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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read this here all the time-- life with gifted kids gets easier as they get older. I'm kind of wondering when, exactly, that happens. BeanBean is my oldest, but he's only six. He's also become more strange as he's gotten older, not less. He used to do things that were strange, but most people thought they were cute-- now we both get really funny looks from people. As a two or three year old, his obsession with airplanes was just adorable. Today his obsessions garner strange looks everywhere and occasionally a whispered, "Is he... you know, normal? Does he play?" Many people who meet him seem to have the impression that he must be somewhat eccentric despite the fact that nothing of the sort is true.


So when does it get better? How old do they have to be? Because Bean just keeps getting weirder...
 

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Well, I guess when I, personally, say it's getting better now that he's older, I mean that his behaviour is easier to handle and I can finally take him out in public without him sticking out like a sore thumb. My daughter has yet to reach that stage and is noticed everywhere we go.

But his intelligence is also becoming more and more obvious now that he's speaking. As long as I kept my big mouth shut and didn't mention any of their "accomplishments" nobody noticed that my children are ueber-intelligent because they couldn't speak. Most people actually thought they were below-average, actually. But now that he's speaking, the giftedness is slowly becoming an issue. But not that bad because VS gifties aren't as obvious, I think. My DH calls them Undercover Gifties.
 

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For me the getting older has two parts. First, a lessening of asynchrony mean he's less likely to cry because he can't accomplish something his brain imagines but his body isn't yet ready to do. He's more able to self entertain with books. He can type. And, he's found better ways to cope with emotional intensity so I don't have to be involved every single minute in trying to juggle and manage that.

The second part that is better about getting older is that he's more able to connect with people outside of the family so it was possible to find mentors and other meaningful intellectual opportunities so again it isn't all on me every minute any more.

Every year has been better for us - around age seven or eight we especially saw improvements.

It is unfortunate that folks aren't reacting well to your son. Is it that he tends to go on about his interests - or what is the weird and strange thing that is causing him a problem?

Do you think there is anything he needs to change - like does he need to work on manners and social skills. Or, is it more that his interests are unusual so people react negatively to that. If it is the first - well, then you work on it. If it is the second, to me that's a call to find new more quirky people who will appreciate his intellect.
 

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Ditto everything that Roar said. My two most starkly gifted kids are my oldest and my youngest. With my oldest the biggest improvement was just when Roar noticed it, around age 7-8. With my youngest, who is more socially adept and less introverted, her 5th birthday seemed to be the turning point.

Having said that, I don't mind my kids sticking out in public for their weirdness. That's not something I find difficult to deal with (truth be told I kind of enjoy it). So if that's the kind of "hard to deal with" stuff you're talking about I'm not sure it's likely to improve any time soon. My eldest (14) took a senior high school writing course this term and at the going-away party the class threw for her (she's going to Asia after Christmas and won't be back until March) they thanked her for "the glimpses you've given us into your bizarre mind, and the outside-the-box example you've set for us."

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Originally Posted by Roar View Post
Do you think there is anything he needs to change - like does he need to work on manners and social skills. Or, is it more that his interests are unusual so people react negatively to that. If it is the first - well, then you work on it. If it is the second, to me that's a call to find new more quirky people who will appreciate his intellect.
It's much more the latter. His manners are perfectly reasonable for a six year old, and his social skills are excellent with people of all ages... it's just that the things he talks about leave people gawking. He's fine as long as kids are discussing kid-things like Pokemon cards or the Harry Potter movies, but when he starts talking about computer games he tends to lose the kids his own age and when he starts talking about science or environmentalism or military history he loses everyone. Eyes get big and people nod and say "Uh huh," and then start asking me questions about whether or not he's "normal."

Even people who do appreciate his intellect just don't know what to say to him. I'm not sure whether or not his interests are that esoteric or if it's just the novelty of hearing a little guy talk about them, but he really seems to confuse people. Heck, he confuses me sometimes, but I can smile and nod and understand when he explains things, despite the fact that I really don't care a lot of the time (military history doesn't interest me all that much, for example). I also don't think of it as all that strange-- I know where the interest started, and I think it's great that he can research and read and get more information about these things. And he's always been "different," always stood out... it just seems to me that things have gotten worse in the past two years or so than they were before, in terms of differences from his agemates.
 

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It'll get better when he's older. Definitely. Not because he'll slow down but because other people will speed up. KWIM?

Sort of like my DH who thinks that he's the least equipped of his circle. Everybody has a better microcontroller than he does and he's totally out of the loop. When he complained about this I laughed and said, "It's funny to hear you talk about your hobbies as if it's normal." All I got is a blank stare and "Everybody programs microcontrollers in their spare time. It's all the rage." Yeah, right. Can we say i-n-s-u-l-a-r...
 

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Oh! A little military historian! (I majored in military history in college.)

We've had a big breakthrough since my DD's 6th birthday in terms of general sensitivity and tantrums. She's much more of a joy to have around the house and less of a stressor. And when I consider that she started out as the baby who Would Not Nurse and then morphed into Screamy Colicky Baby, well, every day forward is a day better for my DD, who embodied the saying "Help! I'm trapped inside a baby!" So for us, older has been better.

But we won't ever wake up and find that a neurotypical child has been substituted in place of our A. You just can't expect that. So it's more about finding hobbies and social circles which are a better fit.

I was involved in the local chapter of the Great War Society, in college. You might investigate similar amateur history groups when BB gets a little older. Often the volunteer group connected with a local history museum is a resource for other history groups or at least folks with that particular interest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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Originally Posted by Bird Girl View Post
Oh! A little military historian! (I majored in military history in college.)
You can major in military history?! I had no idea... I mean I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but.. .really?


I guess finding people who share his interests would go a long way toward making *me* feel more normal. I'll look for a military history group, there are bound to be a few of those around town. Thanks for the idea.
 

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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
I guess finding people who share his interests would go a long way toward making *me* feel more normal. I'll look for a military history group, there are bound to be a few of those around town.
I was going to say exactly this. Dd#1's obsession with the ocean and underwater photography has been well embraced by adult scuba divers and photographers. For her it was very helpful to enroll her in a scuba rangers club as soon as she was age eligible (8). She's been scuba diving in an indoor pool for the past 2 yrs about once/month, taking classes with the local dive rescue team there, and I talked the local talent search into having their science class last summer for her age-group be marine biology.

If I hook her up with the right people and generally with people older than her, she looks just fine and they all love her. In terms of others, I think that she is old enough now (10) and probably has been for the past few years (maybe since about 7) that she gets it when she is boring people or making them think she is odd so she generally has more shallow conversations when making small talk with the general public.

The one area where we still run into some problems is her passion for animal rights. She can offend people still at times talking about factory farming and ocassionally being rude about people eating meat. She's getting better and doesn't do this too much anymore, but that has taken longer.
 

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eilonwy its people who are interested in listening to your soon that is needed. not people who see a 6 year old talk such things. nor someone who shares that passion.

my dd sticks out like a sore thumb too. in teh wrong crowd. with my dd its morality. philosophy. what is a bad guy. good vs. bad. should he die. is teh death penalty right. the human body. not the names - but how the various systems work. digestion, circulation, pregnancy.

it makes such a huge difference to have people who are just willing to listen and ask my dd questions. u know genuinely listen instead of tolerating. she loooves it because she gets to 'teach', explain and have a real conversation.

luckily we havent come across anyone else who thinks she is wierd. or lets say made me or her feel that way. if anything she has come across that from other kids. for instance at three she wanted to play tag being chicken pox and explain how exactly it spreads.
it was at her ps and kids were willing to listen to her game plan and all the action they were supposed to do. but in a regular park with other kids.

she is 6 and i notice she plays more by herself and prefers to hang out with adults more than her age kids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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Originally Posted by ChristaN View Post
If I hook her up with the right people and generally with people older than her, she looks just fine and they all love her. In terms of others, I think that she is old enough now (10) and probably has been for the past few years (maybe since about 7) that she gets it when she is boring people or making them think she is odd so she generally has more shallow conversations when making small talk with the general public.
BeanBean really doesn't seem to understand why people don't share his interests, and I can certainly see this as a function of age. He honestly doesn't believe me when I say that I couldn't care less about various types of cavalry or how cavalry evolved and changed warfare however many years ago, and he just keeps trying to peak my interest.
He's a little bit better with other kids; For some reason it strikes him as perfectly reasonable that his eight-year-old classmate couldn't care less, but he's really flustered when adults aren't interested. He expects us to be as fascinated as he is by these things.
So that should improve as he gets older?
 

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My son is now 15 and it really hasn't gotten easier, but it has changed. He is now really aware of how different he is, but is frustrated at times when he wants to fit in. He is just much more intense about everything than most kids his age and always has been. And about non-typical things... Social life got easier when we moved from the US to Germany, since he can't talk too much. Or at least he couldn't the first few months, and by then he had found a small and comfortable social circle for the first time in his life.

You son sounds a lot like mine was at that age. Only with different atypical obsessions.

Not sure if that is helpful or depressing!
 

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Oh I can only hope things get easier. DS isn't even 18 months old and people already comment on how "weird" he acts. He's just really smart for his age, it's not like there's something wrong with him!
 

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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
...he's really flustered when adults aren't interested. He expects us to be as fascinated as he is by these things.
So that should improve as he gets older?

I'd expect it to get somewhat better. Dd is somewhat disenchanted with the human populace as a whole -- she just doesn't think too highly of how evolved most people are in terms of some things that civilization allows to happen and the general lack of concern for marine life. For instance, she totally doesn't get how people can keep eating tuna esp. given the way they are rounded up and caught by spotter planes during mating season. She understands that others (and most adults) simply don't share her passion for protecting marine life, not polluting the ocean, reducing global warming (due to how it effects the ocean)..., but it doesn't make most adults look too good in her mind. She's a bit jaded. She doesn't talk most of their ears off, though.

At least she doesn't think that the whole human population sucks b/c there are people like the Cousteau Society, of which she is a member, and the Save the Manatee Club, of which she is also a member
.
 

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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
He honestly doesn't believe me when I say that I couldn't care less about various types of cavalry or how cavalry evolved and changed warfare however many years ago, and he just keeps trying to peak my interest.
He's a little bit better with other kids; For some reason it strikes him as perfectly reasonable that his eight-year-old classmate couldn't care less, but he's really flustered when adults aren't interested. He expects us to be as fascinated as he is by these things.
Military history is one of the big interests here too.

Yes, it will improve with age, but I also think it is appropriate to work on it. I'd start a steady conversation of talking about people's various interests - grandpa loves baking, aunt sally loves antiques, etc. Note people's interests and how they pursue them. Note the ways in which you are interested and the ways in which you aren't. Be direct - "I'm interested in talking about this topic for five minutes, tell me two things you learned today but then I want to get back to my sewing project". If he really doesn't get that I think you can also give him the example of gassing on about your favorite hobby that he doesn't care about.

I think it is reasonable that we listen to our kids go on about topics we don't care about for a while, but it is also okay to start to give them the idea that some people care about certain topics more than others. While I understand some people may see it as kind of mean to tell a kid you don't care about their interest, I think it can be done in a positive and kind way that helps them learn social skills. It might also help to talk to him a bit about stuff that kids he plays with might be interested in so he has a place to start.

Military history should absolutely be an area where you should be able to find someone who can connect with his interest. I would start asking around. If he could have more quality interactive conversations about the topic it might make lecturing about it at other times seem less appealing.
 

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IME the differences can be less obvious as they get older. People aren't surprised to see our 7 year old walking and reading a chapter book in the grocery store, but they are surprised when they see the 4 year old walking and reading her book. They aren't surprised to get a handwritten note from the 6 year old, but are from the 3 year old.... It's more about people's expectations of children and at the older ages it starts to blur.

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Originally Posted by Roar View Post
Military history should absolutely be an area where you should be able to find someone who can connect with his interest. I would start asking around. If he could have more quality interactive conversations about the topic it might make lecturing about it at other times seem less appealing.
This is key. For our eldest it's religion and discussions about god. The big difference between her fascination with this at late 5 and now 7 is that she has learned on her own who to broach the subject with. Fortunately we have many adults in our lives who can have open, rational, unemotional conversations with her about the subject and we have directly requested that certain adults broach the subject with her. Finding children who can do so has proved much more difficult, but we are working on it. We have also setup a blog for her and are going to start encouraging her to share her thoughts, ideas, frustrations there.
 

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Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post
But not that bad because VS gifties aren't as obvious, I think. My DH calls them Undercover Gifties.
Love it. laughup This totally cracked me up.

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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
when he starts talking about computer games he tends to lose the kids his own age and when he starts talking about science or environmentalism or military history he loses everyone. Eyes get big and people nod and say "Uh huh," and then start asking me questions about whether or not he's "normal."
I agree with the pp's, he needs someone who is into his interests. It sounds like he keeps trying to "peak your interest" because that is the only option he has right now. Maybe he is lonely for someone who can talk with him, on his level, about what interests him.

I remember as a kid often talking often with other kids parents, because I could get them involved in a discussion about art or mythology or whatever, while my age mates were into barbie or a movie... Fine for an hour, or even two or three, but sometimes you just want more. I would have preferred to talk with another kid about these subjects, but none I knew were interested. And I don't think I am PG or anything, so I can imagine that if benabean is super bright, that he might be lonely for this type of conversation. And he is old enough where he can not just talk with you, he probably wants input from other sources. (OK, that sounded a bit robotic. I hope you kwim)

Find a military academy, group, historian friend, a blog like Exo suggested might be great, or a military forum. Granted, this you may have to supervise a bit more than you want, but going on line is a great way to get in-depth info about any obscure subject and find 5000 other people who are into the same thing.

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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
My eldest (14) took a senior high school writing course this term and at the going-away party the class threw for her (she's going to Asia after Christmas and won't be back until March) they thanked her for "the glimpses you've given us into your bizarre mind, and the outside-the-box example you've set for us."

Miranda
OT: Miranda, that is beautiful. I hope you or your Dd have kept this note. As lovely as it is now, she may really enjoy it from a different perspective in 10 or 20 years. Rambling here, but I was always a bit unique and thought of myself as a closet oddity trying to fit in high school. But just a few months ago I found my high school yearbook which I hadn't seen in over 20 years, and reading those comments I found out people thought a lot more highly of me than I thought of myself.

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Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post
It'll get better when he's older. Definitely. Not because he'll slow down but because other people will speed up. KWIM?

Sort of like my DH who thinks that he's the least equipped of his circle. Everybody has a better microcontroller than he does and he's totally out of the loop. When he complained about this I laughed and said, "It's funny to hear you talk about your hobbies as if it's normal." All I got is a blank stare and "Everybody programs microcontrollers in their spare time. It's all the rage." Yeah, right. Can we say i-n-s-u-l-a-r...
ITA. Totally OT:
me: "DH, do you know what a microcontroller is?"
DH: "Yea, its a type of microcomputer."
me: "Do you mean a smaller computer, or a section of a computer?"
DH: (nodding me off while programming in his FREE time, because he is too busy to really answer) "a controller, like for controlling your laser printer."

Vanessa, tell your DH to chat with my DH, they could have fun!
 

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I think it's helpful to *tell* your kid what is/isn't appropriate conversation. My ds today wanted to basically launch into a diatribe about the occupational requirements for an astronaut. I told him, nicely, to STFU. I just don't think it serves him to go around lecturing people. He can ramble about that with me, or with friends who share his interests, but you can't assume it (or anything) is a universally sought-after topic.
 

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By the way, Eilonwy, if he hasn't already read them, there are some great children's versions of Homer's Illiad, that I highly recommend, especially since Troy itself has been discovered and archeologically studied. Victory Davis Hanson is probably the best adult scholar on the subject; his The Greek Way of War is great--though heavy going for a six year old.

I'm more familiar with children's literature about the American Revolution and Civil War, so if you'd like some book recs on those, pm me.
 
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