at all.

It probably took us 2 full days to all get into “Disney” mode and start enjoying our trip. The first 48 hours all I am thinking is, “What the hell is the matter with us? We are in Disney World, ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ and yet, we all look miserable. Then I had that Oprah ‘ah-ha’ moment. We were all experiencing some sort of overload. EE the senses. DH and I were in an emotional pressure cooker (Stress and baggage from home mixed with the desire for EE to have a good – NO great time.) What the hell did we spend all this $$$ for if we are not enjoying ourselves? So my epiphany triggered a tongue lashing for DH. (“Just because you like to be scared $h*tless on rides doesn’t mean EE does, nor does he have to like any ride. This is not about you. This is a FAMILY vacation. Got it? Good.) Which initially, he didn’t take so well, but after he cooled off (and realized how his emotions were affecting EE), he was more relaxed and the fun Dad that I know. Once he and I relaxed, then EE started to unwind and the rest was ‘magical’. We thoroughly just enjoyed being in the moment and really isn’t that what the Disney experience is all about?

Oh right, the book. Disney this time around opened my eyes to just how much OEs can affect kids. Disney is a booby-trap of sensory delights for most, but for those with OEs or other types of sensory challenges….Watch out! Yowza! The imagineers are truly geniuses of their craft. However, some kids (and adults) just can’t handle all that stimulation. Their imagination just can’t fathom that this is all just ‘make believe’. Even if they logically KNOW it, it is another thing to be submersed in the drama and intensity of the 4D theater and REMEMBER it. The sights, sounds, smells and yes….feelings of many of the attractions is amazing, but could trigger quite a meltdown in more than one child that I know. So parents of gifted children, especially those with sensory OEs, I advise you to do your homework before embarking in Walt’s Kingdom. Prepare your children (and spouses) for the inevitable rush that is Disney.

A few things to consider…..

  • Any 3D or 4D movie (ie – It’s tough to be a bug, Honey I shrunk the audience, Muppets, etc) is very intense. It is not just loud and colorful, it’s literally in your face and at your ankles. Small children WILL be overwhelmed.
  • Soarin’ is hands down one of the best rides ever, but think carefully about bringing anyone with the potential for motion sickness or sensory issues on this ride.
  • Stitch’s Great Escape and Dinosaur are NOT for preschoolers. Period. They’re way too intense. EE barely handled it this time around. Last trip, he was fascinated by just about everything, but these rides.
  • The fireworks and light shows are LOUD!!!! Bring ear plugs or noise canceling headphones. You will get wet at Fantasmic if you sit in the first 15 rows.
  • Mickey Mouse looks like a giant rat to an infant.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are sights and sounds everywhere in WDW. I LOVE IT! It is really one of my absolute favorite places to be, but this trip really opened my eyes. I truly believe that you need to be prepared for Disney. It is a lot of money to spend on a vacation. Worth every cent. However, I also really believe that a lot of families have NO idea of what they are getting themselves into. If your child has OEs – you really need to research and apy attention to what other families are saying. There is nothing worse than getting off a ride or leaving a show with a child who is terrified. What fun is that?  So my biggest advice…buy a good guide book and research online which rides your little dumplings may have trouble experiencing.

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I was interviewed today about my children and their “exceptionalities”. It was good and eye-opening for both the interviewer and me (the interviewed). It was good for the interviewer to be able to hear what life with overexcitabilities is like.

The interviewer posed a great statement to me: “You are aware, that there are children and parents out there who have it more rough than you do.” I totally agreed with her and her statement. I am SO appreciative of my exceptional family members (all 3 of them  –  husband included!!) I just was not prepared for them, and in a way neither is school or society.

After agreeing with her statement – I went on to explain that having a gifted child with overexcitabilities becomes a disability for your child when people are not aware of your child’s low area of uneven development. Some children, just be looking at them, make you aware of their abilities or lack there of. Other children travel from one classroom to another with an IEP or 504 – allowing others to view inside – getting a sneak preview of what is in store of what is needed.

I explained that with my son, I can’t tape a post-it to him (or my husband) saying “use caution – “extremely emotional and sensitive.” “Warning – may explain the rotation of the earth to you one minute and 2-year-old melt down the next.”

I can however advocate for him and make those I am close with aware – family, close friends. And in other instances – I watch his emotions and things that I have found that affect his emotions.

Children with higher brain function use more protein. Children with higher brain function usually sleep less (some need less sleep / other like my children – need the sleep, but can not stop their brain from processing to fall asleep). These are things I can help control – My motto – control that which you have control over!!

The interviewer, was in fact, my sister!

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