Pssst.... I'll let you in on a little secret. Giftedness is terminal. Yep, permanent. You don't out grow it and it doesn't rub off.
That said, I adamantly advocate for cluster grouping gifted students in classrooms. There is a synergy of being with like-minded individuals that get your jokes and the opportunity to piggy back off of each others' ideas.
It's awful nice to be around others who understand and relate to your emotional intensity. People who don't make fun of you for it or make you feel like an alien from another planet because you use big words and just know "stuff".
So, if you're a parent, make it a point to discuss the idea of cluster grouping in your child's school. Sprinkling gifted students around like pepper lessens the chances that their education will be differentiated. A gifted child can go years without feeling challenged in school. This can lead to discouragement and even depression, as a child feels helpless to change the situation. Sometimes, in an effort to create stimulation, they develop behavior issues in class such as excessive talking, daydreaming, reading books while the teacher is talking, etc.
People often ask me, "What is giftedness? How do I know if a child is gifted?". In many school districts, we use test scores to spot gifted students. But what about the child who shows occasional sparks of originality, has great questions, makes insightful connections but doesn't do class assignments or homework? Perhaps this child occasionally has high test scores. Can this still be a gifted child? Let me share part of an article by Stephanie Tolan, titled, "Is It a Cheetah?"
IS IT A CHEETAH?
The child who does well in school, gets good grades, wins awards, and "performs" beyond the norms for his or her age, is considered talented. The child who does not, no matter what his innate intellectual capacities or developmental level, is less and less likely to be identified, less and less likely to be served.
A cheetah metaphor can help us see the problem with achievement-oriented thinking. The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth. When we think of cheetahs we are likely to think first of their speed. It's flashy. It is impressive. It's unique. And it makes identification incredibly easy. Since cheetahs are the only animals that can run 70 mph, if you clock an animal running 70 mph, IT'S A CHEETAH!
But cheetahs are not always running. In fact, they are able to maintain top speed only for a limited time, after which they need a considerable period of rest.
It's not difficult to identify a cheetah when it isn't running, provided we know its other characteristics. It is gold with black spots, like a leopard, but it also has unique black "tear marks" beneath its eyes. Its head is small, its body lean, its legs unusually long -- all bodily characteristics critical to a runner. And the cheetah is the only member of the cat family that has non-retractable claws. Other cats retract their claws to keep them sharp, like carving knives kept in a sheath --the cheetah's claws are designed not for cutting but for traction. This is an animal biologically designed to run.
Its chief food is the antelope, itself a prodigious runner. The antelope is not large or heavy, so the cheetah does not need strength and bulk to overpower it. Only speed. On the open plains of its natural habitat the cheetah is capable of catching an antelope simply by running it down.
While body design in nature is utilitarian, it also creates a powerful internal drive. The cheetah needs to run!
Despite design and need however, certain conditions are necessary if it is to attain its famous 70 mph top speed. It must be fully grown. It must be healthy, fit and rested. It must have plenty of room to run. Besides that, it is best motivated to run all out when it is hungry and there are antelope to chase.
If a cheetah is confined to a 10 X 12 foot cage, though it may pace or fling itself against the bars in restless frustration, it won't run 70 mph.
(To read more, visit: www.stephanietolan.com/is_it_a_cheetah.htm )
-------------------------Five OverexcitabilitiesWe know gifted students are far more complex than their test scores might suggest. And while we expect certain quirks, others blindside us: a strange reaction to sound, a sudden outburst of tears, or a need to stand up at inopportune times.Kazimierz Dabrowski identified five types of “overexcitability” that he believed connected strongly to giftedness: intellectual, psychomotor, imaginative, sensual, and emotional.
When teachers understand the OE's they can better support their gifted students.
Here are a few suggestions:
Too many detailed questions from a student in the middle of a lesson? She’s exhibiting intellectual overexcitability. Give her ten minutes of computer time to get those quesitons answered!
Fidgety actions causing annoying noises during worktime? The student might be experiencing psychomotor overexcitabilities. Be sure to offer options for moving around, constructing objects, or otherwise getting that energy out.
Read more about these here:
Gifted Grownups by MaryLou Kelly Streznewski is one of my all time favorite books about gifted adults. You will have many A-ha moments when reading this one.
Chapter titles include:
What Makes You Gifted?
Bored, Bored, Bored. The quest for challenging work
Finding the Others: Friends and Lovers
Young in Mind: The Later Years
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children by James Webb
Learn more here:
Many gifted and talented children (and adults) are being mis-diagnosed by psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and other health care professionals. The most common mis-diagnoses are: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (OD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Mood Disorders such as Cyclothymic Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Depression, and Bi-Polar Disorder. These common mis-diagnoses stem from an ignorance among professionals about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children which are then mistakenly assumed by these professionals to be signs of pathology.
It is important in any diagnosis, to find a specialist who has training in understanding the traits of gifted people.
Locally, we have Dale Stewart, based in Torrence, CA.
OFFICE 3510 W. Torrance Blvd, Suite 100 Torrance, California 90503
For more on the loneliness of gifted adults, see my previous blog post, titled: Find Your Tribe.