Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sounding elitist...

When I started this blog, it was because I've not been successful in finding blogs that deal specifically with gifted or gifted/LD education. There are some wonderful and informative websites, but not blogs. (There are many wonderful and informative blogs out there, as well, but few of them are focused exclusively on this topic.)

I wanted blogs because they often take the abstract articles and ideas you see on the websites and boil them down into useable information. They give you more of a sense of what it's like to be "in the trenches", so to speak.

I don't want to come across as elitist, although it may sound like I am. I understand that there are challenges in raising every child. Unfortunately, most people don't understand that there are unique challenges in raising gifted children or even in being a gifted adult! Most people, myself included until recently, believe that having a gifted child means raising a prodigy who is always precocious, motivated, and polite.

If only.

I was horrified to learn that raising a gifted child means that you have a perpetual teenager in the house. The mind knows where it wants to go, but the physical and emotional development of the child are far behind. The child is emotionally and physically clumsy and doesn't know how to deal with the disparity. Somehow, as a parent, you're just supposed to know this and how to make it better for them. (It's hypothetically in the manual.) This is a difficult experience for any parent, but it's even harder when you didn't know how to handle it as a child yourself and your parents weren't of any help.

There's no way I could have anticipated all the difficulties my son has experienced. I'd never heard the terms "asynchronous development" or "overexcitabilities". I admit to having many of these difficulties as a child, but most of it was swept under the rug as I outgrew them. It wasn't until I found my son going through these things that my parents discussed my history with me. Unfortunately, they approach these behaviors as deviant without understanding the underlying cause. They had no idea what caused it and came up with explanations, very often blaming themselves or life circumstances. Once those circumstances went away, they reasoned, the behavior went away. It hasn't occurred to them, and I imagine it doesn't to many parents of gifted children, that having a mismatch between mental, emotional, and physical maturity can cause real ongoing problems for children and their parents. For parents whose children don't have these issues, it probably looks a lot like bad parenting. It's hard to tell until you've been there.

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