Guess what? Your child is probably not gifted.

Guess what?  Your child is probably not gifted.

This sentiment has been posted, oftentimes quite smugly, as a comment on numerous recent articles on the topic of gifted children. It always seems when the emotional and controversial articles and discussions about gifted children and their education come up, the sour grapes comments inevitably come out. Yet, I have to agree with this claim—chances are, your child is not gifted.

Although there is no one definitive, clinical definition for giftedness which professionals in the field all adhere to, it is generally agreed that 2% of the population are gifted.1 Numerically, that would be two children out of every 100 children, or twenty students in a school of 1000 students. Rare, for sure. But because giftedness is a small percentage of our society, does that mean we should assume no parent has a child who is gifted?  And when we hold to this attitude—your child is probably not gifted or the other sentiment—every child is gifted—we then set up an injurious belief system which seems to insidiously perpetuate itself, and then it marginalizes and even shuns the 2% of our children who are gifted and in need of educational, social and often psychological services.

The many public discussions about gifted children and gifted education programs seem to bend to the attitude of all or nothing. Either every child gets the benefit of a gifted program, or no child should have that benefit.  It’s the equality thing. Gifted education programs are considered elitist. Rarely is gifted education seen as a necessary educational service for gifted children.

A quick internet search for recent information on the cutting of funding and the complete elimination of gifted programs in our public schools can attest to the fact that services to gifted children are deemed unnecessary. Without gifted education and an appropriately challenging education, our gifted children are being held back, kept locked within their grade level based on their age, not their achievement level. Similarly, would you agree to hold back your 9-month-old baby who is ready to walk solely because the vast majority of babies don’t walk until they are 12 months old? Also, what if allowing your baby to develop and reach milestones early as he was born to do was seen as elitist, or you were told you were hothousing your baby just to force him ahead of the others?

And so the myths, misunderstandings and animosity keep swirling around the discussion of giftedness in children—disallowing our gifted children or prohibiting them from learning and developing intellectually, the way they were born to.

Let’s look at the probability and occurrence for other childhood conditions and situations:

  1.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 1.47% of the population has been identified with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Chances are, your child is not on the spectrum.2
  2.  Only 2% of all high school athletes will go on to play college-level sports and only one in 16,000 (0.00625%) high school athletes will go on to a professional sports career. Your child is probably not athletically talented given these statistics.3
  3. The American Diabetes Association says that less than 1% (.25%) of children below twenty years of age are diagnosed with diabetes. Thankfully, childhood diabetes is not an often-occurring disease. 4

Diabetes, ASD, and talented athletes—each with a very small chance of occurring in our children.  But, because it is such a small percentage, do we just throw a blanket of ignorance over the whole lot and say that the situation does not exist?  Do we refuse to treat diabetes in children.  Do we refuse special educational services for autistic children?  Do we ax funding and scrap all school sports?  Are services and treatment to these small populations deemed unnecessary simply because these are not in the majority of childhood occurrences?

Of course not, but these, autism, childhood diabetes and talented athletes, do not elicit the feelings of resentment and envy as does giftedness in children.

Of course, none of us would say stop treating a child with diabetes simply because only a few children have it and thankfully our child does not. We would all support funding for research for childhood diabetes even if our own child does not have it.

And of course none of us would argue that children with autism, only 1.47% of students, do not need an appropriate education that meets their unique needs. Even if your child is not on the autistic spectrum, you support educational programs for the special learning needs of these students.

How many of you have supported your child’s school football team by buying a ticket to go and watch a game or two or more?  Even if your child tried out, but did not make the football team, you still agree that there should be a football team at your child’s school, right? Claiming that the football team is elitist and should not exist just because your child did not make the team would seem petty.

Then why are there people who believe every child is gifted or no child is gifted? Why do we continually see funding cut to gifted education programs leaving gifted students sitting in regular classrooms learning what they already know?  Why do we claim that gifted programs are elitist just because every child can not participate? Why do we want to insist every child is gifted when we know this is not true?

Every child has his place in society where he will be happy and successful if given the necessary tools. Why do we keep wanting to withhold the tools gifted children need to reach their happy and successful place in society?

There are real gifted children in our world. Will you support the education and the tools gifted children need to succeed and be happy, or will you continue agreeing to hold gifted children back, and why would you do this?

Why do we continue to crush our tall poppies?

 

 

1. “Is your kid really gifted? Probably not”, CNN Health

2.“Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010”, Centers for Disease Control 

3. “From High School to Pro – How Many Will Go?”, Georgia Career Information Center, Georgia State University

4. “Statistics About Diabetes”, American Diabetes Association, Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014 (released June 10, 2014)

98 Comments on “Guess what? Your child is probably not gifted.

  1. I think, and I hope with internet and such, the curriculum can be customized per student. So someone better at math can move forward at their pace. Where the ADHD Kid, like me, can switch between subjects as they begin to “zone out on one” or learn at their pace. MY neighbor made sure her kids were put in the gifted program, just as she’s made sure they never do anything ordinary boring kids would do. My child is just as bright as them, maybe more so, I was curious about the gifted program because they were considering her for it. So I asked the mom about it. She said it’s just extra home work mostly. So why have them in it? So you can tell everyone you meet how your child is in the gifted program. You want to know how smart my kid is? She realizes it’s just extra work of the same boring crap and has no interest in being in it. If it doesn’t allow her extra time to work on her art or animation, then forget it. She sneaks paper and saves it in her pencil case so she can draw and work on comics and stories between subjects. I think all kids have strengths and are curious natural learners. Then we stick them in this boring environment called school and they learn to hate learning. If I could afford I’d send my kid to Montessori or Waldorf. I don’t care if it’s fruity. Our priorities are not the ones set for us by capitalism. Did you know that if your kid does not fit into the traditional school setting they most likely won’t fit into the capitalistic work setting the schools are blatantly preparing them for. The GA schools are all about tomorrow’s workers, who will most likely be service workers. There’s no free thinking, creative problem solving, or individual artistic expression. Even art class is tightly controlled learning. Instead of introducing kids to a medium of self expression, it’s all about why this artist is great because we say so and draw this exactly as I do. I’m not kidding. We didn’t have this where I grew up, but that was the midwest where there isn’t so much poverty or minorities you want to keep down and in lowly service jobs. Think about it. It’s all BS!

    • Can I edit? I’m afraid my neighbor will some how see this! LOL, ADHD strikes again!

      • What I can do is not approve your original comment and you can then resubmit your comment with your edits. If you want the original comment emailed to you to help with the edits, I can send it via your email address. However you want to do it! 🙂

  2. In elementary – middle school “gifted” usually just means honors student. The top 10% of the class in math & English – no tormented geniuses in the bunch. I’m grateful that “gifted” existed when I was young because I found regular class boring & slow, and learned far more in an accelerated class. Maybe, as you say, the word is misused, but in our city it just meant honors for younger kids. Good, inexpensive program for future doctors and engineers.

    The unusual behavior / IQ that you’re talking about is rare enough that it might warrant a small program for each school district. Average school class size = 150 * 0.02 * 5 schools = 15 student gifted class per grade for each district.

    • Nick, you are right. And it is the confusion in schools that high IQ/giftedness is the same as gifted/honors in traditional schools is the crux of the problem. Yes, true giftedness/high IQ is about 2% of our population, but most schools in order to make gifted programs feasible, accept the to 10% which means there are more honor students than actual gifted students. The problem, also, with many gifted programs in school is that they offer just accelerated learning in all subjects when gifted students (not necessarily honors students) need more than acceleration across the board. Sometimes they need a high rate of acceleration in the subjects they are strong in, say math, but need more time in subjects they are average in, like English.

      Achievement-oriented students often excel in all subjects where those who are gifted with asynchronous development are uneven in their growth and development, and therefore in their education. Of course, there is not one blanket rule or strategy for all gifted students.

      Yes, a single program in every school district would be wonderful for gifted students. When my older two children were younger, the school system we were in had regular classes, honors classes and gifted classes which was great for meeting the needs of most learners. Now, most schools have regular classes only which meets the needs of regular students.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Nick!

  3. I am running into issues with a gifted kid who is ALSO a Type 1 Diabetic – depressingly, it seems gifted programs only want kids if they don’t come with inconvenient medial conditions. She’s already “different’ at school due to her academic aptitude, and also “different” as one of only 2 kids with Type 1 in her school (the other one is her little sister). She attends 2 different summer camps for diabetic kids, where she can feel “normal” because everyone around her also has diabetes. I was hoping that I could also enroll her in some supplementary programs where she could feel “normal” about her intellectual gifts. It’s immensely frustrating to find that her medical differences are so overwhelming to a program for gifted kids that I’m grappling with a non-adversarial way to inform them that they must make medical accommodations for her under state and federal law and aren’t allowed to just turn a qualified kid away because she’s disabled.

    • Beatrice,

      My heart goes out to you for the struggles you and your daughter are facing. Yes, unfortunately, many gifted programs really only want those children who will excel and have no medical or learning hindrances to exemplary achievement despite their IQ’s or giftedness. One of my sons was denied entrance into a gifted program because his standardized test scores in writing were not high enough and I was told that he would not be able to keep up the pace of program. His hindrance is that he is visual spatial which can make writing slower.

      Your daughter rightfully belongs in the gifted program despite her Type 1 Diabetes. Advocating for your child is always overwhelming, but you have the rights of your child on your side. Go prepared with all of the documentation you can find.

      Good luck and please let us know how it goes! We would all love to hear about your success story in obtaining your child’s right place in the gifted program. Thanks, Beatrice, and all the best!

  4. Mean we already live in a world, a society of genetic haves & genetic have-nots etc… Some are taller than others, some are prone to illnesses more than others, some are very good looking, some have bodies that allow them to get an amazing perfect muscular physique, some are smart whilst others are dumb, some are able bodied whilst others are disabled etc etc. Thus what difference would it make? I’d welcome gene-editing technology.

    Also it’d finally put an end to some being born more equal than others and having an easier time of it(due things out of their control ie Genes) In terms of actual equality. After all, we already are living in a culture (as we do in the West) of stigma, labeling of inferiority/incompetence etc. A society conditioned to and to value superficial Social Darwinist perfection etc. Thus genetic haves and have-nots are already a thing. Again it wouldn’t make that much difference on that front. This could potentially close the genetic gap.

    At the same time, the trouble is what happens when the technology is monetized and/or militarized. For example, is it moral if only the super-rich can afford children free of certain markers? There might also be a problem if we engineer, say, a virus that only the GE babies are resistant to. Vice versa, why not engineer a kill switch into embryos to ensure their parents fulfill their payments? You can see the vast possibilities of abuse.

    Technology is always neutral. If you want to the know the problems any new technology may bring, just look at the social problems present in the civilization that seeks to implement it. If your society has great disparity of wealth and projects its economic and military power in ways that harm other societies, you should expect a new technology to reinforce those trends. There are actually many reasons to approach GE with a great deal of humility and caution and not just pin our hopes on our good intentions.

    But I hate that people say to “embrace our differences” when they mention that we are not all equally talented. People who say “different not better!” because it’s BS, we don’t value all “trait permutations equally.” It essentially reads as defending the status quo. The term “equality without sameness” can only be so if we value all traits equally, which we don’t. In reality our differences really are on a “hierarchy” so to speak; they aren’t equally desirable.

    Well it’s patronizing, but I think it’s terribly unfair for Bob to have clinical mental retardation by birth, and such.

    Basically, people have different “ceilings” potential wise, and currently we talk about helping people reach their ceilings. But what if we could raise the ceilings themselves?

    Why do we treat stuff as a Harrison Bergeron zero-sum game? I don’t choose to make people equal by dumbing down the “blessed” people, but to raise everyone else up to the “blessed” level if they so choose.

    My ideal is if we could have equal ability, or a narrow bell curve at least, but varied interests.

    I think transhumanism should give people access to talents they don’t have. For example, if I want to be a professional ballerina, I can’t through no fault of my own, as I don’t have the natural build. What if I could give myself it through transhumanism rather than just accepting my genetics?

    This would make for a really interesting world because then it would be nearly 100% effort that makes the difference, not any inheritance traits. I wonder how much more competitive the world would become.

    • Tolerance and acceptance.

      This is what our world lacks too often. I agree. We are not truly created equal and some of our differing traits can be both good and bad depending on the circumstances. For the most part, we all know and accept our strengths and weaknesses, but intelligence is one we all share and nearly all of us desire to be known as “smart.” Ex. I know I don’t have the body to be athletic or a model, but I can accept this because I’m creative and friendly. I have balance. BUT rarely can one find balance if we know we are not as intelligent as the person next to us. AND then, how do we judge intelligence? School smarts, problem-solver, quick learner?

      It all goes back to tolerance and acceptance–and just making the most of who we were born to be.

      Thanks again, Alina, for your thought-provoking comment!

  5. “Sigh” … my three year old grandson took apart his bicycle and then put it back together again. Is he gifted -probably not.

    Should I insist the school recognize his “ability” and include a mechanics class in preschool – probably not.

    Do I feel we as caregivers have a responsibility to nurture our little ones – absolutely YES.

    Do I rely on the educational system to keep them engaged – no not really.

    If a child has something that is truly unique they themselves seem to find their own way of enhancing their “uniqueness”, if only you would give them the opportunity to show you how capable of achieving this in THEIR own way, not yours.

    A child that thirst for knowledge will find that cup of water and drink it on their OWN terms

    Stop worrying so much about what Ivy league school they will attend and let them be kids. If you take a step back and let them problem solve on their own you might be pleasantly surprised.

    Best of luck in your quest for the “gifted”

    • Except that giftedness is not a talent, ability, uniqueness nor a quest for an Ivy League education; it is a true medical and psychological diagnosis, much like autism, which most often has coexisting emotional and social intensities and traits which need addressing. Unlike the huge misperceptions and myths schools have created about giftedness, it is a lifelong neurodiversity one is born with. It is inherent brain wiring which makes gifted people think and experience life differently. Erroneously viewing giftedness as an educational label, a child who is smarter and better, is a very common misunderstanding.

      • You make it sound like gifted belongs in the DSM-V then. Why is the definition so “nebulous?” Seems self serving to me. As do most impossibly nebulous definitions of things (see, “holistic evaluation.”)

        • Alina,

          Giftedness is complicated due to many factors, mostly because of all the paradoxes–advantaged or disadvantaged, normal or abnormal, highly learning enabled or learning disabled. Many factors are also made more complicated because of the severe lack of understanding by society of what giftedness is, an agreement by professionals on what exactly is the universal definition of giftedness and also the adverse emotional attitudes towards giftedness.

          My personal belief is that giftedness is inherently normal, and the abnormalities only arise because of the above mentioned confounding factors as well as our traditional schools’ organization. The lockstep, years-old, age-based organization of traditional schooling as well as the standardization which focuses educational strategies on the larger, average group of students (teaching to the middle) both put gifted students on the outside of traditional education. The struggles gifted children face are more often than not the result of this exclusion in schools. Although homeschooling is not perfect, many struggles are lessened or diminished for gifted children who are allowed to learn at their own pace.

          If you judge a fish on his ability to climb a tree, he will come to believe he is dumb and will struggle.

          Thank you for asking for clarification and truly wanting to know more about giftedness!

          • Great question! Generally, an IQ of 130 and above is the determining IQ for being considered gifted. Mensa membership has a little higher IQ requirement than that. So, not all gifted people qualify for Mensa.

  6. When I was ten, I found out what gifted children were, thanks to the internet, and decided that I MUST be one. I was the only one who started reading philosophy at age 9, wasn’t I? Oh and the other kids SO did not get my interest in politics. They did not even know what right wing and left wing were, let alone what was currently happening in the world. I also self-diagnosed myself with Aspergers, because I thought I was the most awkward person on earth. Yeah, I was a weird kid. And still am at 14, though thankfully less egotistic.

    I requested my parents give me an IQ test. Problem? Me and IQ tests never got along very well. Why? Rote memorization, short term memory for numbers, visual tracking, math, and of course, spelling. I got 99.9 on all the puzzle’s, games and stuff, but was unable to memorize a simple sequence of numbers. Or add them. Or subtract them. And I was 10. Wonder why I suck at math?

    I probably did not help that I was extremely nervous on this IQ test. They were testing my Intelligence. How could I NOT be worried. Anyways, Much to my dismay, I did not score high enough. Not that the oh so prestigious gifted program would want squirmy, inattentive, impulsive, always-getting-into-trouble little me anyways. Partly due to my little sprout in learning about gifted kids, I developed a intense interest in psychology. Needless to say, the teachers did not appreciate me psychoanalyzing them.

    Even today, I still don’t understand this gifted kid thing, or at least the way people are tested. I doubt the accuracy of the IQ test. Many highly people I know, and have known, did not do as well as expected. I just don’t think these tests work. Surely it should be impossible to gauge intelligence through a mere test? Wouldn’t a full on assessment of a child’s strengths and weaknesses be necessary?

    Even today, at the beginning of high school, smart as I am in some areas, I still can not do basic math without a calculator, spell with out spellcheck, read a clock, tell left from right, remember my phone number, or even tie my shoes. And I know many others like me. Hence, I believe intelligence should not be tested with the fabled IQ, but with something more individualistic.

    • You are absolutely right–intelligence and giftedness should not be tested with an IQ test alone. We all know that any test can be flawed. But, I have to ask. Did you take the WISC? There is an often overlooked exception when using this test to determine giftedness or FSIQ. There is a second score which is also used–the GAI. Theoretically, the GAI can represent an individual’s overall cognitive ability if the scores from working memory and processing speed portions of the test were considerably lower than the verbal and perceptional reasoning scores. Google GAI and see if this pertains to your scores if you did take the WISC.

      Also, there is SO much more to giftedness than IQ. There is creativity, emotional intensities and sensitivities. Keep reading all that you can on giftedness. It is such a complex human condition and many professionals in the field disagree on what giftedness really is. Most schools will use a combination of tests and checklists before identifying a child as being gifted. Also, please remember there is more to intelligence than how well one does in school. Being a good speller or having a good grasp on mental math is not a requisite for having above-average intelligence.

      I have to say, though, that I had to giggle when you said you psychoanalyze your teachers. This sounds so familiar. My own gifted sons would challenge their teachers, too, and they often reaped the repercussions from their teachers.

      I’m so glad you gave us your opinions on giftedness and testing, and also shared a bit of your own story. You are your own best advocate!

  7. Regrettably, in a system designed to educate the masses, specialization is difficult at best, if not impossible. And while I have seen the struggle my sister has faced advocating for her autistic children to get their needs met, I truly believe there are not enough funds, and adequately trained and supported teachers to meet the vastly differing needs of all of these children, whether autistic, gifted, or those suffering with varying diseases or genetic health conditions. I come from a family of teachers longing to simply provide a good education for their students, but who themselves are fighting to get the help they need to, to do so.

    One thing is certain from this article and all the varying comments both heated and supportive, is that we all love and care for our own children and families. I wonder, if those in a position to do so, might better spend their resources advocating for homeschooling. It opens doors to specialization and mentoring without bullying, academic achievement at the rate for which each child can feel accomplished, and the emotional support of someone who actually cares for the student on a level that others cannot experience.

    It is not for everyone, but it definitely should be considered as a viable option. It allows both student and parent(caregiver) to set and achieve personal goals and mentoring,and the ability to pursue the path for which the student show talent or interest. I am sure Thomas Eddison was thankful him mother brought him home to school. We have all benefited from that decision.

    • Absolutely, Lisa, homeschooling is an educational option that is, in many cases, better than traditional school. I think homeschoolers have proven that by consistently outperforming traditionally-schooled students on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Also, many universities recruit homeschoolers because they outperform their traditional-school counterparts.

      No one educational method is best for every child. With the decline of our public school system, parents find themselves now more than ever looking for other educational options for their children. Homeschooling is justifiably one such option.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with us, Lisa.

  8. I have posted about my son before but things have happened since I first posted.

    My son is a 14-year old Freshman in high school. Allow me to tell you how he got there. It was a fight, of sorts.

    Allow me to go back to the beginning:

    When he was 18 months old, he recognized that a 6 was an upside down 9. At age 4, he began reading. He was tested in 1st grade to see if he was gifted. He scored a 136 at that time. By 3rd or 4th grade, he was reading on college level. He excells in every subject at school. He has a problem with completing homework and class work. It’s not that he can’t do it. He doesn’t want to do it. Why? Because he already learned the material. Why should he have to keep doing it over and over and over again? The purpose of school is to learn. Once a student learns something, they need to be allowed to move on, right? My son’s other issue is that he’s a perfectionist, a gifted trait, from what I have learned. He is also a visual-spatial leaner. I have done so much research on giftedness and visual-spatial I’m almost an expert. (Not quite, but you get what I mean.)

    Back up a few years: In first grade his teacher noticed he would shut down when he was upset. He would just put his head down and do nothing. In second grade his teacher told me she noticed he would bite himself when he became upset. I talked to him about it and asked that she let me know if it happened again. It didn’t. In third grade, his teacher emailed me to tell me he was biting himself. I didn’t check my email until around 7:30 that night. I looked at his arm and it was still red and you could see teeth marks…two different areas. I put him in therapy at that time. Fourth grade was difficult for him because of FCAT Writes. (We live in Florida,) his teacher said he wrote brilliantly but rarely finished an essay. I figured out why one day after the principal asked me to come in for a meeting. He had a prompt: “If you woke up one morning and learned you could fly, where would you go? What would you do?” He had 45 minutes and didn’t write one word. After my meeting with his principal the same day the essay was assigned, I made him write it. His problem? He was stuck on the small detail of “how” he could fly. He asked me and his older sister to pick. I told him to just pick one. Did he want to fly like Max in the “Maximum Ride” series, with wings? Or did he want to fly like Superman does? He could not decide. So, we decided for him. He was done with that essay in 20 minutes. It was brilliant. In fifth grade his teacher decided to not grade him on his homework or class work because she knew he wouldn’t pass if she did. She graded him on tests and projects. They gave district assigned benchmark tests at least once a semester. He always scored 100% on both the math and reading. He scored 100% on his FCATs, as well, beginning in third grade.

    Fast forward to 7th grade. He took a test to determine if he was eligible to take Algebra I or not. He scored the highest of all the kids who took it. He was placed in Algebra I Honors as a 7th grader. He didn’t do homework every day but scored 100% on the stuff he did do. His teacher told me how brilliant he was. His English teacher couldn’t get him to do work, either, but what he did do was all 100%. He always aced spelling tests and she would always tell me that he was the smartest student she had. All of his teachers told me how brilliant he was. I scheduled a meeting with the school and invited his teachers to come. My proposal was to have him do his 8th grade courses over the summer so he could start high school. (This was March-April 2014.) I spent hours researching his particular needs and issues and presented it. His Algebra teacher spoke up and suggested he just skip 8th grade. We had to present that to the principal first who then contacted the district. The district denied the request. One of their main concerns was maturity and age. He is very mature for his age as he spent his whole life with me, his sister and her friends. He prefers the older kids because they are more on his level. As far as age goes, he was a late start because he is a September baby and missed the September 2nd cut-off to start kindergarten. His Algebra teacher even told me that if she were to close her eyes while talking to him she would never know she was talking to a kid. He doesn’t talk like a kid. I went back to the principal, whose son is also gifted and a fellow classmate of my daughter’s who graduates May 2015, and gave her more information on gifted kids. I learned that gifted kids who were allowed to skip a grade were more likely to earn PhD’s. I also learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. skipped a grade, as did Sandra Day O’Connor and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. I learned that visual-spatial learners do not need information drilled into them. Once they get it, it stays. If you drill information into a visual-spatial learner, they will actually LOSE that information. I learned quite a bit more but those are the key points. I called the district and spoke to the gifted specialist and told her that I did not want him to be a statistic. 20-40% of high school dropouts are gifted students. They are not getting what they need and are not allowed to progress at their pace. She suggested he take the ACT. So I scheudled the ACT for June 2014. He was still 13 at the time. He had an overall score of 22. He scored 25 on the English, 22 on the Science, and 17 on the math. The only reason he didn’t score higher on the math is because he hadn’t been introduced to subjects like geometry and trig. They didn’t expect him to score very high but he exceeded their expectations. They allowed him to skip 8th grade and so he began high school August 2014. He is flourishing. He’s doing so well. Here in Florida we have dual-enrollment where high school sophomores can take college courses, for free, including books, and earn both high school and college credit for each course they take. Many of the students at my kids’ school are dual-enrolled and graduate high school with their AA. My daughter took a few of those classes. Quite a few of our seniors are actually full-time at the college and don’t even step foot on the high school campus. They’re still gaining high school credit, but all their classes are at the college. Some of our seniors already have their AA. This is the path that best suits my son. As long as he is learning new things, he is not bored and he does well.

    Now let me tell you about his psychological issues. He has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Remember me saying he used to bite himself? Well, when he started 7th grade, possibly before that but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t notice, he began pulling his eyelashes out. When he ran out of those, he started on his eyebrows. Now he has neither. He’s ln prozac for the anxiety. He has his first cognitive behavioural therapy session tomorrow, as a matter of fact. He has always had this disorder but I never really recognized it as such. Looking back, I can now see every instance when he exhibited this anxiety. Hindsight=20/20.

    I’ve been lucky because I’ve had the support of teachers and administration from all his schools. It helps that I’m a stay at home Mom, I volunteer as much as I’m needed, and I am also a substitute teacher. These people know me and they know my kids very well. They know I am dedicated to my kids and to getting them what they need to be successful. I don’t condone my son not doing his homwork, but the proof is in the research…repetitive assignments only hurt the visual-spatial learner. Something has got to give. If the repetitive homework is a detriment to his education then he doesn’t need to do it. It’s a difficult thing to assess but the proof is in his test scores. He doesn’t always show his work in math. When you ask him how he knows it, he responds with, “I just do.” And he does. I don’t know how he knows all the stuff his brain absorbs and stores but he does.

    The problem is that many parents don’t know their options or rights. (Many parents don’t pay attention, either, or they’re too busy with work and such.) They don’t have the repertoire with the teachers and administrators. They have to work and therefore don’t notice things or they don’t realize the severity of the situation. They blame their kids for failure. Many gifted students are under-achievers. Why? Because they are bored. Plain and simple. They’re not learning new things therefore they lose interest. We have to make sure each child is getting the help they need..in either direction. It’s a team effort between parents, teachers, and administration. There has to be communication and within that communication there needs to be solutions explored and tested.

    In researching, talking to teachers, interacting with and learning about my son, I have learned a great deal about myself. My son is my mini-me when it comes to school and the anxiety. I didn’t realize those things about myself until I began this journey with my son. One difference between the two of us is that I am TERRIBLE at math. My brain shuts down. But he excels at every subject. It amazes me. He took Psychology online last semester and earned a 98%.

    One last thing: he wasn’t picked on or bullied, thankfully. I’ve asked him. I also substitute teach for his former classmates and when I am in their classrooms they talk about how smart he is. They are in awe of him. I’ve heard from many students that they’re impressed by him. Some admitted to trying to cheat off him. They also told me he would get mad when they did that. Good for him. But they don’t resent him or think he’s weird because he’s smart. They do ask about his eyebrows and eyelashes. I just tell them he pulls them when he gets stressed out and overwhelmed, which is the truth, but I’ve simplified it. Not because I don’t think they’d understand, but because they don’t need to know details.

    That’s the story of my son. He’s deciding between pursuing astrophysics or engineering. Either way, he’s got a bright future ahead of him and I, as his Mother, will make sure nothing, (school politics or politics in general), hinders him from reaching his goals. I will continue to encourage and fight for him. With his sister graduating high school in just under four months and this being his first year of high sxhool, after skipping a grade, this is truly a stressful, busy, trying, and tiring year. I am hoping next year isn’t as stressful.

    I think I’ve covered all I wanted to say. I apologize for the length. I summarized it as much as I could without losing vital information, though I feel as though I’ve forgotten something. You get the point, though. I just hope other parents see this and see there is hope. No. The school system isn’t set up for the kids outside the normal range. Both ends of the spectrum tend to suffer. This is where we parents come in to make up for it or fix it. Teachers, good, caring teachers, will also work with you and your child to make sure they get the best education possible. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. I’m so glad I took the time to research and meet with the proper people. My son has benefitted from this. Just don’t give up! Don’t give up hope, either. Keep fighting the good fight!

    I apologize for any typos. I wrote this whole thing on my iPhone and used 20% battery doing it. Eeek.

    • Crystal, first, let me compliment you on such excellent typing on your iPhone! lol I’m sincerely impressed.

      All joking aside, you really did an outstanding job advocating for your son. And I am very impressed with your son’s school and school district for supporting gifted learners and allowing for the many opportunities for acceleration. If all families of gifted children who advocate for the needs of their gifted child could have such understanding, supportive and receptive schools and educators. You have indeed been very lucky, and your hard work paid off.

      Sadly, there are many such families who advocate intelligently and prepared, but it all falls on deaf–or ignorant–ears. And yes, there are many families, such as in our lower socioeconomic and minority communities who are not aware they have a gifted child.

      For all those gifted children and their families, we all need to lend our voice to advocate for all gifted children. Your story is both encouraging and gives us hope that it can be done. But, we need to remember that often times, schools and school districts resist any advocacy efforts.

      Thanks for sharing your son’s story, Crystal. So, so wonderful to hear of a win for our gifted team! Keep in touch and keep us updated on your wonderful son!

  9. http://giftedparentingsupport.blogspot.com/2014/07/dumbing-down-america-interview-with-dr.html (re: previous comments)

    From 1988 thru 1995, I was as single parent with 3 children (IQs from 164 to 176) and 3 foster children (IQs from 54 – 68). All were teenagers, all attended the same junior/senior high school in a state with zero $$ budgeted for gifted students. The school principal’s wife was a social worker who had placed many DD foster children with families in this school’s district. Of the almost 900 students, 109 of them, including my foster children, were on IEPs. Almost half of the school’s yearly budget went to support those 109 students.

    This school stopped all advanced placement classes the year my 2nd child entered 7th grade. His 6th grade teacher was furious. She had 10 students she had helped to advance beyond junior high math, english, etc, based on the HS’s promises that these students would be allowed to skip some of the junior high classes and join HS and AAP classes. Several had taken Latin lessons, on their own time. My son also attended John Hopkins CTY summer programs. He suffered through 7th grade math, but balked at the 8th grade math program. He went to the Algebra ll teacher for a textbook, did the work, on his own for the first 6 weeks. She went to guidance office and said she was putting him in her 10th grade Algebra ll class, whether they liked it or not. He was an October baby and had started school at age 4, so he was just having his 12th birthday when she did this. He ended up tutoring the juniors in that class.

    Meanwhile, my foster children, all on IEPs, were being taken to a local gym, with an olympic sized swimming pool, for PhysEd; shopping at grocery stores (teacher shopped for self, student was supposed to be learning how to behave in the situation); and on many other local field trips, which usually benefited the teacher, or aide, more than my foster children. These children were rewarded, almost weekly, with candy, pizza and ice cream parties, all on the taxpayer’s dime. Two of them were obese and these rewards interfered with my efforts to get them to a healthy weight. The 3rd really became hyper from that food. The teachers and aides refused to consider any other reward system. There were other problems, this is just a minuscule sample.

    Besides being a financial officer, an RN, a business owner, foster parent, SS Representative Payee for DD adults, Girl and Cub Scout & 4-H leader, etc., I was also certified by the State Education Department as a Surrogate Parent for the IEP process. I sat in meetings, as a volunteer, no pay, with, or for, parents who did not understand the process and / or the words the professionals used, and advocated for those parents and their children.

    When my younger son was having difficulties (boredom, bullies, etc.) at this school, in 9th grade, I asked that he be placed on an IEP. The guidance counselor told me that he wasn’t eligible because “his IQ is well over 160, and he can do it all on his own.” I was advised to tell my son to hit the bullies who were hitting him. Since he was bigger than most of his classmates, he had always refused to respond physically to the bullies who hit him. He choose to walk away, and I did not want him to do otherwise. The school did have a policy that should have gotten any student suspended for hitting, but the VP told me that he would never do that to the major bully as “his father is a hothead.” (So, I went straight to that father. VP had to deal with him then, but was not happy about it. That VP later lost his job when it was discovered that he was allowing underage drinking, among students, at his home. The students submitted a picture, which was rejected, to the yearbook staff.)

    My response to this guidance counselor was, “Most of the children you have in Special Education are going to need continued tax payer support throughout their adult lives. My children will be those taxpayers, but this one needs some help to get there.” His reply was that there was nothing he could do to help. (this was 20 years ago!)

    My daughter barely graduated from this HS, was happier in college. My sons did not graduate. One was accepted by a college, just prior to his 17th birthday. After he was accepted, they told him he had to take his GEDs, so he took all 5 in one day. Then I got a call from those instructors, as they had never had someone take all 5 tests at one sitting, and they were amazed at his high scores. My younger son, the one who really needed an IEP, dropped out at age 15, passed 4 of the GED tests, went to work a few years later, then took his last GED test and joined the Army, at age 21. His military test scores were so high, the recruiters called me to see if I could help them talk him into going into military intelligence. (He wouldn’t.) Today, all my children are taxpayers.

    My 3 foster children are still being supported by the taxpayers. All moved on to ‘professional parent’ homes at age 18. The girls have had 3 children, one child ended up in foster care for the past 18 years. That child did lack oxygen at birth, so is likely also DD. The other girl’s 2 sons are DD, but will probably be able to do manual labor. Still, their education is costing the taxpayers, as is her husband, who is in and out of the criminal justice system.

    So, I continue to stand by my comments to that guidance counselor. If we want to continue to support all our citizens, we need to do better with educating the ones who will grow up to be the taxpayers, especially the gifted ones. Because – they will also be the ones who advance our standards of living, medical care, energy needs, space travel, etc.

    • Jeane, thank you for sharing your story. It seems the moral here is that our school systems need to try to meet each child where he is, and provide they type of education and support that best meets his needs. We are not doing that, not by a long shot, and it seems to be getting worse. I really appreciate you telling us your experiences with all of your children.

  10. I found this article interesting and I can see both sides of the argument.

    I am a person with a visual limitation (my wording) and I was sent away to a special school because my school district refused to make any necessary accommodations. So if I (as a student) found out that someone who was “Gifted” was getting special funding and I didn’t, I’d be rightly upset.

    I think what really set my bias against Gifted education was a 60 Minutes documentary about the subject I saw as a preteen. One of the children in this documentary refused to do his schoolwork (instead deciding to play video games) and openly rude to his mother. This cemented the notion (at least in my mind then) that Gifted = privileged = no consequences for bad behavior.

    As an adult my view has changed. I still have my doubts and one response to an article in which the anonymous posted stated that since “children with down syndrome won’t be our doctors and scientests we shouldn’t give them educational support.” tend to make me not want to make the change in views. I’ve also seen (on one forum) strident objections — from 3rd party posters — that a child couldn’t possibly _not_ be Gifted since her siblings were.

    Sadly I suppose but I just can’t shake the feeling that Gifted kids could “get away with murder” to use the expression and nobody would say boo. On the other hand I’m researching and trying very hard to keep an open mind.

    • Douglas, I honestly can’t thank you enough for keeping an open mind about gifted children; most do not. The stereotypical gifted student reputation ubiquitously plaques our truly gifted children who need special educational services. My opinion is this stereotype is perpetuated and bolstered by the many smart, high-achieving, but NON-GIFTED students who are in the gifted programs in schools. Then there are the parents of the smart, but not-gifted kids who fight to get their kids into these gifted programs because to them it is a “reward” or a “feather in their cap” sort of thing. True gifted kids, the neurodiverse kids with IQ’s over 130, who also are born with emotional, social and sensory intensities, suffer because they are assumed to be like the smart, but not-gifted children who excel in school.

      Giftedness is not a privilege, and gifted children–the truly gifted–don’t have it made. My own youngest son hates being gifted because of all the many negative situations it has brought to his life, and many gifted kids feel the same.

      I love that you are researching this topic because you want to get at the truth. I applaud you! Truth be told, I’d probably hug you, too. I would humbly ask in your research to read the many comments to my posts throughout my blog. Listen to the desperation, the confusion, the pain and the hopelessness in their words. Real, honest stories from parents who have real gifted kids who live in a world who openly resents them.

      The last thing I have to offer: the preteen who refused to do his homework and was openly rude to his mother? Well, he could be any kid really, gifted or not, right? Yet, because he was labeled gifted, most of us automatically expect better behavior from him. The reality is most likely that he is stuck in a regular classroom, having to learn information he already knows and given homework to complete on skills he mastered years before, all while his brain is on fire to learn more and faster while he is being held back. His mom, like many of us parents do, is trying to encourage her gifted kid to “just do your homework” and “play the game” so you don’t get bad grades even though she knows he knows this information already. Like many gifted kids, that preteen could have been bullied at school that day for being a geek or a nerd because gifted children are more likely to be bullied. Or his teacher holds on to the erroneous stereotype of the gifted child and said something like, “if you are so smart, why aren’t you making good grades?” (my son has been told this sentiment several times by different teachers at three different schools) So, this preteen is angry, and hurt, he feels like a loser, and probably hates his life. And video games are an escape to cool off his brain that is desperately in need of a more challenging education and he is driven to solve the world’s problem, not the rote and repetition of skills he knows like the back of his hand. This story may sound outlandish, but it is so, so common and you will see it played out over and over in the hundreds of comments on my blog.

      Douglas, THANK YOU <3 for being willing to learn about our gifted children and trying to keep an open mind! I really can't thank you enough. The only thing our gifted children really want is to be understood, for others to understand their truths.

  11. I have been wondering why we can’t just call them “High IQ” or “Top2%” kids or something similar that exactly describes what they are, in facts. We call other students ASD, which defines to the world the gist of their needs. High IQ is not subjective (once we define it) and quite frankly, it’s not good or bad. It isn’t something the parents did to achieve. It’s just genetics. It is simply a data point to describe these kids. The word gifted is not very descriptive and yes, can be viewed as insulting to those non-gifted students or families. I hate using the word gifted and it’s not helpful. My own mother, an old-school teacher, barely understands what I mean when I use the word. Maybe I’m missing the original point of calling them gifted, but I think calling kids gifted has done a disservice to them and us parents, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned here.

    • Andrea, many, many people agree with you on the ineffectiveness of the word “gifted.” I think the biggest issue with changing the word is not that anybody wants to keep it because they like it, I think it is the sheer enormity of change to medical, psychological and educational textbooks, research studies and everything else that uses the term “gifted.” It was an unfortunate choice of a term way back when, but no matter what new term would be used, there would still be a stigma attached to it stereotyping our gifted children. It is a sticky term and situation for sure. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Andrea!

      • Well, we’ve managed to change other words that are emotionally charged. Not even just the notorious one that we’re all familiar with (which probably wouldn’t have been in medical textbooks anyway), but “mongoloid”, “retarded” and a host of others which have been.

        Of course, then someone will undoubtedly bring charges of political correctness, so it may be that effort is best focused elsewhere.

        • Agreed and agreed Sandy. It is not impossible to change the word (good example BTW), but “I” think we might get a bigger bang for our buck by trying to explain what the word means….

    • I also want to add to this part of the conversation. While many do not love the term, it is the clinical term and many studies have been done using it. To change the term would be complicated and call this previous work into question (i.e. who are we applying what term to), I also sincerely believe it would be a band aid fix. A rose is a rose. The entire concept of giftedness is mis-understood in our society (and many others), not because of the name, but because people equate it to something different than it is….. it is so much more than about being “smart”. You add the confusion between gifted, high achieving, eminent and success (anyone gifted or not can be eminent, high achieving and successful). In the end, as we spend our wheels over the best word, I think we loose sight of the larger picture. While I don’t disagree that the word is not the best, I think our time is better spent explaining what gifted really is.

    • We can’t call them high IQ because the large majority of GT identified kids are not high IQ. In my state, it is specifically stated in GT id policies that being gifted is not about high IQ but rather a body of evidence that can include high-ish IQ (95th percentile on any part of an IQ test or a group test like the CogAT) but must also include achievement and/or other subjective indicators.

      A direct quote from my district regarding GT id:

      “There is no single test for giftedness… Though, historically, IQ tests have been used in identifying gifted learners, because of the diversity of students in our schools, a body of evidence is a much more equitable approach to identification.”

      We do not live in a particularly diverse community fwiw (90% or so white and primarily middle class and above). I fought a single handed effort years ago to get our schools to even consider IQ as part of the body of evidence which, at the time, they would not. For my 2e kid it was necessary because she wasn’t going to be getting the teacher recommendation piece of the body of evidence since the teachers tended to recommend quiet kids with their hands in the air not the ones who weren’t paying attention during math because they got sidetracked by a comment and spent the rest of the period devising a new formula for division.

      We were told that, even an IQ in the top .1% of the population didn’t necessarily mean that a kid was gifted and that a kid whose IQ was 100 could definitely be gifted because IQ had nothing to do with giftedness.

      With all of the theories out there being used for GT ids in schools now a days (multiple intelligences, three ringed, etc.), we really can’t call gifted ided kids in schools “high IQ” unless we want to change how we are identifying them.

      • “With all of the theories out there being used for GT ids in schools now a days (multiple intelligences, three ringed, etc.), we really can’t call gifted ided kids in schools “high IQ” unless we want to change how we are identifying them.”

        Possibly true. In this district, they’d have to include the phrase “or possibly it’s just my mum is PTA president”.

  12. As a twenty-five year teacher of gifted children I certainly understand the need for gifted programs for those that are truly gifted. Kids enjoy the challenge and excitment of learning and blossom with the unique style of learning. We are experiencing difficulty with parents who insist that their child is gifted because they want him in an elitist program. The child fails, loses self esteem and begins to resent education.
    Because school systems complain about lack of funds, some are threatening to discontinue gifted classes——which do not receive extra funding.
    Regarding the lack of autistic classes, of which there is an obvious need. Few teachers seem to be available to teach these classes and funding beyond the average class is necessary.
    Now, if the school boards would stop wasting their money on exorbitant testing materials (also time wasted on tests) then we could provide the needed classes for our special needs children.

    • Rhea, education and special ed. and funding–it is all a mess for sure. Oh, and I SO agree with you about the standardized testing. The previous school district we recently moved from gave each student eight standardized tests per year! I really believe that if the schools were given back to teachers, those who are in the classrooms, education would be moving in a better direction! Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts!

  13. I was a gifted child. At least one of my daughters is gifted. So I know what you’re saying and I get it. It is nice to have more opportunity for gifted children. But I also have a son with autism. You talk about how no one denies that they need services and no one will begrudge them their education. I’m guessing you don’t have a child on the spectrum? It is a constant battle and there are plenty of people who begrudge it. When I compare the difficulty of his education with my striving to challenge my daughter, honestly there simply is no comparison. Yes, there is no gifted program at her school, which I thought was odd. But we talked to teachers and administrators and found ways to challenge her and I challenged her at home. We could find our own ways to address the lack of a program (plus I remember the resentment of my friends when I’d go to my gifted classes–I’m not actually sorry that my daughter missed that.) But ASD and special education–not even in the same ballpark.

    So while I get it, my gifted child can mostly find ways to achieve on her own. It’s not that I don’t care–but she simply doesn’t need the resources the way my son does. Ideally all the children would get an individualized education. But with time and resources difficult to spread around, I hold no resentment for the gifted children getting low priority.

    • Elizabeth, I so understand what you are saying, and our schools generally are not doing so well providing for all students, even regular students. But I do have experience with 2E and special education services, and I also have experience with the needs of a profoundly gifted child. What I can say is, it depends on the specific needs of each child, the school system where each of us lives and how well they administer special services. Kids are are all different with varying degrees of needs–a profoundly gifted child will have a more significant need for gifted programming than a child who is moderately gifted. As well, there are different levels of autism requiring different levels of special education services. And there are children who are both autistic and gifted. One previous commentor stated that where she lives, her school system denies services to autistic children if they were also gifted. Educational services widely vary by school systems, states, and countries, but we can probably all agree that all of our children need a better education.

      With that being said, I still maintain though that parents of gifted children have an obstacle when asking for educational accommodations for their gifted child, no matter how small: too many people feel gifted children have enough already and they do not understand that gifted children can have special educational needs beyond just needing a more challenging education especially the twice-exceptional, and the exceptionally and profoundly gifted.

      Elizabeth, I really appreciate your thoughts and thank you for contributing to the conversation. I feel it is important that we all contribute to the conversation about a better educational system for all children, no matter how great or small their needs are. Maybe we can help to make changes so that no child has to become a lower priority.

  14. Well, yes, actually. We (in the sense that “we” = “the public school system”) do, in fact, refuse services to autistic kids. All the time. Especially we do it if the child happens to be twice exceptional, and both autistic and gifted.

    As the parent of a gifted child and another who lives in both worlds (autistic and gifted), I have to say the thing I like least is the gifted world’s insistence that we are the lone redheaded stepchildren of education. It’s really, really not the case. Gifted kids, disabled kids, ANY kid who doesn’t fit neatly into the box, who dares require an educational nudge in one direction or another, is likely to need parents willing to take on the world to get what he or she needs to be successful. Please don’t make it about “us” vs “them”. We’re ALL “us”, and we can learn a lot from each other if we’d just put down the weapons.

    • Yes, you are right, it should be all “us”. The only difference is how gifted education and other special education services are handled in all the different areas we all live in. One school system I lived in provided two hours a week of enrichment for gifted children in grades 3rd, 4th and 5th only; that was it, plus there was no funding for gifted services for years. Gifted children and gifted education may in fact feel like the “lone, redheaded stepchildren of education” by some parents in some school systems.

      And absolutely, we can learn a lot from each other, and I want to understand more how gifted advocacy is being seen as a “us vs them” fight with weapons. I truly do. I know how many perceive our advocacy efforts as parents asking for more for children who are believed to have more than other children already, but how is gifted advocacy seen as being opposed to other special needs educational services? And how can we change that perception when we advocate for what our children need?

      • As the parent of a HG+ twice exceptional kid, the only major difference I see between the school services for gifted and special needs kids is that parents are wrongly fighting to get their neurotypical kids into gifted services and usually are not doing the same for special education services.

        We’ve fought the battle on both ends – to get any help for serious learning disabilities, which is nearly impossible when the school is telling you over and over that it is “unethical” to do anything because your kid is capable enough to compensate and isn’t failing and that is their bar for access to services, and to get appropriate gifted education when the GT services are all about teaching the exact same way but just faster because they are designed to serve the needs of (and are filled with) high achieving neurotypical kids.

        • Christa, there is so many points you have made that are dead-on right! And I agree. So many of the educational issues with any special needs student is that our schools are struggling to implement the needed accommodations. Whether this inadequacy is influenced by funding, governmental initiatives/mandates, or the desire to be fair and diplomatic when providing services beyond what a student receives in the regular classroom, schools are generally not doing a good job serving special needs students. My most recent article addresses this educational issue with gifted students. We really need to overhaul our educational system, and that is a huge issue all by itself! Thanks so much Christa for adding your valuable insights to the discussion.

        • When your school tells you this, your answer is “LI vs Maine School Administrative District 55, US District Court of Appeals.” This is the case in which it was determined that there is more to the school experience and to education than simply achieving good grades. I don’t have the link any more, but it’s google-able.

      • We can change it by not bringing disabled kids into the argument. If our gifted children require certain educational circumstances– and they do– then they require them. Finis. They don’t require them because those kids over there in that portable get cool stuff like speech therapy and OT and– golly gee whillikers, how awesome is this?– gait training. They just require them. Gifted parents and gifted advocacy groups need to understand the concept of “run your own race”. My gifted kid needs AP Calculus in 9th grade because that’s what he’s capable of learning– not because the school offers developmental math to some other kid.

      • It shouldn’t be an us vs. them. In the public school district I am from, as well as my mother’s and my mother- in- law’s districts, they won’t even test my son for being gifted. They only test for autism. If I think he had autism they will test him, but not just because he’s ahead, bored, and teaching other kids. To be honest, his best friends are from scouts and 2 of them get special education because of add and adhd. Those are 2 of his best friends. Is parents get along great. They like to hear when I get some kind of breakthrough with Anthony’s education, and I sympathize with their sons difficulties. I don’t think that the parents are the cause. I think the schools having their priorities messed up is the cause of all of the blame. Schools are for learning. Every kid should be able to learn at school. Sports, clubs, etc. Are second to learning. It’s nice to have this stuff but only after every kid has a program to help them learn the best. Kids with autism learn differently than most kids. Gifted kids learn differently than most kids. They all go to school to learn and they should all get to learn. With schools budgeting for clubs and sports, special education is taking a backseat to enrichment groups. Kids are playing instead of learning! Schools are first and foremost a place to learn. If they put the money into special education services of every need into clubs, gifted parents could stop having to compete with autism, adhd, etc. parents. Its great to have clubs, but lets have everyone learning first. They can join clubs and sports outside of school. Again, school is about learning.

        • Vicky, I very much agree, school is about learning first- for every child, and its important for every child to get the education he/she needs. I think one factor that is not often the same for all of us is that gifted education and the priority placed on gifted education differs from school to school, school system to school system, and state to state. The advocates pushing for gifted education are all “fighting” different fights.

          Thanks, Vicky!

  15. Thank you for a very astute article helping to explain the challenges in acquiring and need for services for gifted children! We have three identified gifted children, and I’ve almost come to resent that their intellectual advancement is labeled “gifted”, as people think that means they’ve already received gifts, why should they be given more?
    Our school district adopted an advanced academics program developed by a parent and championed by a grass roots parent group. They have at least one advanced class in each grade level at every school in the county. Those teachers receive gifted certification, and are taught about acceleration and higher level thinking. This has been such a godsend, not just for gifted students but also for academically talented and highly motivated children. We have the state mandated gifted pull-out program a few hours a week in elementary, and a gifted social studies class in middle school where they also work on gifted issues, like disorganization and motivation. We also brought the IB program to a central high school in our district so anyone in the county can attend who is able and interested. Even having these programs in place, I have had to fight every single year about at least one issue to get my children what they need educationally. One of my children was put into a behavioral program in first grade because his teacher didn’t understand how to keep him engaged, even though he skipped a grade. I was told I should medicate two of my children, when their gifted issues resembled ADHD. My youngest was pulled from advanced classes and gifted in middle school when his grades tanked.
    Just because it’s labeled “gifted” people think they shouldn’t need anything more, but if you have a gifted athlete, does that mean they don’t need coaches? And there are so many other issues people don’t realize come along with intellectual giftedness. Their brains work differently, and they often need services to help them be successful in school and in life.
    Thank you for writing such an insightful article that makes some of that clearer for readers. Hopefully it will help more people understand that there is a true need for gifted services. I hope it gets spread far and wide!

    • It is discouraging and heartbreaking to know that as parents, no matter what type of special services our children need, we have to fight to get them and keep them. And you are right, people think gifted children shouldn’t need anything more. When we advocate for educational services for gifted children, our efforts are seen as an angry “fight” and that we are taking away from other special needs kids–kind of a “us” versus “them”. And it is not that at all; just like you said, “there are so many other issues people don’t realize come along with intellectual giftedness.” Thank you for sharing your story!

  16. This is interesting. Thank you. I was labeled as “gifted and talented” as a child, and was placed in a gifted program as a result. I never stopped to consider that programs like that one could be considered controversial.

    That said, I’m not sure programs like the one I was part of are really, overall, all that beneficial in the way they are set up. I left my usual class once a week to attend my “gifted” classes. We did a lot of fun activities, delved deeper into certain subjects, and I do feel that it was an overall positive experience. In the end, though, I ended up feeling as though I was too smart for the normal kids, but not quite smart enough for the other gifted kids.

    There was such a varied group, though. I was pretty hyper focused on creative writing and other artistic endeavors, while many of my classmates were very into science and math and other areas that just didn’t interest me (and that I didn’t put much effort into). I have read (although correct me if I’m wrong) that many gifted or borderline children are much the same. I feel that during my early school years, I just wound up even more confused in terms of where I fit in, and how to interact with others.

    More focused groups or classes would have been more helpful at boosting my confidence and fine tuning whatever abilities I had/have.That sort of thing seems like an impossibility for public schools, though. They are getting rid of the art/science/athletic classes intended for ALL students. I can’t imagine specialized classes being added for the gifted kids.

    Not sure what my point is here. lol.

    • Erin, the type of gifted program you were in is common, it is enrichment, but it is hardly enough to educate our gifted children. When the majority of their instructional time is spent in the regular classroom, our gifted children are not receiving the challenging and specialized education they need.

      And you are so right—>”More focused groups or classes would have been more helpful at boosting my confidence and fine tuning whatever abilities I had/have.That sort of thing seems like an impossibility for public schools, though. They are getting rid of the art/science/athletic classes intended for ALL students. I can’t imagine specialized classes being added for the gifted kids.” That is why so many of us advocate for gifted children and for a better public education system!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • After I posted, I realized that our program probably wasn’t the greatest. It was a VERY small town, though.

        Thanks for the informative articles. It’s funny how much I see of myself in what you, and a few other bloggers, have put out there. Things I never would have considered as being part of the “gifted” title. I remember my mom telling me years after I graduated high school that a guidance counselor once told her that I was “intellectually advanced, but emotionally behind.” It all makes sense now. lol. I suspect my eldest is gifted, or at least borderline, and your articles have been eye-opening. I see her, and myself, in a totally new light.

        • Erin, you are not alone in that eye-opening experience! There are so many adults who never realized they were gifted until their child was identified as gifted because giftedness is inherited. I’m happy to know that I have been able to help in some small way. Thanks again for posting!

  17. Thank you!! Very well written- definitely sharing.
    As a former educator, I definitely know what a small percentage of our kids are gifted, and see the desperate need for enrichment. I never dreamed I would have a gifted child myself, and my heart aches knowing all we will be faced with in the coming years. She’ll be two and a half in a couple weeks… With many years of trials ahead.

    • Christy, thankfully you know what lies ahead and you are probably much more prepared than some parents. And you brought up a point that has always stabbed at my heart: “my heart aches knowing all we will be faced with in the coming years.” Gifted children should not have to suffer just because they were born gifted. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  18. Hi – great post! Excellent points. You will have to pardon me being persnickety but you mention childhood diabetes – assuming you are referencing type 2 and not juvenile diabetes – type 1. Funny point I know but my niece has junvenille diabetes and of course without treatment she would die. I make this point bc I too think you should post this piece to Huffinton, NYT Motherload but perhaps, the diabetes reference is a bit jarring or needs clarification.

    • I’ll be honest, I am no expert on diabetes and I understand using a serious illness as an example can seem uncaring, but having come across the number of parents whose gifted children have suffered emotionally and psychologically as I have, you realize that the neglect and life-long psychological scars so many of our gifted children carry for life such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder and suicidal tendencies, it can be disconcerting. But, I’m not saying that giftedness in children is more serious than other childhood afflictions, because how can any of us judge which is worse? Yet, gifted children do need special services–the tough part is asking for special services when most everyone else feels like you are just asking for more for a child who most see as having more already. Thank you for adding your thoughts to the conversation!

      • “how can any of us judge which is worse?”. Me. I can, and I shall tell you how.

        Diabetes is a medical condition that, if not treated appropriately, can cause death or serious disability.

        ASD, if a child is not given appropriate support (and often even if they are) can mean that the child leaves education unable to function in society.

        If a talented athlete wastes his or her talent, that is a shame, but no more than that.

        I would say that giftedness sits firmly alongside athletic talent, wouldn’t you?

        Your attempt to draw parallels between giftedness and special needs education are crass. And I say that as an adult who was “profoundly gifted” as a child and who is now a parent of one child who is “profoundly gifted” and of another child who has significant additional educational needs.

        • I’m in Australia so my experience may be a little different – but I have two children and both are twice exceptional. My son has received enormous support for his disabilities – Cerebral Palsy + Sensory processing disorder + Dyspraxia + High Functioning Autism. There are specialist doctors, therapies, on-call phone lines and respite care which is available 24/7. I have not had to fight to get these services. I have had to become a bit of an expert on reading fine print and law and knowing what is and is not available. My son is also profoundly gifted. He has received no services to support that – in fact I have constantly been stonewalled and dismissed when I tried to talk with schools and teachers about his challenges. If my son was not gifted, he would, with a bit of pushing and the right school (which don’t get me wrong is *hard* to find for kids with disabilities), I might not have needed to homeschool him. But even though it would be hard, and a fight to get services in schools to help with his disability – and even though I *know* that special ed is neglected, there are laws and rules and support that *mandate* that these things should be provided. And I have friends who have succeeded in finding these schools and services for their children and made it work. Is it enough, particularly for children who are more severely disabled than my son? Of course it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean that this is an either/or situation. We should, as a community be willing to point out injustice wherever we see it – and be willing to help each other. If you were lucky enough to have a school that supported your needs, if you have a child who is also flourishing without suffering because of poor-placement and a lack of recognition of their special needs (SENG is really worth looking at – as is Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities and information on twice exceptional and the gifted poor), that is awesome, wonderful, and rare. And there are many parents who would love to know exactly what your school did to help you because knowing what worked is just as important as knowing what didn’t work. But that doesn’t mean that all PG kids are the same and that the school environment that you found that was so nurturing would necessarily work for all PG kids. But it’s a start. As to whether children who are PG come out of school able to function in society without support – that is a question I would be hesitant to answer as true, because our societies are so poor at identifying these children that generally it only happens if the children are from middle class parents or have a supportive school system that is looking to help them. We simply don’t know how children who are PG but have little to no parental or other support turn out, because no one has done any significant research to find these children, or follow them through to adulthood. If anyone knows of any systemic longitudinal studies on gifted poor, particularly highly+ gifted poor please link it here, I would appreciate it.

          • Beautifully said! It is nice to note that we are here to help support all kids, where ever they may be in the world, and whatever spectrum they may, or may not, be on! Everyone deserves a chance to succeed to the best of their abilities!

          • Absolutely Casey! If all education could reach each child where they are with what they need to succeed, learning could be fun again, and school would be the wonderful place it should be.

  19. ““Diabetes, ASD, and talented athletes—each with a very small chance of occurring in our children. But, because it is such a small percentage, do we just throw a blanket of ignorance over the whole lot and say that the situation does not exist? Do we refuse to treat diabetes in children. Do we refuse special educational services for autistic children? Do we ax funding and scrap all school sports? Are services and treatment to these small populations deemed unnecessary simply because these are not in the majority of childhood occurrences?
    Of course not, but these, autism, childhood diabetes and talented athletes, do not elicit the feelings of resentment and envy as does giftedness in children.”

    This is such an ignorant, blinded statement. Come over to the side of a parent with an autistic child and see how they have to fight for services. If nobody questions it, then why are most parents that I know with special needs kids armed with advocates and fighting with schools constantly? There are memes floating around saying things like “Your kid isn’t autistic, you are just a bad parent” because nobody ever questions it, right? You make it sound like all parents support spending money on SEd issues, and that is crap. Stop making generalizations about your first world problems and playing victim.

    • I understand how you feel, but advocating for gifted children and their special needs does not take away or compete with any other special needs students–it is not an either/or situation. Gifted parents have seen our share of memes, too, which hurt. Also, many others believe gifted students are just smart and have no special needs, and that is a HUGE fallacy. Giftedness in children is not just an educational issue, it is also a psychological and social issue that is why being the victims of bullying, depression, underachievement and suicide are all comparatively higher among gifted children. Lastly, many gifted children are twice-exceptional–they are gifted along with being autistic, or gifted and have a learning disability. I understand that advocating for gifted children seems like parents asking for more for a child who seems to already be better off, but it is not. And asking for a gifted child to receive an appropriate education that takes into account his learning differences will never take away or marginalize any other child who is in need of special services–just like advocating for a child who has dyslexia does not diminish the needs of a child who needs speech & hearing services. When others feel that advocating for the special needs of a gifted child is a first world problem, there is resentment. Please, if there is one thing you take away from this, I beg you to take the time to learn about the psychological and emotional issues gifted children come programmed with at birth. Giftedness doesn’t equal smart, it is a proven neuro-diversity packaged with significant emotional and social problems.

      • Life with a gifted child is not all positive. I get that. But when you say that people resent parents talking about their gifted children,I think you are missing the point. Take your own analogy of the talented athlete. Imagine if you told the world that he or she had run out of golf courses that would challenge him/her, or run out of tennis partners that could beat him/her, or you could;t find a coach that would get him under 10 seconds for the 100 metre sprint. That’s what you are saying.

        It is a first world problem no matter how you present it, and trying to equate it with the challenges faced by parents of disabled children is crass, bordering on grotesque.

        I was a “profoundly gifted” child (IQ c.180, roughly 1 in 20 million, if you believe bell curves). I went to an academically challenging school and did really well. I am a normal person. I believe that the more was made of my ability, the more negative impacts it had. Just quietly getting on with learning with parents who supported me at home was all I needed. To equate the “challenges” my parents faces with those faced by parents of kids with autism, dyslexia, speech delays, cerebral palsy, other SNs is nonsense. And to suggest that they get it all on plate is just factually incorrect.

        • Ian, thank you for sharing your thoughts and adding to the conversation. I understand completely what you are saying because many people feel that way, as did I at one point–that giftedness can’t possibly compare to a serious medical condition or mental health disability. The assumption here is that gifted people were born with an advantage–being smart, but beyond the assumption, many don’t understand or know that there are severe psychological issues that many, many gifted children have directly associated with their giftedness.

          You were one of the lucky ones, but not all gifted children are. The educational system has changed drastically in the last decade and all students are feeling the squeeze. Gifted education just 10 to 15 years ago was adequately serving most gifted students, but not so much anymore, and this also depends on one’s school district, state and other educational opportunities where you live. You yourself had a wonderful opportunity to attend an appropriately-challenging school, but not all gifted children do. Those gifted children who are from disadvantaged, dysfunctional, lower-socioeconmic or minority households have a much higher risk of turning their unmet need for higher intellectual challenges/pursuits into unwanted, risky and criminal behaviors. I advocate for them because they rarely have a voice.

          Yes, I did make analogies in this post, but not comparisons, between giftedness, diabetes, ASD and athleticism. There was no comparison or goal to determine which condition is worse! No one can judge which is worse because every incidence is different; generalizations here are dangerous. My point was to state that the low percentage of occurrence of each was not a reason to refuse treatment, education, funding or concern, NOT to compare and determine which is worse. One condition does not preclude or marginalize the needs or severity of the other.

          Lastly, the psychological needs of gifted children is factual. It has been scientifically proven that gifted people do have higher inborn and situational risks/incidences of emotional and psychological problems. Go to the SENG website (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) and read about the very-real psychological issues many gifted individuals face. Depression, anxiety disorder, underachievement, being the victim of bullying and suicide are all relatively higher among gifted children. These are facts.

          Personally, I have experience with children of family and friends who have a gifted child who has suffered from depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies because their giftedness was only seen as simply their performance in school. These children, some as young as 6 years old, suffer from depression and anxiety due to reasons all proven to be associated with giftedness. My heart breaks for the parent whose gifted preteen took his life because he was being bullied for being smart and called names like egghead. Knowing that your young gifted child was born with that higher risk of life-long depression which occurs often in gifted individuals, and treatment is not helping; this is tough on a parent and child, also. And I know about being the parent of a gifted child who was being continuously and mercilessly bullied by a teacher because she corrected her English teacher’s misspellings and mispronunciations.

          You are right, Ian, life with a gifted child is not all positive. But, it can also be so much more devastating when the associated emotional, psychological and social problems of giftedness take hold. Honestly, I used to have the same opinion you did until I had my own gifted children and learned more about the facts about giftedness. I wish more people would take the time to learn the facts and move past the fallacious assumption that giftedness is only an advantage, a positive. Would you be willing to learn more about the emotional, social and psychological issues gifted children face?

          http://www.sengifted.org

          • See my further reply to you below – the comparisons you make are crude and offensive to many parents.

            I don’t deny at all that gifted children deserve more attention in school. They are just one group of children who don’t get a tailored education – all kids deserve more at school. “Middle of the road” children, those who learn in a language other than their mother tongue, those who are bullied – they also miss out. Everyone gets less personal attention and differentiation than they deserve. I don’t see gifted children as being any different, and, to be frank, I don’t think they are the most deserving group. Sorry. That’s a judgment, I know. And remember, I was one.

            I simply think that you and the other parents of gifted children seem to be living on another planet sometimes. You alienate your own cause by making pleas to the wider world in the way that you do. You need to recognise this. I am in the unusual position of having experienced this as a child, as a parent, and as a parent of a child with special needs. Special needs parents fight for every damn thing they get, and deserve so much more. Like it or not, the special needs world has finite resources, and your pleas for a slice of that pie are bordering on offensive. Take my word for it if you can’t empathise, but your views do not resonate because you are putting your case in a way that makes you sound hideously over-entitled.

          • Fancy minds benefit from preventive counseling, even just to inventory all they have going on. It doesn’t take suffering to need help.

      • Celi – As a parent who has fought unsuccessfully for my twice exceptional 7th grader in public school, I totally agree. Even with an IEP, my husband and I were our son’s only advocates to keep the school’s teachers and administrators (even the “gifted” teachers!) from focusing on behavioral issues (organization and focus) rather than focusing on educational achievement and adaptations/modifications. We even proved our point when the Math teacher agreed to pre-test and bumped him up a tier mid-year which resulted in a drastic reduction of organization and focus for that class, they would not consider streamlining/advancement in any other class. I have, however, received a lot of suggestions on looking into ADD and/or autism – ugh! As a result, this school year has been nothing but hours of daily homework and weekly notices of missing work and failing grades. I feel they have been attempting to treat the rash without addressing what is causing the rash! More significant my tearful son that once stated he doesn’t feel smart because he can’t keep up with all the busy work, is deflated and I’m fearful that he’s lost all interest in learning. THERE ARE REAL CONSEQUENCES TO NOT ADEQUATELY ADDRESSING GIFTED NEEDS IN SCHOOL. I have given up on his school and district and now researching and preparing for homeschool next year!

        • It breaks my heart to hear your story, Lisa. It sounds exactly like mine and so many others down to the recommendation to have an evaluation for ADD. One of my son’s was tested three times–when he was 5 yrs. old, 11 yrs. old and 13 yrs old–just to appease the teacher. All three came back negative, not even one red flag or concern.

          You will love homeschooling and soon you will see your son happier and enjoying learning again. It may take a while, but with homeschooling, there is no rush because you can get SO much more done in much less time! The one downside to homeschooling: there are so many wonderful, educational, creative options and opportunities that sometimes it is hard to resist choosing them all!

          Also, my book has a lot of good advice and resources for homeschooling gleaned from my own rookie mistakes and from my years as a classroom teacher.

          Good luck and thank you so much for sharing your experience with all us!

    • You just made her point with your last sentence. People see it as elitist and that just shows ignorance or stupidity. I love football but I do not hate those gifted athletes because I do not possess their skill.

    • Well said, Deb. If the sentiment that gifted children need special needs support just as much as autistic kids were not bad enough, we are faced on here with parents of gifted children telling us that they know how we feel or, worse still, that they used to think about gifted children just like we do now, only they have seen the light.
      Gifted children may have emotional and psychological issues that, in an ideal world, would get support. I see that. Just stop trying to suggest your situation is somehow equivalent to that of a parent of an autistic child, or any other hold with a reconised special educational need. It isn’t, and I should know.

      • Ian,

        As the parent of two 2e kids HG+ kids (one very mildly 2e and the other wildy 2e with ADD and dyslexia), I will agree with you. I don’t have a child with an ASD nor diabetes nor any of the other things mentioned above so I can’t honestly say that I know what that would be like, but I can only assume that what I am dealing with in my kids is in no way comparable.

        We deal with intensity, anxiety, depression, one kid who is ready to graduate high school and who is so burned out on the rat race and jumping through other people’s hoops that it is hard to keep her engaged enough to want to continue her education, and another who learns so differently from how she’s been taught that she thinks that she is stupid.

        I can’t tease apart what is the giftedness, what is the LD, and what is personality. It isn’t east but the reality is that, barring tragedy, my kids will be able to function self sufficiently in society. Kids with severe special needs may not ever be afforded that opportunity.

        I’m sorry that this has been such a hurtful conversation for parents in that spot.

        What resonated with me about this article was the disbelief about the proclaimation of giftedness. Like I said above, I think that a good deal of that comes from the reality that schools call all kinds if things gifted that really are not gifted but rather high achievement.

          • No problem, Christa! Thanks so much for adding to this discussion. As adults, when we come to the table with open-minds willing to hear everyone’s side with empathy and understanding, only then can we find the necessary solutions.

  20. Great points, Celi. You really put it in perspective with the statistics about athletics, autism and diabetes, and how there is no argument against services and treatment for this very small percentage of the population.
    Gail

  21. WONDERFUL! Please submit this to Huffington or NY Times, or where ever…. this needs to go mainstream in a big way – Well Done!!!

    • Thank you so much, Sharon, for your words of encouragement! I truly want to try to get at the heart of the lack of understanding and concern for our gifted children.

      • I do think that some of it comes from the reality that many more than 2% of kids are put forth as gifted. People are not attempting to get their kids identified as autistic or diabetic if they are not. On the other hand, especially in affluent areas, many many children are stated to be gifted. I’ve had kids at schools where such an egalitarian approach to gifted identification exists that everything from leadership capacity to achievement in the top 5-10% of their grade in any area is considered the same as a 98th percentile or above IQ. Actually, without the achievement, even a kid with a 99.9th percentile IQ would not be considered gifted in my local schools.

        If schools were really just identifying about 2% of kids as gifted – those with intellect in the tail end – I wonder if such skepticism would be expressed.

        • I agree with you and I have been working on an article about that idea exactly: giftedness has become known as solely a function of our educational system. So much so that the true, complete nature of giftedness has been misconstrued through the educational lenses of our school systems. And yes, there are many high achievers (not gifted) who are accepted into gifted programs while truly gifted (99.9% percentile) don’t make the cut because their grades are not good enough.

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christa! You hit the nail on the head, for sure!

          • Yes, we need to invest education for those kids who can change our world hopefully better. Sadly i need to say few nagative aspects. In our area public school starts to label kids gifted from second grade and each school has cluster classes for identified gifted kids and highly achieved kids (or who has very influenced parents). First of all too low score kids are accepted as gifted kids so it’s more like advanced classes than truely rigorous academic ones. Second it creates jealousy and elitism. Running a fair Advanced classes would be better for the kids in my small experienced opinion. Of course no education systems are perfect but we are talking about public education which we can not forget about greater good!
            Yes, sports are highly funded program but at least we can see the result and enjoy them and possibly even make kids united as one in ralatively short period of time. Academic is very important but please don’t compare with sports. I 100% agreed that we need to invest in those who intellectually gifted kids.

          • Soyoung,

            I agree with all that you have said, and I love your balanced view of education. I also agree that comparing gifted education with sports is not really comparing apples to apples, but it is the best comparison so many in the gifted community feel we can use to demonstrate the inadequacies and injustices in gifted education. And you are right again, no education system is perfect, but we can surely continue to try to make positive changes!

            Thanks for sharing your experiences and your thoughts!

  22. Oh my goodness, Celi! Thank you for this post. It is wonderful… especially this part:
    “Diabetes, ASD, and talented athletes—each with a very small chance of occurring in our children. But, because it is such a small percentage, do we just throw a blanket of ignorance over the whole lot and say that the situation does not exist? Do we refuse to treat diabetes in children. Do we refuse special educational services for autistic children? Do we ax funding and scrap all school sports? Are services and treatment to these small populations deemed unnecessary simply because these are not in the majority of childhood occurrences?
    Of course not, but these, autism, childhood diabetes and talented athletes, do not elicit the feelings of resentment and envy as does giftedness in children.”

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