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High Ability Never Really Takes a Break

January 8, 2010

After a winter break, High Ability Blog is back in action.  Actually, I find I never really have a break from high ability children.  Even when I am technically not at a work, it seems I have a talent for running into situations that revolve around high ability kids.  This winter break was no different as I encountered three unique high ability stories.  The first situation was at a dinner party.  A woman I have known casually for many years was telling me about her granddaughter who is three years old.  I’ve met the older brother at other parties, and I helped work with the family to understand why he needed to be accelerated.  (Before three, he was conducting experiments, which he explained to us in great deal using difficult vocabulary and big hand gestures.) With a little reluctance on the part of the parents, he was accelerated and is now fairly appropriately placed in a magnet school with a gifted program.  Though I was well acquainted with the little boy, I hadn’t heard much about his little sister.  All I knew was that she was, as described by a friend, “hell on tricycle wheels.”  As Grandma explained to me, little sister doesn’t sleep.  The parents have taken her to the doctor, childrens’ hospitals, and sleep clinics, but no one can figure out why this little girl is so active.  A mutual friend who has a heavy special education background “diagnosed” her with as having “something that looks like ADHD but isn’t.”  She had never seen anything like it.

At this point in the conversation, I just shook my head.  Too bad, Grandma hadn’t talked to me a little sooner.  I could have explained to her that her that while big brother is pretty gifted, little sis may be off the charts. I could have explained Dabrowski’s theory of overexcitabilities and directed the parents to a psychologist who was familiar with what that means.  I could have referred the parents to the excellent book, Misdiagnosis and Dual of Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults. I will be emailing a list of reading materials to share with the parents.  It won’t get their daughter to sleep, but at least they may have a better understanding of what makes her stay awake.

At another dinner, I learned about a young man who is twice exceptional.  He has physical disabilities due to a rare childhood illness, but his mind is sharp.  Sadly, his parents are having trouble getting the high school to accommodate his needs.  The problem isn’t really about the fact that the teenage boy is disabled.  It is that he needs to be in advanced classes, where apparently the teachers have never dealt with a kid with his needs before.  The district  would much prefer to put him in the school where other disabled students are, but this isn’t where he needs to be academically.  I don’t have much advice for his parents as they seem to know how to advocate for their son.  But it is clearly frustrating for them and him to continue to do battle all the time.

Finally, a high ability high note.  At one last holiday gathering, I met a man who is edging close to thirty years old.  This man was highly accelerated as a youngster and graduated from college at seventeen.  For all of you parents out there worrying about radical acceleration, I have good news.  He’s doing just fine.  He has a great job, owns a home, and has a new girlfriend.  In short, it appears he is happy and well-adjusted.

As I get back to my day job, I know I will be immersed in school funding implementation questions, gifted policy problems, and other macro level issues, but is always good for me to remember why it is I do this job.  These close-up gifted encounters always renew my interest in state and national education policy.   Because at the end of the day, macro level education decisions will have a huge impact on the micro level child.  And that is why gifted advocates never really take a break.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 20, 2013 12:09 pm

    Awesome!! This is especially important post for feeling of joy, pride, satisfaction, and well-being…Thank you

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