Giftedness and Leading a Double Life

Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and gifted people have a secret that they share: they all live a double life.  You see, Clark Kent tirelessly works to conceal the fact that he is really Superman, and Bruce Wayne puts much effort into keeping his secret life as Batman under wraps.  Gifted people—well, many of us, in many ways, hide our life as a gifted individual.

I just finished writing my first book, “Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling”. I worked long hours pouring my heart, my mind and potfuls of coffee (and maybe a few glasses of wine) into the writing of my book, and I am proud of what I accomplished. I was touched when the editor of my book wrote a poignant post, Watch Out for Gifted People: Undoing the Knot, on a topic from my book that resonated with her. I was thrilled that a part of my book, something I had written, inspired my editor to write a very thought-provoking post. I was humbled—and honored.  It was quite a big deal to me.

Her post was insightful and I shared it with my readers on my Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page. She discussed several important educational issues related to traditional school and homeschooling. And yeah, honestly, I was also proud to show that even before its publication, my book, my writing and hard work, had inspired further thinking.

Writing and having a book published is an achievement and one many people would want to share with family and friends. I sure did—and then I didn’t.

I mean, I have many friends who happily share business and personal accomplishments, and we celebrate together, or virtually. One of my high school friends is a stunt woman and I love when she shares which current movie she is working on or which famous actress she is doubling as. I admire her and love to hear of her exciting roles.

I have a bestie who had the record for the most Girl Scout cookies sold and she held that record for close to 30 years. She shared the news when her record was broken recently and we all relished in her past accomplishment as well as the achievement of the girl scout who now holds the new record.

Many friends share new jobs, promotions, successful endeavors and achievements they’ve accomplished or those of their children. As friends, we all share in the joy, pride and happiness, and we respond with our sincere congratulations. All as it should be.

And when I saw the post from my editor, I was just so darn proud, and honored and humbled and excited—I wanted to share.

I asked my husband what he thought about me sharing my editor’s post on my personal Facebook page. I really didn’t need to ask because I already knew the answer. Immediately, my husband’s face contorted into a look of what could only be described as 2 parts hesitancy, 1 part aversion and 1 part fear. Why? Because my book is about gifted children, and giftedness is an awkwardly touchy subject best kept in the closet most of the time.

And so, I do feel uncomfortable sharing my excitement about my new book with others beyond the gifted  community–those who understand giftedness and support gifted children and adults. Just like me, many people—advocates, writers, educators, parents and children—who belong in this often-closeted gifted community understand the feeling of leading a double life.  

As the parent of a gifted child, you know you cannot say publicly that your child is gifted without the fear of being called a braggart, and so you conceal that fact. As a gifted adult, you have learned to tone down the smarts so that the possibility of offending others or being shunned yourself is lessened in your business and personal life. And sadly, gifted children have learned to dumb down to hide the fact that they are smart to be able to fit in more easily with their same-age peers.

I myself, as a gifted advocate, blogger and new author, feel as though I sometimes lead that double life, too. I have family and close friends who may know that I write about and advocate for gifted children, but they don’t bring it up. I know I can’t share that part of my life because I really don’t want to hear their silence or see their blank stares which are forcing back the urge to roll their eyes.

Among my friends and colleagues who live with giftedness and understand it, we agree that we are uncomfortable talking about giftedness and revealing that part of our lives—like we are leading a double life. We hesitate to talk about our gifted kids, we can’t seek advice when issues crop up with our children due to their giftedness, and many of us are unable to broach the subject of giftedness with our own families.  We all fear the silence, the blank stares and the rolling eyes.  We then hide that part of our lives.

Society, friends and family make talking about giftedness something to avoid.

Giftedness does not make us Superman, and gifted children shouldn’t have to hide their true identity like Batman does.  And why should giftedness make us feel like we have to lead a double life?

38 Comments on “Giftedness and Leading a Double Life

  1. Pingback: I Have a Gifted Kid and I Will No Longer Be Ashamed | Crushing Tall Poppies

  2. I just found your blog, and this is one of the first ones I am reading. Our whole family is gifted, and half are also dyslexic,have processing disorders, hyper response to food additives and foods themselves, the whole itchy twitchy nervous system that seems to afflict many of the gifted more than anyone. None of them discuss their gitfedness outside the family. The grandchildren are amazing in their precocity in individual areas. They are all unusual. Our youngest grandchild is living with us with her parents, and her first 12 months have been a growing awareness of how very very gifted this little person is. She spoke her first sentence several months ago. She was holding a damp little flannel cloth, and carrying it around to play peek-a-boo. Because it was damp, it would hang straight for her, even when she lifted it in front of her face, with the coordination of any 9 month old newly walking child. I said “Etty has a wet cloth!” and she answered “I like this one!” and kept on walking. She periodically says what she’s thinking, like “thank you” after being handed something. Imo she will be chattering away by 18 months. I am filled with awe watching her develop, and also fear, because I doubt that her parents (also gifted) have any idea of what they are dealing with. They are proud of her accomplishments, and the fact you hardly ever have to show her anything twice. I am scared to death that other people are going to squash this precocious little flower into being normal. Or their version of normal. She is not going to be easily squashed. Her mom is dyslexic, an artist, and sang the happy birthday song on her first birthday. Good job, since her native tongue is Lao. Our DIL didn’t realize how smart she is, until she married into our family. So, your blog about a double life fills me with very mixed feelings, as I think about three generations of people, four if I count my mother (who was likely gifted with ADD). She got a BScn., after graduating from a hospital-based nursing school, yet her older sister had to convince her high school principle to let her graduate because she was such a ‘ditz’.

    • Thank you, Helen, for sharing your family’s story. I’m so happy you found my blog.

      Your family’s story sounds like so many others–we hide the fact that we are gifted because it is so misunderstood–almost like we should be ashamed.

      Your granddaughter must be just so precious! Aren’t you the lucky grandmother to be able to have your son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter so close!

  3. I love your work so much! Until just a few weeks ago, I’d spent almost a year working on an autoethnography about twice-exceptionality, which is a long story. I realized that I’m a person with 2e when I (finally) learned what the deal was with my son – I’d never heard of 2e and Googled it – right before we pulled him out to homeschool. When he asked my mom how badly he’d have to hurt himself to not have to go to school.

    My research last year was about my story – one I’ve already written about in a bittersweet way. I published a book when I was 20 (in 1993…) about recovering from addiction in high school. It was this amazing thing to do at such a young age, but I could never enjoy it. I relapsed before the book was released, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 6 weeks before it came out. It sucked! So here I am, all these years later, trying to tell my story in a completely different way than ever, as a PhD student, and I won’t post this stuff on Facebook more than the bare minimum. I just can’t. I dreaded having to explain, over and over and over to people who know me – what autoethnography is, and what 2e is, reminding them about the whole gifted/ADHD/bipolar disorder issue. Because they don’t get it. How do you explain to people that they can’t really get it, because they don’t know about OEs or that giftedness is an actual *thing* – not some empty construct that’s only good for bragging, or guiding unfair educational policies. I guess what I mean is – how do you explain that without sounding like a jerk?

    Wow, I’m sorry to make your blog my place to spill about this. But if not here, where? Like you said, this is closeted community – although that’s changing, thanks to people like you! Where else will people understand my dilemma? I feel like the only reason I can share my story is because I’ve had such a terrible mental health history. Maybe the fact that I’m legitimately mentally ill, and have been a drug addict, balance out the potential elitism that comes with admitting giftedness.

    While working on my research last year, I requested records from 2 admissions to the Menninger Clinic in 1998. I was there twice during that year for issues related to bipolar disorder. (You’ve inspired me – I’m going to share this stuff – from my records and journals – on my site because you guys will understand. And so will other people like me! Discovering that 2e is the name for what’s puzzled me was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

    In January 1998, I went to Menninger (from out-of-state) to try and get well. I was “treatment resistant” and I thought that I needed to to go treatment long-term in order to change. My therapist sent them a horrifying referral about how screwed up I was…which was true, but her version was biased and inaccurate. It clearly biased the folks at Menninger before I ever walked in the door. She told them that I had an “extremely high IQ,” but also described classic OE stuff, textbook 2e things, in a way that makes me cringe. The records from that admission to Menninger are incredibly negative. But I wrote a journal! The juxtaposition between what I was thinking, and what they assumed I was thinking, is unbelievable. I returned there in October (at 25) and at that point, I’d miraculously ended up at Kansas State University – trust me, it was like a miracle. But I destroyed it, and again – the journals show exactly what happened. But that time in the hospital, I was suicidal instead of hypomanic. I never mentioned that I’d grown up as a gifted kid, or had written a book. And they perceived me so differently. It’s shocking. Suddenly I was described as pleasant and cooperative. The first time no one ever made remarks like that. They admit to actively searching for pathology – they actually questioned if I was “treatable.”

    I have all of this evidence – proof of being misunderstood. Which is comforting and disturbing. I can’t believe that I never knew about 2e until 2012. Then my whole life finally made sense. It’s amazing, and reading your blog, and other people’s blogs, and the GTchat on Twitter – it’s been blowing my mind. I am so thrilled to see that I’m not alone in life as 2e, gifted, or being the parent of a kid with 2e. It’s the best! I knew I wasn’t alone in the other exceptionalities. But the support from people with mental illness alone was never enough, and now I can see why.

    Here’s how stigmatizing giftedness feels to me:

    I feel less awkward admitting to people that I was once homeless and addicted to crack than that I’m an author. And I’d rather admit to the book than the giftedness. The worst part of this work has been having to talk to my friends and family about the study. To get them to understand that it’s a research study and not a sequel to my past work. I posted the videos of my conference presentations on Facebook because I had to – I’d interviewed people, and they wanted to see my work. But that meant all of the people who don’t understand why this is important to me saw it, too. And now? I don’t like having a FB fan page for the site, it’s all so bittersweet. There’s really no other way to put it right now.

    I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to write so much. But somehow I think that you’ll all understand that there’s no one else that’ll get it. And you help see that there’s value in what I’m doing. I’ve got to stop worrying about the people from the past, back in Connecticut, who are still pissed about a book that came out over 20 years ago. If telling my story as a part of my work is what I’ve got to do to help my son, your son – anyone in these situations – it’s totally worth it. 🙂

    Thank you for letting me get all of this out. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate it. And I’m very excited for you and your book – it’s great. I’m grateful to be an author despite the headaches it’s caused. It was a blessing – there were times when I’m pretty sure it was all I had to remind me that there was a chance I might get better. That I wasn’t a fraud.

    Thank you so much for what you do!

    • Chris,

      Your bravery, resolve and strength amaze and inspire me! You survived when so many others would not have. You are not a fraud and you are not alone! Your story is important for all of us–educators, mental health professionals, legislators, and parents. You have so much to say and share to help so many. I’m immensely honored that you chose my blog to share a part of your story.

      I’m so very sorry for all the pain you have been through, no gifted person should have to suffer just because giftedness is so misunderstood. Yet, your story helps so many to see the truth about giftedness. Your story can truly change the tide for our gifted children. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for bravely sharing your story.

      Truly, you are a beautiful and brave person with the strength many of us only hope to have. Your contribution to helping everyone understand giftedness is immeasurable. Please, please keep sharing your story! You have my sincere admiration and respect!

      Thank you for trusting me and my readers with your story and please keep in touch!

      • Thank you so much, Celi. I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to have this experience. I just wrote out a long response, that predictably disappeared when I foolishly chose to write it in this box instead of in Word. 🙂 You really did inspire me, and I’m going to write about the Menninger experiences with examples of exactly how they perceived me. And why – because it didn’t just happen because they were jerks, they sincerely didn’t know about this stuff. I love how that’s changing. But I’m so glad I didn’t find out the things they thought and wrote until I was old enough, and knew enough, to not get truly upset. At least to not take it personally.

        But it’s my mission to help change this issue, in every setting I can. Right now I’m working on writing a training class for therapists about the need to learn about giftedness and understand that what looks abnormal for most people is normal for people with giftedness/2e. I don’t want our kids to have to go through the misunderstanding and alienation I experienced.

        And my goodness – how many other adults with 2e are out there who’ve had the same things happen that I did? MANY! I can’t wait to meet more of them. Whenever I do, it’s a gift. I know that sounds corny, but it truly feels that way.

        Since I live in the Denver area, I hope to get to meet Linda Silverman someday. Isn’t that funny, in a way? Fear is still standing in the way of contacting her. I’ve considered writing to her, but the fear and doubt that comes alone with years of being misunderstood are still an issue I’m working out. I think, what will she care about my story? And I try to tell myself, who will understand and potentially care about my story more than her? When will I believe in myself? I think it’s going to happen, because just being able to share these things with you is a huge breakthrough! This week I’ll be going to the Beyond Giftedness conference here in the Denver area. Getting to see Drs. Renzulli and Reis speak is so exciting! I feel like an academic groupie sometimes, which is hilarious.

        Thank you, again. You are amazing, and I can’t wait to enjoy these 2 weeks off from my dissertation that I’m allowing myself, so that I can read this blog, and other people’s blogs – it’s the best! Now I’m off to expose stigma and bias! Have a fantastic day! 🙂

        • “I feel like an academic groupie sometimes, which is hilarious.” <--Well, that makes two of us! You are an inspiration, Chris! <3 <3 Please keep in touch!

  4. Maybe it’s because I started a parent support group and have been an advocate for gifted children in our school district for the past 6 years, or maybe is because I’m my father’s daughter & I speak out & up (often loudly) about the needs of gifted students, but I often share my children’s accomplishments, trials, & tribulations. I think once we step outside of the box (where our children are) and comfort zone and start sharing with our friends, we will truly begin to educate our friends and even family members on the needs of gifted students and adults. Heck, I even ran for school board, not once, but twice, on the gifted platform. John Q Public just doesn’t get it and I didn’t get elected, however, I brought to light the plight of gifted students. Our school district did an audit of our programs and formed a g/t focus group on which I serve. Granted the audit was of the gifted program, which everyone loves, and not of the gen ed classroom, however, we are now tackling training for gen ed teachers.

    I challenge all of you to start posting the trials & tribulations of your lives raising and educating gifted children. It is only then that John Q Public will become aware of what we go through on a daily basis.

    • I applaud you, Bonnie! We need more advocates like you to inspire all of us. Thank you for all you have done for our gifted children everywhere!

  5. Congratulations Celi!

    Thank you for sharing your accomplishment and for your honesty. Your son is fortunate to have you as a mother. (Perhaps we all live double lives.) This post helps other parents and educators reflect about ourselves and our judgments of others.

    • Thank you so much, Debra! We probably all do lead double lives in different ways like keeping our business and personal life separate. But to me this one, keeping silent about the gifted piece, just seemed so unnatural and unfair, and wrong.

      Thanks again for your kind words, Debra.

  6. Dear Celi;

    I have a problem with one idea that seems to keep popping up over and over again, and that’s the idea that giftedness should be “…[understood] that our students have exceptionalities JUST like students with autism, or behavioural needs, or are cognitively, intellectually or medically impaired. No different and if there is support for those students, then there needs to be support for our high students as well.”. I am NOT trying to bash Krista in the least. I understand why she said what she said.

    In our current school environment, where the 1850’s factory model still dominates, “exceptional” children have to rationalized into the cookie-cutter factory system that produces cookie-cutter “products”, those “products” being OUR CHILDREN.

    The problem is screamingly obvious: the “problem” isn’t with the “problem children”, it’s with an educational system that tries to turn out xerox’d duplicates by the thousands.

    Each and every child (with the exception of twins and triplets etc.) is a unique person, with a unique combination of skills, abilities and talents. And even the twins etc. are different, because their environment acts on them differently.

    The question is, why is this so? I don’t fault the educational system exclusively. What I DO fault is that in Canada & the USA, we have a set of societies that are remarkably uncomfortable with intellectualism. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Europe and Asia did not need to be “settled” (no offence to Indians/First Nations people intended), whereas North and South America were considered wild and untamed and had to be brought to heel.

    Europe, on the other hand, has had a history that had its period of settlement date back to Roman times — upwards of 3 or 4 hundred years before Jesus. That’s 2400 years of “settlement” vs. perhaps 400 years since Columbus’ time. Europeans don’t have the memory or the culture to revere their “settlers”, since that occurred long ago. As such, Europeans had the luxury of thousands of years of intellectual development, from the time of the Ancient Greeks to modern 20th century philosophers, playwrights, composers and scientists.

    If you think of who the French venerate, it’s their intellectual class: Voltaire, Descartes, Montesquieu, Sartre, Pascal, Moliere — the list goes on and on. Germany and the German culture venerates Beethoven, Leibniz, Einstein, Planck, Goethe, Mozart; England has Stephen Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton, Alan Turing. You get the idea. The ancient Romans had Tacitus, Cicero, and many others; the Greeks had Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Archimedes, Pythagoras. Do you see where I am going with this list?

    By contrast, who do we venerate in North America? Sports stars, movie actors and rock artists. Oh, yeah, and a few geniuses, but only if they made a lot of money, like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Sure, some Americans will add, say, Jefferson and Madison to the list of greats. In Canada, we apparently adore the guy who came up with socialized medicine. A politician. Yawn. But there is HUGE suspicion, disparagement, and even hatred and contempt for any North American (who isn’t a billionaire) who declares him- or herself a genius.

    Again, only a European like Michaelangelo could tell the POPE to leave him alone, as he, Michaelangelo was, in his own words, one of the greatest artists that the Pope would ever encounter — and the Pope AGREED, and backed off!

    A North American who did that would be despised as arrogant and self-absorbed.

    The difference is that Europeans saw genius as a true gift from the Almighty, not as a curse to be “normed” (read crushed) out of existence.

    Even today, the people that educated Europeans prize most highly are their intellectual class. By contrast, in North America, we don’t trust scientists or intellectuals too much — unless they make or cause someone else to make bags of cash.

    It’s that anti-intellectualism, combined with a desperate reverence for “Joe or Jane Lunch-bucket”, combined with a misunderstanding that equality (sameness before the law) is NOT the same as parity (everyone and everything being identical) that leads North Americans to this errant conclusion that mediocrity is better than genius. That turns the European ideal on its head.

    Add into that a deep and abiding flirtation with the Politics of Envy, and you have a recipe for disaster, where super-smart people are left with two very unpalatable choices: conform, and pretend the giftedness doesn’t exist, or be oneself and thus subject oneself to ridicule, abuse, and bullying.

    Gifted students shouldn’t be “sold” to the ignorant parents (who believe that gifted students (a) don’t exist, (b) that gifted students need no other help, and/or (c) that the school system is just fine and the exceptional kids are the ones needing “fixing” — i.e. severe conformity) as though they are defective.

    Gifted children and students aren’t defective.

    What IS defective is the North American anti-genius/giftedness mentality, and a school/educational system still stuck in the 1850’s factory mentality.

    Even the halcyon adoration of the 1950’s “Archie and Veronica” lifestyle is extremely out of date. Do we really want to promote to our children that they should act like characters created over 65 years ago?

    Gifted students are a gift. Gifted adults are a boon to humanity. It’s the foolishness and ignorance of those who stick with the conformist mentality and all it encumbers that is wrong and defective.

    If giftedness is seen as a ‘curse’, that’s only because of the mediocrities who can’t see past the end of their noses or their own ignorance and close-mindedness.

    Giftedness is a gift, not a curse. And genius is genius because of its rarity. We are NOT all gifted in our own way. Some are far more gifted than others. Fair it isn’t, but true it is.

    Sorry if I ran off at the pen, but I really had to add this comment. I apologize for its length.

    • John, I think you are correct with your observations and ideas. Krista, like so many parents of gifted children are simply tired–tired of fighting an educational system that is more and more unfitting for their gifted child, tired of the envy, the shunning and the anti-intellectualism and the outward actions of the envy and anti-intellectualism (bullying and neglect in school), and they are tired from raising a gifted child who does have emotional and social needs beyond a typical child and there is very little to no support for them. All three combine to make a sad state of affairs for families with gifted children. When we get deep into this funk–this unfairness, the neglect and the fear–we just forget to focus on the positives, and we should because, as you rightly pointed out, giftedness is a positive worth focusing on.

      I’m no expert, but so many of the negative issues that are associated with giftedness seem to be exacerbated by our broken educational system–like fuel on a fire. It is the pain and consequences of continually pounding our gifted children into a system that does not work for them. The pounding hurts and produces many “special needs” that may not have been an issue before.

      John, your explanation and running off at the pen 🙂 is dead on, and these parents are also tired and feel alone, and it is scary. It is often times difficult to find the strength to look at the bright side. However, I am so very thankful that you keep bringing the bright side up because it inspires me to start focusing some of my writing on the bright side of giftedness. We all know the bad, we need to voice our problems and be validated to know we are not alone, or crazy, but we also need a good dose of the good!

      Thanks, John, as always, for your insights, and your inspiration to focus on the positives of giftedness, too! Your insights are always valued here!

    • This brought tears to my eyes! Thank you! There have been some things that have been coming up with school that just haven’t felt right and I have been weighing it into head for a few months. This has given words to my feelings and helped make things more clear in my head.

      • It is so nice to know that something I wrote helped someone, even if in a small way. And the keeping silent about giftedness was so second-nature to me that I wasn’t conscious of it until I asked my husband about sharing on Facebook. When his face contorted, that was the very moment it hit me.

        Thanks for your sweet words, Karen!

      • Thank you Karen; I too had struggled with why I couldn’t seem to “fit in” in school; I had problems with students and teachers alike. Fortunately, I have my mother and Dad, both of whom strongly advocated for me (and that was back in the ancient [late] 1960’s and 1970’s!) when I was in primary/elementary school, and made sure that I wasn’t put on Ritalin — I don’t have ADHD; it’s just that teachers didn’t know what to do with me, because I finished my assignments way faster than most other kids (unless it involved a lot of writing, as I do have a physical disability called dysgraphia). So I had a **lot** of free time on my hands. I’d doodle or draw or read something I wasn’t supposed to, and I would get in trouble with my teachers as a consequence. One solution some teachers came up with was to just give me more work, but if the first work was boring, what made them think that MORE boring work would be better?
        Some of my teachers were convinced that I needed special help because I didn’t cope too well in the education system. But the problem wasn’t me, the problem was the system itself!
        It took me a long time to realize that I am not “defective” or “exceptional” (in a bad way). I remember so many times when I came up with very unexpected, out-of-the-box and off-the-wall ideas, solutions, or conclusions, and was publicly embarrassed by my teachers, some of whom seemed to take pride in being able to shoot me down — almost as though they thought they were in competition with me! How absurd.
        I did eventually have some teachers who recognized that I wasn’t just another kid with a disability, but was also extremely gifted (my IQ is above the 99th percentile), and they ENJOYED having me in the class, and encouraged me very often. In college and then university (in Canada, colleges usually only for the first two years of university transfer courses, or else some vocational training) things improved dramatically for me. I had LOTS of professors who encouraged the smartest students; I even made friends with several professors, and we’d chat in the hallways or in their offices, or after class. Such a pleasure and such a relief from elementary and early high school, where there was so much cookie-cutter-style education.
        So now I have come to understand that trying to educate an extremely gifted student (with a disability, no less) in the education system is like trying to smash a very square peg into a very round hole.

        The problem isn’t the gifted students in the system.

        It’s the system itself that’s the problem.

        Education needs a revolution of sorts, in which education stops being a one-size-fits all, 1850’s factory-model, teach-to-the-average-student type of cluster-futz, and starts being about tailoring education to the needs of individuals students — all of them, not just the gifted students. I could go on about how to implement such a system, but I won’t now. Let’s just say it would not be any more expensive or require any more teachers than is already the case. But what it WOULD require is that teachers should no longer be seen as supervisors, managers, overseers, etc., but rather as facilitators, guides and coaches for ALL of their students.

        Thanks for your positive comments, Karen. Cheers JJW

  7. I can so relate to this. I work in learning support and very much advocate for our gifted students. I see behaviors get the attention of learning support over academic needs and by far over anyone with high learning exceptionalities. I recently took a class which used the book, Children with Exceptionalities in Canadian Classrooms. There was even a chapter on GATE students. A whole chapter! They are within the grouping of special needs because they learn very differently than typical students. I find that the ones that get most offended when I am voicing concerns are from parents that have low or special needs students. They can’t understand that the tantrums they speak of happen at my house just as much, and why on earth would I complain that my son read over 90 minutes every day of fourth grade. Yet, they will get upset if he’s a disruption due to boredom.

    There is a need to educate those that don’t understand our world. They need to understand that our students have exceptionalities JUST like students with autism, or behavioral needs, or are conginutively, intellectually or medically impaired. No different and if there is support for those students, then there needs to be support for our high students as well.

    • Krista, I agree with you. I’ve written a few posts stating that the special needs of gifted children need attention and support. It never, ever fails that I get one or more negative comments telling me how disgusting it is that I want to take services away from the learning disabled and give to the highly-abled.

      You are right, “there is a need to educate those that don’t understand our world”. We all need to keep advocating and talking and educating–keep the gifted conversation going.

      Krista, I really appreciate you sharing your experience with us!

  8. Share it, Celi! I’m tired of hiding it all the time, I bet you are, too. Share your accomplishment with your friends on social media. Writing a great book is a huge deal!

    As my child screamed, fought, kicked, and raged this morning, and as I nearly fell into a puddle of tears, sweating, trying to handle and help her as best I could, I just wanted the whole world to see. I wanted to scream, “are you jealous, NOW?! Are you jealous of THIS?! This is the other side of gifted.”

    You’re doing us all a service in sharing your book with the world. Let them see it’s not all amazing feats of intelligence. It’s so, so much more than that.

    • Thanks Erin 🙂

      You know, I have shared two or three articles on above-average intelligence, anti-intellectualism and creativity (sometimes used as alternate terms for giftedness) on my personal Facebook wall that I thought would interest most people. Not one “LIKE”, save for my considerate husband. NOT ONE. I share a picture of deer eating out of my bird feeder and I get 45 “LIKES”. The silence can be deafening, ya know? Or maybe deer are more interesting than creativity being stifled out of our children.

      Shall I share it and report back to everyone on the response? lol

      Thanks again for sharing your experiences and stories, Erin! You’ve made a huge impact!

      • Yes! Share and let us know. Or simply add us all on FB, and we can “like” your post 😉

        • Erin, I keep thinking about it. I go back and forth, and back and forth. It might just be a good experiment to see what happens! I’ll let you know 😉

  9. Congratulations on your new book! I also can resonate with the discomfort. I like the above poster’s point about emphasizing that it is a special need. I think it comes down to consistently educating others about giftedness as different wiring involving a range of characteristics.

    • Yes, Gail, I agree with consistently emphasizing the special needs of giftedness. It would be great to have a document, web page or e-brochure with facts, tips and ways to explain the special needs of giftedness–all focused on keeping the conversation positive and minimize the discomfort. I’d be first in line for that.

      Thank you Gail, for sharing your thoughts!

  10. I was in denial up until 3rd grade that he was gifted. I thought the gap would close but it only widened. What I have found is that people have a misconception of giftedness. They don’t understand the whole package. They only equate giftedness with intelligence. They don’t know about the sensitivities, the overexcitabilities, just the overall different wiring of the brain. It is a special need. There doesn’t seem to be that big of an issue with autism or adhd awareness. So I have started to approach the subject of giftedness as a special need. Then people seem to have an “a-ha” moment. Yes, there is a level of discomfort but I feel I have to lay the ground work for the world to understand my wonderful, amazing son.

    • We should all do what you are doing, Karen! I so admire you for raising awareness about giftedness as a special need.

      Personally, I often have trouble moving past the discomfort. Any suggestions or tips you can share with us on how to move past that discomfort? How to keep talking beyond the blank stare? I know that many of us clam up or just give up, but we all need to try to be more proactive.

      Thank you for advocating for gifted children, Karen. Your son is so lucky to have you in his corner!

      • I’m just very upfront. I tell them about the struggles. Just because your kid is smart doesn’t mean life is puppies and rainbows. I had a friendship end when he was three due to judgement. If people roll their eyes, so be it. I move on and keep searching for people that get it. It is hard and not very many people do. Sometimes I feel very isolated. I found a meet up group of gifted families that are more focused on the social, emotional and enrichment aspect. I steer clear from the hard core academic types. The more I read and learn, the more I share. Again, if they don’t get it, I move on. I don’t have time for that anymore. I use my Facebook page to share articles hoping that someone will learn. I have written some blog posts and shared that with my friends. After 2 years of teachers that said they understood gifted kids, I think I finally found one that really does in our hybrid school (or at least she is very willing to learn). I feel this is a ramble but that is what I do. Since he was 3, I have struggled with this but in the end, it is my son that matters not anyone else’s uninformed opinions.

        • Kudos to you, Karen. I so admire your attitude as it is the one we should all take. Thank you for sharing how you handle those situations; your experience is a good example for all of us!

    • I agree with your approach Karen. Over the past year I have done something similar. I got extremely tired of hiding my children’s accomplishments away. Something about it doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe I am being a braggert but I am proud of my children. I feel that when I’m telling my kids to be who they are and be proud of it but fail to show my own pride in them I’m setting a bad example. I also try to explain the downside of giftedness as well though. I want people to understand that it’s not all rainbows and puppies. I recently posted a video of a meltdown over a game. It wasn’t a tantrum but an over sensitivity issue. I try to explain giftedness to people by comparing it degrees on autism spectrum. It seems to work in most cases. I’ve found people are much more willing to discuss it in those terms.

      • Lea, I think you’ve got the right idea. My fear, too, is the message our gifted children receive when they witness us “hiding” or downplaying their intelligence. Any tips or suggestions on how best to explain the special needs and “downside” of giftedness and moving beyond the discomfort? I think this would help all of us.

        Thank you for sharing how you talk about giftedness to others, Lea!

  11. So true! Isn’t it funny all the things we can be public about but can’t tell those closer to us?

    Being a doctor has allowed me to be publicly smart on some level (though I remember my mom agonizing that there was no polite way of telling people that her daughter was accepted to med school… It would always come off as bragging). Socially I still play dumb a lot though.

    Even in my virtual life, I can write about my son’s giftedness on my blog but writing about my own experiences being gifted just doesn’t sound “nice”. It’s this code of silence though that keeps us from being able to completely advocate for our kids. Gifted kids grow up and just disappear, trying to blend in with the crowd. Part of me wants to tell what people did to help or hinder my development but part of me knows it’s not safe.

    When I was in my early teens, I saw the Woody Allen movie ‘Zelig’ and it really clicked with me… I am Zelig.

    At the same time, I am blessed with a spouse and family that accept my giftedness and my child’s (probably children’s). I know not everyone has that benefit!

    • “It’s this code of silence though that keeps us from being able to completely advocate for our kids.” Yes, that explains it exactly, a code of silence. This whole situation just boggles my mind: being gifted is a good thing, good enough that it makes others envious, but publicly exhibiting or talking about being gifted is a bad thing, so bad that being gifted becomes a curse.

      I can relate to the “in my virtual life”. So many of my friends who blog about giftedness, nearly all of them, keep their real, personal life and their gifted-blogging life separate. We joke about who will be brave enough to open the closet door and combine the two.

      Robin, as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

  12. How absurd that people feel ashamed of giftedness, either theirs or their children or the gifted students with whom they work. We live in a pair of societies (Canada & America) where intellectual mediocrity is worshipped, and where genius, giftedness, call it what you will, is looked upon with suspicion and contempt. If you’re a sports hero or a musician ( but G0d forbid it should be classical music) then you’re worshiped and adored. But if you are a nerd or just exceptionally smart, you are regarded as either a freak or borderline mad, unless of course, you make a gigantic amount of money. In which case, it’s okay to be a genius/gifted.

    There are ethnic groups where intelligence is highly valued, and to be politically correct I won’t mention which ones they are, but that’s not the general attitude. It’s very unfortunate when people have to hide who and what they are, for fear of antagonizing others, or triggering in them jealousy, envy, or hatred.

    I really hope we can change people’s attitudes. Computers and technology are becoming more and more important, and the everyday, non billionaire nerd is going to become more and more important to our economy and our society. People need to get more realistic, and realize that the age of brute force is coming to an end, and that to work smarter is better than to work harder. But we can’t do that unless we realize the smarts are actually good for something beyond being a bully’s punching bag.
    I have a gifted son, who is also mildly dyslexic. His mother and I are doing absolutely everything we can to make sure that he does not go through the painful misery that both of us endured for being too smart for our own good.

    Don’t let the people who think it’s somehow shameful to have gifted children, or to be gifted to rule the roost. They are the ones in the wrong. They are the ones celebrating mediocrity, out of jealousy for their own personal inadequacy or alternatively, out of a simple and complete ignorance of giftedness and genius.

    Thank you so much for all your efforts. Your blog has helped me tremendously.

    • John, after I read your comment, my first thought was, “Amen! Preach it!”, and you are absolutely right.

      It is absurd, totally absurd, that we should feel hesitant to mention giftedness in any context. Somehow I’ve come to unconsciously accept that fact until today when it hit me like a ton of bricks how wrong it is. Why did I have to feel uneasy about sharing anything gifted on my personal Facebook page? Sadly, I’m not the only one.

      I am so touched that my blog has helped you. It is readers like you who keep me writing. As long as I am helping someone, I will keep plugging along. I also hope we can change people’s attitudes one day very soon. We need to!

      Thanks, John, for being so supportive!

  13. Ouch. This —> “As the parent of a gifted child, you know you cannot say publicly that your child is gifted…” Interesting that you don’t say “you feel ” or “you think ” but, instead, “you KNOW” you cannot talk about this. In a few short years I learned that I couldn’t say anything about my son because of the reactions. I have talked about and written about this. My heart hurts when I think about the fact that I hide and dismiss his giftedness — sometimes in front of my son. What is he learning from my behavior? To lead a double life. That’s what.

    • Yup, it all hit home for me when I wanted to share my editor’s post on my personal Facebook page, but I couldn’t because it is about giftedness.

      And I can relate to the dismissing of your child’s giftedness because I have done it, too. We’ve learned to hide that part of us.

      Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this post. Maybe one day, it will okay to talk about giftedness and we can go back to having one life–it is getting too hard to have two 🙂

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