We just completed testing for my eldest son and I'm feeling scared, surprised, and in need of connecting with others who understand issues related to gifted children.
My son is in 3rd grade, we'd seen the signs for a long time that he was gifted. We have seen a lot of emotional issues that started in 1st grade related to writing and perfectionism - so we had him tested b/c it got to the point we thought he had a learning disability. We just completed the tests last week - he does not have a learning disability but instead has one of the highest IQ scorers they'd ever tested in 16 years. What they basically told us is that he's a genius (IQ 144). So my husband and I are a little blown away and honestly scared at the prospects and responsibility.
I don't feel like I want to tell most of my friends because they have kids at the school and I don't want them to feel like I am bragging or comparing. I truly just want someone to talk to about it though!
He has been fitting in so well at school most of the time... but he runs into issues when he gets backed into a corner, with creative writing, and writing in general. He melts down and hides under desks. We don't see any of these issues at home, and I don't want him to feel like a failure but sometimes I think that's how school makes him feel because he can't get a sentence out of his mind. And I just know this is just the beginning now - and really am looking for others to share the struggles and resources and ideas with. Any direction on where to start or what to do next is much appreciated!
Thank you for your response! I will search for perfectionism through this forum for sure. Can you help me b/c I am new to these conversations. What does btdt, AP and HG stand for? I am totally a newbie, sorry. I am so thankful for all of you here as a resource to learn what you all know about what's the best way to help my son be happy & fulfilled as he grows. I also don't know what a Davidson scholar means... but I can probably search on that if you don't have time to elaborate. Thank you!!
Hi, and welcome.
BTDT-been there, done that, HG- highly gifted, AP-attachment parenting.
Re: the score. That is a great score. If it's the FSIQ, it is impressive because it likely means he's high in all four subtests, which is even more rare than having high scores on one or two of the subtests. This means he's got good wheels and brakes on his porsche, which will make things easier for him (ie he's got a great thinking brain and he's got good working memory and processing speed to support his thinking).
Hoagiesgifted and davidson gifted sites have lots of great articles. I also really like the James Webb book re Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis of Gifted Children.
Re his intensity/sensitivity, I'd recommend working on mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) techniques - the Mind Up program is terrific though is written for classroom use. When you're intense and sensitive, it helps to have strategies to turn your internal volume down, and the strategies in mindfulness and CBT work for intensity as well as for anxiety/perfectionism etc.
IMO, the best things to "work on" with gifted kids who are intense and sensitive are their executive functioning skills and self-regulation skills. How do you deal with frustration (ie writing is hard, but work through it). Are you familiar with Carol Dweck's work re growth mindsets? It's a great approach to counter perfectionism.
As for the genius remark. That's a heavy burden to put on a kid and yourselves. He's smart, he's got lots of potential. What's important is to help him access that potential and minimize perfectionism/worry/avoidance standing in his way.
Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.
I am so thankful for all your insight, helping me learn the lingo and suggested resources. SO glad to have found this forum as I can see it will be invaluable to help me find my way around this new world of information and help for my son. My husband and I have felt lost as to how to help him for 2 years now - realizing he was "different" but not knowing where we fit in. We didn't think he was autistic but saw similarities there, so many little worlds where people had found their help but we didn't know what we were dealing with so didn't know where to go!
OK, so you mentioned FSIQ so I went and looked at out paperwork. He is 144 in FSIQ, indeed. Perceptual reasoning 147 / Verbal Comprehension 144 / Working memory 120 / Processing Speed 118.
CBT - I will check that out. Anxiety & perfectionism are clearly big problems for him and we've been without real resources for how to deal with this for too long. Is this the Mind Up program you recommended? http://thehawnfoundation.org/mindup/
Youa re so right on the executive functioning - that's so great to hear b/c I know you understand what I am dealing with when you say this... b/c from my little research before finding out his test results, that's what I had learned was his biggest problem as well.
I am looking up Carol Dweck now. I know a lot about fixed versus growth mindsets and we've worked hard to instill the latter with our parenting. But hopefully I can find more to give him direct access to help learning this as well.
Thank you for all your amazing advice I am so thrilled to have your guidance!
Hi, there. We were in a similar situation last year with our third grader - almost the same scores as yours, I believe. (Although I would also suggest dropping the word "genius" - hopefully, the person giving the test didn't use it! I agree with a previous poster that it has a lot of baggage attached.) Honestly, while we knew our daughter was smart, we were a bit surprised because she's a pretty typical kid in lots of ways. But the psychologist had us try to answer some of the questions our daughter got correct, and neither of us could do it! (we both have graduate degrees, so we have some amount of intelligence going for us…)
So first of all, our daughter was exactly the same child the day after we knew her "score" as the day before. Her intellectual giftedness is one part of who she is. That's all.
That said… Having the IQ data helped confirm that her unhappiness at school was truly based on her being under- challenged, and it gave us something to start with as we explored other educational options. It made us more confident in seeking a better educational fit for her, and helped us base our advocacy on her potential, not just her achievement (which, due to being so bored and under-challenged, was below her potential). It also helped us open up a better conversation with our daughter about the challenges she felt in being "too smart" (her words) and helped us be able to name what was going on for her and give her better emotional support. The most helpful thing that came out of having her tested was having the psychologist look us in the eye and say, "It is highly unlikely that your daughter's needs will be met in a typical classroom setting." This helped light a fire under us to seek out alternatives.
Our daughter is enrolled this year out of district in a special program for highly-gifted students, which is perfect for kids like her that are gifted across multiple dimensions. We never would have applied for it without knowing her IQ score because we didn't think she would be at a level to be accepted, (the cut-off for the first tier enrollment is a WISC-II score of 140). But she's really thriving there, and can easily do the work, so clearly the test wasn't lying about her potential. The other thing the program attends to is the kids' emotional/social needs, which are complicated due to their asynchronous development. Understanding this a bit better has really helped us be better parents, as it's easy to set our expectations to her intellectual level rather than her emotional one.
Best wishes to you -
Than you Diane for your responses! I am feeling so much less alone with yours and others' comments.
I feel the same - looking thru the lens of being extremely gifted has helped me understand a lot of issues my son is facing, that I wasn't looking at the same way before. Like you, our son is relatively "normal" in many respects so while I thought (knew) he was smart, I just didn't realize his level of intelligence was so high... and now am just trying to understand what that means for choices in the future.
Its interesting you changed schools. And especially your comment about"It is highly unlikely that your daughter's needs will be met in a typical classroom setting." is so interesting BECAUSE when we first met with the testing team last week, before they told us the scores, the adminstrators & psychologist asked what our biggest concerns were. And almost word for word (and not because of intelligence but because of issues we were seeing, the same ones that caused us to do testing thinking he had a learning disability), I said "I just don't know if our son will be served in a traditional classroom setting."
I hear a lot of people on these forums who homeschool, and I'd already been looking into that, but I just don't know if that's right for him. The biggest thing he gets from a normal school is socialization, and having to work within a system not made for him. I know that may sound ironic, but I think its teaching him life skills to deal with the people he deals with, who don't understand him, on a daily basis. That said, I know that if the teacher understood him better that half of his issues wouldn't come up.
Diane, what were the problems your daughter had in the traditional school and how did you decide to move to the new school? Do you have other children that don't understand? And, do you find that there's more pressure at the new school and how does your daughter handle that?
I ask b/c my son has two younger sisters and I know they are all going to want to do the same thing. Plus, we don't have a gifted school nearby...
Great questions. I think every kid is so different, and we live in a large metro area where we have some alternatives, provided we are willing to drive her to and from school. I feel very fortunate.
The school itself isn't for gifted kids, just her classroom, so she has plenty of opportunity to be around a wide range of kids in her grade and in her school. Also, in her classroom there are a number of students with learning and behavioral challenges, so she definitely is learning how to get along with others!
I have heard that some gifted programs really emphasize huge amounts of academic work and homework. This program really doesn't. The learning is intense, and interdisciplinary, but they really feel that the kids need time to develop other social and recreational interests too. She has less homework than last year in a "regular" class. What I notice is that because they don't need to spend a lot of time on repetition, they are able to cover large amounts of material very efficiently. They are given a lot of independent work time at school to complete assignments, and they do a lot of work in groups. There has been pressure in the sense that it took some adjustment to not be the sharpest knife in the drawer all the time, right? She's with her peers, and as her new teacher put it, she can't just know she's smart because all the work is easy. The work isn't easy, and they have a stated goal to "challenge every student every day." Her teacher has worked with her to understand that smart people DON'T know everything, and being able to ask good questions is one of the things that makes you smart. This is a sea change, and a little stressful! But, of course, in a good way.
We decided to explore switching schools mainly because our daughter asked to switch schools. Once she found out there was such a thing as gifted programs, she started asking to go to one. She has also from time to time begged to be homeschooled, but since both her parents work all day, that's not really an option…but there are a lot of ways kids can be accommodated within regular classrooms provided the teacher and school are willing to do so. Her old school was not interested in exploring this option.
"What I notice is that because they don't need to spend a lot of time on repetition, they are able to cover large amounts of material very efficiently. They are given a lot of independent work time at school to complete assignments, and they do a lot of work in groups. "
I love this about the program. So true of the problem for my son in a traditional classroom. His homework can be very repetitious and this is a really good point about what a gifted classroom offers. Also my son would love more independent work time. Sounds like you have a really good option for your daughter!!
I also like that your daughter can be challenged with the idea that being smart doesn't mean things should be easy. That's an important lesson for life. Boy, you are making me wonder about what is best for the future... I love our school, so does my son, but I want all those things you mention! But I am in a little town. Very little. There's a high school that will work for him when he's older but we have 5 more years if we stay at this school. I need to at least look at options.
Interesting about your daughter asking about other schools. Brings up a whole new subject... we haven't told my son ANYTHING about what the tests said. What did you tell your daughter & how did you say it in a way that didn't overwhelm her?
I don't want to hog the thread, but this would make a great new thread: what did you tell your child about their "giftedness"?
We told our daughter before hand that we were doing some tests to understand better how her brain worked so that we could make better school decisions, and afterward that we appreciated her good effort and attention during the (lengthy) testing. That's it.
In general? Our daughter already knew that something was up; it's been extremely helpful to have a name for it ("gifted") and to rebuild her self-esteem around being smart. She is not cocky or arrogant in any way about it, but being in her special program has helped her get over feelings of shame about being "too smart" and not fitting in. I think we are afraid that our kids will be mean to other kids or think they are better than others, but that hasn't at all been the case for my daughter. Actually the opposite was happening.
I said as little as possible and intend to keep it that way. Yes, DS7 has figured out that he's strong in academics, but we don't emphasize ability over effort. He is beginning to hear the word smart from other kids and beginning to make comparisons. We tell him that everyone is on their own journey and will get where they need to be in their own way and time- and basically "smart is as smart does." The truly "smart" (and mature) are better at figuring out what they "don't" know and don't waste time boasting about what they do know.
We have avoided a lot of the discussion by putting him in a school with many high ability kids, and a flexible curriculum that allows him to work at his own pace. I figure if it's challenging, and he's busy, it provides less time to focus on the progress of other students.
Regarding language around giftedness, I agree with not using "genius"; the word really does have a great deal of baggage. Though that said, "gifted" as a term means many things to many people so that one isn't so straightforward, either. With DD I try very hard to emphasize working hard because I do feel that hard work is much more important in life than raw intelligence, but I gave up trying to keep "gifted" from her because she already had the idea she was different. And she's always been the type who really sticks out, strangers have been telling her, "You're so smart!" since she started talking. Even now, at 8, people will notice her reading fat books in public and comment.
As for schools and gifted programs, how well your school will serve your child seems to vary vastly between schools and districts. DD was admitted to our district's gifted program for next year but I have lost my last shred of patience and respect for our current district. They SO emphasize everyone doing the same work at the same time, even the gifted program only lets them work 1 year ahead and no more, regardless of achievement or ability. The new school and the new district have made a lot of talk about flexibility and acceleration in the classroom (their gifted program doesn't start until 4th grade). I have high hopes. (So we'll just have to see how things are going a year from now.) Since I'm a single parent, homeschooling isn't an option, so we simply have to make public school work.
I DID have a very frank conversation about DD's scores with the principal at the new school and the district's gifted coordinator. But this is a new school and she'll be in 3rd grade, she's coming in with a lot of test results from the district and private testing, and we just simply need to start off with the right teacher (she's very 2E so that's a factor, too). But when she started K, even though we knew she was gifted, I just let them discover it on their own.