As I was idly scrolling through Facebook this morning, as I tend to do as I suck down the remaining dregs of that life-giving brew, a post from 2e Newsletter came across my feed:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK. “These children truly are exceptional. Not only are they gifted, but they are also coping with learning challenges or disabilities. It is our responsibility to give these students the extra assistance they need to become successful.”−Tom Luna, Superintendent of Public Instruction Prologue to Students With Both Gifts and Challenges or Disabilities, published by the State of Idaho
Two things came to mind as I read this. One, if you have a twice-exceptional child and don’t have a subscription to this newsletter, hang your head in shame and toddle on over and get one. Yes, I have a subscription, and no, I don’t always read it. Why, you ask? Same reason as all my other gifted books/magazines/newsletters: by the time I finally duct-tape the boys into bed and collapse on the sofa for a few minutes of delicious silence before the stress of the day pulls me under for the third time, I just don’t have the mental stamina to read about what I just survived that day. Oh, and because they’ve all been packed up for the last eight months and I’ve been a wee bit busy to do more than scan status updates on Facebook. Where was I? Oh, yeah. And two, that this quote came from a superintendent not only stuns me, but delights me deeply and gives me hope that maybe someday 2e kids will be recognized as gifted AND as working a crapton harder than other kids merely to appear average.
I am fully aware that the previous paragraph meanders badly. Please forgive. My writing, it is rusty from lack of use. As the boys would say, it makes me “sad panda.”
A wasn’t accepted into the district’s GT program. (Psst…this is called burying the lead). Because his test scores weren’t high enough, the powers that be decided that at this time he would be best served in his community school and not the self-contained GT program at a separate elementary. Never mind that I have a full workup from the Gifted Development Center that states very clearly that A would best be served in a full-time gifted classroom. Unfortunately, I unexpectedly learned this from the principal as A was standing there, so not only did I not have the opportunity to argue effectively but I also had the added pleasure of talking my hysterical son off the ledge once we got into the car. Oh yes, that was a joyful afternoon. Thankfully it was a few weeks ago and we’ve since recovered. Kinda.
This tells me that the district’s GT program is more for high-achievers, and not exactly for gifted students. For while gifted students can be high-achievers, not all high-achievers are truly gifted. I swear I’ll say it til my lungs hurt, but gifted is wiring. Parents who desperately want gifted kids really want high-achieving kids, ’cause if they truly had gifted kids with the (hmmm…what descriptor shall I use this morning…let’s go with) interesting wiring they’d be rocking under their desks quivering like the rest of us. It ain’t all sunshine and roses, kids. Some days make me want to stab a rainbow.
There is no wrong way to be gifted. None. It just sticks in my craw (what is a craw, exactly?) that most gifted programs aren’t usually for the kids who truly need them. The ones with the asynchronous development, with the ones who struggle with basic math skills while easily grasping the properties of statistics, the ones who can mentally design elaborate projects but can’t get the ideas out on paper because they jam up on the way out. These issues, this wiring, is not easily accommodated in a traditional classroom. A’s beloved teacher last year (who I want to clone and keep forever and ever) even said something to the effect that traditional education isn’t set up for this kind of kid (rough quote). Not making excuses for it, but upset that this was the case and that he was nearly powerless to do anything about it. And twice-exceptional just janks everything up to the power of ten. Even I sometimes have a hard time believing my son is gifted/2e, and I live with him.
Tonight is curriculum night at school and we will finally meet A’s teachers. I’m not thrilled that we haven’t met them yet, but gonna let it go and move forward. The plan is to differentiate as best as possible within the classroom, and reevaluate in a few weeks (I’m assuming after A takes the mandatory ITBS and CoGAT tests–ooh, I love lurve that a test-phobic child with puke-poor processing speed gets to take these right at the beginning of the school year). My plan is to advocate for him as gently/loudly/persistently/non-crazy-mom-ly as possible and make sure he gets enough afterschooling to keep his mind active.
To recap: It’s wiring. Get a subscription to the 2e Newsletter. There’s no wrong way to be gifted…ever. My rusty writing skills make me sad panda. And I promise I won’t stab a rainbow today.