Hey, I used to post here forever ago, but then I no longer needed the support...with homeschooling and everything and my family being kind of quirky anyway, the issue of "giftedness" wasn't an issue at all. My kids don't even know what the word means. It was a total non-issue in our lives. *However*...
maybe this is something to do with first-borns, but I've always wondered about my first-born's quirks. I find myself wondering if they are just quirks or if it's something that requires attention. I wonder if it's an issue of maturity or if he lacks some sort of coping skills. I find myself wondering if I should take him a to specialized pediatrician or just let it go. I don't know. Both my kids are very bright and showed precocious development (mostly drawing and jigsaw puzzles) so this seemed like the best place to ask for a virtual opinion. Do I leave him alone or seek help?
Ok, so my oldest son is 9 and a half. He has never been to school and has no desire to attend school, but we always worry that he wouldn't cope well in school for the following reasons...
1. He's very spacey, I mean *really* spacey. He is so amazingly bright but then he asks some basic questions like, "Why aren't we going to the store?" when I have just explained it minutes ago...I honestly think he's not paying attention. He's just sort of in la-la-land, with his own thoughts. FWIW, I was apparently super spacey as a kid and I did grow out of it eventually (cough, early 20s). It's like he's in his own little world and sort of oblivious to what we're talking about and doing. Again, I was like this, having an extremely elaborate daydream world(s) where I would totally get lost in my head while the world went on around me. Also, we're both introverts and I know introverts kind of get lost in their thoughts. But seriously, this kid is my heart and soul but he is SO spacey!! And I swear he can't find his shoes when they are right in front of him. When I ask his 7 year old brother a question, the 9 year old often automatically answers for him (like "take your coat off, ds7" with ds9 saying, "But I'm not wearing a coat").
2. He tends to interpret things literally and doesn't "get" some metaphors. I know this is a symptom of Asperger's, but he never comes close on those checklists for it. Namely, he's extremely empathetic to the point where he has cried at the endings of sad books and over dying beetles. He's been an vegetarian for ethical reasons since age 4; he feels for everyone and everything else. But he is pretty literal. I'm always having to explain meanings to him. Again, I was always pretty literal and I never understand the punchline of jokes. And I think I outgrew that too (again, 20s? LOL).
3. He is extremely sensitive to stimuli, namely light and touch. He can hear us whispering in the other room and we always joke that he could be one of those people in submarines...the kid has super-human hearing. He has just now, at age 9, started kissing my face; he has never ever been able to bear the sensation of doing that. And I know that I can't kiss him on "skin", just on top of his head where his hair buffers it. Going to the eye dr (the light in the eyes) is really super challenging for him.
4. He seems very emotionally immature. He's extremely innocent for his age. He still sleeps with a variety of stuffed animals, kisses them 'goodnight' and takes great offense if I call them "toys". In some ways, he almost seems to get along better with kids who are younger than him. On the one hand, his interests are very mature (e.g. reading human anatomy books, LOTS of reading, Lego Robotics) but his play behavior is so incredibly innocent and imaginative in a child-like way. He is not worldly at all. I get worried that boys his age would make fun of him like kids made fun of me. OTOH, he's very vocal (like I was, I guess) that he can do what HE wants to do and that he would just tell him how mean they are being and that he doesn't care what is cool or uncool. But seriously, it's almost like he has a target on his back for bullying, because he is VERY young for his age.
Ok. This is long. I'm sorry. In many ways, I can really relate to him. And maybe that's what bugs me, because while I went on to have a successful and happy life, growing up and going to school were HARD. I was always the weirdo. :-( Granted, he is homeschooled, but if he *wanted* to go to school, I would worry about him all the time because he is so spacey and naive and childlike.
Oh! And I meant to say that he has a really odd pencil grip. He still tilts his hand upside down to write. Now, having said that, he takes a writing workshop with older kids at a homeschool co-op and he does extremely well. It's weird too, because we've unschooled and I, technically, didn't teach him those things. But he was an early writer, esp for a boy, and he has always enjoyed drawing and making these tiny comic-books. I had looked up dysgraphia due to the pen grip, but it doesn't match him either. He had precocious fine motor development (VERY elaborate detailed drawing at 3 with correct use of perspective; jigsaws with tiny pieces at 3, etc). And he can just whip out these interesting and funny fiction stories. I watch him do his co-op homework and I'm struck by how quickly he gets a fictional idea, how he draws the main ideas in like a story-book fashion and how he uses that storyboard to write a few paragraphs. And they end well too; he's a great writer.
Also wrt writing, his penmanship seems tidy enough. I know he still does letter reversals sometimes, but I attribute that to the fact that he taught himself to read and write and hasn't had the repetition from instruction that would support that. And it is getting better with time. He swears, up and down, that the pencil-grip is comfortable. I have tried, so many times over the years, to tip his hand back upright and he insists that it hurts. The school would have a field day with that one, but yet it doesn't seem to affect the end-product.
The reason I keep mentioning school is because my 7 year old has recently chosen to attend school and he is extremely happy so far. The 9 year old has no interest in it. But now it's sort of on my mind: what if he changes his mind and wants to attend school? Would he be able to cope? Should I get some sort of intervention for him? Would he need an IEP? Should I have someone check him out? I can imagine kids picking on him for being extremely childlike and I can totally picture him tuning the teacher out and not "hearing" 75% of what she says because he is spacey and prone to getting lost in his thoughts. He's very very bright and quick, but I can imagine him not performing well because of the spacey issue. I mean, I can show him a math concept and he instantly "gets it"; he's very *very* quick with new things. But I can totally forsee him not performing well or showing good organization skills. But again, if it's something he *wants* to do (e.g. the fictional essay from the storyboard he's created or building something), he is amazing and just very organized. Does that count?
Oh, and he has tics, usually just one at a time. Right now, it's like a humming sound. In the past, blinking was an issue. We DID ask our family dr about that, but the dr said it was common in boys and didn't hurt him so we should just let it go.
Ok, please be gentle with me if I'm overthinking this OR if (alternatively), I should have gotten some kind of intervention before now. I just want what's best for my kid so he can do well in life. I totally love him as he is, but I don't want other people to misunderstand him either. Sometimes, he just seems "off" in some way, but then I remind myself that I've known other people like that who had very successful university exps and were nice people and seemed happy. Maybe it's just the combination of quirks (WHY does he have so many quirks when my equally bright 7 year old appears to have none??).
Thoughts? Please? Thank you if you made it this far.
There have been some good discussions here lately about immaturity and sensitivity in gifted kids. I particularly relate to #2 and #4 on your list--my DD is JUST like this...very literal (she also really hates to be joked with, like if you answer "How long till dinner?" with "A million billion years!", she finds this very annoying/unfunny) and also very unworldly in exactly, exactly the ways you describe. She also does not always read people's emotions very well in real time, though she is extremely sensitive to the pain of others when it is made explicit or when she reads or watches something sad. I used to worry about Asperger's, but there are so many things about her that really do not fit that dx. I now think she is just on the grayer end of the very wide spectrum, and that it's nothing diagnosable going on, but that she may need a little extra social help from time to time.
If he does decide to go to school, I think the spaciness you describe could be an issue. I know very little about this, but have you looked into auditory processing disorder? (I think that's what it's called.)
ETA that I also related very strongly to having a quirky older child and a much more socially normative younger child. My DS is just about to be 3, but he is so much more intuitive and responsive to others' feelings and emotions than his 7yo sister.
grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08
It's so hard to say what's going on with a child. My DD is both gifted and on the autism spectrum, and one of my pet peeves is non-professionals attempting to dx children over the internet. Here's what I've learned:
* It takes a long time to get a good dx. In some cities, the type of specialist who does this kind of work have year long wait lists. Seriously. If there is any part of you that thinks you *might* want to get a dx at some point, my advice is to start researching who you want to do it, and then get on their list. You most likely have tons of time to change your mind. (I would ask around a lot and find out who is the very best where you live, 2E kids are complex) A good evaluation will help you understand your child better.
* Schools cannot make any accommodations without a dx, so if you had a Major Life Event and your child HAD to go to school, they couldn't do squat for him until after he was diagnosed, which could take a year. At this point, I see homeschooling a child with special needs (or possible special needs) without getting a dx is a bit like driving without insurance. Sure you're fine right now, but you aren't covered if something goes wrong.
* There are a lot of options for schools. My 2E dd does best at an alternative, progressive school. We used to homeschool, and this is truly better for her. There are lots of options, and figuring out what, if anything, is going on with your child could open up more options for him. Even if he is happy where he is right now, having more and different options during the teen years may end up being helpful.
* Many colleges provide accommodations for sn students. Even if your child homeschools all the way through highschool, he will most likely end up in a classroom at some point. His quirkiness combined with lack of experience in traditional school could mean that he would be far more successful with extra support. That support will only be available if he has a dx.
I think the line between "gifted with a few quirks" and "twice exceptional" is a thin gray line, and that it is partly determined by a person ability to be successful at the things they want success with. I think it can be hard to tell with a homeschooled child because life revolves so much around what works for them.
BTW, my DD had a 504 Plan when she attended public school, not an IEP. She's 14 now and doing VERY well and is starting to consider at what sort of college she will be most successful.
but everything has pros and cons
With what you have said (IMO) it doesn't seem like he would.
Doing School means fitting in-not just learning but a behavior (way of living) all it's own.
As the other's said you would need to have things in place just to help him but it really doesn't seem like there is any desire to want to go anyway.
That being said, it would concern me what you described and even if he never goes to school I would be concerned about improving your concerns so that he has coping skills for later in life.
Do you do much with other un/homeschoolers? Does he have interaction with other at his interest level (not just age)?
Do you have a long term plan for school? Is it just home and move on to college classes later?
it seems you are concerned about several issues and I would try to find outlets (not saying you see to have a label here or a Dr., etc.) but finding ways to deal with what you see as items that need improvement
THANK YOU! Thank you so much for listening to me, giving me ideas and helping me organize my thoughts.
1. Lorax, I will look for those threads on the emotional issues! Thank you!
2. Seren, I'm not sure what his plan is wrt education. There is no desire to go now, but he might change his mind in time. He does have social outlets with kids his age, but now that ds7 is in school, it's harder to do these things due to the afternoon pick-up. I'm still trying to work that one out.
3. Lorax, Seren and Linda: Thank you again! I started looking around at stuff explaining 'auditory processing disorder' and it does seem to fit him somewhat. That led me to a local group of developmental peds that specialize in that and other issues. I'm thinking of taking him to our dr and asking for a referral to this group. I figure they've seen tons and tons of kids...I'm just going to go with that and see what happens. He is a very happy and bright child but I worry about his ability to cope in organized settings although he does seem to do well in our co-op (granted, it's a half day once a week). I like the 'driving w/out insurance' analogy and I'm wondering if his 'brightness', for lack of a better word, could be masking something. I figure we have nothing to lose by getting a referral to these people. Normally, I'm not the type to run to a dr's, but my Mama gut is telling me that this is what I should do.
Thank you again!
LeftField, if you figure this out, will you let me know? You have pretty much described my ds! And ds decided to enter school this year after 2 years of HS'ing, and it's gone less than smoothly -- in some areas, great, but in some areas, not so much. We recently completed a psychoeducational assessment, and it's not ADHD that's the problem - he did great there, much to the surprise of the assessor. But, once again, he was not especially compliant with the testing -- thought it was boring, got huge scatter, failed in areas that are strengths and did better in areas that aren't strengths. A complete and utter mess. I'm wondering if it's that imagination OE that makes him "spacey." We completed an auditory processing exam two years ago, no problems there.
And I know you know about visual spatial, right brained learners -- they're often exactly how you describe your ds, including the organization piece. Great when engaged, not so much otherwise, and are known to be late bloomers.
Will be watching this thread.....
Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.
That "spacey" descriptions just left me in stitches! Not least because I was just turning red over similar stuff yesterday with ds1 as he sent my blood pressure soaring and I had to scream internally. It's such a relief to read about yours (no offence). And yes, my ds2 at 3+ is more organised and "present" than ds1. Not much to say, except I've made organisational skills his learning goals for this year. For some strange reason, ds1 organises vertically - piling papers/books upwards, despite the nice system I had set up for him last year complete with book dividers etc. Methinks I will take up yoga this year to promote inner peace and harmony. Inhale.... (and yes, my ds1 has a dx for 2e issues (vision, dysgraphia, no money to check out the auditory stuff yet. I am in fact preparing for a meeting with the school today.)