Oh, I’m sure that title alone will piss some people off. Because, you know, gifted means the child in question is smarter, prettier, more special, more deserving, walks on water, dispenses poop in scented plastic baggies, and has absolutely no problems with anything ever amen.
Excuse me. Sorry. Rolled my eyes so hard they shook hands with my brain. My hippocampus is looking especially robust this afternoon.
So, because I can’t actually say in an email what I really wanted to say, and because I myself need a refresher on what gifted is and isn’t (even though I live with the living/breathing/frustrating example of a twice-exceptional child), let us have a Tuesday afternoon review.
- Gifted kids are not like other kids. They are more intense, more curious, more everything. When we didn’t know what was going on with A, lo those many years ago, the only word I could choke out was “more.” He.Was.Just.More.
- Gifted DOES NOT MEAN HIGH-ACHIEVING. I’d like to make that sentence into t-shirts, sky-writing, tattoos, bumper stickers, jewelry, pasta shapes, and novelty doorbells that ring it out in a variety of languages when pressed. Just because a kid is in a GT program doesn’t mean s/he is going to fit preconceived notions of what a kid in a GT program is going to look like or accomplish.
- Conversely, high-achieving does not mean gifted. I have heard of well-meaning parents with bright kids getting their kids into GT programs when the kid really shouldn’t be there.
- Gifted programs and accommodations are not for everyone. They are academic interventions to assist, challenge, and support kids with particular educational needs. Read that again: ACADEMIC INTERVENTIONS, not “my kid is sooo special and did I tell you what he said and OH! his poop this week is in lemon-basil scented baggies!” Oh, and the kids who need these academic interventions need them every day, all day, not just 40 minutes once a week, cancelled if something else comes up.
- Gifted kids need more help than you think. No, really. They won’t be just fine on their own. And they’re not going to bring attention to that fact.
- Twice-exceptional kids need an IEP or a 504, despite what the school district might say. If private testing indicates significant twice-exceptionalities, written and binding accommodations and interventions is damned near a requirement. This one is for me to remember. Sadly, I may need to be a bit more assertive at the new school this fall.
- Finally, don’t assume anything about these kids. Gifted kids are not like other kids. Gifted kids are not like other gifted kids. Twice-exceptional kids are not like other gifted kids. And no twice-exceptional kid is like another twice-exceptional kid. These kids are amazing people, but they are not what you think. Ever. Because as soon as you think you know a kid, s/he is gonna surprise you, and the only one standing and looking like a fool will be you.
There. I feel better now. I believe when I need to follow up on my email that I will be in a better state of mind to do so.
And because I know I will have at least one person comment that pretty much every one of these bullet points disappears with homeschooling, I know that. And while nothing is being decided about anything for the next several months, we are considering it. ‘Nuff said.
Gotta straighten out my eyes now. They just can’t roll like they used to.
Edited to add: This post is also found in If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional.