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.