I’ve noticed there is a “hush hush” about certain topics. We are now in the 21st century and we can freely talk about the unimaginable in public that our parents couldn’t even talk about freely in their time, let alone whisper in public. Yet, some things are still, hush hush. In a recent post I posted about, what is gifted? I received some serious backlash. (I also received a plethora of support from many of you and truly, thank you!!! from the bottom of my heart!!!… here is my thanks to you) I heard, “be careful how you use the word, gifted”… “You shouldn’t talk about that”… “I wouldn’t say my kid is gifted, people judge and you don’t want people to judge you or your kids”… and last but not least, “You can’t change the world”. To be honest, my jaw dropped. I thought, are you for real? What century are we living in?
There was a time when having a disability was “hush hush”. My mother grew up in an era (1960’s-1970’s) of secrecy when it came to disabilities. My mom suffered from severe dyslexia. When she was 20, she was reading at a 1st grade level. My mother was sharp as a tack. If you met her you would have had no idea she was dyslexic. She spoke so eloquently. She was to this day, the best story teller I’ve ever known (and I’m not being biased). She was told over and over by strangers, family and friends that she should have written books, been a lawyer or an architect. Little did people know that she spent most of her schooling literally in “coat closets” because the stigma of a disability was so bad that it was something to be hidden and not discussed. They didn’t have the means back then to educate those with disabilities and so they made room in my mothers school… and of all rooms, a coat closet sufficed! She dropped out of high school after much bullying, stereotyping and isolation. She gave up when she was 16 yrs old. She didn’t see a future when she had to hide her herself and her disability. Because of this stigma, misunderstanding and this, “hush hush”, many like my mother were left behind and dropped out of high school. If the understanding was there, the freedom to discuss these issues and the help was available, I’m very sure my mothers schooling would have had a much different outcome.
Since my mothers k-12 days, many people have fought the good fight and advocated to bring many “once hushed” learning disabilities to the forefront. They advocated long and hard to bring them from a disgrace and a secret to where it is now freely talked about, accepted and embraced by society. Today, those with dyslexia and other learning disabilities are now treated equally and have an equal chance of a proper education as those deemed to be normal. People are free to speak about it with friends, family, professionals to those in school and don’t have to face the same ramifications as many once faced. Sadly, what I’m witnessing today regarding gifted is no different from the “hush hush” that was going on with learning disabilities in my mothers generation. 40 years later, gifted is something many don’t talk about, and those who are gifted are isolated and made to feel less than. MANY Schools don’t have the proper means to educate them and instead of making special provisions, many are forced to homeschool their children.
I’m greatly aware there is a lack of awareness and understanding when it comes to the term, gifted (and you can read about it here). I am living this reality. There is a reason I’m very passionate about this topic and why I feel this needs to become a firestorm. I was one of the kids that slipped through the cracks. I was denied the freedoms I needed to receive a quality education. I wasn’t the only one. There are MANY kids and adults out there being denied freedom. Freedom to learn how they need to learn. Denied freedom of understanding, freedom of resources and help. Whoa! Wait! What? Gifted kids need help? Yes! They need help! They need help, understanding and a voice. Most are misdiagnosed, some are given unnecessary drugs to make them focus in school because many are bored, deemed lazy and are left to fall through the cracks. This is detrimental to the individual because this once promising child is seen (as well as feels like) a failure. A lot become depressed and even turn to substance abuse to cope with this life long feeling of failure.
This awareness needs to start at home and not just left to the schools. Many parents have very intense and high needs children and they have no idea that their child just might be gifted. There is a lack of communication and talk about gifted and false preconceived notions about it and because of this, many go unnoticed. Many gifted children show a lot of promise at home and then go to school and suddenly the parents feel undermined by their child because suddenly their child has “hit a brick wall” or even declined in their abilities. They often underscore and parents are left to wonder, what happened? Teachers hear of these children and then when they see them preform they think the parents have just hot housed the child or the parent was bragging unnecessarily about their child. Both not realizing this is probably a gifted child left to go unknown and slip through the cracks. The parents leave it up to the schools and professionals and DON’T see or trust their own intuition as being valid.
Many kids who are gifted 2e, profoundly gifted and gifted are school drop outs or failures. Schools don’t have the ability to help these kids the way they have the ability to help other kids with disabilities or differences in learning (read it here). They drop out or fail or just make it because they don’t make friends, they are socially awkward, the schools think they are lazy and because of the communication gap and lack of understanding and acknowledging, many are left to fall through the cracks… (I lived this life. I was so depressed for so long and I thought I was dumb and I thought I was a failure most of my life until I entered college… that’s another story )… There’s a gifted school near us but I’d have to live on the streets to send my daughter there… 40,000/yr!!!!!… this is why I’m homeschooling (many identified gifted children are home schooled for a lack of accommodation and understanding at school). Even if I were to put my daughter with the way she is in a public school, she would fall through the cracks (even with me knowing) because most gifted kids regress in a normal school setting. They hide their gifts because they want to fit in or because they are bored. Or, maybe they just don’t get the style of learning and can’t retain the information because of distraction, boredom etc. Many kids are even misdiagnosed as just having ADHD or other things and the wrong methods are used to conform the child. Most gifted programs don’t open up until the 2nd grade where I live and even then, by second grade, I myself, had given up and just passed in the bottom percent of all my k-12 schooling. Then, usually most gifted programs are only available for the child for only a few hours once or twice a week.
Where others benefit who have learning differences but are labeled differently, they are able receive the help they need for their children… because there is so much information and awareness with so many different disabilities now. People can freely talk about it, receive much support from friends and family and professionals, alike. Where my kids (and many kids who are gifted) are set apart is, it will take a lot longer to receive the help and there isn’t much information readily available. If your child is 2e, its much more difficult to figure out as their positive achievements/attributes and learning disabilities cancel each other out… or one attribute overshadows the other. Their achievements may even overshadow their behaviors. Even their behaviors may be looked at as being separate from who they are because they possess such special traits and can cause confusion and misdiagnosis. If you talk about it with friends and family, NO ONE understands. You feel alone and isolated from society until you find others like you, and it’s not easy. Though, thanks to social media, it has been made easier and awareness is getting better.
But still, many parents are left to ask, what is wrong with my child? No parenting books seem to cover this type of child and these parents exhaust the system trying to figure them out. Many friends of the parents and professionals don’t know what to say to this questioning parent. Many see the parent as the problem (like lack of discipline or improper discipline) instead of something going on with the child. And sometimes the reality is, if you do mention that their child could be gifted, they deny it because the idea of gifted is so off from the realities of it. Many see gifted as being some elite stigma. Many don’t want to even think their child could be gifted because they think, my child is so far from an Einstein or even the an idealistic prodigy child that it just couldn’t be possible.
This lack of understanding, this kind of “hush hush”, labeling and stigma of elitism is detrimental to the gifted person and community and those who have gifted children. Because of this kind of stigma, segregation and discrimination comes to a community of individuals that suffer from lack of help, misunderstanding, are put down, isolated and shunned for merely having the traits they have and for being themselves. It’s time people truly understand the experiential realities that many families live. Also, for schools to understand that these kids needs the same type of rights, freedom and accessible help as those with identified disabilities in order to thrive.
If our children fail to learn, its not only the school’s fault but also our very own as parents for not recognizing the very attributes that make our children thrive or fail. Currently we have a broken system. The system is not going to fix itself if its left only to the system. We need to stand up together and give our children a voice and advocate on their behalf. Our gifted children Deserve to succeed just like everyone else and it needs to start NOW. We need to spread the word. With knowledge comes power and freedom.
We have heard it many times that one person can change the world. With age comes wisdom. You realize that it takes more than one person to change the world… it takes a village.
All it takes is a tiny spark to ignite a fire. One voice or post to go viral and BAM!… the fire has been ignited and is blazing!
I encourage everyone to take the “Hush Hush” out of Gifted. To remove this stigma of elitism and to allow these individuals to thrive. The only way we can do this is to spread the word of what gifted really is. To educate one another and stand up to a broken system and demand change! We need to advocate for our future, our gifted, our poppies.
Lets stop this “Tall Poppy Syndrome” together. Lets embrace each other and help make this world a better place.
I’m hoping to be one of the sparks that ignites this fire of change, are you willing to help spread this fire? I challenge you to share this with everyone you know! Tweet it! Share it on facebook and other social media! Use hashtags,
#gifted #gtchat #parenting #giftedadvocacy
With much Love,
For the next blog in the Gifted Advocacy Blog Hop, click on the following link:
Patchwork poppies Is a brand new website. I’d love to build it up with your patch of the gifted quilt. I named it patchwork poppies to represent a community of gifted individuals woven together. Poppies stands for the term, “tall poppies”. If you have a story you’d like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to publish your story to this blog. Even anonymously. I know this can be a sensitive subject and understand many refrain from sharing their stories. I believe if more do, our voices will be heard. Help me weave our patches together.
If you would like to learn more, feel free to visit www.sengifted.org, www.hoagiesgifted.org and www.giftedhomeschoolers.org … These are great organizations bringing awareness and help to an often misunderstood community.
Also, some great books that I’ve read and recommend are,
• 5 levels of gifted, by Dr. Deborah L. Ruf
She even provides an interactive online website if you would like to find out more. It’s a great resource for parents and educational professionals
• Parents Guide to Raising a Gifted Toddler, by James Alvino