I Have a Gifted Kid and I Will No Longer Be Ashamed

Yes, I have gifted children—born, not made. And I will no longer be ashamed to say my kids are gifted.

I’m a former public school teacher turned homeschooling mom and I’ve lived a double-life as a regular mom and as a fierce advocate for our neglected gifted children, but I don’t often say this out loud. I’ve maintained this double-life because I know most of you don’t want to hear about gifted children because it sounds like bragging.  I decided to step forward after I accidentally posted a gifted article on my personal Facebook page recently instead of on my professional Facebook page — I was ashamed of my reaction to my mistake—my embarrassment and my fear of what others would think; thoughts like, “Ugh, I hate hearing about your gifted kids!”

Right about now, you may be thinking you just need to roll and scroll (roll your eyes then keep scrolling) because you don’t want to read about someone bragging about their gifted kid, right? Hey, I get it. We—all of us parents of gifted kids—experience this all the time when we mention the word gifted and then cringe as though we just said a dirty word.  I realize that society regards parents who speak out about their gifted child as something similar to Miss America’s mom setting up a Go Fund Me page for her daughter to pay for liposuction to remove that one dot of cellulite on her thigh. Miss America’s mom really didn’t do that, but the resentment thrown our way as parents of gifted children can feel like that.

Here’s the deal. The word gifted does trigger thoughts of privilege and advantage, but it is the clinical term psychologists, doctors, and education professionals have used for years to identify and label children who were born with distinct cognitive differences—these differences can be good AND bad. It’s the way their brain was wired.

How can being gifted be a bad thing?

It can be a burden because too many in our society think gifted kids are the stereotypical straight-A, well-behaved students who get chosen to participate in those special, elite gifted programs at school and then graduate as valedictorians.

But, nope, not always.

Many times, those smart students parents are secretly envious of are not gifted, just smart, high-achieving students.  “Being gifted is a huge hypocrisy of facts and myths–ahead but behind, advantaged but disadvantaged, smart but failing, envied but crushed.”

What you may not know about gifted children is that along with their higher intelligence, they most often have amplified emotions and sensitivities to go with it. Did you know that gifted people—I say people because it is a lifelong affliction—are believed to be more prone to depression and anxiety? That’s why many suicide victims are gifted.

You know what else hurts when one is gifted? When most everyone around you does not understand you.  When most everyone around you thinks your parents hot-housed you and that is why you are so smart. When most people around you think you are arrogant when you talk smart—and you are really just talking normal, your own normal. When most people around you resent you, shun you, bully you and envy you because they don’t understand you. When most people around you, including some of your teachers, think you should be making straight-A’s all the time, those mistaken perceptions and expectations cause lifelong emotional damage.

Being gifted can hurt.

Okay, so hopefully you may be thinking being born gifted is not all it is cracked up to be, but you may still have lingering, possibly indignant thoughts that it can’t be as bad as other illnesses or disabilities. How can being smarter be as bad as cancer? It probably isn’t as bad as many other tragic and debilitating life situations many of us have in our lives, but should we make it a competition? Who is going to make that value judgement deciding which situation is worse? Who should make the decision, “you don’t get help because you don’t have it so bad”? Who gets help and who gets left behind?

Yet, that is exactly what many parents of gifted children hear, resentful comments blasting them for their sense of entitlement for asking for help for kids who already seem to have more than most.

What help could these gifted kids need? They are already smarter, right?

Gifted children need help and support by providing an appropriate education, they need support for their unique social needs, and an understanding and nurturing of their emotional intensities. Also, gifted children can have co-existing learning disabilities which they need educational support for.  Without support and understanding, our gifted children sit in a regular classroom day after day, week after week learning information they already know, become bored, anxious or depressed, and then they disengage, give up and drop out.

But, being gifted isn’t only about school; it is not just a function of education. When you are born gifted, you are gifted 24/7 and it is not easy parenting a child who is intensely emotional, extremely sensitive and devours knowledge faster than you can dish it out. Ironically, it is a really tough parenting gig—intelligent, but envied, advantaged, but resented.

Talk to any parent who has a gifted child who is struggling in and out of school and they will tell you it is one hell of a roller coaster ride. My own personal journey with my gifted kids has been so crazy and painful that I was asked by a publisher to write a book to tell my story so that it may help others who are on the same roller coaster ride I rode. My book, “Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling”, tells the story how our traditional schools neglect and underserve our gifted children.

And if I consider myself a passionate gifted advocate, an education professional, and an author and writer for gifted children, then I must set an example.

I have a gifted kid and I will no longer be ashamed!

212 Comments on “I Have a Gifted Kid and I Will No Longer Be Ashamed

  1. Addendum to my comment to Wayne and Care; the sentence that started out “At the same time, dealing with either the externalities of giftedness …” was supposed to have finished, as ” … can be terrible”.

  2. Thank you, Celi, and you are welcome, as well.

    Well, I still haven’t found the comment by KG to which Tasiyagnunpa was referring. But in so doing, I have had a chance to look back at some of what I had written just in the comments of this single blog-post, and it’s a lot, and it mirrors for me the progress I’ve made in dealing with my PTSD. If “Sharing [my] life experience with all of us has been a huge and impactful contribution to all who read Crushing Tall Poppies” is true, then I am glad that my contributions have helped.
    They have helped me too, to give voice to the internal struggle I’ve been going through, and the weird effects of having been almost “forced” to obsess about genius and giftedness, both mine and others’. I won’t rehash what I’ve already written (no space for a small book on this blog-comments area). But what does come to mind is four observations: (1) in some ways I am calmer about what I’ve been through vis-a-vis being bullied for being “too” smart; and (2) I’m still angry with myself for not having seen it coming, or notice it as it was happening; (3) the huge lengths such bullies, posers/poseurs, and mediocrities go through to try and bring down too-smart-for-their-own-good-&-need-to-be-put-in-their-place gifted / genius / smart people (4) how mad I still am that such people need to engage in such destructive behaviour.
    Sir Isaac Newton wrote, “If I can see farther, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants”. These jerks say, “I can see myself better in my mirror, looking at my favourite person in the whole world, by standing on the backs of the heads of nerdy geeky types, while they lie face down in the muck and mire and feces that is the hatred I have of anyone smarter than me”. And yet THEY make YOU feel guilty? Give me a break! THEY are the bad guys here, not ANY parent who wants their child/children not to suffer, not to be miserable, or worse yet, bored, and most definitely not you, C.
    No need to feel guilty, Celi. the jerks are jerks, the ignoramuses are ignorant, ill-trained teachers and insecure parents and teachers will always find a way to make gifted people’s lives, or the lives of the gifted persons’ loved ones as miserable as they can manage, to cover up their own rather severe inadequacies.
    But YOU feel guilty? Why? THEY are the inadequate ones. You want the best for your kids, as does any decent parent. Wanting your kids to not be tormented or tortured (self- or other-inflicted) is normal, Celi, and is nothing about which to feel guilty.
    Okay, so rambling mode = off. Thanks for the positive comments, as always. Celi, you are amazing. Keep it up. Thanks again.

  3. Hi Celi;

    In one of your latest comments on this blog you replied to Karen, in part, “I feel guilty about it, but giftedness has been more of a curse than anything.” And you know from several of my comments, that I agree with that. But as I have said before, I am coming to the conclusion (or have come to the conclusion) that the problem for gifted children and adults is NOT the giftedness; the problem is that average society has no idea what to do with such exceptional people, and especially so in Canada and the USA, because of the shared cultural value that one should never show off, never be too “out there”, never be ‘too big for your britches’.
    Many of the parents who’ve discussed struggling with the fact of their child’s or children’s giftedness have touched upon the same theme over and over again: schools don’t know what to do with the child (external problem to giftedness); other parents assume that the gifted child’s parents “hothoused” the kid(s) (external problem to giftedness); teachers don’t know how to teach gifted students (external problem to giftedness); other students don’t know how to deal with an exceptionally intelligent child (external problem to giftedness); bosses don’t know how to get the best from their gifted-adult employees (external problem to giftedness). I could go on and on, but these are examples of externalities that negatively affect the child and her/his parents.
    You have mentioned internal issues native to giftedness: over-excitability, hypersensitivity to emotions, humour issues that can cause social awkwardness, differential developmental achievements (what has been termed “asynchronous” development), and so forth. But the emotional consequences for both parent and child of these internal issues doesn’t pack anywhere near the at times devastating “punch” of the high costs that the external problems create.
    Highly intelligent children and even adolescents, because of their high intelligence, can modify their behaviour far more easily than can less able children and teens, barring of course, the presence of a behavioural disorder in the gifted child or teen. Therefore the child or teen who has these internal issues can manage their own behaviour.
    But how do you manage the behaviour of others, especially those with weak egos and poor self-esteem, on the one hand, or people who are just plain ignorant about giftedness, on the other? Simple answer: you can’t, and THAT is the root of the problem for gifted people and their parents.
    To try do do so would be like King Canute standing in the ocean, commanding the tide not to come in (actually, he was doing so as an object lesson to his courtiers to point out that even the power of kings is limited, but that’s not the point I am trying to make). We can’t control others, can’t make them think differently, can’t tell them how to behave around gifted people. It never works.
    When, in the past, I have talked about my own giftedness being more of a curse than a gift, what I’ve been referring to is the extraordinarily high SOCIAL cost I’ve had to pay for having an IQ in the 99th percentile of the population. That’s not actually MY problem. It’s the problem that OTHER PEOPLE HAVE in dealing with me (or not successfully dealing with me), something to which several teachers and more than enough ex-bosses of my unfortunate acquaintance would testify, if they weren’t so busy defending the illusion (delusion?) of their own magnificence.
    Oh, and I am “coming out of the closet” as a gifted person (I’m heterosexual, so it’s not THAT type of ‘coming out of the closet’). Pay attention to my signature. I am tired of hiding that with which I was born. Celi, why blame yourself and take on the burdens of the idiots and the mediocrities in the world? In fact I’d say that to every parent, every gifted person who reads this blog and the comments (which in some cases are actually — no offence meant, Celi — more interesting that your own highly interesting blogs!
    If there is a “cost” to be paid, it’s rather like a tax, than anything else; a very onerous and burdensome task. If I could live in a community where intelligence was very highly valued (ah, my-oh-my, how I miss university), the external costs I pay for being smart would actually become BENEFITS!
    So parents, gifted people have to be aware that the “price” they pay — we pay, since my wife, who is, like me, twice exceptional, and our twice exceptional son — is imposed upon us by others, and not of our own manufacture.
    I am in Information Technology, and perhaps one of the most meritocratically demanding areas: open source/Linux. It’s an area where my intelligence is highly valued, and where my giftedness is NOT a cost, it’s a benefit; or, as we say in I.T.: “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!”
    That’s been a huge boon, and gifted people NEED to be steered towards careers (assuming they survive the various idiocies of the school system) that turn that curse into a strength: medicine, Law, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), professorship, or entrepreneurship. It took me the better part of 25 years to come to terms with the fact that, due to my giftedness, I “don’t work and play well with others”, because all too often that has meant that I have to downshift in order for other people to stay apace with me. That’s not been a good thing, and as an independent consultant, I don’t have to worry about slowing down so others can keep up with me.
    Look, I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll just repeat: the “costs” of being gifted or having a gifted child are imposed by other people. It’s NOT a necessary feature of giftedness. It doesn’t have to be, and what I think will make the difference is not just bloggers like you, Celi, but the parents who are NOT ashamed to admit their kid(s) is(are) gifted, and who try and change the system, try to change people’s attitudes towards being, not only more accepting, but also cognizant that gifted people are quite different and need different services and supports — that’s not a demand for more government money, but for a change in attitudes.

    Thanks for hearing me out.

    • Hi John! Welcome back 🙂

      1. You are absolutely right! The curse of giftedness is not inherent in being gifted, but imposed on us by those who don’t understand and/or resent gifted people. What I feel guilty about is sometimes wishing my child were not gifted so he wouldn’t be a victim of society’s erroneous and hurtful attitudes towards giftedness. I feel guilty for wishing at times my child was not who he is, and it happens at those times when he is going through a painful situation evolving from his natural (gifted) behavior.

      2. I will never take offense to knowing my blog posts are not as interesting or impactful as the comments I receive from the gifted teens, parents and teachers who are in the very midst of the situations I write about. Nothing I say can ever compare to all of the comments and sharing from the “front lines.” I am just here to stir the pot, help others know they are not alone and encourage everyone to advocate for all gifted people. We are all in this together!

      Thank you, John, for all of your thoughtful, insightful and poignant comments. Sharing your life experience with all of us has been a huge and impactful contribution to all who read Crushing Tall Poppies!!

  4. Don’t have time to read all the comments….wish I did. But just want to thank you. So much of it struck a chord with us. I am currently homeschooling my son. Just started 7 months ago. Finished one complete grade and started on another. He is still bored. My husband will only agree to homeschooling if I use an accredited program. Problem is, a boxed curriculum is not a good fit for my son. I want to piece courses according to his level. Still researching other options. In the meantime, I have ordered your book and will attend a homeschool convention to pick other’s brains.

    • Hi Caroll,

      Try ordering the accredited curriculum several grades levels above the grade level your son would be according to his age. Some curriculums offer placement tests before ordering the curriculum so you know which grade level to order. If age was meant to determine where a child is academically, then what can we say about those students who are working below grade level?

      Good luck homeschooling and if you have any concerns or need answers, my Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page has a wealth of wisdom from the people who engage on the CTP page! https://www.facebook.com/crushingtallpoppies/?ref=hl Also, check out Gifted Homeschoolers Forum! http://giftedhomeschoolers.org

      Thanks, Caroll, and keep in touch!

      • Yes, the age requirement for certain grades has been driving me crazy. The one we are using wouldn’t let me push him up a grade, either. We just spent 6 months accelerating through 2nd grade and are now accelerating through 3rd. I am still researching other curriculums. There is so much out there.
        I did read your book yesterday. Trying to get my husband to read it so he will have a better understanding of why I want to go unaccredited for more flexibility.
        I will go to the forum and see if someone else might have some ideas for me.
        Thank you so much, Celi

        Btw, I saw the bickering about the “comparison” between having a gifted child and one with cancer. My first son died from cancer at 6 years old. Current son is gifted. People need to understand that everyone’s experience with both are different, as well as their perceptions. My son had a horrible 2 year battle but others with same diagnosis cruised through treatment. Stop the bickering.

        • Caroll, I am so, so sorry about your oldest son. My heart goes out to you! <3

          Really, there is no way to compare the struggles with giftedness to anything else. We are dealing with a "condition" which is wrongly perceived as a total advantage, resented because it is an advantage, and then the struggles are ignored because--it is seen as an advantage. There is nothing to compare it to, but as parents of gifted children, we are desperately trying to help others understand our reality and we often seem to compare apples and oranges. And you are absolutely right, everyone's experiences with either cancer or giftedness can be vastly different!

          Thank you so much, Caroll, for weighing in on this!

  5. I have 4 gifted kids and one has cancer. Cancer is easier.

    Thanks for this.

    • Oh, Jackie, I am so sorry to hear this. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your child with cancer, and all of your gifted children. <3 <3 <3 <3

    • Dealing with a child with cancer is easier than your gifted children? That is one of the silliest statements I have ever heard. And I am trying to be kind.

      I lost my oldest son 14 years ago. There is no comparison between cancer and the challenges raising a gifted child.

      • Way to discount her personal experiences, Wayne. Should I tell you that it’s silly to feel badly about having lost your son? Because that’s what you’re doing here. You’re telling a mother of four children, one of whom has cancer, that her ACTUAL EXPERIENCES with giftedness and cancer are among, and I quote “the silliest statements [you] have ever heard.”

        I get that cancer sucks. Pretty much everyone does, and there are lots of people who will support fighters, and their support groups, around the world. Invalidating the actual experiences of someone else going through what (I assume, based on context) you did because you don’t like it? That’s low, dude. Very low.

        • Cancer is life threatening. Being gifted is not. To compare the two is “silly” to say the least. Sometimes some people are ignorant about things and thus even though they have had a personal experience, they draw the wrong conclusion.

          All conclusions drawn from personal experiences are not automatically correct but if you want me to write it in a politically correct, sensitive, EQ manner — here goes ….

          I am sorry to hear about your struggles with your gifted child. In my experience, my family has had both cancer and giftedness. My oldest son is no longer with us. He died when he was very young. My gifted child has had his challenges as well, however, he is with us. I get to hug him everyday. So in my opinion, we have found cancer to much more “trying” than having a gifted child. But I guess we have just a different experience. Good luck with your gifted child I hope you will find the strength to deal with it. God Bless

          Is that better?

          • Considering you are no longer invalidating her experience because it doesn’t form with your own? Yes. You get to say what was true for you. You don’t get to pass value judgements on other people’s truth. And, as an aside, that is not “putting it all in a politically correct, EQ manner” (thanks again for the dismissive attitude, BTW), that’s commonly referred to as “not being a jerk.”

            Also, protip. My giftedness may be life threatening. My doctors don’t believe there is something wrong with my body because there is no way I could possibly feel as I do with tests that look so good. And yet, due to a function of my neurology, I DO feel this badly, and I’m not sure if anyone will help me before I land in the hospital, potentially never to come out. But you go ahead and dismiss that too – it’s not YOUR experience, therefore it is a false conclusion.

          • I think you are confusing giftedness and mental illness. Mental illness can be life threatening. And I hope you get help you need. Giftedness does not cause mental or physical pain. It is merely the ability to process information faster and arguably different.

          • No. Actually, I’m not. My neurology means I process information differently, as you said. This includes the information coming to me from my own body. Giftedness does not cause death. Neither does cancer. But my physical pain is no less real because you don’t like how quickly I’m aware of it, or how quickly I process that pain. Fact of the matter is, my body is ill. I know this before the tests do because of the way I process information. But, because I process this differently from the rest of the general population, my concerns are brushed under the rug. My giftedness causes me to be ignored, thus leading to a life-threatening condition – much like cancer and its associated treatments suppress the immune system allowing for a life-threatening condition. Am I being clear now, or will you continue to tell me that my experience in my own body is wrong, and insist on insinuating I’m actually crazy?

          • You win. I will pray you find a cure for your giftedness and you can lead a pain free life.

          • Thank you for completely missing the point. But really, it doesn’t matter. Your statement really just speaks for itself, both in WHY people who are gifted often feel it’s a curse, and in why Celi’s fantastic and thought-provoking blog is in and of itself a vital service to the gifted community.

            I do, however, hope that you have a great many wonderful memories of your son, and that you share them widely – for as long as his stories are told, he shall be with you. Not as you’d like, and for that I am truly sorry, but he will never be completely gone. May his memory live on perpetually.

          • Hi, Wayne and Care;

            I think you are both kind of missing a major point here. One of you is saying, Porsches are way better than apples, and the other is saying, no, apples are way better than Porsches. Both of you are talking past each other, not hearing each other. Cancer is a terrible thing. I know; summer of 2014 I lost my eldest niece to mesothelioma, even though she’d never (as far as we knew) been exposed to asbestos. Ten years before that, i lost my eldest sister to lung cancer (yes she was a smoker). The losses are terrible. Nothing can replace beloved people. And dealing with cancer and its after-effects can be emotionally devastating.
            At the same time, dealing with either the externalities of giftedness (difficult schooling, educational problems and gaps [as in my son, who can’t find a school that can help him; 11 years under “no child left behind” left him behind. Now he’s in Mexico, and things for him are 10 times worse], and of course, the ever-present bullying). Then there are the problems of having a gifted child, adolescent or even adult child, and all the complexities and difficulties that brings: hypersensitivity, asynchronous development, (sometimes) emotional immaturity combined with intense intellectual super-maturity, over-excitability, etc.

            BUT THE TWO ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Yes, of course, they both share pain in common. Sometimes. Cancer always causes emotional pain and distress not just for the patient but for family as well. Giftedness CAN cause problems, but if our educational system were different, so would the issues around giftedness.
            Do you think that giftedness would be a problem EVERYWHERE? No. Several Scandinavian countries and not a few European countries, not to mention Israel, have done huge work in accommodating gifted students; in Israel, because the Russian Jews that came to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union were so very often highly educated, gifted adults, their children (and now starting with grandchildren) are creating a demographic “bulge” of giftedness, and the educational system has adapted to that. Israel always was, being majority Jewish, a strong education-oriented country, so I very much doubt that gifted kids go through anywhere near the crises and traumas they do in North America. The Scandinavian and European countries and some Asian countries have done good, positive action to create positive environments for gifted kids (a non-scientific ‘survey’ can be found here [http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ubbthreads.php/topics/108130/Best_country_for_gifted.html] and here [tps://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj8k5e198PKAhVK22MKHS47CeY4ChAWCBowAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mdpi.com%2F2076-3387%2F2%2F1%2F1%2Fpdf&usg=AFQjCNHvubL11lZgKBtvLsiMfdvCD-BuXQ&sig2=SXJVA3U7vWdp-DoSSt8HkA&bvm=bv.112454388,d.cGc] — latter is a PDF).

            My point is this, Giftedness has a mixture of both positive and negative aspects. Obviously, in and of itself, being gifted is a good thing, since being higly intelligent (given the right social and cultural situations) can lead to great things.

            Cancer, on the other hand, can only be survived or not. There is no upside.

            How can you compare two wildly different things? So if you two would kindly stop your gently administered flame-war and realize that you are comparing apples (not the computer) to spaceships, perhaps you two could ease up on one another?

          • Well, when you consider the fact that my point was that invalidating the experiences of others is a jerk move, and that yeah, for many people giftedness blows, I suspect I’m not missing the point as much as you think. In general, I do not take kindly to people who tell others that their personal experience – stated as their personal experience – is wrong. I also don’t do well when people try to invalidate and gaslight me.

            Obviously, giftedness and cancer are different things. Perhaps it’s a function of that giftedness that I figured the difference between a neurological condition and a disease was a given. Similarities, yes, differences, yes. Unfortunately, however, having lost many family members to cancer-related causes does not make it less difficult to lose people to gifted-related ones.

          • I would love to hear from the original poster of the children — what cancer her child has and under what conditions is it easier to deal with her child having cancer vs her children being different.

            Can you please elaborate the gifted related deaths that you have experience? This should be good.
            BTW — are you published in Pub Med? I would love to read your research.

          • Sorry, I haven’t the time or the mental energy to relive my personal traumas with someone who obviously doesn’t give a shit about any of it save to attempt to generate mockery and a sense of self importance. As I really don’t care what you think, and you seem to be incapable of a cursory google search, I’m out. I’ve already wasted enough of my time on your mansplaining, gaslighting, and otherwise jerkstore behavior. I’m not indulging any more, thank you.

            I had, personally, attempted to leave the discussion on a generally neutral note. You want to get nasty, you do it on your own time.

          • Given my personal experience, I guess I will never understand the comparison between your personal dramas and cancer related deaths.

          • John,

            The original poster compared the two not I. I merely called it “silly” which is understatement. Cancer is a life threatening illness. Giftedness in and of itself is not an affliction. It is merely a way of processing. It is the way of processing that may make you stand out and thus cause you some societal issues that can result in mental distress. The mental distress may turn into physical distress. But at the end of the day, it is a not the same. And to compare the two is ridiculous.

            When my son was having issues with his giftedness, I homeschooled him. The issues are now gone. I am sure when he is in the workforce this will be a non-issue.

            When I was growing up I was “gifted” and there are some issues with that. But everyone has issues. The fat kid, the tall kid, the kid that isn’t that bright, the physically challenged kid. I think in today’s society victimhood is embraced too easily.

  6. Thank you!!! This was so validating to me! Our 2nd daughter is profoundly gifted. Understanding her has been made harder by the fact she is an international adoptee – we share no genetics so we can’t begin to related to her specialness! So may things touched home here. When she taught herself to read at 2, I was told is was because of the special pre-school she went to (her “special” school was a Montessori). The “special” school gave her tools to multiply and divide in the thousands when she was 4. With a fight, we were able to get her into kindergarten a year early. The school did not know what to do for her. Giftedness was not tested for until 3rd grade. We looked into focus acceleration for her in math. She was in Algebra 1 when she was 8. They decided she should skip 6th grade meaning she started high school at 12 and went away to college at 16. Everyone assumed that we pushed her through all this – and we didn’t. She is her own creation. She excels at everything she touches – gymnastics, music but can’t dance worth beans! Oh how I wish she was just a high achiever!!

    • Karen,

      So, so many families go through what you have gone through–fighting for acceleration, being accused of pushing your child, and schools really not knowing what to do with a child working so far above grade level.

      Your last sentence struck me because I too wished my children could just be average or a high-achievers, and I feel guilty about it, but giftedness has been more of a curse than anything.

      Thank you, Karen, for sharing a bit about your daughter. It helps all of us parents with gifted kids to see we are not alone in our struggles!

  7. I posted this on my Facebook page after reading this article:
    Ok, so this article has inspired me to “come out” as a parent of a gifted kid. The trepidation of doing this is very real because, everyone assumes that if you say your kid is gifted you are bragging about how high achieving and amazingly talented your kid is. The truth is having a gifted kid, does NOT mean YOU are gifted with a high-achieving, well behaved kid deserving of some elite program in school. It means you have a kid with genuine cognitive differences and accompanying INTENSE social and emotional sensitivities that make succeeding in school and society challenging. Often it is more like dealing with coal in a stocking then a gift under a tree. E is a gifted kid and her creative drive is unlike any other kid or person I have ever met BUT life has been extremely challenging for her and raising her has put us through the ringer. Public school crushed her and we were driven to homeschooling, normal issues with friends use to devastate her to the point of not being able to get out of bed for days, and when, for whatever reason she is not able to meet her personal goals in circus arts, theater and her novel writing, she is incapacitated enough that mundane tasks are struggle. So, friends, when we share that our girl is gifted we are looking for support and understanding not admiration.

    • Marielle,

      Happy, happy that you “came out!” I love your quote, “Often it is more like dealing with coal in a stocking than a gift under a tree.” That is just so true and something I wish others could understand. Yes, the struggles are real and the worst part is often that we can’t expect support and understanding from schools, family and friends who do not understand.

      Thanks, Marielle, for sharing with us a little bit about your wonderful, creative daughter!

  8. It’s infuriating to hear people say that gifted students have it made in the shade. Both here on this blog and in my own life I have seen how that SIMPLY ISN’T TRUE. the bullying, the rejectionism, the anti-intellectualism, the actions of a few to try and bring down gifted people a few pegs so that they will, in the words of one of my grade eight bullies “know your place, and stop acting above your station in life”just works so harshly to mitigate against that.
    Sure, if Holly’s kids get a good academic program, she’s saved them from ONE aspect of the negativity that accompanies giftedness, but NOT the social and emotional aspects, which is where, I suspect, gifted children, adolescents, and even adults pay the very highest price. I won’t go into rant/soapbox mode, but Holly, I can see where you are coming from and how much this must hurt.
    I worry for my own son. My wife, a brilliantly intelligent woman, was brought up in an environment in which intellectualism and asking questions was discouraged. In Mexico in the 60’s and 1970’s, you didn’t ask tough questions; the government had its eyes open for dissenters, and the educational system discouraged dissent even as dissent was being ENCOURAGED in Canada and the USA. On top of that, her religious upbringing as an evangelical protestant was equally discouraging of dissent and questioning about the literal truth of the Bible.
    I am worried that my son, a very gifted boy, will shut down due to his elementary school experiences, in which he has had to choose between demonstrating his intelligence or being liked, and he has chosen the latter, because the former was such a disaster for him. I want him to grow up as I did. I grew up with a scientist-father and a teacher-librarian mother, and thus had an intensely intellectual and open household, where being an independent thinker has always been encouraged. I need to get them both out of Mexico and up to Canada, where I can be a positive influence to both, especially my son.
    My wife, I believe from what she has said or suggested, fell in love with me in part because she found her intellectual equal, and someone who could encourage and teach her how to be intellectual herself (middle-aged “dogs” (no offence to my wife) CAN learn new tricks).
    My son wants to learn, but he sees it as a choice between being a good, original, out-of-the-box-thinker/learner, or being liked, but not both.
    That’s sad and frustrating. I really hope that Holly can help her kids find a comfortable balance without them having to remake who they are in someone else’s image in order to be accepted.

    • John, I hope all of us can make a difference for all gifted kids because no child should have to dumb himself down to fit in!

    • Hi John–Yes, the move was largely for academics, but also for social. We moved from a small school system with small grades and if a child wasn’t part of a group by middle school, that child would never really be part of a group. We chose a larger district (still small by urban and suburban standards — not quite 800 kids in 7-12th grades; 116 kids vs. 40 kids in W’s grade) that would offer more options for social interaction and a broader range of activities through which kids can form friendships. W has found some success socially this year, but it’s hard being a new kid and hard being a middle schooler. Moreover, she carries with her serious fears about rejection, scarred from what the other kids and adults in her old school did to her. She struggles with low self-esteem and a great uncertainty about her value as a person, despite what her father and I try to cultivate in her. She has maintained a friendship with one girl from the last district, but continues to be wistful and hurt by past exclusions and current invisibility. How sad to believe that you were so insignificant as to leave hardly a ripple among a group of people you saw daily during the school year for 6 years.

      I am sorry your son carries his own social scars and that you do as well. It is terrible when a child has to choose between embracing who he or closing off part of himself in order to feel valued and liked. How can you trust friendship when it is based on only half of the truth? I hope that as he ages, your son will be able to integrate his two selves and become the whole gifted and likable person he is.

  9. http://crushingtallpoppies.com/2015/05/07/i-have-a-gifted-kid-and-i-will-no-longer-be-ashamed/

    Comment I submitted on 6/7/2015

    I am sure others have commented this: it’s like you’ve been watching my family’s life!

    We have four children, the oldest of whom, our daughter, W, has Tourette Syndrome, anxiety and OCD tendencies. W is also off the chart academically, but really struggles socially. She is now 12 and in 7th grade, but when she was moved up to third grade from second just a few weeks into that school year, we were really worried about being treated like we thought she was better than everyone else’s kids. We lived then in small town with a small school, so a move like that was something pretty much everybody knew about. We were hyper-vigilant about answering any questions by first pointing out that the school, not my husband and me, made the recommendation. We still got weird looks and dismissive comments. I had a parent all but spit in my face when she asked how W was doing with the math her (the other parent) daughter was struggling with and I said I didn’t know because W didn’t really participate in the class — she was working by herself in the back of the room with the teacher’s text, dozens of lessons ahead of the other kids in the “highest” math class. “Yeah, well,” this woman said to me in a snide voice, “it must be nice to never have to worry about her falling behind.” True, I didn’t, but I had to worry about her crying because she was bored or had been left out of other kids’ social activities because she was “weird.”

    Her TS was undiagnosed until age 10 (she started having tics at age 5 1/2 and the neurologist told us not to worry and come back in five years if she still had tics), when she was in 5th grade and was totally ousted from her social group by her peers and her teachers began to tell us she was disruptive and inflexible. When we explained that the “disruptive behaviors” they were describing were likely tics, the school circled the wagons and wouldn’t work with us until we had a formal diagnosis. We went from feeling welcome and appreciated in the school (my husband sat in an elected position on the school board, I volunteered to write several grants from the school, and interspersed my part-time work hours with lots of classroom volunteering) to be treating like we were delusion, pushy parents who simply wanted to believe our daughter needed different academic challenges. Her math teacher — the one who basically let her homeschool herself in math because he didn’t know how to “deal” with her intense learning style — made a complete 180, telling us that she “wasn’t as smart as she all tried to make us believe;” For more than half the year, this teacher had routinely made comments about how W would be the kid who would graduate from high school when she was 16.

    With the diagnosis, the school agreed (as if they had a choice!) to put W on a 504 plan. We requested the process start in 5th grade but involve teachers she would be having the following year when she would enter 6th grade at the middle/high school. We could not have made it any clearer that W needed to be highly engaged and needed extra challenges. We were constantly poo-pooed for suggesting they consider placing her a grade up in math because she was so bored she was in tears every night. Sixth grade started and seemed fine for a couple of weeks and then W fell apart. Twelve out of the 40 kids in her grade (yes, grade) were named in persistent bullying and harassment against her (including death threats). One of her teachers told us she’d brought the bullying upon herself by asking for extra work in front of other kids — she was labelled a brown-noser, bragger and suck up.

    Though we were able to make some things better for our daughter, ultimately, we decided to move to a new school district. We didn’t feel like we had much of a choice and we have taken on quite a bit of debt in order to end up in a highly rated school district we had heard was excellent for all different kinds of learners. It has been better where we are now for all of our children, including W. We came in with an independent neuro-psych eval and all sorts of documentation. The school asked us to let W try being in their existing structure to evaluate what she might need. We agreed. The school was proactive about developing a new 504 plan, which includes an accommodation we had to fight tooth and nail for in our old district: the right for W to approach teachers and request competency and mastery evaluations for material she felt she knew and could not stand to have reviewed over and over again, something that benefits most kids but that sent W into an anxiety and ticcing tailspin. If she requested an eval and could demonstrate mastery, the teachers were asked to provide additional work and opportunities and excuse her from the regular class while the material was being reviewed.

    A few months ago, it came to light that our 7th grader had written a high school senior’s essay; the senior’s teacher flagged the work as being A level, too good for the student who handed it in. The school was flabbergasted when their investigation led to our daughter, the youngest student in the school. My husband and I were very stern with W about this (my husband is a college professor and I recently gave up a freelance client because a member of the team had been plagiarizing and the client didn’t remove her from the project), as was the school. W knew better, but was so grateful to have someone seem to value her (a good-looking star athlete no less — and, no, there wasn’t anything creepy or weird going on), it is easy to understand why she did it. Plus, she excels in writing and can’t resist a challenge. The upshot of the ordeal: the school realized what we had told them about W’s differing learning needs was accurate. She is assigned to two 9th grade classes for her 8th grade year next year and her current teachers seem to be more open (they were pretty good to start with) to ensuring she has alternate “stretch” activities to work on when she finishes her class work far earlier than her classmates.

    I know this is an incredibly long post — but I have only been able to tell this story to a few very close friends and only some family members. So thanks for indulging me. Otherwise, I am treated like I am bragging or being competitive. Few people who do not parent a child who is gifted understand that it is as frustrating and difficult to support a gifted learner as it is to support a child who has challenges that have a negative impact on classroom learning. W’s social struggles are often dismissed because “well, at least you don’t have to worry about her academics.” We have spent as much time and energy as the many parents I know who have kids on IEPs trying to get what our daughter needs, only to be told that she isn’t eligible for the many programs available to struggling learners because her “issues” do not prevent her from excelling in academics. We don’t want to create a competition. This is not a race or a pity party to see who has it worse. Parenting is hard no matter what. Sometimes it is unspeakably hard. There are “worse things” than having a gifted child, certainly. But to feel like you have to keep your wonderful child a secret because it might make other people feel bad and to have to tell your child that she can only be proud of her achievements with select family and friends, is painful for parents and confusing to a child, even one who is gifted.

    I can’t wait to get my hands on your book.

    • “But to feel like you have to keep your wonderful child a secret because it might make other people feel bad and to have to tell your child that she can only be proud of her achievements with select family and friends, is painful for parents and confusing to a child, even one who is gifted.” <=== This is the most significant travesty for gifted children. This is why giftedness seems more of a curse than a gift. And you are right, "there are “worse things” than having a gifted child, certainly", but it shouldn't be a comparison because gifted children are not immune from other physical and mental disabilities and illnesses. The unfortunate attitude is gifted children have it made in life, others resent them, mock them and their parents, but never stop to think that this gifted child could also have diabetes, cancer, autism or life-threatening allergies. Holly, I'm so sorry your beautiful daughter had to go through this most incomprehensible and needless struggle for her education--the upside? You are not alone and you have a place to vent and rant as much as you want!! And my sincerest hope is that you find some comfort and help here, too. <3

  10. Celi, while I am on a roll, I have another comment (when don’t I?). I know you applaud parents who choose to home-school; and perhaps I have complained about this previously.

    While you (rightly) encourage them for home-schooling their kids, what I find horrendous is the mere fact that parents should HAVE TO home-school their kids. I know that the many ignoramuses out there think that gifted students don’t need help, that giftedness programs just spoil already-super-spoiled, hot-housed children, who, it is claimed, would not be gifted were it not for their over-involved, helicopter parents. Many also think that every dollar in the public system spent on gifted students is one less dollar to help the children who “really” need it, you know, exceptional children — but in this case they refer exclusively to physically and/or mentally handicapped children, and don’t know or don’t care that there are children like my son, twice-exceptional. They are the types who believe that the awful dilemma my parents were handed about me in high-school: “We can either treat John as disabled, or gifted, but not both” is perfectly acceptable.

    As an aside, my parents, by the way, chose to have me treated as “disabled”. That in turn led to the bizarre circumstances of a grade eight student being sent to “the trailers” for remedial reading; a student who took with him, in his back-pack, a book on Medieval battlement defences, a book called “You can trust Communists (to be Communists)”, and a third book (all three of which I was reading simultaneously — though not LITERALLY at the same time; rather I was reading them serially; I’d read some of one, then some of the other, and so forth). What was the third book that I was reading during the time when I was being sent for remedial reading? John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. Yeah, I needed remedial reading alright. I became literally the *only* student ever to be dismissed from “the trailers” by the special ed teacher for reading too quickly and too well.
    She assigned me books that were to be read in two weeks, and I would finish them in the afternoon after school. 48-page books written at a grade six level? No problem for a student assessed in grade seven as being able to read at a grade twelve/first-year university level!

    Such stupidly ignorant “skeptics” (really more like bigoted fools) among some parents and taxpayers are, along with other people (reactionary conservatives, the Radical left, mediocre parents of mediocre children, now-grown-up bullies who hated the gifted even now as adults) as I’ve described in other comments, preventing gifted students from getting the help they need. Home-schooling thus becomes an escape-valve, a pressure-release for a failing system that couldn’t cope with me forty years ago, and STILL can’t cope with my son, forty years later!
    It’s a rotten shame, really that you have to advocate that parents of gifted students should home-school their kids if they can, when what is needed is not more money thrown at the problem (gifted programs are far less expensive than supporting physically and mentally handicapped kids, I’ve done my research!), but a complete change in attitude, driven by some serious education of the anti-gifted as to the real nature of the gifted.
    Sadly, I doubt that many such types would ever bother to read your blog. What is needed is a national educational campaign from educators such as yourself to bring attention to the need for both a societal change to stop rejecting gifted kids and giftedness itself, and a sea-change in the school system itself.

    • Glad you brought this up, John. I agree wholeheartedly with all that you have said and I’ll speak from my own experience as a former public school teacher and a mom. I’m going to add to what you brought up and just continue the roll you are on:

      I homeschool. I believe in it as an educational path equal to and more often much better than public or private school. BUT, there are other alternatives like charter schools, micro-schools and large homeschool co-ops. These, of course, are not always an option for every parent of a gifted child struggling in traditional school. Homeschooling, though, is the most accessible for the majority.

      What I do continue to advocate for is a better, more appropriate education for gifted children which addresses the whole child–the emotional, social and educational needs of the gifted. Attitudes need to change, funding needs to change, teachers need to be trained to better recognize gifted children, laws need to change and society’s general attitude toward above-average intellectually gifted children and adults needs to change. That is a boat load of changes.

      I tackled the funding issue alongside parents and teachers while I lived in Alabama–Alabama historically had not funded gifted programs at all and only recently provided a mere $1 million for the entire state for gifted ed. and that was with a push by many parents advocating tirelessly for this. It was many hours of work. All the while my own child was being underserved, misunderstood, miseducated and mistreated in public school. I had to pull him our before I lost him.

      While many believe that parents banning together to push governments to address the needs of gifted students with various measures–funding, identification, teacher training–is the ONLY way to change the terrible state of gifted education, our own children don’t have time to wait while the slow grinding wheels of government turn–if they turn at all. Those parents, their kids, do need an escape valve. Yet, once they find the best educational setting for their child, we ALL need to continue to work together to change the dismal state of education for gifted children because there are many gifted children who have no alternative but to suffer and struggle through miseducation and misunderstanding and mistreatment by traditional schools.

      Advocacy is needed on all fronts by all people–parents, teachers and society as a whole. We are seriously neglecting an entire student population because of a misunderstanding of their true needs as gifted children and also, sadly, because too many in society are simply resentful of a group of children who they want to believe have more than their child and have enough already. And advocacy is tough because gifted education is handled so differently in each school, each school system, in every state and province, and every country administers gifted education differently.

      We all support many other worthwhile causes, but I personally, after reading the thousands of comments on my blog, can’t help but believe that neglecting gifted children is a social and educational disgrace. We are ignoring the needs of CHILDREN, children who depend on the adults around them to support and nurture them! And not only are the needs of gifted children misunderstood and ignored, they and their parents are slammed by society for what they perceive as us asking for more for a group who is erroneously believed to be too advantaged already. It’s like kicking someone when they are already down.

      Hey, thanks John, for getting me up on my soapbox first thing in the morning! 😉 Thank goodness I had my coffee first!! You may continue with your roll now!

      • Celi, I didn’t mean to suggest that what you do and what you advocate isn’t important and valuable. Obviously it is. And I realize that nothing’s going to happen overnight. I guess what’s concerning me is the fact that parents have to home-school or find alternative programs at all. What that does is it lets the anti-gifted have a (really bad) excuse to do nothing. Why bother funding giftedness programs, after all, so many gifted kids could be home-schooled or redirected to private schools, charter schools, and micro-schools as well as, of course, large homeschool co-ops. It’s a relief valve for system that few people realize doesn’t work (and in a sense, never did; the idea from the 1850’s UK Schools Act was to provide children who would grow up to be factory workers and good subjects of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. In that sense, children were educated in the same manner as the new-fangled factory model, which never worked for the simple reason that children aren’t products, as you know, they’re individuals, and even the most ordinary and average of kids is still an individual, a human being, not a widget).
        I think that private schools, charter schools, micro-schools and large homeschool co-ops buy time for the excuse-makers and status-quo lovers and the do-nothings in the world to, well, do nothing. And you are right. Advocacy is the answer, but what the heck do you do in the meantime? Well, you provide private schools, charter schools, micro-schools and large homeschool co-ops. The problem I have is that the advocates for the gifted have to REALLY ramp up their efforts or the excuse-makers and status-quo lovers and the do-nothings in the world will just use the existence of a set of pressure relief valves to do nothing, change nothing, and go nowhere. In no way was I trying to minimize the value of home-schooling, or private schools, charter schools, and micro-schools for the gifted. I do realize that that may be, for some children, the only real option even if the changes that we all want to have happen actually come to pass. No criticism was intended of you or your work at all, and though I doubt you thought so, I want to remove any doubt at all that I meant anything critical of your work/advocacy.
        I just don’t want the anti-gifted and the do-nothings of the world to shirk their responsibilities to change the system alongside the advocates for the gifted, precisely because of the advocacy you and others like you are doing. I was attacking THAT, not home-schooling and all the rest of it.

        • John,

          I never thought you were criticizing. I understood exactly what you meant! No offense taken at all 🙂

          To be honest, I’m trying to advocate from all angles. Just this past Wednesday, an Iowa state representative invited me to the capitol to talk about gifted and 2E kids. We are going to work together to gather the troops here (the parents). Yet, for me coming from my advocacy efforts in Alabama where gifted funding and programming was almost nil to here in Iowa where they are doing, in my eyes, an very good job for gifted children, what do I advocate for? Tough one when everyone implements gifted ed. differently.

          Now, there is another way to look at the throngs of gifted students moving into homeschooling: school districts are losing the money for that student who is no longer enrolled in their school (at least in the U.S.). With the focus so strongly on standardized testing, gifted children leaving traditional schools for homeschooling also take their high test scores with them. Look at the history of the public school system in New Orleans–not an identical situation, but when kids pull out of the system, the system is hurt.

          Along with that, big $$$ corporations (like Pearson) depend on school systems to buy their products. Homeschoolers have many, many choices of curriculum and it likely won’t be public school textbooks printed by Pearson and others.

          Gifted students leaving for homeschooling and other alternative educations may be a threat to public schools. They may need to sit up and take notice that they are losing students left and right and they better improve education for ALL children.

          Not everyone sees homeschooling as a threat to the public schools, but it is an indicator for those holding the public school purse strings to take notice of–hopefully!

          Thanks again, John, for getting me back up on my soapbox! I guess that is my exercise for the day. 🙂

  11. Hi, Celi; I left a comment in response to Jennifer’s comment. Given the HUGE response this post has brought out, (we’re keeping you busy!), I thought you may want to add your own comments to mine. Truth to tell, getting your constantly positive feedback also helps me, more than just stroking my ego. Allow me to explain why.

    About 18 months ago I had to end a friendship with a very close friend, because she was being manipulated by her brother (or brothers) to torment me for the crime of considering joining MENSA, after Cheryl and I had seen “Good Will Hunting”, and she asked me if I had considered joining MENSA, given my IQ being (unfortunately) stratospheric.
    Unbeknownst to me, Cheryl reported EVERYTHING I told her to her brother Bill, because her brother Bill was (and is) a severe narcissist, and a bully. He hated me after I, decades before, had confessed to having a ‘genius’ IQ to their father at a family dinner to which I had been invited (I was 17 and didn’t know better than to keep my mouth shut. So shoot me).
    Well, once he found out that I was considering joining MENSA, he hit the roof. I won’t go into the gruesome details, but essentially he had her repeatedly argue with me as to:
    * How I could be a genius when my last job had been as a cashier at a gas station?
    * How I could be a genius when I wasn’t a tech billionaire, like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates (I am an IT specialist)
    * How I could be a genius if my grades in elementary and high school so poor? (I rarely were higher than a “B”, and the only times I got an “A” on an essay were if my dad typed what I dictated to him).
    He also wanted me to acknowledge that because he owned a car, two condos, and had a super-top-of-the-line job as a “Package and correspondence logistics professional” (i.e., courier driver), and was THE entrepreneur in his “orbit” of friends and acquaintances (he made “$500!” When pushed Cheryl as to whether or not that was per minute, hour or day, she finally confessed that that was $500 PER YEAR), therefore HE was THE genius, and I had to stop being a genius, and make HIM the genius.
    I tried to explain that genius is mostly born, and somewhat made, but not entitled, and I was generally successful; the torment and indirect bullying came because Bill forced Cheryl to make me defend my refusal to grant that he was “THE Genius” somewhere on the order of TWO-THOUSAND TIMES in the space of four years!!!!
    I was similarly forced, because of her constant negative comments, to defend the Professional Psychology definition of Genius (as opposed to Bill’s definition of Genius, which relied on the factors of Money, Status, and Wow-Factor) about, in my estimate, TWO-THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED to THREE THOUSAND times in four years. I’d win the argument against Cheryl, but winning didn’t stop the arguing. The three arguments — (a) I am not a genius, (b) Bill is a genius, (c) Genius is defined based on Money, Status, and Wow-Factor, not IQ plus behavioural indicators — constituted the bulk of all conversations between me and Cheryl for the last three years of our “friendship”.

    I had NO idea that it was Bill who was forcing his sister to attack me (she is not a strong woman, psychologically speaking).

    It wore me down, and drove me to depression; I was and still am struggling with a disease called lymphodema (a failure of the lymph system to return fluid from the extremities or an extremity [my left leg, in this case] to the heart and kidneys) as well as a heart murmur (congestive heart failure). As a consequence of these years of constant torment, and endlessly repeated arguments, 90% of which were focused on the question of my “genius”, and my “obligation” to make Bill, a severe bully and narcissist, designated as THE primary genius, Cheryl’s other brother Mark as THE secondary genius (though sometimes that flipped the other way, suggesting that Mark was also in on the act, though I could not prove that the second brother was also involved; he himself was also a bully. He tried unsuccessfully to bully me when he was in grade Eight, and I was in Grade Eleven. IT was a spectacular failure, for which he’s never forgiven me). I also had to reject and deny my own so-called “genius” status, admit that all that “genius” is, is that of a status or a label which can be won or lost depending on who can impress and blow away whom with their latest Wow-factor exploit (plus be male, and have money and status, of course; women could NEVER be geniuses). Plus some very unsavoury aspects that are sexually extremely immoral that were demanded of me — being hounded to admit that my marriage was dead, and that I would be willing to have sex with Bill (who was and is gay) and Mark (who isn’t, but it was to be more like prison-rape-type-sex) so that I would finally “know my place” (literally, sexually, at the bottom) drove me to despair, depression, as I said, and (due to the two diseases) MASSIVE fluid weight gain (at one point I weighed 465 lbs. and could barely move).

    I have to add that Bill was a convicted criminal, who served two years in prison, and another three on probation (making him what Americans would call a “convicted felon” — so he knew all about prisoner sex, and how much of it is about rape and domination).

    Consequence of the despair, depression, as I said, and MASSIVE fluid weight gain? I was hospitalized for NINE weeks, where they put me on a heart-healthy diet and pumped me full of diuretics, whereupon I lost 160 lbs. in seven weeks. But I had to end the friendship with Cheryl.
    As an adult, I have NEVER been as horribly harassed and “proxy-bullied” as I was by Cheryl. I only finally found out, after enduring three years of this bizarre torment, that Cheryl was NOT doing this of her own volition. Just before I went into the hospital, and again in a bizarre visit from Cheryl, (who had to re-suffer my ending the friendship) when I was IN the hospital, Cheryl confessed that Bill had been forcing her to attack and torment me.
    If you’re wondering why I didn’t end the friendship sooner, you have to understand that Cheryl herself is not “normal”; she has a tested IQ of 70, which is borderline mentally handicapped. She’s also very hyper-sensitive, and easily manipulated by others. So I never suspected who was really behind the who thing, and never interpreted her as a threat, which she actually was. So Bill USED her to attack me. The nature of the attacks would best be described as me having the comparative psychological armour of an M1A1 Abrams tank -pretty impenetrable. And what Cheryl was doing, was shooting rubber bullets at my armour. Individually, and even as a group, her attacks/bullets could never have breached my armour. And if the “attacks” were limited to a few dozen, well, I wouldn’t have even noticed. No, to use my analogy, the effect was more like sitting in such a tank, while all around me, thousands and thousands of rubber bullets were being fired at the hull of the tank, creating enormous distractions, and also a horrendous NOISE level, that never stopped (literally thousands, because as I said, that’s how many repetitions of the same arguments we had in some cases; in other cases only HUNDREDS of repetitions). Such a cacophony, such endless repetition, without the relief of having the losing side leave the battle-field, but stay on like some sort of indefatigable semi-zombie-soldier would have driven anyone nuts.
    If Cheryl had come to me, and told me, early on, that her brother had threatened her with something AND promised something scandalous unless she repeatedly attacked me, win, lose or draw, ( the promise of which I will mention below), then I would have been able to confront Bill (and Mark too) and mop the floor with them intellectually on the issue of who and what constitutes genius, and their resentment of my most unfortunate status/designation/curse (a curse with upsides, but still a curse).
    What was the scandalous thing? When Cheryl was a teenager, both Bill and Mark manipulated Cheryl into falling into romantic love with both brothers. Mark went further, sexually abusing Cheryl when he was 12 and she was 16. Bill promised her that if she got rid of me or AT LEAST brought me to heel, crushed my spirit, and forced me to surrender my status / designation / curse-with-upsides as a “genius”, then he (falsely) promised that he would become her boyfriend, and that their brother Mark would dump his wife and become her boyfriend (and the two would be her lovers forever-more). Of course it was another of Bill’s lies. Thanks to their genius-obsessed, misogynistic father, they both learned to despise and reject Cheryl for being female and “dumb”.

    A very sick family, truly.

    I also went through another, unrelated episode with another set of genius-haters, resident in, of all places, a non-profit COMPUTER recycling group (and just how target-rich is THAT environment for giftedness-haters!) the details of which I won’t go into here — only because I wrote so much about Bill and Cheryl, and explaining who this character was, what he and his predecessor staff-colleagues did to me would take pages and pages more, and frankly, well, it’s enough for this comment to have described Bill/Mark/Cheryl’s torment of me.

    I mention all of this because as a result of the various torments and tortures, I crashed-and-burned, having been attacked by two different sets of separate genius-haters (Bill/Mark/Cheryl on one side, and literally half the staff of this particular non-profit computer recylcing group on the other). All this brought back waves of remembrances of the bullying and torment from elementary and high school — and which I wrote about in my comment to Jennifer’s comment, which in turn gave me Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the cumulative effects of my childhood, adolescent, and adult being-bullied-episodes (not to mention two unions that bullied all their university educated members to try and drive them out of the union, and a tech-support company boss who hated and despised computer technicians and made our work-lives miserable and who tried to “break” the spirit of each and every tech in the company. He was a marketer, untrained in even the rudiments of IT, but figured since he owned the majority of the company, against his hapless tech partner, he, not his tech partner should manage both sales/marketing and the technical staff).

    Ouch, to put it mildly.

    Besides the one-on-one counselling I received, this, your blog, has been another source of assistance, and what tremendous assistance. Hearing, directly (not just from third-party case-studies) how very prevalent and ubiquitous bullying (by students and even teachers) and mistreatment by the school system, has left me no longer feeling that, at least if I am a freak, an anomaly, and frequently hated and despised merely for my accursed smart “gift” (what gift? I see a super-high social and educational cost for this so-called “gift”), then I am not an alone freak of nature (not a “real” human being; I often, though less so, feel like an impostor, or alternatively an alien from another planet), other people have or are enduring the same shabby and horrendous treatment, or are, like my wife and I, the parents of a child enduring it.
    Sad, but I am not alone in this. Sad too, that for misery to be relieved, it sometimes has to know it’s not alone. Your blog is one of a very few candles in a very considerable darkness. Thank you, Celi. I apologize for how choppily and seemingly haphazard this is, but I tried to cram a lot of information into a comment space probably not best suited to doing so. Thank you, though, for your encouraging comments, and just for being there, for so many of us. We need all the allies we can get!

    • John,

      YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YOU ARE NOT A FREAK. And guess what? Sadly, there are way too many stories JUST LIKE YOURS! So, don’t you go and start thinking you are special or anything 😉

      We are slowly all discovering each other because we all knew we needed to keep quiet about our struggles with being gifted. Who in this world would ever believe that being smart, or a genius, could bring so much pain? But, it does. I’ve seen it firsthand in my own family–the bullying out of envy–in the workplace, in the schoolyard and with society in general.

      So, I guess you know this already John, but just had to say it again.

      What I do want to stress is, to me and so many others who comment here, you are one of our brightest lights. Who best to understand what our children are going through than one who has been there? Who best to know and advise a parent about what can happen to a gifted child when they are struggling in school? You went through tremendous pain and struggle because of your intelligence, but the gift in your life experiences is to have the unique ability to help others. You have the insight many of us can’t and don’t have. You are a beacon of hope for many of us! Don’t think I am the only one helping others here.

      I’m just a facilitator, bringing all of us together so we can share and help each other and you are an integral part of this group, this sharing. You are helping others. And I am so appreciative for all of your comments and insight and advice. You are a hero!

      Thank you, John, for all you have contributed here. I am honored you choose to leave your voice and experience with us.

      P. S. I just want to add, as I think about it, for all of the gifted adults here that there are two wonderful websites for gifted adults that I particularly like: Your Rainforest Mind and Participant Observer. Two very different websites, but both by very knowledgeable, caring and empathetic women who I admire!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you, John!

      • OH MY G0D, Celi, you’re not supposed to bring a 51-year-old grown man to tears so easily. Thank you so very much for being, though we’ve never met, such a bright light in my life. No, I KNOW, that I am not alone. I never thought I was; I’m a pretty keen observer of other people, and have seen how much pain friends of mine have had, including my wife and my “ex” (though I have several exes, Elizabeth is one of my best friends. We’re better friends than we were as a couple: too weird for either to manage to make it work out).
        And thank you for all the very positive and huge compliments you’ve paid me. I almost always seem to get a big boost from your comments — you’re addictive, madam!
        But I am afraid that one one point at least, for the present, we will have to agree to disagree. I do feel like a freak. My enemies have caused me to be so self-conscious about my intelligence, and the sometimes-yawning gulf between me and others, that I just can’t seem to shake the sense that I am an anomaly, a one-of-a-kind freak. I look up at a star-filled sky and my breath is taken away at the magnificence of the universe. Others look up at the same sky and see pretty lights, and that’s all they see. I see connections that too many other people miss. My mind races ahead of 99% of everyone (except my wife, son, parents, and close friends, many of whom are extremely gifted or geniuses in their own right, and some of whom are far smarter than me). I am a cognitive juggler; a former friend of mine, who was discussing my intelligence and what it’s like to be so intelligent, asked me “What are you thinking right now”. Her jaw dropped when I told her the list of all the stuff going on in my mind at that moment — about twelve different topics, ranging from the need to pee to an existential question about the nature of the universe and humanity’s place in it. She asked, why I wasn’t giving her 100% of my attention, and I responded, “what, isn’t 98% enough?” “Do you mean to say that our discussion right now is taking up 98% of your brain, and the other 11 items are in the other 2%?” I responded, “Yes, my brain is like a multi-threaded, multi-core computer processor; ideas swap in and out of my awareness as I wish to recall them”. She said that she had to give 100% of her attention and 100% of her brain-power to keep up with me. Who’s the freak, Celi? Not her. That’s how many, if not most people operate. And although having such a powerful tool between my ears has served me very well, it’s come at such a gigantic social and emotional cost, I can’t begin to explain to anyone who doesn’t already understand what it’s like to go through that.
        I have sought one-on-one counselling to deal with the bullies, and came to realize that the problem is not me, or my intelligence. It’s THEIR problem. If anyone’s defective, it sure ain’t me!
        But though I have ranted on and on about what sort of people dismiss or actively despise the gifted or geniuses, while I understand it on an intellectual level, I just don’t “get” why anyone would actively seek to harm another person just because they have a so-called, alleged ‘gift’ (curse with upsides, as i prefer). It makes no sense; it doesn’t “compute”. It’s the same mentality that sees a great work of art and just has to spray-paint graffiti all over it. WHY? It’s so illogical to be so disruptive. But sadly, after five decades on this planet, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that a (large) percentage of the population is intentionally irrational and illogical. So, I can’t go with the madding crowd. I am apart from it, apart from most people; I don’t think and reason as they do. I am qualitatively different. An outlier, a freak.
        When I worked in a gas station for four years (four years of HELL), the only relief I had was that I befriended a South Asian kid (yes, a kid, 16 years old at the time), who was just plain fricking BRILLIANT. When we had no customers, and no duties, we’d talk, and our discussions pushed me, mentally, to go as fast and to think as hard as I could and I loved it, and so did he, because I did the same for him. We are still close friends, though I am literally old enough to be his grandfather (he’s 21, I am 51 now). His father and I have become friends too; his dad is only six years older than me; Vik is his youngest child. The other staff couldn’t for the life of them understand what the attraction was between two people to form such a strong friendship (I count him among my best friends), despite the fact that we are separated in age by three decades. What could a teenager possibly value in a middle-aged man? Our admiration for each other, besides just being really similar in temperament and personality, was each other’s minds. We made each other think, and did not judge one another. Just coming out of high-school and being (sadly and of course) the target of much bullying, Vik was desperate for validation as a smart person, and I gave it to him. He in turn alleviated my intense boredom from my crappy job. Two anomalies, happy as peas in a pod.
        My wife fell in love with me in part because she had such a hard time finding an intellectual equal. She found one other man, a teacher, in Texas, but he had too many issues to be able to marry her or anyone. I think she really was sad to lose him, but happy to have found me. I challenge her intellectually, make her think, “push” her not to accept things but to ask questions. I validate her as a smart person, and she, I.
        Few people understand why I get so excited when science or history or technology shows come on TV; few people understand why I’d read a computer reference manual as PLEASURE reading. Few kids understood why I read about half the World Book Encyclopedia (for fun and as a challenge to myself to see if I could do it; something in my schooling, I can’t remember what, but I think it was because I was hospitalized for psycho-neurological testing that forced me to stop reading the encyclopedia).
        Few people understand how I am able to memorize vast amounts of information and recall it years or decades later (when stuck on my multiplication tables, because I have an eidetic memory, I often refer back to my memorized image of the back cover of my Hilroy scribbler from grade 5 that had the entire times table up to 12 x 12; that’s from forty years ago, Celi. FORTY YEARS AGO!)
        In short, regular people don’t “get” me. If they do like me, and they usually do, it’s because I am a friendly and outgoing person. I don’t show off; it alienates people pretty quickly.
        I “get”, now, that the bullies never have proven that my freakishness is a bad thing. But it’s so damned difficult to avoid the conclusion that though there is nothing essentially wrong or bad with being a freak, I am still a freak. So again, Celi, with all due respect, we have to agree to disagree. Sorry about that.

        • Oh, no, no, no. Not an anomaly, not a freak–How about rare, like a diamond? Like the toy in a box of cereal? Like a 5-leaf clover? Can we agree on that? 🙂

          • Celi, you are being too kind to describe me so. I really can’t yet agree to that; my PTSD and depression from the “Cheryl Incident” is too fresh, even now, 18 months later. I don’t think that I am bad or wrong by being gifted. Nor have I somehow (bizarrely) kept “genius” all to myself, as Cheryl/Bill accused me, thereby depriving them (him) of being geniuses. And I don’t think, though “Freak” is a pretty loaded term, that it’s not accurate. It is, sorry.
            One of the goals, for whatever reason, of the hateful and/or envious types is to try to bring down gifted people off their high pedestal and down-to-earth; and what they REALLY mean is they’re pigs and they want you to get down and roll around in the mud with them, at their anti-intellectual, less-than-highly-competent level. I am still having a hard time with the whole notion that as a “gifted” person (cursed, but with upsides), I put myself on a pedestal in the first place. I never did that. I’m me. If anyone tried to put me on a pedestal, it was the people who subsequently tried to knock me off it!
            I am really struggling with the idea that I am ‘normal’, because I am not, Celi, and never was. No gifted person, no-one with a genius IQ possibly could be — by definition. If I am someone with an IQ 4.33 standard deviations above the norm (stratospheric, as one of my favourite special ed professors called my IQ), there is no way I can possibly be “just like” everyone else. The real question isn’t whether gifted people are unusual or anomalous or even, to use the loaded term, “freakish”. No, logically since anyone with an outlier IQ MUST be unusual, the question is whether that is a bad thing (no it’s not), and consequently, whether people who are gifted persons, who are genius, deserve being targeted by others for mistreatment (they don’t). But there is no way to square this particular circle. The fact is, most people AREN’T gifted. Sure, everyone is a unique constellation of skills, talents, abilities, weaknesses, temperament, personality and preferences and strengths. Just because someone is ordinary doesn’t not make them unique as humans. But the reality is that gifted people are NOT ordinary. They ARE different.
            My issue isn’t that I feel bad about it, I don’t. My issue is how hugely self-conscious (painfully so) I am of my intelligence, firstly, and secondly, why my intelligence is or could ever be or become a legitimate reason to attack me. Is, somehow, being in possession of a high IQ make one worthy of being attacked and humiliated, and then, when seeking solace and support from others, dismissed airily with a “Well, you’re so smart, how’d you let yourself get bullied in the first place?” Implying that it’s MY fault that the bullies attacked me. Does that make sense? Not to me it doesn’t. And I am sure it doesn’t to you either.
            When I was a kid, the “best” attack by a bully was a full-frontal verbal and/or physical assault. As I grew up, such methods did not get the same response from me from the bullies. They had to switch tactics, and become a lot more sophisticated. Most of those come now, as an adult, in one of two forms (I have a point and am getting to it, bear with me). The first form is what I call “control-freak-ism”. These types tried to force their way into taking control of my life and “improving” it, implying that there is something defective in me that needs “fixing”. Well, it took me a long while, but I can now spot them a mile off, and stop or even prevent their attacks, often before the “takeover” can begin.
            Only bosses and supervisors have been able to forcibly overcome my resistance and demand that I become “just like them” — and wouldn’t you know it, I would quit the job, rather than being super-micro-managed, or else if I resisted, found myself fired, for “insubordination”, which actually meant a refusal, figuratively speaking, to allow myself to be mentally raped by these people.

            Now I want to avoid the problem of “control-freak-ism” by being an entrepreneur, an independent consultant and my own boss.

            Just bear with me; the second type of attack is a proxy attack: using others, who often don’t realize they are being so used, as the attack-method. The reason that they do it that way is that they become aware, pretty quickly, that in a face-to-face verbal confrontation about their behaviour, I would mop the floor with them. That has happened twice now in my life. Once with my ex-friend Cheryl, and sadly, the younger sister-in-law is using my wife to attack me; my wife no longer speaks with her, but she still manages to use other family members to get at me or my son. Why go after me and my son? The real target is my wife, hurting me or my son hurts my wife, so this is a double-proxy method of attack. And if she has to go through her nieces or nephews or the third sister, that’s a triple-proxy attack, all to pile misery on my wife because she’s a professional success, whereas the younger sister in law would not have gotten anywhere in life were it not for her husband (both women are twice-exceptional; my younger sister-in-law is also a psychopath).
            Having come out of four years of incredibly intense proxy-attacks that hospitalized me, i am still super-sensitive and super-aware of my mental activities, and hyper-aware of how others may react to that. My colleagues and friends don’t need to hear me confess my IQ scores (Which I don’t typically share with 99% of those who asked, because what will a number tell you about me as a human being? Really, not very much at all). They know just by talking to me that I am smart. They “get” that. What’s leaving me so miserable is that that four year experience made me stop being comfortable in my own skin, re-awakened all the trauma from the bullying I experienced in school — stuff I never worked on psychotherapeutically, because I mistakenly thought that I could leave it in my past. I had no idea it had the power to leap up and bite me in the backside so painfully. If I feel freakish now, it’s because that’s what I was called by students and even some teachers, and I can’t figure out what gives, why it’s so okay in our societies (US and Canada) to pick on and mistreat and bully bright people.
            THERE ARE ACTUAL CULTURES AND WHOLE COUNTRIES where the highly intelligent are VALUED AND RESPECTED AND ADMIRED. Jews, Chinese and most East Asian cultures and countries; Israel, and some European countries where their brainiest are actually revered far more than their most revered soccer (football, in Europe) star. We are not there, and I am so aware of that. It’s not bad to be an anomaly, a freak. It’s just that I am going through a lot of difficulty, emotionally, trying to get past all the hurt and anger and pain and resentment thrown at me, for no other reason than having made the mistake of being born intelligent — which is absurd, on its face.
            I hope that gives you a sense of why I am not prepared to accept your comment that we should agree that I am “rare, like a diamond. Like the toy in a box of cereal. Like a 5-leaf clover.” Rare, yes. Like a diamond? A prize toy? A five-leaf clover? Some days more like a monster with a third arm growing out of the side of my head. When I saw the movie “Elephant Man”, I burst into tears when he said, “I am not a monster, I am a MAN!”
            I so need reassurance that I am not so freakish and so bizarre that I should be a Barnum-and-Bailey Freak-show member (“Come see the man who can add up grocery prices in his head and be within a dollar of the correct price!”). I acknowledge I am different. What distresses me is I don’t know how to handle that fact, at least not emotionally, not any more.

          • I’m sorry, John. I’m sorry that we live in a society that is so full of envy and anti-intellectualism. I’m sorry that gifted children and gifted adults have to suffer because others are envious, intolerant and unaccepting.

            I hope in time, all will heal and you will feel being gifted is a gift, a rare gift!

          • Thank you Celi; sorry for rambling on so much; I am finding that expressing so much of this on a blog’s comments section, and getting positive feedback, from you and lately from others really does help me heal and feel better about myself, feel less life a monster with a third arm growing out of the side of my head, and more comfortable in my own skin. I am going to look for ways to help, to grow, via counselling and therapy, so I can once again feel comfortable in my own skin and with who I am as a person. Thank you again, I am SO glad to have discovered your blog!

    • John

      It’s been 18 years since I graduated high school. I have also held very “menial” jobs. (My most recent was bagging groceries.) I have struggled with employers on many occasions for “overstepping my bounds”.) I have difficulty limiting myself to my job description when I see something that needs to be done, and while I haven’t necessarily been trained, it’s pretty obvious (to me) how it needs to be done.

      I also struggle with the fact that no matter what my job title, even if I hate what I’m doing, I simply care too much and cannot comprehend people who don’t give a hoot. As a 34 year old, I sat in my bosses office, unable to control the tears as I expressed the utter lack of caring my fellow coworkers had toward making sandwiches (yes, sandwiches). Her response, not everyone is as smart as you, and you can’t expect everyone to devote as much to their job as you do. You also need to work on your people skills because your coworkers feel you think you’re better than them. This was a general manager of a large chain grocery store.

      I have a long list of times I’ve gotten in trouble for trying to get done what needed to be done, when it ” wasn’t my job, ” but I won’t list them here. Fortunately, at this time, no longer have to answer to any boss other than my son. My husband and I made the difficult decision to choose my son over “stuff.” We now live in an older mobile home rather than a 4 bedroom new home in a gated community. While we bought our car new, it was an economy car with no bells or whistles, and we traded in my semi luxury car and his pick up truck to get it. This allows me to stay home with my son full time, to be there for him as he faces the challenges ahead. I knew before he was born that I wanted to homeschool him, I don’t ever want another child to suffer what I (and you, and so many others) endured growing up.

      I began gaining weight at the age of 12, a combination of factors including bullying, home life, and a genetic predisposition. It is only recently (like the last 3 months) that I have made any headway in that area, and it’s only because I finally went to a doctor who specialized in obesity. My only options were surgery and medication. As the less extreme option, we began a medication regimen, which is finally working. I don’t ever want my son to be embarrassed to be seen in public with me.

      (Recently, we went to a carnival, and my son wanted to ride a carousel. I had to get off because the ride would not go with me on it, I was too heavy. I do not want him to go through that when he fully comprehends what happened.)

      Even though I have not endured the same level of torment as an adult as I did as a child, I still have extreme anxiety over many social situations. We were invited to a friend’s daughter’s 16th birthday. It was a pool party, and my son is addicted to the water. My husband wanted me to be the one to get in the pool with our son while he took pictures for them (He is a semi professional photographer.) I nearly had a breakdown, imagining being in a swimsuit with a bunch of 16 year old girls. Crying (are we seeing a pattern, hello intense extra sensitive gifted emotions), all I could picture was those same high school girls who tormented me so long ago. In reality, to a 16 year old, I’m just an old lady, and they wouldn’t have cared, but that didn’t prevent me from melting down in front of my husband and basically begging him not to force me. (We compromised, he got in the pool, I took pictures during pool time, then he took pictures during the important parts while I played with my son out of the pool. He is a very understanding and patient man.)

      I had no intention of sharing so much of myself so publicly. But after reading your comment, I felt the need to let you know that you are definitely NOT alone, or a once in a lifetime freak of nature. We may all be a little off the “norm” but at least we can all be freaks together :p

      Seriously though, I have been doing nonstop research for my son’s homeschooling. He turned 2 a couple months ago, but he is sooo ready for school (which we’ve been officially doing since 17 months.) I started him on nursery school, but 12 weeks in to the 40 program he was bored out of his mind. At 19 months I started him on P2. He is now bored again. I’ve cut out most of the “fluff” because he doesn’t need to count to 6 over and over. He is already ready to move on to next year, but I want to get through the alphabet. We are on P. This is the same child that can tell you the difference between a stethoscope and an otoscope. I needed a new curriculum because p3 was basically an exact duplicate of p2, and I knew that would never work for him.

      I sought out help from some traditional homeschooling forums, asking for curriculum recommendations. Instead of getting anything helpful, I was lectured for “stealing his childhood.” Apparently, spending 30 minutes a day learning doesn’t allow him the time to just be a kid. He LOVES doing school, and gets mad at me if I go too many days in between lessons. We also take him on lots of field trips. When we learned about firemen, we visited our local fire station. Initially, the fireman who was giving us the tour just thought he was another kid who liked firetrucks. Then my son started asking questions and naming equipment. Taken aback, he gave my son a proper tour, opening every compartment on the truck and actually explaining what each thing was for, yes, in somewhat simplistic terms, but still accurate. I have a hundred similar stories. This week we are touring the police station (for p). He also goes to dance class (yes, I know he’s a boy, but he absolutely loves to dance), mommy and me so he can be around other kids his age, swim lessons over the summer, and gets plenty of time at the park. Yet somehow, I am stealing his childhood.

      I was becoming disheartened. I know my son is ready for school, but unlike most other homeschool parents of “normal” or even learning disabled, it felt as though there was no support for me on my individual journey, with my son. I’m not even sure how I stumbled on the the Gifted Homeschoolers Facebook page, but I finally saw a glimmer of hope. I thought that maybe I had finally found others who understood the challenges of educating my son.

      What I was totally unprepared for was this post, or rather the comments on this post. I had hoped to find support for my son, what I never expected was to connect so quickly with other people who had experienced the same things I WENT THROUGH growing up. My 2E husband had hung out with the popular kids. Maybe it was just me. Maybe I caused my own problems and through some fault of my own encouraged the other kids to pick on me.

      You have no idea how much your response comment meant to me. I WAS NOT THE ONLY ONE to have been tormented to that extent. Now, others have shared they too have had difficulties. It is such a comfort to know that I am not alone. It is also a comfort to be able to say that my 2 year old is smart and not get the “everyone thinks their kid is special” obligatory eye roll.

      This is the first time IN MY LIFE that I have connected with other individuals who are on the same level, in the same boat. Over the years I have learned to dumb down my speech, to avoid certain topics, to fit in.

      Someone earlier mentioned that we have to live with the fact that we are not living up to the potential of the brains we were given. Yet I have come to the belief that my purpose, my destiny (for lack of a better term) is to be here for my son, to give him the opportunity to fulfill HIS potential. I had no opportunities to advance my education, but I vow to give him the freedom to grow, to learn, to achieve at his pace, not at some generic timeline set forth by some bureaucrat in an office far removed from any actual children.

      I too have been rambling on (another pattern, apparently). I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. It means the world to me to finally know that.

      • Jennifer, you are not alone. Nor are you a freak in any negative sense of the word. “Freak” is such a loaded, unpleasant term. I am glad that you feel relieved to have met others in the same boat as you, and that you have a husband who understands, who “gets” what you are going through, what you went through, and what your son is experiencing (hopefully, not too much of the negative aspects like you and I did). Keep it up. You have so much to teach your son, but most of all, teach him not to be ashamed, or to allow himself to be shamed for being unusually smart. The hateful people (I hate the street slang term “haters”) in the world are the ones with problems, not us, not you, me, my wife and son, not your son or husband, none of us. If anything, the hateful types try and make their problems our problems, instead of looking in the mirror and realizing that their real problem isn’t gifted people, it’s staring them in the face! I hope this site, my and others’ posts encourage you and keep you going on your current trajectory. You sound like a very caring mom and wife, and person. Good on you! Keep it up.

  12. Yes the ups and downs of three gifted kids (no hesitation there) in a single parent family (completely absent father) + grandma! But so fortunate that our local Montessori preschool andparish school are pretty responsive to the needs of our kids and welcome our input and our concerns. Our kids thrive with a healthy dose of afterschooling ( what other families do as unschooling) to meet their thirst for knowledge. Our school also offers pastoral care that extends to the whole family, supporting us in our difficulties as well. How fortunate and thankful we are.

    • That is excellent, Nanette, that you have the support and education you and your children need. It lets the rest of us know that it is possible for schools to address the needs of gifted children. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Thank you SO very much for this. We knew “something” was different about our son starting around 18 months…when he could identify by picture and name 23 US Presidents…and he was so alert, like his brain was moving faster than his body could allow. Fast forward 4 years and now that’s the same, just bigger, with more emotional intensity. He’s too ahead to be in kindergarten, but is still perfectly happy in a preschool where “it’s easy” (his words). I’ve homeschooled him through kinder this year, which confuses people when he’s still at a preschool 2 days a week (mainly for a break for me and some interacting with others!) The asynchrony is what is largely misunderstood. What disappoints me the most is when he’s acting “different” (truly, it’s obvious when he’s with other peers) or when people don’t understand why he talks about things other 5 year olds don’t care about, or when he’s bouncing off the walls and jabbering nonstop, that people look at me with the “I’m sorry” face and say, “Well at least he’s smart!” Because deep down they’re glad it’s not THEIR kid…but at least he’s smart! (Eye roll). It feels their offering of a consolation. And that hurts.
    Thank you for speaking out. I have shared this already in the hopes that my extended family will recognize this in my son. I, too, am waiting to locate the mothership where my son can thrive but knowing I’m not alone is already a HUGE relief! Keep up the good work!

    • Andi,

      You are so welcome. I am happy to speak out because I know how difficult it can be.

      It never stops amazing me, even with hundreds and hundreds of comments from other parents of gifted children, how much alike all of our stories are. Each behavior, each struggle, each unknowing or resentful comment from other parents–all so alike. Yet, we all struggle along with so little support, understanding or help. At least we know we are not alone and that we can all advocate together to make a difference!

      Thank you for sharing your story, my story, our story! 🙂

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me to not feel alone, as I usually do. I have two highly gifted children, and the older one was just diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD. He exhausts me with his constant misbehavior at school and his base immaturity in interactions with other kids, yet he is one of the deepest thinkers I’ve met in my life, with a sensitivity that would break your heart. I feel clueless much of the time, even though I’m gifted myself, because I no longer have my mom to help me figure all of this out (she’s been deceased for over 20 years) and my dad has dementia. As a kid, I was not given any special privileges just because I was gifted, and felt odd, awkward and struggled to fit in. So I often don’t know what to do to help my son, and where I live, there are not many resources for the gifted. I definitely don’t talk about it with others if I can avoid it. So thank you, again, for writing this. The article and some of the comments were quite touching.

    • Mary, don’t be afraid to seek help. I don’t know what your community is, but hopefully, if you live in a larger urban/suburban metropolitan area, you can ask your family doctor, or just surf the ‘net (Google is your friend, most of the time, anyway) with search terms like “mycity gifted children services” and variations thereof. I just learned –through THIS BLOG — that MENSA has services for gifted children; contact them, maybe they can help. Also, see if you can find out from MENSA and home-schooling associations local to your area if there are peer-support or directed support groups for parents of gifted children, or for gifted adults. But don’t keep quiet, ask for help. It’s clear you NEED support. Go out and get it, because it sure ain’t coming to you! Good luck!

  15. I’m so glad I stumbled on this page. All these comments make me feel so much less alone.

    I have a 5 year old who tested gifted before entering kindergarten, but for multiple reasons, I was not able to send her to a gifted class/school. She is now in a nice neighborhood elementary school that does not have a K gifted program. I have been hearing complaint after complaint about her “behavioral issues” since almost the beginning. I have spoken to her teacher, the principal and the resident social worker. Her workload was sort of adjusted to go beyond the curriculum, but she still has to deal with 1 syllable word books; writing the same thing over and over; etc. While at home she is reading chapter books; learning multiplication and fractions and is a very bright happy kid – at school, she is an unfocused, overly energetic, and all over the place. The teacher has been hinting that my daughter may have AD(H)D or some other issue because my daughter refuses to sit still. I now found out that a gifted program exists in 1st grade, BUT it was decided to not recommend my child for it because the pace and focus required for it will probably be too difficult – all without actually consulting me. I’m not sure where to go from here. Are schools supposed to make these decisions on their own? I can argue and am planning to speak with the principal – but I’m not sure what else I can do, or even if that will end up hurting my daughter somehow… Home schooling is not an option right now, so unfortunately I have to deal with the system somehow.

    • Irene, so many of us have been through the VERY SAME THING! Would you like for me to post your questions to the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page. You will get lots of great advice from parents who have been there. Let me know if that is okay with you and I will pose your questions to the group.

  16. Karen,

    I am one of THOSE parents with a kid who is profoundly gifted and also falls on the spectrum. It has been almost impossible to get her the services she needs for her autism because she is gifted. And when we find services, they are not appropriate given her cognitive abilities. There are no social groups for profoundly gifted kids with autism. Imagine how nice it would be if people understood that these two diagnoses are not mutually exclusive. Even worse, everyone seems absolutely fine about me talking about my child’s autism, but not at all about her giftedness. What does that say? That an autism diagnosis is much more acceptable in our society than a gifted diagnosis (and it is a neuropsychological diagnosis).

    Unfortunately, my public school principal told me that I have to homeschool because the school cannot meet my daughter’s needs because she is so gifted, and ahead 4-5 grades academically. As a result, I get no public school services for either the giftedness or the exceptionalities which include poor motor planning, poor gross motor skills, dyspraxia, slow scanning, emotional regulation, and social cognition challenges. So, I have to pay out of pocket for all of these services that other parents get in the public schools (for free), and I can no longer work because someone has to provide an education to my daughter. Your remark is not only insensitive, but offensive to people like me. Children like my daughter spend their entire lives searching for peers (and not finding them), and struggling in school in spite of exceptional cognitive abilities.

    My daughter is gifted. And, I could not hide that if I tried. It takes about 3 minutes with her for people to figure that out. Unfortunately, it takes only about 3 minutes for people to start calling her names like “quirky,” “weird,” and “odd.”

  17. You want us to walk in your shoes, but would you honestly trade your child’s giftedness for my child’s autism? Yes, I know children can be both. But I see a lot more parents coming out as not being “ashamed” of their gifted child than those with autistic children. This article was painful for me to read, like hearing a billionaire complain how painful high taxes are, and then telling me I don’t understand his pain.

    • I get that, but it is not a comparison about which is worse. Just like one cannot compare whether dyslexia is worse than ADHD, or whether a severe peanut allergy is worse than deafness.

      What all of us parents of gifted children are simply trying to say is, being gifted is NOT the “billionaire”–that’s the stereotypical myth. Giftedness has its upsides, but it has definitive downsides–inherent social and emotional traits our children are born with that often predisposes them to depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. Being misunderstood and shunned hurts them, too.

      In regard to your first question: do you know my child does not have autism? Do you know what other conditions, illnesses or disabilities any gifted child may have? Or do you just hear “gifted” and assume the child is perfect and has it made? Gifted children are children just like any other and they can have other handicaps, disabilities, hardships, trauma and illnesses–many not seen or obvious.

      Yes, we would love for you to walk in our shoes.

      • So true Celi, there’s also the problem that a lot of gifted kids get an incorrect ASD, ADHD or Aspergers diagnosis because they are showing the same characteristics.

        So, we can pretty much empathize with parent’s of children who fall into those diagnosis categories. Even though our kids don’t have these conditions they can certainly have very similar needs and behaviours. I found Karen’s statement sad to read because there is a distinct lack of understanding of the gifted side of life. Like you said “being gifted is NOT the “billionaire””. I’m not sure why someone would use that example. Karen’s comments were painful for me to read. 🙁

      • Can I just add that yes, I would love for you to walk in our shoes, but if it were possible, I would rather trade shoes for a whole week. You in my shoes with my “gifted” child, while I walk in yours, with your autistic one. I think we would both be humbled by the experience, both have a better understanding, and a better tolerance for each other and our children’s needs.

        I have family with autistic children, ranging from high functioning to never be able to live by himself. I have witnessed some truly difficult moments. However, a few weeks ago my husband had to have an astronomy lesson with my TWO YEAR OLD at 2AM because he was so concerned about the orbit of the moon that he was having nightmares.

        This post isn’t about my child having it so much rougher than any other. My husband works at a children’s hospital where they have a children’s oncology ward. He has sat with families for an entire day, just waiting for the EKG to read that brain death has officially occurred in their 4 year old. He has had to do chest compressions on a 6 year old child who was fully conscious and aware, whose nervous system “forgot” how to make his lungs work. If we are giving out awards for which family is worse off, I say these kids beat both of ours hands down.

        I personally hate the term “gifted” to describe a high academic achiever. I believe that every person on the planet has their own gift, including people who are autistic, have down syndome, or any of a myriad of mental difficulties. Yes, my son’s happens to be the ability to learn rapidly. My husband scores off the charts for math, but can’t pass basic general ed classes at community college because of a learning disability to go with it. His true gift is as a caregiver. A down syndrome child may have a gift for making people smile. Someone else creates a master piece with a few strokes of a paint brush. I’ve even met people who are truly gifted in some of the less glamorous things in life, such as a mechanic who can tell you what’s wrong by hearing the engine run, or a plumber who can tell where the leak is by tapping a pipe.

        In this article, she is not talking about parents of gifted children shouting from the rooftops about how smart their child is. She is merely stating that she refuses to be ashamed of her child being smart.

        Every child, no matter where they fall on the spectrum, deserves access to the resources they need in order to reach their full potential. Yet children who are labeled “gifted” aren’t bad enough off to warrant the same consideration? All that gifted parents are trying to do is give their kids the best possible future. Is that not the same goal you have for your autistic child?

        As parents of gifted children, we aren’t allowed to point out that our kids need ANYTHING because apparently they’ve already hit the “billionaire” jackpot. Yet movies portray the nerdy kid all the time getting abused by their peers, and the reason we accept it is because we all know that’s how nerds get treated. Apparently we nerds need to pay for our intellect by quietly taking the abuse? How is that fair? How many billionaire’s children have to fear going to school because they don’t know if today is the day they’ll get stuffed if a trash can or locker, or if today they’ll get by with just getting something disgusting dumped on them? Or don’t have the ability to make friends because no one their age understands them, and the other children who are on the same level intellectually look at them as a little kid and want nothing to do with them

        I am not trying to be confrontational. I just wonder why this caused pain for you. Many schools have special programs for children with difficulty learning, far more than the schools that have gifted programs. There is an entire movement of autism awareness. There are celebrities on tv doing commercials to help people understand autistic needs. Yet all we want to do is not be ashamed to admit that our child is smart, and that causes you pain? I’m afraid I can’t understand that.

        • While I don’t agree with her comment, I think I may understand it. Every parent on this board (and any other advocacy board for that matter) comes from a point of pain, fear, anxiety for their child. Through a different lens, the issues associated with ‘gifted’ children may seem minor comparatively speaking. It’s all perspective… point of view. The comment about the “billionaire jackpot” is a skewed perspective. I didn’t feel my 4th grader’s giftedness was a ‘gift’ or that it made us ‘rich’ when he came home from school, pulled his fingernails down his cheeks screaming “What’s WRONG with me????” as his body trembled from the anxiety of being called “F@#king Book Boy” every day at school. The suggestion from administrators was to medicate him. They wouldn’t accelerate, or even allow me to pay for programming he could utilize throughout the day from places such as Duke TIP or John Hopkins CTY. Nope. “Endurance builds men.” We now homeschool. I have to work, and my retirement is now gone paying for tutors. Not feeling the ‘Rockefeller’ in this situation. He’s now 12 and a member of MENSA. What do I need from MENSA? Not a discount card on a car rental, or an acronym to put on his future resume. I needed the resources they offer on teaching children to recognize and learn ’emotional intelligence.’ And they have it, and he needs it. Don’t tell me not to advocate for my ‘gifted’ child because yours has autism. Let us both learn and appreciate what it is to walk our walk, and appreciate that there is room at the table to provide for the needs of both.

    • Karen,

      In my district, the gifted parents and special needs parents are allies. We both see how education and society aimed at the average student and average person does not understand our children or their needs. We see schools that may try to meet the academic needs of these groups often pay little to no attention to the emotional and social needs. We see schools shutting parents out of helping make important educational decisions unless state law requires it. We see how years of benign neglect have caused damage to our kids while school administrators insist they know better than parents. This has been true with both my gifted and autistic relatives.

      As a shorter person, it is hard for me to not look at a tall person with a bit of envy, but when I’ve talked with them we’ve shared that the world is not built for either of us and both of us face forms of discrimination. Your enemy is not us. We understand what it is like to not fit in, be slighted and teased, to not think like others. Your enemy are the ones who would insist that there is only one way to be and not help and understand those who function uniquely.

    • Hi,

      I agree with you and I love your comparison actually. And for me my son is a billionaire! His brain is a powerful tool and how he uses it will make him or break him. I try to make him understand this since day one and use it as much as possible. I have never been ashamed of my child being gifted and I always advocated his giftedness. I have never complained but rather searched for the solutions that might assist his way of behavior and thought pattern. Like many parents above I do have issues with my child but I learned how to deal with it. The only thing is that my time invested in him or to say my time researching the books and using my own brain for his good has been quite extensive. Since his “revelation” as gifted he published a book (only 8 at the time), went on to win numerous swimming and karate championships and excelled in advanced classes in Maths. And he still has plenty of time to play all the “usual suspect” games. Yes he has bad handwriting due to his unbelievably shocking pencil grip but if it suits him this way that is fine, yes he cannot stand noise, mushy food, inhumanity etc but many people have their own quirkiness and when questionable i try to understand it. Considering schools I must agree that there is not much option for children like these and its a constant battle with teachers and people in general who have traditional (read as narrow-minded) point of view. Even though there are many options for kids on the other end of the spectrum so should kids with giftedness have the same option. But anyway, education today is so overrated (if I can say so myself with two post graduate degrees) that I sometimes think is this all worth it and at the end of the day its the will and the passion of the individual to use his/her abilities to their full potential. We as parents are here to love, guide, understand and support our children and help them get ready for the challenges of the big world. As a final note did you know that Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of highly successful Internet-based businesses is the richest man in China and 18th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $29.7 billion? He also failed primary school and middle school several times, and was rejected by Harvard 10 times. So parents with gifted kids don’t despair there is still hope for us. Equally Mohammed Ali has an IQ of 74 so as I said before if there is will and passion there is plenty of happiness!

  18. Thank you. Just, thank you. It could not have been better stated. This so describes our journey with our children it is frightening.

  19. IDK where everyone else is from, but I’m from the US. We have had our PG daughter in 2 different private schools from Pre-K to 2nd grade and neither could meet her needs. We have spent the last 6 months in Spain where she attends a private British School. She is in a 2nd-3rd grade blended class where the teacher has been giving her 3rd grade work and approached me (!) about her being accelerated a grade next year. Is this a US problem?

    • Aimee, from the replies and comments I get, and from the people in the worldwide gifted community I interact with regularly, I think it is generally a problem globally, but I’m sure there are certain schools, school systems, regions, states, and countries who strive to educate all children well, including gifted children. I recently moved from Alabama to Iowa, and the difference in the education gifted children receive is markedly different between the two states!

      But, certainly if one school, one school district or one country can serve gifted children appropriately, then it can be done–because it should be done.

      Thank you for sharing your experience!

  20. To home school or not to home school?

    We have an 8 year old delightful boy who was assessed as gifted when he was almost 5. By age 10 months he was speaking and counting to 14. It was becoming normal to us but the reaction of a close friend confirmed that he was special. Once it was proven by assessment, we chose to keep his life fairly normal and just keep feeding that gorgeous mind of his. I’ll never forget his Reception/prep teacher who called us in 2nd week of school to say (and quite gruffly) ‘his sight reading dosn’t match what the gifted report says, he’s ranked the lowest in the class’ not sure why she had her nose so put out by it. ‘ I had a bit of a chuckle which put her nose out even more. ‘Why are you laughing?’ She so audaciously asked. ‘Oh… I wouldn’t worry about that, he’ll be acing it in a couple of weeks’ was my even more audacious response. Mother was right, within a month he had jumped enough reading levels to be the highest reading level in the class and by end of term, he had reached the reading level for that year. Keeping things normal has been great for him and suits his personality down pat. He’s not interested in being top of the class, he dosn’t try very hard, refuses to do homework because he already knows it (and he does just from sight) And he’s top of the class. Although I am trying to teach him the discipline of doing the work.
    Having said all that he makes the usual complaints about school, too boring, don’t want to go, why can’t I just do literacy for most of the day. I often feel school boxes him in, even though they recognise he’s gifted and needs to be extended. Sometimes he says he finds the work hard, but he usually completes the task on time and correctly. I’m in conflict with the idea of homeschooling him. I want to but am afraid is it the best environment for him. Personally I think he would love it and would thrive. We get on very well, and he’s easy to teach (apart from his SPD), we have the same curiosity and enthusiasm for life and learning. I’m just afraid of screwing it up for him, I’ve seen my sister in law home school her 3 children and it has resulted in outcomes which she hasn’t expected. Mainly because one is a very high needs Child with Aspergets and this has caused severe anxiety in the other. In any case I’m reading your book and will think more on it.

    • Yolanda,

      It is a tough and scary decision to decide whether or not to homeschool. If you are reading my book, you probably have enough information to make a decision, but if you have any other questions or concerns, just ask!

      Thanks for all of your comments and sharing your story with us! Good luck making the homeschooling-or-not decision!

    • Personally, I believe you are the most qualified person on the planet to teach your child. You know his needs. You know what makes him tick. You know and have the time to customize his education, unlike a teacher with 30 children. It sounds to me like your instinct is already telling you the right move. Yes, it is scary, in a homeschool you can let him progress as quickly as he wants in one subject, to keep it from being too boring, yet slow down in subjects that he needs a little extra time with. He’s already complaining about school as boring. As one of those kids myself, I can tell you it only gets worse. Plus, as he gets older, his grades will likely start to slip when he develops even more of a “why bother” stance, as rainfall schools revisit the same information over and over and over. If you are nervous, there are plenty of options out there to help you with curriculum.

      As far as being afraid of screwing it up, most parents have that same fear from the day they are born. Yet somehow we muddle through. Like with anything else, we get better at it the longer we do it. That first semester at home may be a little rocky, but you’ll figure out what works for you. The most important thing is that he has a parent who CARES and is ready to commit to this task. It is a lot of work for the parent, but I think you’ll find that you both thrive.

      Good luck, no matter what path you choose!

  21. Thank you for this post. We are currently trying to communicate with a teacher who doesn’t see the need to teach the most able children in her class. As a teacher myself, I have had to spell out exactly what I would like the teacher to do to support my 7 year old daughter at the beginning of independent writing sessions to help build her confidence and understanding that her one page of descriptive complex sentences is as good as her friend’s three pages of run-on sentences. The teacher doesn’t see that my daughter needs support because she is already writing above the expected level.

    I am longing for a teacher who understands her rather than acting like she needs to “knock her down a peg of two.”

    • Kate,

      “I am longing for a teacher who understands her rather than acting like she needs to “knock her down a peg of two.”” <---I so get that. It is that attitude that your child is making all A's or doing better than average so she is just fine. We tell our children to do their best and then their teacher can have the attitude that their best is too much and doing well enough is what is desired. Shaking my head! Thanks for sharing your experience, Kate!

    • Oh my heart. 🙁 That’s where we were with our teacher last year. Ugh. She actually said to me: “he’s not that special.” Holy sh*t. I’m so sorry.

      • The principal at the school my son was attending said “He’s not really all that gifted, and probably on the autism spectrum.” Then started to suggest that they could toss him into special ed classes to learn how to behave like a normal kid. That was the exact moment that I made the final decision to homeschool. We’re both a lot happier now. I am just so incredibly grateful to have that option.

        • I’m sorry, RM, but that principal probably should not be a principal, should not be in education. “Learn how to be a normal kid”? That is just so wrong.

          So glad to hear you are homeschooling now!

  22. The title brought tears to my eyes, and I really loved the article. Thank you for sharing it!

  23. This made me cry. Not only are you describing my life right now with my oldest son… but you’re also describing my own school career. 9 out of 10 gifted kids from low-income homes do not “fulfill their potential.” I am a statistic. That is hard to deal with knowing on a daily basis that you haven’t lived up to the potential that your brain was wired for. It’s a loud, incessant voice in your ear. EVERY. DAMN. DAY. And why I fight so freaking hard for my kids now.

    Thank you. <3

    • Dinnae,

      Your kids are SO lucky to have a mom like you fighting for them! It is stories like yours that make me advocate so strongly for all gifted children. When those who do not understand giftedness and cling to that stereotype that gifted kids are the smart, advantaged students, I want to scream. What about the gifted children who have learning disabilities, are from low-income, impoverished families, go unidentified, or are just dumbing down to fit in. These kids are not advantaged and that ridiculous stereotype hurts them the most.

      Dinnae, don’t ever think you have not lived up to your potential! I am just now realizing my potential and fulfilling it, and I am in my 50’s. You still have plenty of time–go for it! There is no timeframe for making your mark on the world!

      Thank you for leaving your thoughts and sharing your experience!

      • Working on it Celi, thank you. 🙂

        When he was assessed as gifted in g1, and then accelerated, and the whole process of discovery we went through with him led me to my own discoveries. Things I thought everyone dealt with, but really they don’t. The lifelong emotional intensity, the likelihood that my giftedness and ability with logic has allowed me to hide one, possibly two or even three NNT diagnoses (a path I’m still on), for decades… and the struggle to not listen to that incessant voice…. It’s been a difficult 4 years, and I don’t expect it to get easier to be honest.

        I also don’t expect my battles for my sons to get easier. Ds2 and ds3 are also gifted, but not sure of the level… Ds2 seems “normal-ish” which is almost a relief… But ds3 is showing signs too… Sometimes it’s so exhausting. I recently said to our district gifted helping teacher that some days I just feel like “why bother?” Especially when it seems your admin is going against you. :-/

        I’m so glad I found your blog. Thank you. <3

    • I am so with you Dinnae. It wasn’t until I somehow stumbled into uni as a mature age student and started receiving academic awards year in year that I realised I was always bright but that was severely neglected. It’s a painful reality because when you love learning as a child you just want to be feed, and it does feel like starvation. So, with a gifted child now, I embrace it all and at the same time put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right for him. He is at a good school, but I’m afraid he’s not being fully fed.

      • It was heart wrenching to learn of the programs that would have been available to me in school has I grown up in a bigger city…. It still hurts.

        Like my mum says – she had no idea that she was depriving me, she thought she was allowing me to have a “normal childhood” by saying no to the IB program (and yes, it was on the table, and yes I wanted, but she said no). Though how could you EVER have a “normal childhood” when you hate where you are, are bored, are needing more….? Doesn’t make it hurt any less, because the OCD-ish in my head won’t stop, won’t let it go…. But that lovely logic that has helped me so much still does….Because, YOU AND I KNOW NOW. When we know better, we do better. <3 Makes our experience somehow worth it…. If we do better by them as a result.

        My only desire is that my mental health will be able to handle homeschooling him when he (or they) needs (need) it. (Not IF, BUT WHEN.) Because right now, there's no way I could cope.

  24. As the parent of a musically gifted 7 year old son I can tell you that I deal with a total lack of interest when I tell people that he is musically gifted (he also ‘gets’ maths and is ahead with his reading). It’s the same attitude though, you can see a veil of blankness come over a persons face at the mere mention of the ‘G’ word. We homeschool, so at least we don’t have to deal with a school system but I feel exactly the same. I want to shout it from the roof tops and share his wonderful gift, but I also find myself toning things down so as not to offend anyone. So make no mistake, musically gifted kids are treated just as poorly as academically gifted kids.

    • Jackie,

      Thank you for bringing this point up. Unless we all speak out and share our experiences, we don’t really know all that we need to about giftedness.

      Really, when we think of the hypocrisy, we think about how our society worships athleticism and beauty, but not intellectualism. Being musically gifted and artistically gifted, as you said, is as envied and shunned as being intellectually gifted. We may never be able to change this attitude, but we can stop being ashamed and trying to downplay our children’s inherent giftedness no matter which realm their talent lies.

      I am so glad you pointed this out because we all need to get the real picture of the attitudes towards gifted children! Thank you, Jackie!

    • I agree with Celie, we’ve been really fortunate to have found families who also have bright children I think not necessarily gifted who appreciate how bright our son is. We must be magnets for these kind of people???? Part of it again is about keeping the normality of it all. We’re just as engaged and excited about the learning as he is, maybe we’re a bit blind to those who don’t appreciate it. We have been snubbed off by families from our previous private school which left us scratching our heads wondering what that was about. No explanation, from a number of families. Weird is the word for it.

  25. Eventually!! What a spot on article. The last 2 years have been just that roller coaster ride you explained. Close friends suddenly avoid you, family don’t want to hear about it although you see traits in the little cousins as well. My sister battled with a lot through her life due to her giftedness, people just didn’t get her. Now I am raising a mini “my sister”. I decided from the word go to teach my little one why she is going for tests, that I can get to understand how she is wired to help her, Because what do you answer when asked “am I more clever than xx” or “but mom I am telling you I AM the brightest in my grade with math”. The kids just know!!!! They feel and experience this indifference. And to not tell them how and why they are different will also set them up for failure. They have the capacity to understand why they are different and my kiddo felt such relieve when I confirmed her feelings. They need to understand themselves in order to start to learn how to manage it in order to act more socially acceptable.

    • “They need to understand themselves in order to start to learn how to manage it in order to act more socially acceptable.” <---Yes, this exactly. And this is so true, too: "And to not tell them how and why they are different will also set them up for failure." Thank you for a spot on comment! And thanks for sharing your insights!

  26. Wow
    What a wonderful article! Exactly how I feel. People were so mean for so long I didn’t even know I was. But everybody else did. It was a bizarre way to grow up. People stealing from you while projecting all over you because you “owed” them. I call it backward elitism because they all thought they were better when they weren’t. Like I should feel bad because I was good at stuff. I am healing and excavating now thanks for this beautiful piece of writing 🙂 Gid bless you

    • Thank you. And I’m so sorry for what you have had to endure. I will still never understand how as a society we accept gifted athletes and gifted musicians, but we refuse to accept gifted intellects.

      Cheryl, thank you for sharing your experience as a gifted person and I sincerely hope you find the peace you need!

  27. This is so difficult for me. I am still “ashamed”. I’m ashamed to admit that but I’m just being honest. I’m not ashamed of him, of course, in ANY way. I am amazed by him. But I keep quiet. For now. I need to find my brave. <3

    • P.S. Where is your “like” button? Have I missed it? I’ve been here many times and read your post but haven’t been able to leave a comment (from my phone) or been called away by mommy stuff and would like you to know I’ve at least read it.

      • Gah! I don’t have a LIKE button. SHARE buttons I have, but not a LIKE button. Maybe I need to look into another plugin for that!

        Thanks for bringing that up and adding one more thing to my overflowing list of things to do–just kidding! I really need to look into that!

        Thank you, Sarah!

    • Sarah,

      No guilt or rush to find your brave. I just found mine after two years of writing and advocating. Now THAT I should be ashamed of. 🙂

      I’m sure none of us parents of gifted children are ever ashamed of our children. I think all of us don’t want to face the eye-rolling or resentment, and the fact that few people will have any understanding or empathy for us. But, as intuitive and clever as our children are, I’m sure many of them catch on to our reluctance to talk about their intelligence.

      You will find your brave one day!

  28. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I feel overwhelmed by the sensitivities of my boy and the subsequent insensitivities of those around him. It really breaks my heart. And I want to know how I can advocate for him when the mere mention of the word “gifted” makes most people’s eyes glaze over and leads them to conclude that I am excusing his behaviour. It’s hard.

  29. While using the word gifted in a conversation about my child,to a friend who had even younger children than mine,she as what the heck did I mean,my child was gifted.She had that look on her face,what makes your child great expression.Seems she was more on than the mark than I realized.Even though she had never heard of the word before,her 1st is reading Harry Potter and knows her times table to 12.So the holier than thou word gifted we used to describe our children can be blinders for what actually is in the same room with you and not gauging the depth correctly of what’s before you.Sorry for the double description in the same sentence,in the room and before you,that being the inteligence at hand.

    • I forgot to mention,but her child was also superior physically too,in running,endurance.Maybe not leaping tall buildings in one bound but I did see her jump off the top of playground equipment,more than twice her height.Another parent who is interested in daughter’s own physical prowerness to the point of being annoying,even ask her about her child’s superior abilities on the play ground.By 1st,I meant 1st grader.

      • Pam,

        Although not often associated with giftedness, above-average physical abilities can sometimes be attributed with giftedness and visual-spatial abilities. And I had understood the 1st grader part, too 🙂

        Thanks again!

    • Pam, you make a great point. Our perception or bias of something can certainly blind us. I know about this first hand not acknowledging my own sons’ giftedness because of the negative opinion I had of “gifted”. Thank you for sharing that insight with us!

  30. Preach it, Sister! And being a gifted adult is just as miserable as being a gifted kid in many ways (e.g., when I’m in public reading something technical, I hear, “What are you reading THAT?” or “Don’t you have any normal hobbies?” The father of another kid at aikido last week marveled, “You’re always studying!” He meant it as a compliment, and it was sweet, but it’s so hard not to say, look, I get one life. Why wouldn’t I spend it learning as much as I could as often as I could?

    But making friends, good friends, is tough after college and grad school, when most of the people you encounter are around the mean, their kids are also around the mean, and I’d rather talk about 18th century history than the ball game and my kid would rather talk about the plight of the asiatic cheetah than My Little Pony. I’m lucky that one of my close friends had high achieving gifted kids; they never bothered to test their second child after they realized the schools had no other resources for their kids. She’s been a good role model for me (and can warn me what lies ahead).

    The few times I’ve used “gifted” in conversation I’ve been shot down and patted on the head. “Everyone thinks their child is gifted, dear.”

    Maybe the next time someone asks me why I homeschool (autocorrect changed that to “hope school,” which fits), I’ll just say, “Because the neighborhood school has insufficient resources for gifted kids” and see what happens. 🙂

    • “Maybe the next time someone asks me why I homeschool (autocorrect changed that to “hope school,” which fits), I’ll just say, “Because the neighborhood school has insufficient resources for gifted kids” and see what happens.” <---You would have my eternal respect for trying this. Would you please let us know how that goes? 🙂 Your story shares the same issues and problems nearly all gifted children and adults struggle with in their lives. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to validate all of us who share the same issues and often times feel so alone and misunderstood. Thanks again, qh!

    • ‘The plight of the asiatic cheetah’ sounds absolutely fabulous. I’d love that discussion as much as my 8 year old.

  31. Thank you so much. I told my daughter’s boss once that the symptoms of bi-polar disorder and giftedness were remarkably similar. People just don’t get it. I get it because I am one of those people and my children are. My Mother reminded me of my gifted ability and my son reminds me that our family is weird according to others. It is hell for being teased for so many things. My daughter got in trouble in the 5th grade for using her intellect against the children who were bullying her. Teacher told me she was frustrated with her because when she got fed up with the other children she would look at them and say “So what I’m smarter than you”! My response we well she is telling the truth and although it is not nice to say it is not against the rules. However, threatening someone with physical harm is and that child was suspended. She had no response.
    We are double winners at my house Gifted and some learning disabilities. I have said just a couple of day of average would be nice for a change.

    • Yes, Anna, a couple of days of average would be nice for a change–love that! Society as a whole still struggles with being tolerant and accepting of differences. Then when that difference is perceived to be a positive, add resentment to intolerance and non-acceptance! It is a rough roller coaster ride, isn’t it?

      Anna, thanks for sharing your story. It helps us all to see that if we all speak up, maybe we will find out we are not so alone!

  32. Great post! Thank you so much. I don’t really have a comment, but more a question. Do you have any stories about double grade acceleration? My daughter tested with a very high IQ, skipped kindergarten, was in a gifted and talented program in elementary. She is now in a public junior high taking honors classes and accelerated math. She is coming to me asking me to home school her. She is feeling anxious in school and says she “zones out” a lot because she waiting. She feels she wants more.

    I had her tested to accelerate another grade. The results came back in the 99th percentile. I am struggling with whether she should do this or not. She would go into 9th grade at the age of 12. She is very driven and eager and I know she will do well. I just worry about it socially. Does anyone have any similar stories or advice about double grade acceleration?

    • Angie,

      I can post your question onto the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page and I’m sure you will get many answers. Would that be okay with you?

    • I was young for grade, small, emotionally immature, and skipped 1st. I entered HS at 13 and while it wasn’t a great time (I dropped out and started college at 16), it’s not socially difficult, (or any more than any other high school experience would be IMHO). Then again, I don’t know anyone who enjoyed HS either.

      • The Belin-Blank Center just finished their study on acceleration and the finding show that the social thing really isn’t a thing at all. Your experience shows that, too! Thanks, qH!

      • I am sorry, but I have to honestly disagree with you. There is a difference between “not enjoying” high school and being completely miserable, tormented, and tortured. We’ve all seen the movies with the nerdy kid who is the target of every joke and prank, unless someone needs their homework done. Most people assume the movies are exaggerating for comedic value. I lived that life. I had chocolate pudding poured down my pants and was forced to walk around school looking like I had pooped myself. I had ketchup squirted on my rear to make it look like I’d started my period (completely mortifying as a high school girl). I went home with spit balls in my hair. I had my schoolwork destroyed by being thrown in puddles. I was “asked out” just so they could stand around and mock that I would ever believe that someone would consider dating me. I had my glasses broken. If I didn’t keep an eye on my belongings every second I would find them strewn everywhere. I would have random objects thrown at me, pushed, kicked, tripped, and pinched. Teacher’s never did a thing. To this day, I have extreme difficulty talking to new people. I have had so many people tell me how shy I was when they meet me. I was one of the friendliest, outgoing young children you have ever met. School taught me that being friendly and outgoing was the quickest way to invite ridicule and torment. So I am sorry, but I did not have the “typical” awkward teenage high school experience.

        • I too had a miserable experience in elementary and high-school I know there were a few kids who escaped it, but I sure wasn’t one of them, possibly because I was twice-exceptional, so people had a hard time believing I had as hihg an IQ as I was supposed to have if my grades were only Cs. But my grades were Cs because (a) I was bored out of my freakin’ mind about 80% of the time, and (b) It was so difficult — painful, in fact — for me to hand-write, that at times my father took to typing out my essays (which got me into trouble with teachers who simply could not beleive that a student could literally dictate an almost complete essay without having to do a rough or good draft first, or take notes (I wrote the essays completely in my head).
          Being male, gifted, disable, and (as a result of my tormentors) overweight, I was punched, kicked, slapped, thrown into bushes, thrown down a set of stairs, spat upon, had someone grab my penis and testicles and literally tiwst and wrench them sideways, causing my scrotum to turn black and blue for a couple of weeks; my assignments were ripped from my hands, thrown in the mud, my textbooks torn in half on more than one occassion, and one of my bullies got his father to register a complaint against me, to force the city school board to retract my “gifted/genius” status (which really freaked me out completely, I was in grade six and wondered if the school board was going to seize my brain and change it somehow — but kids, eh? Bullying’s a NORMAL part of life, right? How SILLY of me to worry about it); Nothing happened, the school board said that since they didn’t designate me a “genius IQ”, they couldn’t take it away either.
          When I talk with my super-bright friends, few of them will open up in much detail about their high-school (nightmarish) or elementary school (doubly-nightmarish) experiences. In a few cases, i thought that some of these grown men, in their fifties, were about to burst into tears, so painful and so FRESH were the memories. I’m in Information Technology, which has a surprisingly high ratio of Aspberger’s Syndrome sufferers, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Their inability to understand social cues must have made their lives ten times as nightmarish as mine. I’m in a volunteer I.T. professionals’ group, and the idea of socializing — even with fellow geeks/nerds has some of our participants so nervous and anxious, they leave our technical meetings as soon as they are finished and don’t socialize. It takes a lot of work and encouragement to get them to stay just to go for coffee or to a restaurant near our university meeting spot (I’m a past-president).
          My own anecdotal and entirely unscientific “survey” tells me that something like 99% of everyone who ended up labelled “gifted” or “genius” (the old term for ‘extremely gifted’) went through hell. And my guess would be that those who missed it were either extremely sociable, and said nothing to anyone that would reveal their giftedness (they went underground), or are in denial.
          I haven’t a clue how this person escaped the tormentors and bullies — and worst of all bullies were some of the teachers, some of whom actively bullied and belittled their gifted students, or who sat back and did nothing to intervene against the bullies.
          I have a whole six-inch binder with information around bullying and giftedness, and it’s not pretty reading. How anyone escapes it is beyond me. But a few do, apparently.

          • Ironically enough, my own husband, who is 2E, is one of those few who escaped with a fairly normal high school experience (if there is such a thing). I believe that what “saved” him was the fact he wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his 30’s and struggling to pass college classes. He could spout the information frontwards and backwards, yet the minute you sat him down with pen and paper and called it a test he would fail miserably. Suspecting a learning disability, we sought help from the college. He was given a battery of tests. He scored MENSA levels in math and spatial reasoning, yet struggles severely with the written word.

            Because of his 2E, he appeared to his classmates as just another ordinary C student. He used his intellect to foster the class clown image. Though overweight from steroid injections for allergies, he was on the high school water polo team. He managed to be the guy who could slip seamlessly from clique to clique, never the most popular, but always welcome. I have no doubt, however, that it would have been a different story had his teachers been publically ridiculing him over his “supposed genius.”

            On the other hand, I had a couple of friends who were also every bright, yet fell a few points short of the “official” title. While they did not suffer as badly as myself, they were definitely at the bottom of the popularity ladder. At least at my school, the brightest and the slowest were acceptable targets for anyone looking to move up the popularity chain by making a fool out of someone less popular. (The special-ed kids were treated just as badly as I, sometimes worse because they tended to be more trusting, naïve, and gullible). Most teachers turned a blind eye. If you were bright, you obviously had the tools to deal with it yourself, and probably “needed to be taken down a notch or two.” If you were slow, you were to stupid to help anyway.

            I am truly happy for the people who escaped torment as a result of their giftedness. Yet, like you, in my own very unscientific survey, it is my experience that gifted kids, as well as those who were “merely” very bright were miserable through high school. Those of us who sought help from adults we spoon fed such adages as “you have to learn to stand up for yourself,” or “you should try talking to them and making friends,” or my personal favorite “quit trying to get attention by exaggerating, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as all that.” I begged my mother to let me change schools. As an adult we’ve talked about it, and she had no idea that I really was THAT miserable and now feels guilty for forcing me to stay in that environment.

            I will NOT force my son to go through that.

        • Hello Jennifer, I found your story really heartbreaking, no child should ever go through this. And as a parent I’ve had to stick up for my kids, and I’ve done it in a way which breached certain laws I’m sure!
          My schooling was not as brutal but still confronting everyday as my class mates made me feel like a looser. I was nerdy that’s for sure, incredibly insecure, no confidence and generally neglected home life. But, it made me ultimately a stronger person, and one who is so anti bullying. I will not think twice about exposing a company director, a teacher out of line, a rude shop assistant or a parent whose making excuses for his special needs child who kicked my child in the face. For me standing up for what’s right is worth loosing my job, (thankfully hasnt happened yet), is worth looking like the outspoken parent in the school drop off zone, and loosing friends. ( that has happened). Thankfully once I did find my voice, my oral gift has been put to good use.

  33. First, I think a lot of people use the term gifted when their child is just “wicked smart”
    Second, even though, my son has tested as gifted, I will not use that term. I do not want any labels applied to him — good, bad, or indifferent. Labels stick and they become baggage that one must carry. They also group people into subsets that I do not believe exists. I like to think that we are plotted on a 3D scatter plot, thus each point is unique.

    • Wayne,

      Yes, I understand where you are coming from, but sadly, schools love and need labels in order to serve special populations of students. Our twice-exceptional/2E gifted kids are riddled with labels, but it is the only way for a school to meet their needs. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until my youngest son left homeschooling and entered traditional school that his giftedness needed labeling. As long as we were homeschooling, there were no labels and no issues at all.

      I wish schools treated our kids as each being a unique point plotted on a 3D scatter plot. THAT would be the ideal!

      Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and insights!

    • Wayne, I agree with you, we have normalised our boys life (which comes from a personal value that kids should be kids) however fed his brain and most interests. Thankfully he is your good Ol knockabout kid, with an incredible mind. (Which is another value that the gift learning is one of life’s highest priveledges). And Cibe I also agree with you with what schools love to see in their students and obviously for their outcomes. We have a daughter with Down Syndrome and when we decided to pull her out of special needs class into mainstream, (at our gifted done school) the amount of ‘its all too hard’ which came from the teachers was astounding. The research I was equiped with which spoke to educators wasn’t enough. So I decided to use my gifted son as leverage. Hinting that if it’s all too hard we might need to go. It’s amazing how much bending backwards is done for him, as he is gifted. It’s perverse really. In Sustralua we have what we call the NAPLAN which is a national test of all year 1, 3 & 5 years students. A snapshot of academic achievement in literacy, maths and science. Some schools use these results as trophys to suggest they are better, ect. Ironically more and more schools are suggesting special needs kids stay home, and prepare kids for the test and expect all kids to be there. Some kids feel the pressure. Next NAPLAN, both children will be staying home.

      • My typos are terrible. That country I mentioned is Australia.

  34. Dear Celi, thank you for your posting! This has been my personal experience also as the mother of my beautiful, extra-sensitive, gifted and talented daughter. While educating myself about the emotional needs of the gifted for my daughter’s sake, my “dominoes” of ultra-painful experiences fell into place and I realized I was/am gifted also, which I’ve also been hesitant to admit to anyone. When my daughter entered college I went back to school for a masters and amcurrently finishing up a doctorate. My dissertation is titled, “Trauma and the Gifted Personality,” specifically addressing the extra-sensitivity and vastly different life experience of the gifted. My hope is to join voices like yours to increase understanding, especially about the intense inner emotional pain that’s often a constant silent companion of the gifted, via parent groups and psychotherapy for our under-served community! Thanks again, and keep up the good fight!

    • Cynthia,

      Bravo! Good for you! I would love to read your dissertation one day. And I look forward to having your voice as gifted advocate.

      Good luck with the rest of your PhD! And thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  35. I agree with everything you are saying. I am dealing with my 9 yr old who is gifted but has very but social skills. She goes to a school for gifted but the staff does not understand true gifted children. So I had to send me daughter for assessment to figure why she is the way she is. If her school was truly for gifted , wouldn’t they be able to handle the issues that come with these specific children.

    • Brandi,

      They should be able to handle the issues if they call themselves a school for the gifted, but many times these schools seem to cater to high-achieving students. Keep advocating, and ask them how they address social and emotional needs of gifted children, too!

      Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck!

  36. What a wonderful article! Since finding
    out my daughter was gifted when she was in kindergarten (now finishing 2nd grade) it has definitely been a roller coaster. Working as a therapist for children with developmental delays I find it especially difficult to confide in people about our struggles with perfectionism, control, emotional intensity, and boredom in school. So I find myself “hiding” inside my head. I’m so appreciative for people like you that have the courage to put out messages like this to reassure and rally parents of gifted children to stand up and come out from the shadows!

    • Jan,

      Thank you, but honestly, I should have shown this courage a long time ago. I used to “hide inside my head” too until I found the huge, loving, understanding gifted community online through websites like Gifted Homeschoolers Forum and many, many Facebook pages for the gifted.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jan!

  37. Celi,
    I love this post and the thread. I found myself alternating between crying and nodding my head in agreement. I am gifted but was raised in an era when there were few opportunities for enrichment or challenges in school. My teachers couldn’t offer any additional help, so they used me to teach the slower kids. At first I enjoyed it, but then I realized I was being taken advantage of by my “friends” just to get the right answers. I then dumbed myself down to avoid being used and seem more “normal.” I managed to have some challenging classes in high school which I loved.

    Fast forward: I married a smart and awesome man with whom we had three smart daughters. None fit the typical definition of gifted, although they all have definite gifts in some areas. All along, I kept my own giftedness to myself so it wouldn’t seem as though I was bragging. Our oldest daughter blessed us with our first grandchild. The father has not been involved at all and, unfortunately, our daughter has not been able to raise him so my husband and I have had him since birth. I knew he was special by three months. We used sign language for basics and he started signing at four months. His language skills were far ahead of typical development. We joke that he was talking in paragraphs by 18 months. He is now seven and in second grade. He tests at sixth to seventh grade abilities in all subjects. He is in a one day pull-out gifted class. He is bored to tears – sometimes literally. His regular teacher has recommended homeschooling because the difference is only going to widen and he may become angry instead of just bored. I have a teaching degree and a reading specialty, so I am quite capable. Unfortunately, my husband is against it. I need advice in how to convince him it truly is the best option. He uses the typical excuse about socialization. Our grandson would actually have more social activities than public school where they are expected to sit still and be quiet all day except for a 20 minute lunch and 15 minute recess. With homeschooling, I would be able to keep him in the public school gifted class, put him in one or two co-ops, continue morning church and evening Awana club (a Christian club). Any help or advice would be appreciated. I’m grateful I found your blog, Celi. I can tell I’ll be exploring your earlier posts.

    • Fawn, homeschooling is really the best option if your public school does not have full-time gifted programming. If he is already bored, he may just start disengaging and underachieving. Underachievement is extremely difficult to reverse. And the social scene in our schools today is not often the best example of good social skills. Seriously, if you husband needs all the real facts, get my book. I’m not saying that to sell a book, but that is exactly what my book is about. I tackle the socialization issue and how I wish I had homeschooled all along. I’m pretty sure you will find what you are looking for in my book, “Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling”

      Good luck, Fawn! And thank you for sharing your story with us!

      • I ordered your book and am anxiously awaiting its arrival! Thank you for offering a ray of hope.

    • Oh my goodness! My son is so much better socialized then most of the other children his age. He has been on more “field trips” in the short time we have been homeschooling than I had my entire school career. I keep him enrolled in extracurricular activities with other kids his age. He has church friends. He has friends at the park. He goes to birthday parties with other children. Plus, he gets exposed to real social situations. He goes with me to the bank. He talks to the teller and asks questions. He goes with me to the post office, and he learns about postage. The only social situation public elementary prepares you for is high school, which socially is a big popularity contest. Once you leave high school and enter the real world, none of the “lessons” you learn from your peers really apply. You need to know how to interview for a job, get a loan from a bank, negotiate for a car. Once you have a job, you need to know how to be polite to a customer, conflict resolution, respect. None of these are things that you learn from public school socialization. In fact, in most cases you learn the opposite. Then, fortunate children have their parents undo and reteach manners. For entirely too many children, they don’t learn how to function in the adult world until it hits them in the face and they are struggling to hold a job, not understanding why their boss fires them for addressing a customer with “Wut up dawg?”

      I’m sorry, I will get down from my soap box now. It’s just so frustrating when people think homeschool equals a child hermit. Most parents (and grandparents) who care enough to put in the time and effort into homeschooling care enough to make sure their child is socialized. Most public school children’s parents wave goodbye in the morning and have truly no idea what their child does or doesn’t do, yet assume that their child is better socialized.

      I don’t know if this helps you with your husband or not. From personal experience, being forced to socialize with “normal” children taught me nothing more than to hide my gifts to prevent being mocked, and the art of being a wallflower to stay under the radar of my peers. If most adults aren’t capable of being understanding of “gifted” individuals, how on earth can one expect a group of children to?

  38. Hi Celi;

    I don’t give a rat’s patootie what other people think if I say my son’s gifted. If they don’t like it, that’s THEIR problem, not mine. I’m proud of him, proud of how smart he is, how quickly he “gets” things (not always, but he’s only 12). Even if he WASN’T gifted, of course, I would still be a proud and loving parent, just because (a) he’s my kid and (b) he’s a very lovable child.

    I had a friend who said that the only reason I love my son is because he’s gifted, and the only reason my parents love me is because I am gifted too. I told her how absurd that was.

    When you first hold your new baby in your arms, you have NO IDEA how smart that kid is going to be. As soon as I held him, I fell in (parental) love with him. He was amazing, a cute little miracle from G0d. Who was I to start worrying about whether he was *smart* or not. My first concern, first prayer was to ask G0d to see him through to a long, happy, healthy life. Not at all was I thinking about if he was gifted. Even if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t have done to him what my friend’s father did to her: he (cruelly, in my opinion) withdrew from her because she was a female, and withdrew still further when it became obvious she was of low-average intelligence.

    As for my parents, well, they suspected I was a smart kid (after all, I was reading by age 4), but they could not possibly have known about my IQ; I wasn’t tested till I was ten years old. So for ten years they didn’t know that I had an IQ that tested out in the “extremely gifted” or “genius” range. What did they do? Withhold love from me till I was tested for my IQ, and only THEN did my parents love me? No, I remember my parents doting on me, being affectionate, caring, involved, and most of all, loving. Okay, so they weren’t perfect, and my mother did go through a brief and very negative episode (the details of which I won’t disclose); but on balance, there was a lot more love than negativity.

    Having now been a parent, I know that it really doesn’t matter if your kid is smart, unless you have some serious issues, as my former friend’s father did, you love your kid(s) no matter how smart or dumb they are. They are YOUR kids. The love normally comes automatically, in the vast majority of cases.

    If someone were to complain about me commenting that my kid is gifted, and saying that I am boasting, I’d give them an earful. My son is having terrible problems in school. He writes at a grade one or two level, and his reading is not much better. His math and science scores are excellent (since they involve reasoning, not language), but overall, his schooling has been, for him, frustrating, boring, and not much fun at all. And his grades reflect that fact.

    He is twice-exceptional, and if you add in the fact that he has had, until recently, no skills in fending off bullies, and thus his mother has transferred him to many many different schools, the fact is, he has lost a tremendous amount of ground, educationally speaking. There is nothing in there to brag about, believe me.

    My frustration both for me, and for my son, and frankly, for many of my friends in my profession, Information Technology, (too many of whom have been mistreated and misunderstood by the educational system and by employers too dense to see what a treasure they have in that employee or contractor), is the wholesale dismissiveness around giftedness.

    There are a lot of people out there who are either outrightly dismissive and in denial about the existence of genius/giftedness; or who believe, as you say, Celi, that gifted children are simply the results of over-anxious, over-involved “hot-house” parents; or who demand (as teachers or employers) a kind of rigid, inflexible super-conformity.

    I have, variously, either seen, second-hand, or experienced first-hand, employers, supervisors, and all-too-many teachers who engage in severe micro-management of the gifted; who demand exacting, and inflexible conduct; who actively attempt to shut down or frustrate creativity and innovation, and then complain, when the gifted person fails to produce acts of genius, that they can’t see how that person got that label, when “obviously”, the person who is claimed or who claims to be gifted can’t produce at a gifted level. In psychology, that’s what’s known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Worse yet is the employers who criticize and attack their gifted subordinates (as one boss of mine did to all his technical staff, all of whom were extremely bright), for being eccentric and weird. When I tried to explain that, in computer parlance, “that’s not a bug (being eccentric), that’s a feature”, I got laughed at. He demanded extreme conformity, refused to let us hash out technical problems with one another on the grounds that we should all be like “cowboys, not fishwives”, then couldn’t wrap his head around why our productivity declined so markedly.

    The people who look askance at both gifted people, and parents who have and discuss their gifted children are, in my experience, a type of anti-intellectual, are envious, and are, far more often than we may realize, just plain mediocre folks who haven’t accomplished much in their lives mainly because they didn’t bother to try, and then blame everyone ELSE for their sub-par performers.

    My advice? Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Don’t give in to their hatefulness and envy, don’t let THEM tell YOU how proud or not proud you are supposed to be. If someone were to complain about my expressing my concerns about my son, they’d get an earful about how much THEY need to get their own act together; only “emotionally insecure” people hate and envy the gifted. The problem is, that there are far too many of those sorts of people in the world. Just don’t give in. If you have a gifted child, it’s your blessing, and the critics have no right to insult the gifted or the parents of gifted kids.

    Don’t, in other words, be embarrassed. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, because if you let the critics leave you feeling embarrassed, they control you, or more accurately, you are LETTING them control you. Don’t. Just don’t do it. Be in control, be proud as a parent no matter what your child is, gifted or not.

    • Hi John,

      Nailed it as usual! And yes, I’m afraid the resentment towards gifted people is from envy, but then I have to giggle when I think of those same people who, when in need of a lawyer or surgeon, seek out the most “gifted” of them.

      Love hearing your thoughts, always! Thank you, John!

      • Yes, Celi; the attitude that the gifted-haters have towards the gifted is very hypocritical. I’m Jewish, as are my parents (obviously; why on Earth do people ask me, when I tell them I am Jewish, “oh, are your parents Jewish too?” What an asinine, silly question). When they were growing up in the 1930’s and 1940’s (they came of age at the start of WWII), anti-Semites in Toronto were more than happy to hate Jews. But if they needed a good doctor or lawyer or other professional, guess who they hired first? Yep, Jews.
        The gifted-haters and enviers can’t stand giftedness and genius — until the iPhone came out, then Steve Jobs was an adored *GENIUS*; everyone would love to be ultra-rich like Bill Gates (another genius). And, do you need an oncologist for your sick or dying relative? “Oh only the very best doctor (meaning someone with an extremely high IQ) for me!”
        In school, I can remember other gifted kids (not me, I was and am twice exceptional, so my grades were never great until I got to use computers in University) being forced by bullies to do the bully’s math or science homework, all the while promising, in some cases, to pay the nerdy kid, then taking the homework, and “paying” the nerd with a few punches or kicks, and a threat that “you’d better be sure I get a great mark in such-and-such class, or you’re gonna get it ten times as bad”. Yes, these same bullies hated and insulted and tormented nerdy, gifted kids, but at the same time, used their skills, knowledge and intelligence to get themselves through school, often at the expense of the gifted students. Such hypocrisy!
        More often than not, when you listen to the adult parents who are against giftedness programs, or who deny that giftedness exists at all, they are, more often than not, the same people who, as bullies, made the lives of the smart kids around them so miserable.
        They are also the ones who believe that giftedness programs are a waste of taxpayer dollars (but then, they also want to warehouse the “gimpy and retarded” kids, and not give them any educational opportunities either). These parents are also the ones who look down upon academic excellence programs, and push their kids to be just as much an arse-hole (pardon my language, but I can’t think of a better or nicer phrase; it’s so very apropos) as they were in school.
        This sort of bully-parent is the type likely to get into fist-fights with other parents at a kids’ hockey game, or to even, as has happened recently, to threaten the coaches, linesmen, and even some of the children! To them, excellence just means climbing all over the crushed bodies of the more-sensitive and less bullying children around their kids; and don’t doubt that such parents are very likely to be abusive as parents themselves, though they do so not out of cruelty, but because they were targets of abuse from their parents, and took out the bullying impulse on their classmates.
        but when it comes to needing a doctor for their kid, or a lawyer to help get their teenager out of some criminal jam (DUI, or a drug-bust for possession) they DEMAND the very smartest and best lawyer they can afford. Hypocrites, the lot of ’em!
        I don’t know that all gifted-haters were bullies when young, but when I get into discussions with other parents about schooling, and hear these parents’ complaints, I often hear that they “managed just fine, and I weren’t no freakin’ Albert Einstein!”. (Of course they did, they cheated, or stole or extorted answers from the gifted kids!).
        Some people who disbelieve giftedness as a real phenomenon are just plain mediocrities, folks who disbelieved Thomas Edison’s mantra that “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”; they looked for easy ways out, easy means of making money. they never challenged themselves, and were satisfied with “just okay” performance — until some gifted kid blew them out of the water, of course.
        Others are, as I have mentioned, radical egalitarians, committed to a political ideology that falsely claims that all of everyone is exactly the same, and any differences can only be attributed to race, class or gender “privilege” (of course, they never do explain how disadvantaged kids can also be gifted, and in equal numbers to upper-middle-class kids of “hot-house” parents). They don’t have a personal vendetta against the gifted, but if they get into educational policy making positions, they can do as much harm — if not more, since their negative behaviour is system-wide — than run-of-the-mill bullies.
        Still others are reactionary conservatives for whom genius is scary; geniuses are weird, eccentric, people ‘heterodox’ thinkers and so unlikely to conform to the rigid demands of the more socially conservative elements that they, the gifted, suffer tremendously. I see that in the form of my wife, who is twice-exceptional (one of the smartest women I have ever encountered, but with one of the most severe cases of learning disability I have ever seen). She grew up in an ultra-conservative Pentecostal Baptist environment, and though I really love them (very pro-Jewish, very pro-Israel), they are very (quietly) hostile to genius, to dissent, innovation, heterodox thinking, creativity, science, and new technology. They see the Devil in literally everything they believe is not sanctioned by the Bible, so a lot of people like my wife suffered, strait-jacketed in by the anti-intellectualistm and distrust of genius; they want their best and brightest to be super-intelligent, but don’t allow them the intellectual room to grow and explore. Part of the reason my wife is with me is because I come from an intellectual tradition, Judaism, that is open, questioning, and always unsatisfied with the status quo; Jews want to see both sides of an argument (hence why Jews make good lawyers); she only got one side, the Bible-side, for fear that if she were to be exposed to another viewpoint, she might end up flirting with Satan. Literally, no joke.
        It’s a difficult thing, Celi, to get people to understand that you can’t dump a 450-pound sumo wrestler on an Olympic track-athlete’s back, and still expect them to finish first in the 50 meter dash.

        • Yet, we must keep trying to remove that 450-pound sumo wrestler, or move mountains. Our gifted kids need us to!

          John, you know how much I appreciate your thoughts! Thank you!

        • I can’t tell you how much I love this post- and John W’s comments! Thank you to both of you.

          • Karen, I don’t know if you still follow this blog, but if you do (and I hope you do), thanks for your comment. I missed seeing it then, but I just saw it today (Jan 24 2016), two-and-a-half years later. Thanks very much.

  39. We first knew our boy was special when he, at the age of 18 months, could do 100-piece puzzles (upside down!).
    We had to move to a new school district when he was 3 because he showed signs of being depressed and the teachers at the school didn’t know what to do. They suggested that we make him play with some of the ‘normal’ kids so that he would ‘understand how it works’.
    It has been a battle out of this world to get kindergartens and schools to understand that he needs help and understanding, not to be asshamed of who he is. He is now in first grade and he has the same books as 7th graders.
    We have worked extremely hard on making our little one understand that there is nothing wrong with him! He struggles with some of the social aspects of school, he simply doesn’t understand why his classmates do what they do. He would rather spend his time with the much older children or adults, but they obviously see him as just a little boy.
    We often wish we had someone on our side in this. We have read everything that there is on the matter, but we can only do so much for him when he is at school. The school don’t want to ‘make the other children feel bad by saying that he is gifted’.

    • Elin,

      Your story of your little guy demonstrates why so many gifted have emotional issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. When a school is more worried about the other children’s feelings than your child, in my mind, it seems they are making the conscious decision to allow your child to suffer so the others don’t have to. How about the school teach the other kids tolerance, acceptance and understanding for others who are different? Heck, we are all different–in good ways and bad ways.

      Thank you for sharing your story, Elin!

  40. I”Pushing him so hard…”

    I myself am gifted in the traditional sense, while my husband is 2E. My son gets it from both sides. He is only 2, and while it isn’t official, I have no doubts he is following in my footsteps. I started keeping a list of how many words he could use appropriately. At 2, the average kid is supposed to have a vocabulary of about 50 words. I quit counting at 17 months when my list hit 200. I am homeschooling him because I do not want him to suffer the childhood I went through, everything from being bored to ridiculousness, to being the target of every bully and practical joke as the school nerd. We started a nursery school program at 17 months. 12 weeks into the 40 week program he was completely bored, so I moved him up to a P2 curriculum. We are only about halfway through the curriculum, but he is bored again and ready to move on. He turned two a little over a month ago, but he already knows his letters and their sounds, colors, shapes, and can count to about 30. He has started working on writing his numbers. When I have tried to give him time off, say for spring break, he gets unhappy. If I go more than a couple days without some sort of lesson, he climbs up at his work desk and starts telling me “let’s do school mommy.” He absolutely loves learning. Yet I get people all the time who think I’m “stealing his childhood.” It’s not like we spend 8 hours a day doing bookwork. We usually spend 15-20 minutes a day on our lessons, which often involves crafts. The rest of the time he gets plenty of time to play, explore, and do all the things “normal” kids do. Apparently it’s unreasonable of me to expect him to start learning anything academic until he hits kindergarten, regardless of whether he wants to do it.

    I try to give him plenty of opportunity to play with other kids and socialize, but he is already running into the problem of being intellectually advanced of his peers. He walks up and tries to start a conversation with a kid his own age, and most give him the deer in the headlights look. Other mom’s hear him talk and are amazed at his age. Yet, because of my negative experiences growing up, I find myself underselling his abilities and trying to point out their childs gifts, such as, “yes, he’s a great talker, but your son can sure kick a ball. It took forever for mine to learn to walk.” I’m always afraid that my son will not learn humility to go with his intelligence, and alienate all the other children, like I did when I was proclaimed gifted as a kid. To this day I am still terrified of social situations because of all the teasing and tormenting I suffered as a child.

    • Jennifer,

      Homeschooling is the probably the best thing you can do for him. And yes, I hear you about downplaying his intellect–I always did the same. They’d say, “Oh, he is so smart!”, and I’d say, “Yeah, but he [insert negative trait or behavior here]”

      Thanks for sharing your story about your son, Jennifer!

  41. Celi, you’re bang on once again.

    What I will add is a piece of my own history that I don’t share very often, and is very linked to your post here – not only are the gifted more likely to commit suicide, but as a result they are more likely to be survivors of suicide, like me. I was married, once upon a time, to an eclectic, eccentric genius, colloquially known online as “mibh.” He had the highest tested IQ I had (and still have) ever heard of. He had all the attendant problems with this, up to and including impostor syndrome and depression (plus a family history of depression, which may or may not be related). Life got to be too much, and he committed suicide. This, in and of itself, is a tragedy. But personally, I now had a dual problem: not only was I dealing with being the person to discover the scene and all the attendant issues, but I was having to do it while trying to work with various professionals who didn’t understand me, or how I process things, how intense my swings and memories were, how well I was able to compartmentalize while still being in no way healed… The loss of mibh was tragic. Trying to recover from that loss, not understanding myself and with few people who understood me… It made the unthinkable even more difficult. But that’s okay, right? We’ll be fine, we’re gifted. There’s no tragedy, no cost, no downside at all to being gifted – we’re just lucky. And have a head start. Even if 95% of the world’s services are not designed for us, and we make do with what we have… it’s not a problem.

    !sarcasm on that last bit. Sorry. Just a little bitter, and not particularly enamored of being told there’s no real downside, and only a net positive, to being different from 98% of the population.

    • Oh Care, I’d run to Canada to hug you if I could.

      I don’t blame you for being bitter. When you see comments like Julia’s, from people who believe being gifted is only a “net positive”, it does make one angry. Maria, a physician with brain cancer, who commented on this post also, admitted that raising her two highly gifted, intense children has proven more difficult than her illness. When will others ever understand, giftedness is not a clear advantage? Your story, and Maria’s prove that.

      I keep repeating what one reader told me: “giftedness is like a disability without the sympathy”, but I add that not only do we not have sympathy, we have resentful attitudes thrown at us and our children.

      Care, you are such a brave and caring woman to share something from your life that is so painful and tragic just to help advocate for our gifted–children and adults!

      You are my hero, Care!

      • Do I get a cape, Celi? ‘Cause I’d totally rock a cape. Maybe in teal to match my new hair-stripes. ^_~

        All that, and it never touched on what life was like as a kid, with the teachers who made fun of me (apparently, asking to use the restroom in grade two was license for things like “do you need to rest?” and book orders were a cue in grade seven for the teacher to laugh with several of my primary tormentors about my book choices), the kids who knew I was different even when I thought we were all the same, growing up to have that micromanaging boss who was on the verge of firing me (and thus having me deported) because I was too different.

        The worst thing of all, though, was one day, about a month ago. We were at a PlayPlace. It was a rainy day in the Chicago suburbs, and we were visiting my folks. My mom decided to take us out to the playland so Mad Natter could burn off some energy. He hopped out to play, and within five minutes, I was peeling him off another child. I recognized his frustrated-face, and I pulled him to me and asked what was wrong. He told me nothing was wrong, so I reminded him to please be kind to the other children, and sent him off to play. A few more minutes later, he came out from the climbing wall with one red cheek. I asked him what happened that his face was red, and he told me he bumped it. Okay… but I’ll watch more carefully. He went back by the climbing wall, and in the time it took me to gather my bag so I wasn’t leaving it unattended, he came hobbling back out. One of the other children backed him into a corner and knocked him down, another had jumped on his stomach. My mother was outside having a smoke, and she came in seeing the steam coming from my ears. I gathered up my kid, and hugged him, and he insisted he wanted to stay and play. So I stayed with him, this time like glue, and those same two kids cornered him again, and while they wouldn’t touch him while I was standing there, Mad Natter had his hands up in a “no, wait, wait!” gesture, and asked them *not to hit him so hard this time.* We left. We went to a better, bigger park with nobody willing to beat on him, and had a great rest-of-afternoon.

        And do you know why that happened? Because Mad Natter is different. How is he different? He’s gifted. NOW tell me that’s a positive way to be.

        • Care,

          You can have any cape you want; I know how to sew!

          And I hear you about our children being different–boy, do I know about that. And being different is like a magnet for bullies looking for a victim. It is a heartbreaker. It just tears you up as a mom.

          Gifted is net positive? Then bullying must be a barrage of compliments!

    • Andrea, that is wonderful. Thank you. Getting the word out and advocating for our gifted children is the priority, so please share. Merci beaucoup!

  42. Pingback: Gifted in Canada/La Surdouance Au Canada: The blog for and about gifted Canadian children and adults | Blog posting: I Have a Gifted Kid and I Will No Longer Be Ashamed (by Celi Trépanier)

  43. I’m a mother with brain cancer, 2 highly gifted young children, AND I am a medical doctor who had to stop practicing because of my brain cancer treatments. I’ve been through medical school, residency, open brain surgery, chemo, radiation, AND the drama of raising 2 intense children every day. All of those experiences were highly stressful and challenging and growth-inducing. But the kids…the kids, they top it all.
    I got through medical training by looking to the future when I would have autonomy and a decent salary.
    The brain cancer gave me existential depression and months of tears and worry along with a good dose of humility and appreciation of what my patients suffer through. But it also brought kind people out of the woodwork, and sympathy flows with just the mention of those two words Brain Cancer.
    The children: the first baby came home with crying, constant movement, boredom with baby toys and a complete aversion to sleep. He’s never stopped. I thought a second try might give me a chance to ‘get it right’. Ha. We’ve left 2 schools, my son has been through play therapy, sand therapy, occupational therapy, and now vision therapy. He gets his feelings hurt by other kids and then cries all evening about how sad he is. For a while he wanted to die when he 5 yrs old. He can’t be quiet or hold still, and in every way is an ‘inconvenience’ to the teacher. Both children have to have special clothes made of stretchy cotton without tags. We never go on family vacations because of the hours of screaming and crying every day because of the change in routine. We almost never visit family because travel is hard and I hate the constant barrage of suggestions “you need to be more strict”, “what if you help them keep an art journal”, “have you tried topical magnesium to calm them down?”.
    The list goes on and on, but the hardest part of loving these kids so deeply is that the only place I can find support or help is in groups like this online, or at our local gifted center. I can’t post this stuff on my Facebook page because I need to have my kids accepted as they are, and frankly they are belittled by grownups and I am condescended to as a high maintenance, whining mother when we use the word ‘gifted’ outside of the highly gifted community.
    THANK YOU for this post! I hope someday I can be more open about our giftedness, but I think it will have to wait until my kids are older and more resilient.
    Parenting these gifted kids is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

    • Maria,

      I can’t express how much I appreciate you sharing your story with all of us. You are truly a brave soul. By sharing your story, you have validated so many of us parents of gifted children who feel guilty for needing support and understanding for our highly intelligent children, but who are exhausted and heartbroken while trying to raise, guide and advocate for them with all the push-back.

      We all know life is hard, life throws us curve balls and life gives us lemons. And along with the struggle to raise gifted children in a society who misunderstands them, resents supporting them and often shuns them, some families do have other struggles, sometimes devastating, aside from raising gifted children such as yourself. I can’t tell you how much I admire your strength!

      I just can’t summon the right words to express my appreciation for you sharing your story with us, Maria! I hope and pray for all the best for you and your family! <3

      • Thank you Celi for your positive response to my message. I DO want all of the parents of gifted children to feel validated when they feel overwhelmed. And I don’t want any of you to let other people belittle your experiences by saying “well it’s not as bad as cancer” (or something similar). Our children have extremely high needs, and we are not whiners!! 🙂 We are all strong, and like the fighting breast cancer movement, we are even stronger together!
        Posts like yours, and other parents’, have helped me get through the past 2 years.
        Thank you again!

    • Your comment made me cry. I also have 2 highly gifted kids, and it is such a struggle for me, and I don’t have illness on top of it. The travel thing- my family lives out of state and has gotten so angry at me for saying travel is so hard with my kids, and furious that we “don’t show up” for them as often as they’d like, but it’s just too hard. The screaming. The no sleeping. My God, the screaming. Thank you thank you thank you. And hang in there, amazing mama.

  44. Provoking discussion. And I have to tell you I’ve come to dislike the term “gifted”. Part of your fears comes from the misunderstanding that the term gifted implies – while professionals might be able to use it imbued with all the depth you write about, the public never will. So I do think we should take care using the term gifted.

    I also believe that the way schools deal with gifted is pretty messed up. Schools recognize a very limited range of gifts – primarily reading, writing, math, and eventually science. However my gifted son, for example, has tremendous visual gifts that should make him a strong professional in one of many areas of art. Yet he was constantly told by the schools that he wasn’t gifted – locked out of the programs for people with minds as agile as his. Or maybe some of his challenge was that his gifts are also social along with a strong base of verbal and math skills yet struggling with dyslexia and ADHD. Yup, a classic gifted student. And if he hadn’t have had two artist parents he (like me) could have spent the better part of his life ignoring his most powerful gift. A clear educational failing.

    I don’t know how to change the system. The extraordinarily limited bureaucratic definition of gifted is a problem. So, in fact, I believe we SHOULD take great care using the term. And I will suggest that while it’s excellent that you have expressed this tremendous pride as well as complexity, your instinctive cautions have valid basis. Because in the world of education, far too often the declaration of gifted-ness ends up being a barrier to keep out students gifted in non-traditional areas like communication, visual arts, salesmanship, or many more. It also ignores those students whose gift is synthesizing disparate areas of learning to find new depth and insight (which is probably how I’d describe my gift best).

    Thanks for a great post.

    • Doug,

      Most of us in the gifted community don’t like the term “gifted” either, but it is the term we were given as ambiguous as it is. As a former public school teacher, author, writer and mother of gifted children, I have always taken great care when using the term “gifted” outside of my professional life, but then I started feeling like I was in the witness protection program, going to great lengths to hide what I do. But, how can one make positive changes by hiding and being hesitant? That is why I wrote this post. I decided I can’t claim to be a gifted advocate if I’m only advocating within the gifted community.

      My personal opinion is that the way schools have historically dealt with gifted students IS the reason there is so much misunderstanding and animosity towards gifted children. Parents who do not have gifted children only see the intelligence–the positive–and not the emotional and social issues–the negative. This is amplified and perpetuated in school when the high-achieving students in gifted programs receive all the awards and kudos, yet there are many gifted/twice-exceptional children NOT receiving the kudos by the schools. Those who do not understand giftedness do not see our 2E kids.

      I don’t know how to change the system either, Doug, but I will continue to do my damnedest to advocate for our gifted children. Like one of my readers pointed out, “giftedness is like a disability without the sympathy”; worse than no sympathy is the resentment towards gifted children.

      Thanks for leaving your insights. The more we all share our thoughts and ideas and opinions, the further this conversation will go and maybe one day we can start to change society’s perception of what giftedness really is. Thanks, Doug!

  45. You nailed it with this article. And it is true, the impacts of being “gifted” don’t go away and we, as adults, still feel these impacts. I do wish “gifted” had a more distinctive name. There was a great article about that awhile back. Many kids are “gifted” in ways outside of academic terms (art, dance, music, gymnastics, etc) and I wish we differentiated that when we use “gifted” as a term. I actually feel guilty that my son is not “highly academically gifted” -despite what his test scores are – he is smart but not that off the charts that he can’t somewhat blend in when necessary. The extreme emotions and lack of social intelligence are what keep me hostage. People don’t get it until I explain and it keeps his social life very stilted.

    • You are so right and you made so many great points. All gifted people are different and it would be nice if there was universal terminology used that could give us more clarity. So true–it is not all about the grades–being academically gifted. There are intense social and emotional facets that most people don’t understand and are also ignored in schools. But, parents of gifted children NEED understanding and support. Like we say so often in life, “Things are not always what they seem.”

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Lisa!

  46. With all due respect, I think you are doing your cause a disservice if you pit yourself against people suffering from cancer (!), and call being gifted an “affliction”, tragic and debilitating. This is insulting to people with serious, life-threatening illnesses or otherwise facing existential crises. Being smart (your words) is a net positive, suffering from cancer is not.
    Maybe it’s because of this attitude that people roll their eyes.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way, but just to be clear, there was no pitting against cancer. This was the statement I made about cancer: “How can being smarter be as bad as cancer? It probably isn’t as bad as many other tragic and debilitating life situations many of us have in our lives.” But, then again, if you ask a mother or father whose gifted child committed suicide or turned to drugs because he could no longer cope with the bullying, the envy and the resentful comments, they may feel as though giftedness can be debilitating and tragic.

    • My sister is currently in hospital recovering after a full mastectomy, we are still waiting for the results to see if cancer has spread. She has 3 kids, 1 is gifted. I have 3 kids, all are gifted. Between us we have dealt with our children’s threats of suicide, self harming, running away from school, depression, anxiety – the list goes on. The thing is, it all stems from a school system that doesn’t cater to the gifted. My immediate family made the decision to move countries to find appropriate education for my kids. This does mean though that while my father is in hospital with an emergency illness and my sister in hospital fighting cancer I am no where near by – all because of having gifted kids.

      Can/should gifted and cancer be compared? Don’t know and don’t really care. It is semantics. All I do know is that the struggles of cancer (we’ve been through this before, my MIL died from it) and the struggles of gifted both seem incredibly real, and incredibly shitty.

      So honestly in my heightened state of sensitivity at the moment I read the article with gratitude that someone is speaking out, not concern about comparisons. Thanks for a great article.

  47. I am so glad you posted on your personal facebook and are proud of it.
    It is not easy to be parent of gifted kids, but you understand so well.
    Thank you for you this post, it gives a pat in the back to all of us, parents of gifted kids!

    • Oh Agnes, you are so welcome! Thank you for taking the time to leave a “thank you”. Every comment and “thank you” means so much!

  48. Wow. I found this article through JennyDecki on Facebook, and want to thank you for writing it. My mother was not a teacher to begin with, but my parents did end up homeschooling me (and later my 2 sisters) because of exactly this. I fell into the gifted category, and what you’re writing about – the blessing and the curse of it – is so spot on. My mother was similarly gifted, so was able to anticipate some of the challenges, but I still feel bad for my dad, trying to explain theology and spirituality to his sobbing 7-year-old who had suddenly realized that if there was only one “Truth,” that getting to Heaven (or its equivalent) was pretty much a crapshoot based on the culture you were born into! Poor Dad. 🙂

    Anyway, that’s neither here nor there – but the depression and angst and that feeling of being separate from others (because a kid like that has an adult intellect in many ways, but a kid’s emotional maturity), of never really “fitting” anywhere is something that not many people really “get.”

    So thanks for writing this. <3

    • Thanks, Marste, for your kind words! Your mother was one awesome woman knowing that homeschooling was the way to go for you and your sisters!

      Thank you for sharing your story!

  49. Your article makes me appreciate my children’s school. They attend a specialized charter school for gifted children. When we toured and saw the kids, I thought to myself that the mothership had called my children home. They educational opportunities dwarfed only by the comfort of peers and educators who understand the ups and downs you discussed! It’s still a roller coaster but at least we have a community where it can be openly discussed. Thank you for making me appreciate what I have!

    • Erin,

      I LOVE this: “the mothership had called my children home”! Can you ask your child’s school if they can clone themselves or at least sell franchises? 😉 So thankful that your gifted children have found a place where they can be themselves and fulfill their potential!

      Thanks for your comment. It is so nice to hear the good stories too because it lets us know there is hope.

  50. I feel sorry for those who struggle to educate their gifted children. My 9 year old son has been in a gifted program since 1st grade after acting as a teaching assistant in kindergarten. My daughter, born in October and within the cutoff for early entry, was accelerated after being denied several times. Luckily the board of education revamped their policy 8 years ago. They only needed us to come along and socialize that fact. Despite these initial hurdles I do feel that my kids are as well served by the public education system as many. This turns out to be the function of some exceptional individuals within the system. We do the best we can as parents, shepherding them through their challenges and celebrating their accomplishments. In the end, as I tell them, there is nothing worth having that comes easily. And so we struggle on loving one another through it all.

    • Christine,

      Sadly, there are many families who do have serious struggles in trying to find the right education, the right school for their gifted child. I myself keep trying to believe that the struggles teach our kids strength and resilience, but sadly, there are gifted kids who the struggle will break. It is a tough parenting situation and your children are so lucky to have parents who aren’t afraid to advocate as needed for them! Love hearing the success stories!

      Thank you, Christine, for sharing the loving struggle your family goes through.

  51. Celi, Great description of the shame so many of us carry when trying to “explain” who our children are, often fumbling for words that won’t “offend” or appear like we are boasting about them. How ridiculous it is, really. Thanks for a call to action to stand up and speak the truth about our children.

    • Thank you, Gail. I’ll admit, I almost backed out of posting this on my personal Facebook page, but I knew I needed to be “all in” to be a credible gifted advocate.

  52. Very well said!!! I have 3 gifted kids and it is definitely not all rainbows and unicorns in our house! I don’t usually talk much about the issue for exactly the reasons you mentioned. But recently, I have been realizing that I don’t need to be worrying about that. This is our reality and this is who my kids are. Thank you.

    • Sherry,

      Thank you, and you are right, it is not all rainbows and unicorns raising gifted kids. Raising gifted kids is tough.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  53. Thank you SO much! My son had one short foray into the public school system where the teacher called him, a child who has a 140+ IQ, stupid in front of his 3rd grade classmates. His disgraphia made him write slower than his classmates, therefore he was stupid. It’s taken me eight years to convince that child that he’s NOT stupid. He’s finally finding his niche with his classmates in his college classes, even though he’s the youngest by several years. It has definitely been a roller coaster ride watching him disown, and now finally own, his intelligence. I still have trouble talking with others about his accomplishments without getting the “why do you push him so hard” questions.

    • KG,

      I understand completely and can empathize–for my youngest, the name was “Mr. Zero” instead of “stupid” and the emotional damage can feel insurmountable.

      Thank you for sharing your story. Every story shared, nearly all with the same plot, adds to the reality what parents with gifted children go through.

    • Your comment brought tears to my eyes. My son was called lazy by a teacher (who had all the info about his abilities and needs at her finger tips because of my constant advocacy, but chose to ignore it), a few years ago and my son and I have never quite gotten over it. He is the least lazy person I know (rather he is passionate about, and excited by, the topics he loves), but struggles with output of work, due to slow processing speed (handwriting being the major sign of this). We changed schools soon after that, as the gifted mentor at the school was very supportive of us, but even he couldn’t change the opinions and lack of intrerest of some of the teachers. We are happily ensconced in a very supportive school now. It will never be easy for my son, but now he has unwavering support.

      • I am truly sorry this happened to your son; a teacher’s words can make or break a child for sure. We’ve had the same experience. As a mom, it is hard to get over someone wounding your child unnecessarily, especially when it is an adult who should know better. It is so wonderful that you did find a good school for your son and it is working out well for him. Children should love learning and enjoy going to school.

        Thank you so much for your sweet words and sharing your story!

    • My son was made to believe he was stupid in class. He was in year 1 last year. I sat him down and asked him what the problem was. “I do not understand the teacher (she had an accent) and I cannot read the instructions she wrote on the board (we think dysgraphia/dyslexia). It was very distressing. I told his teacher. He joined the kids close to her desk who she explained to and he was able to finish most of his work.
      I know he knows the answers he just cannot get coordination etc to write quickly yet or read well. I keep telling him the only day you fail is the day you fail to try. The teacher looks at me strangely but he leaves that classroom he is a different kid who wants to know about how the world works in detail. He gives a presentation from memory as he cannot read cards :/

  54. I just want to say “Thank You” for this website that you’ve created and for being an advocate for gifted children. I tested gifted as a child and have always felt like an oddball, even still in my adulthood. Growing up was quite challenging and even today, there are very few people that I feel “get” me. I now see a lot of gifted qualities in our six year old boy. He reminds me so much of myself. He’s so funny, bright, inquisitive, sensitive, intense, and passionate. However, he’s been completely misunderstood in school, made to sit at a desk alone away from his peers for the entire year, and sent home with notes about his behavior several times a week. I watched as depression, anxiety, and insecurity slowly crept in over the past few years. We finally decided to homeschool him. The decision was really tough because as a parent you don’t want to do anything to “screw your kid up.” Your blog has been an integral resource in the decision making process. He’s been home for 3 weeks now and the difference in his self esteem and confidence are monumental. His natural curiosity and love of learning are slowly coming back. We’re working together to come up with a suitable curriculum for him that will keep him engaged and motivated. Thanks to your website and advocacy work, I feel confident that we’ve made the right choice for our poppy! So again, thank you immensely for your dedication to gifted and 2e children. ❤️

    • Sonia,

      You have made my blog and advocacy all worthwhile. Stories like yours are what I work for. So, so thrilled that you are homeschooling and your precious little guy is loving it. Make sure you milk the whole homeschooling experience for all of you to enjoy–wake up early to see the sun rise, stay up late to watch a meteor shower, spend the day in your pajamas watching documentaries–homeschooling makes just about anything possible!

      My sincerest thanks for sharing your story, Sonia <3

  55. You go girl!

    I have only used the word “gifted” in connection with my child with a couple of trusted friends.
    Their reaction “that makes sense” and “I knew she was different”.

    Basically, those who know us and love us will understand — those who don’t know us, probably won’t.

      • Thank you for sharing your life with Gifted Children! I am currently struggling to get my child the help he needs! Schools teacher here are not educated enough with gifted children! My son is failing school with 40% now. All he wants to do at school is read! Read and read! I’m lost! I know he is too! Again thank you for sharing this article. I needed to read this!


  56. Well said. I realised just how much I avoid using the term gifted, because of the judgement that goes with it – even from educators.

    I see the pain of being forced into an ‘average’ path for kids who are not average. When mine was happily reading Harry Potter at home, she was sitting in a classroom haviing to sound out c-a-t for hours a day, 5 days a week. Her teacher only reluctantly let her do some harder work after this led to behaviour problems (and even then she had to do the c-a-t because ‘it’s the curriculum’).

    Imagine if we did that to grown ups. How would you like to spend day after day, week after week sounding out simple 1 syllable words? For my child, it was torturous, and it would be for me too.

    This year, fortunately, she has a more understanding teacher, but still there is no actual support or help beyond very easy extension classes. I help with the literacy program, and I see the vast range the teacher has to accommodate – I don’t think teachers are given the support to deal with kids that don’t lie somewhere in the average range. It would make more sense to me to group kids based on abilities, that way each would get the level of teaching aimed at their current level.

    • “I don’t think teachers are given the support to deal with kids that don’t lie somewhere in the average range.” <--And that is most of the problem. That, and education funding is rarely used for the kids who need more, who need acceleration and who are way beyond grade level. We also need teacher training to help them understand gifted kids if school systems insist on leaving gifted students in regular classrooms. Thanks, Ab, for sharing your thoughts!

    • Hi Ab;

      It would be impossible to arrange kids in levels based on ability. University academics (both educational and non-educational), teachers’ unions, left-wing advocates of ‘radical egalitarianism’ (the idea that we’re not just to be treated as equal, but that everyone actually *is* equal) would all protest mightily. Add to that the parents who insist that if little Johnny or Janey shows even slightly above-average skill at anything, their helicopter parents will demand full funding for a high-end giftedness program for their child — who can’t manage in it, will fail, and may drop out of school as a result; as well as the parent who is absolutely opposed to even the idea that there is such a thing as giftedness, and tend to bellow about “wasting taxpayer money — MY taxpayer dollars” on the so-called gifted; and parents and non-parents who want the school system to turn out “product”, as though children were gingerbread figures, and you get a huge wall of resistance.

      Then, of course, you’d also have the outrage of parents of children who are so severely mentally disabled that their kid can only really sit in his/her wheelchair, literally drooling and twitching (I used to work with people with SEVERE mental handicaps, for eleven years; I know whereof I speak). Such parents will DEMAND that they be educated with their intellectual “peers”, which in reality means kids of average or above-average or gifted ability (and who are definitely NOT these kids’ peers).

      The forces of resistance, and the Politically Correct idea that “all children are equal and have to be educated the exact same way” make your idea impossible, politically speaking, in today’s environment.

    • The thing is, Ab, that giftedness and achievement don’t necessarily always go hand in hand. I have two gifted kids — one who was WAY ahead upon starting school, and I feel your pain there, I really do. I was one of those kids, and in lower elementary it hit the point where I would walk into class in the morning to find an entirely individualized plan for the day on my desk. The other has a concurrent LD combination, so C-A-T didn’t work for him in the other direction, leading to its own set of problems, despite the fact that he’s still gifted. I had to raise holy hell to get one of those two sides dealt with, and I think that if the teachers really tried to deal with both at the same time their heads might actually explode.

      “I don’t think teachers are given the support to deal with kids that don’t lie somewhere in the average range.”

      ^^ This here. They’re often given neither the support nor the training. And really, dealing with my kids is exhausting for me, and I know what’s going on with them and don’t have a whole class full of other kids to attend to.

    • This is so true… teachers who make programs that cater for the regular range of children, let alone kids who are particularly gifted or particularly struggling, should be lauded as geniuses and the heroes of our age. It is really hard! After doing my diploma in primary education I realise how beyond me that task is and I am so impressed with teachers that manage it.

  57. BRAVO, well-written. Well-said. Roller coaster ride, indeed. Those intensities! What’s wrong with our culture when everyone readily understands athletic advancement but not academic advancement? Talk about how your kid is in the playoffs “YEAH”, talk about the academic equivalent….clear the room.

    • Thank you, KG! Yes, quite a roller coaster ride. After posting this one to my personal Facebook page, I don’t think my ride can possibly have anymore scary turns!

    • Beautifully written Celi! I don’t think I could have put it better myself! When I was told my son was gifted, I had some doubt, as I had always thought of a gifted child as some sort of piano playin prodigy who could speak 3 different languages and had maturity beyond their years! How wrong was I?! And that is just ONE reason why people need to be educated about what gifted truly means! Oh those emotional intensities! And the presumptions of people that going along with it 🙁 Also, Well said KG!

      • Beautifully written Celi! I don’t think I could have put it better myself! When I was told my son was gifted, I had some doubt, as I had always thought of a gifted child as some sort of piano playing prodigy who could speak 3 different languages and had maturity beyond their years! How wrong was I?! And that is just ONE reason why people need to be educated about what gifted truly means! Oh those emotional intensities! And the presumptions of people that going along with it 🙁 Also, Well said KG!

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