Real Relationship Advice
Special needs means a lot. When a child is labeled as special needs, this activates a whole system that is mandated by law and implemented by educational professionals. Perhaps you have little faith in our educational system but we have total faith in the system and the professionals that run it. No, this does not mean we throw our children into a public school and hope for good results. We have educated ourselves, consulted with experts (Aida Reyes- Check her out) and advocated for our kids with the same ferocity of a grizzly caring for her cubs. One of the things people do not acknowledge and do not see as special needs is when you happen to be the parent of a gifted child.
In many places, gifted kids are actually part of the Special Ed departments of school systems. You see, their education is special. Gifted kids get bored. Gifted kids need to be stimulated or, if not, they will get frustrated and decide that school is not for them.
As parents of a multiply handicapped child and a gifted child (jury is still out on our 5 year old), we don’t see much of a difference in how one was easier than the other. Yes, physically, our son is fine and is very capable. However, when you have a child with a high IQ, they sometimes get the idea that they are smarter than you and know better. My son on a regular basis tests our intelligence with questions. In fact, he gets upset because we know the answers!!! I need to remind him daily that his smarts were not created out of spontaneous generation.
At the same time we need to ride the fine line of not crushing him when he tries to assert his intelligence and control of the family. Crushing a kid is easy. Breaking a child’s spirit is as easy as the wrong word or gesture. This is easier when your child is so smart that he can carry on a conversation that would elude most adults. It is so much easier to tell a child to ‘shut up’ or something crass like that when their questions are more than you can handle and you just don’t want to explain how a lack of atmosphere allows the heat of the earth to escape thus lowering the temperature.
Gifted kids also tend to have a higher level of anxiety. They may understand abstract concepts but are unable to deal with them like death or old age. They can be manipulative and argumentative. All of these things can make your child moody and different from other kids. They can be abused and bullied by their peers because they are different. They can be ostracized because of their abnormal IQ; all of this from knowing too much too soon.
It is exhausting sometimes. Staying on top of things and making sure your kid is stimulated intellectually and yet still gets to be a little boy is a full time job. Sometimes we wish for the days of doctor visits for our daughter rather than another lesson on the periodic table. But alas, this is what we have. This is our blessing.
Our son is special. He has a very high IQ. He still does karate, plays video games and plays with friends. Sure, at night he will read a book on world religions and perhaps learn more about the periodic table that a regular 8 year old should know but that his him, brains and all.
As a teacher of gifted, and the parent of a highly creative child....I nodded all the way through this post. It is so true.
I was very lucky in that my elementary school had its own special gifted & talented program. In 2-4 grade, I got to take 1-2 hours out of regular classes each week to attend an enrichment in one of the "mobile education units" our school had. In 5th and 6th grade, I got to go to the Young Scholars program, where I was pulled out of an entire school day each week for an off-site program. I loved the program, but other kids teased us mercilessly when they found out we were going to the BOCES building. While BOCES stands for Board of Cooperative Educational Services, it was well-known among students that this was where the stereotypical special ed kids went... and I was subjected to a wide array of highly offensive "retard" (how I hate that word) insults. My 6th grade English teacher egged on this sort of bullying and carried out some of it himself because he disliked when some of us missed HIS class each week.
Even with the bullying, though, that program was instrumental in helping to challenge me in keeping me invested in my own education. I got to read Homer's Odyssey in the 5th grade, as well as write and produce my own plays, design sturdy bridges with popsicle sticks, and experience guided imagery meditation.
Gifted students certainly require special educational services to nurture their minds. I agree with you strongly that parents should advocate for their gifted kids if the school is not already providing adequate challenges for them.