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Posts Tagged ‘Gifted’

Nope. We are not. It has just been too damn busy around here – for a myriad of reasons – most good, but some – not so much. I am sneaking in a quick post so that all our friends in the blogosphere do not think that our children finally did in fact – send us to the loony bin.

For starters. the hubbies are off in Gettysburg for a LONG weekend. Doing what you ask? Ghost hunting. That leaves 2 moms and 3 very gifted children with major OEs. We have officially been outnumbered. Not only that, but my cherub is  devouring protein at an astounding rate. He has eaten more chicken breast this month than I think I have eaten all year. At first I thought it was a growth spurt, but then in talking with Ecemom about something completely unrelated, I realized that the boy has been running non-stop since the warm weather finally arrived here in Northern IL. He is needing the extra energy stores and when he has too much sugar – oh my – the sass that comes from his mouth is ‘teenage’ in characteristic. (He is also experimenting with humor and sarcasm, but he hasn’t quite gotten when it is appropriate to use this with his ‘cranky’ mother.)

There are family issues (UGH), work issues, school issues, home projects, getting to know the new neighbors, more family issues (You can pick your nose, but….), and last but certainly not least – summer fun to be had. You see when the frozen tundra finally thaws, we only have 3 very short months to enjoy the weather (and Ecemom’s free time) – so of course we are ceasing this opportunity.

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Camp Invention ended yesterday. EE was sad. He loves Camp Invention. I love his enthusiasm. {SS also attended his first ‘camp’. I think Ecemom is going to blog on his experience. (It was a huge developmental step for him.)} Seeing EE’s face light up with his discoveries makes it all so worth it. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with in July during his Leapfrog Robotics class.

Ecemom and I are contemplating starting a parent affiliate to IAGC for our area. The state of Illinois is a financial cluster *&^% and we fear that if we do not organize ourselves quickly, we may lose what little gifted programming that we currently have in our district. We have been informally networking with other parents, but it may be time to get ‘serious’.

We re-scheduled our meeting with the principal and gifted coordinator until August. This was not by choice but more because of scheduling conflicts. However, it does give me more time to prepare.

I am trying to get some ‘home schooling’ in.  We are working on our Times Tales and it seems to be ‘sinking in’.  It is a mnemonic system for memorizing multiplication facts.  YAY!!! He is reading 60 minutes most days. We are trying very hard to get those Harry Potter books finished. Writing still remains the Achilles heel. He has done some but I need to really find some good exercises for him. Oh, how I wish there were more hours in the day.

So we are hopeful to get some more writing done here. Lord knows these children give us enough material.

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So after I sat and thought more about the situation, I became more frustrated. I became even more confused. I really began to doubt myself – again. (Let me tell you – that meeting was way more intimidating than I could have ever anticipated). I became really depressed and really worried. I did some reading. I did some thinking. I did some more reading. Then, I did some more thinking. Then, I told DH that we were going to need some help to sort through this, because I just can’t figure it out alone and I certainly am not ready to ‘let it go’. There is just too much at stake. I needed a plan…..

So I contacted the Gifted Development Center in CO. We were fortunate enough to hear Dr. Linda Silverman, the Center’s Director speak about 18 months ago. It was after her lecture that DH & I started to think that EE was in fact gifted and that perhaps we should have him tested as Dr. Silverman suggested. The Gifted Development Center (GDC) does nothing but ‘gifted’. They are the SME’s (subject matter experts) on the gifted and their issues. These people know what they are talking about. They are also infinitely more qualified to give us an evaluation of EE and his ‘issues’ than anyone on that Child Study Team – Master’s thesis on Twice Exceptionalities or not.

In preparation for our phone consultation, we were required to fill out 16 – YES sixteen – different background forms. There were forms on family history, medical history, introversion/extroversion scales, sensory, OE, HIPAA, etc. It was quite the undertaking. DH & I spent several evenings trying to interpret what they were asking and whether we felt that particular trait, question or characteristic fit EE. In short, it was a lot of work. However, I will say it was worth it in so many ways.

Conference day finally came. We were nervous (no clue why) and excited to be talking to someone who might be able to give us some good advice about the situation. Or even just to tell us if there simply was n0thing to be worried about and that I was indeed a crazy, neurotic mother (well – yes – but I meant in reference to this particular issue).

We spoke with Bobbie Gilman for over an hour. She was great. Very down to Earth and friendly. Not at all intimidating. A wealth of information. She immediately put us at ease by letting us know that we were on the right track. In her opinion, the difference in the Verbal and the Processing speed scores are significant. Significant enough to render his FSIQ score unusable. (BTW – She is co-chairing the NAGC testing board.) She told us that we should use his GAI (General Ability Index) instead as it is closer to his truer ability. (She calculated this for us and I just about fell over when she said what it was.) However, she also felt that this was probably not very accurate either as his WIAT scores were much higher than anticipated. (I think that she really wanted us to come to CO for a re-test and evaluation, but it is SO NOT IN THE BUDGET.)

Another point she made was that if his scores on the Verbal portion were normal and the Processing was below as much as 2 standard deviations, then the school would be taking notice. So they were wrong to tell us that it isn’t significant.

We discussed a LOT in that conversation, but the overall gist was this – He is not lazy.  And yes, he likely has some form of learning disability that his high cognitive ability is able to over-compensate for this with self devised coping mechanisms or strategies. It is probably something very subtle, but to him it would be extremely frustrating. It may not be anything that can be ‘fixed’ per se, but we should investigate and evaluate further and seek accommodations for him – particularly with testing.

Suggestions:

  • Read ‘The Mislabeled Child‘ by the Eides. They talk about many issues in the book, but one that may be of particular relevance is the idea of ‘Stealth Dyslexia’. This could be what EE is dealing with.
  • Focus on his strengths. Continue with SEP (Sat. Enrichment) Classes. He will benefit from the stimulation and the camaraderie of being around ‘his’ peers . (Anyone got a winning lottery ticket laying around that they don’t need?)
  • Continue to advocate at school. Try again to get him placed in the gifted program. She realizes that this may be doubtful, but try anyway.
  • Have we considered Homeschooling? (Yeah and I do not look good in orange – nor do I want to reside at Statesville.) We said we have, but that with EE being an only child and being as social as he is, we did not feel that Socially/Emotionally this would be the best choice for him. How about part time? Hmmm…maybe. If we had a part time arrangement, then we could enrich and accelerate in the areas we need to at home, but he still gets the benefit of the social aspect of public schooling. (Yes – Ecemom – I know – you suggested this months ago. Again, you are a Superwoman. LOL)
  • We talked about re-visiting the eye therapy. (Yeah – again with the lottery ticket…anyone?) Even if we continue at home, we would likely see a benefit. She had suggestions for books on this – Surprise! I already own them. And yes Virginia, they are excruciating to read.
  • She suggested an OT evaluation because the Processing Speed score could also signal a fine motor coordination issue.
  • She suggested getting him to work on his keyboarding skills.
  • She also suggested that we take him to see a specialist who deals with Central Auditory Processing Deficits. Huh? What’s that? We told her that we just had his hearing checked and it was fine. Oh, but this is different. Much like the visual tests unless a trained specialist is looking for it, then it likely will not be found as it is less about the ‘hearing’ and more about how the brain interprets the signals. She was concerned that this may be an issue as EE (like so many gifted kids) had lots o’ ear infections as a baby/toddler. Oh goody – more testing. I could see the tension rising in DH’s face as he is trying to figure out how much this is going to cost?
  • Practice. Practice. Practice taking standardized tests. It is not so much about cramming for the material, but more about the actual practice of taking a test. Time constraints. Guessing. Moving on. Teach him to be a good test taker.
  • Keep trying to get those accommodations for more time.
  • Should we work with him on Executive skills? Yes. Help him to develop his own strategies for dealing with his areas of weakness.
  • What about the rote memorization issues? She said that this is not at all unusual for a high ability child. They simply do not see the point in it. Or rather there are more important things to remember than times tables, etc. Try to help him, but don’t be overzealous about it.  Like the testing – practice it over and over at home. It will come in time. Make a game of it when possible.

So here we go…

I have called, but not yet scheduled the Auditory evaluation. I have ordered books. I am trying to develop my plan. I am trying to be prepared for the ‘talk’ with the principal about placement for next year.

DH & I have talked about all of this ad nauseum. He is in a place where he is angry about how things are being dealt with at school. Which is actually good because when he is like this, he is engaged in the process with me. He wants to know what the game plan is? He will be meeting with the principal too. He will be armed with his questions and trust me…He is a master at ‘playing the game’.

HA! Public school system. Watch out. We are ready ‘to take up arms’ and ‘oppose’ because 2e or not 2e – it doesn’t matter. What matters is helping EE succeed and feeling like as parents we did not give up – so maybe he won’t either!

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“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them.”

Ha! At first I thought that I was just being punny. Then I thought about it. Is it easier to just ‘deal’ with whatever EE’s issues are at home and screw forget the public school system? Or ‘take up arms’ and oppose? Oppose the fact that this child scores off the charts verbally, but despite this has been denied the little gifted language arts based programming that our district has to offer because he doesn’t test well (on the CogAT)?  Do we simply come to grips with the fact that as he gets older and these timed tests hold higher stakes for him –  that he just will be placed incorrectly? Or continue to be an advocate?

We choose advocate. After that Child Study (CST)/ 504 meeting, I was pissed discouraged. I felt (and wrote) that we were summarily dismissed. I was made to feel like this because  in many ways my child is extraordinary, however  we were basically told his struggles are irrelevant. His issues don’t matter – because in their words – there was no relevant educational deficiency at this time. Relevant to whom??? I assure you, it is relevant to my son (and his parents). He doesn’t understand why everything takes him longer. He is frustrated that he knows the answers – they are there, but for whatever reason he blanks out, panics, or whatever. Why, oh why does he ‘zone out’? He is struggling to master the act of simple rote memorization like multiplication tables, but he got the concept of exponential value in about 60 seconds.

His processing speed is more than 2 standard deviations lower than his verbal ability. If his verbal ability were normal, then would they be jumping through hoops to help him? I’d be willing to bet (heavily) that they would be very concerned. However, since my child’s processing speed is just average as compared to his verbal ability being … well…we’ll say significantly above average, they couldn’t care less. Because for them, it is ‘irrelevant’. He still gets straight A’s. He still does very well on the NWEA MAP (an untimed assessment that his teacher admits he is always the last to finish). So what is the problem? The problem is my kid is struggling in his own right.** Something is going on with my muffin. He is not lazy. He is not fine with the status quo. We as his parents are definitely not fine with the current situation. Why? Because we know that it will only get worse as he gets older. We know that he is losing precious time. He is losing confidence. He is losing interest. He is in a nutshell – getting lost in the shuffle. We are not okay with this.

Right after our CST/504 meeting, we had an appointment with another developmental optometrist for a second opinion. He came highly recommended by a few parents in our district. He was also on the list that the psychologist that tested EE gave us during our consult. So off we went to see what he had to say. The sessions with our previous Dev. Optometrist ended on a cordial note. EE made some significant progress in the beginning, but since we had not been seeing any further progress, we were starting to wonder if we were being taken advantage. The new eye doc evaluated EE and basically told us that his eye problems were not bad enough to warrant therapy (nor did he feel they ever were). FANTASTIC!

Great! Now WTF what do we do/believe , etc??????


**Disclaimer – I know that there are children out there with horrible conditions. Children who are far behind and will likely never be able to do half of what my son can do. I know this. I feel for these children and their parents. I truly do. However, this is about my child. This is a blog about gifted kids and their struggles. And yes, they do have struggles too. Please keep context in mind here. Thanks.

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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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