Friday, February 12, 2010

The Gifted Meter

I often go from 100 to 20 back to 100 on my gifted motivation meter. It's not that I don't want to be completely involved all the time, it's just that sometimes I need a break. I would like to think that if I had a child who had a different type of disability it would not be this way. I would go to support groups, have meetings with school administrations, and take advantage of any state funds or programs offered. But my child is "gifted." These types of things don't exist (for the most part) and given current conditions of gifted education, I will continue to hobble for quite a while. Just as I was taking a break from the issues, I encountered a post about Linda Silverman. I saw that she was going to be at a nearby school. I figured that she was worth the $10.00 registration fee, or at least worth $10.00 to get out of the house for a bit.

If you are not familiar with Linda Silverman she is the Director of the Gifted Development Center in Denver, CO.

The presentation was titled:
"If our child is so smart, why aren't our lives easier?"

I am not a not a note taker and try to commit pertinant information to memory. Sometimes that fails. From my own head here is what I took from it:

She started with a gifted 101 characteristics session. For a room full of gifted parents or educators I felt we were already pretty clued into the "sensitivities and intensiveness" of gifted children. As I listened I was eagerly waiting to move on to dealing with those charming hallmarks. She had a lot of great research to share. One that struck me is that most siblings are within 10 IQ points of each other. Identical twins average 6 so 10 is pretty amazingly close. So if you have the notion that your first born is the gifted one and the others just don't compare, look again. This was a real eye opener for me. She introduced birth order research as being one reason why subsequent children would "show" giftedness in a different way. Also, the number one indicator on IQ test for giftedness is vocabulary. Even if the numbers in every other category are low, if the vocabulary category is high, the child is almost certain to be gifted. Having excellent problem solving skills was also a key factor.

She discussed that many gifted children have food allergies or sensitivities. This in itself is not that interesting. Then she said of those gifted children who had food allergies 35% was caused by dairy. Now that is amazing. She also said that it was not the lactose in the milk, but the protein casein that was causing the problems.

She went on to talk about how gifted children like to argue. I'm not sure how this differs from any child but she did offer some advice to the "It's not fair" argument often heard. When your child uses this phrase reply with "fair to whom?" She went on to define fairness and it's meaning.

Perfectionism is often the plague of gifted children. She offered the solution of raising children in a "non-mistake" household. Don't even use the word "mistake" in the household. She told a story of a family making up problems for their children to solve as a way to treat perfectionism and avoidance of mistakes. For example: Offer your child a problem "I forgot to take meat out for dinner, what do you think I should do?" The child will gain confidence from helping you solve an issue. Upon building of this confidence your child may be able to cope with perfectionism and making mistakes in the future.

She went into parenting advice for gifted children which can easily apply to anyone who is a parent. Support their interests even if they are not your own. Be their advocate at school. Listen to them. Listening is the greatest gift you can give to them. If that means saying "let me finish this so I can listen to you" then do this and make sure you follow through. Get them with peers. Many gifted children will hide amongst non-peers. It is only when they are comfortable being themselves that they will thrive. Don't force children to say "sorry" teach them instead how to make amends for the wrong doing.

Overall, I really enjoyed the presentation. She has a wonderful sense of humor and her speaking style is approachable. The light bulb moment came for me when she quoted a woman (I wish I remembered the name) who once said "how dare you deprive my child of struggle" because out of struggle comes learning. Ding. Light is on and now I'm home.


  1. this was interesting - thank you. i think it hits on every issue in my household,lol.
    my oldest ( 14 year old ) is gifted/ld and had food sensitivities as a younger child. my second, my girl, is likely as bright as her older brother but is such a different way that she does not see it and we did not for a long time...but do now:). and the baby. our late addition, the one identified with egg/peanut/milk protein allergies...not talking at 17 months where his siblings spoke before 12 months...but eery in his own ways;). we think he is going to freak all of us out. i have not participated in gifted discussions in years (the baby and the older gifted kid moved me in different directions ) but you have sparked a renewed interest. thanks again:).

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I'd never heard any of the allergy research before, and that may help solve a medical mystery in my own life.

    Sounds like it was an excellent presentation with lots of nuggets of wisdom. I appreciate your willingness to share what you took away from it.

  3. Wow. How interesting! I know that as I child I was tested and labeled as "gifted" and placed in proper classes at school as a result. I was incredibly lucky to go to so many schools with such amazing gifted programs in place. I never had any sort of food sensitivity that I know of, though.

    So, what do you look for in a young child/toddler to know if they are "gifted"? I mean, I think my kid is smart, but I figure that's sort of how we all think our kids could model for Baby Gap, which isn't always the reality.

    (This is Jill from Baby Rabies, btw)

  4. Angela, I'm glad you may have renewed interest. Trust me no one knows more than me about siblings being so different, yet research shows that we both are probably faced with having all bright children.

    Alison, I did not know the allergy connection with my oldest. He had so many sensitivities to foods, it was nuts. Also refused to ever drink milk so that is interesting to me. My 2nd did have milk/gluten issues right fromt he get go so I need to keep my eye on him.

    Awe, thanks for commenting. You have many valid points and I plan to address what happened and when with my first. I took crazy good notes on his development and I plan on posting a sort of collage of his first year. Just to let you know, she did stress genetics heavily. Very heavily. It's easy to be in gifted denial, but chances are he'll be just as bright as you. I'll also be posting on my husbands and my educations and our own journeys.

  5. Wow, my oldest is 9, VERY smart, too smart His teacher has called him gifted and put him in some special classes. I see the possibilities in my two younger kids as well. My husband is basically a genius so it's not a big surprise. Everything you described is my kids exactly. Food allergies abounding, the arguing, it's not fair, perfectionism. Very insightful! Glad I came across your blog. Now I'm going to go look for that island picture. ;)

  6. Interesting because I'm allergic to milk too...not lactose intolerant. Also I like that you compare it to a disability...and it kind of is because I had a really hard time in school...

    I was the classic underachiever and in my gifted classes I was very much like Eric from Head of the Class (80s TV show.) But I believe that was the infancy of the programs...we were bussed to a different school after lunch each day and it sucked being called out and different from other kids.