Tuesday, September 30, 2014

GIFTED: What does this word really mean?

GIFTED.
 
Is everyone GIFTED?
 
Are all children GIFTED?
 
I never gave this word much thought until I read this in a book when I was a first-time mom. It was a book that tells of a baby's milestones during his first year of life on top of what moms need to do during a baby's first year. I would review this book regularly to check if my son was hitting his milestones as predicted or expected. I would put check marks on the milestones that my son has achieved and sometimes, I would put the dates or my son's age when he achieved those milestones. This practice led me to keep on going back to a page in the book that listed the characteristics of gifted children.
 
I noticed that many of the characteristics of gifted children listed in that page were increasingly manifested in my baby as he grew older. Could it be that my child is GIFTED? I asked myself repeatedly as I reviewed his milestones and the characteristics listed on the page.
 
As I kept on doing this milestone review and documentation through this book, I became increasingly convinced that the probability that my son is GIFTED is high.

(You may read more about the characteristics of gifted kids or individuals here, here, here and here.)
 
Soon, my son's behaviors and actions moved me and my husband to consult a developmental pediatrician. We were advised by our son's pediatrician to do this after I reported to her my son's milestones over a period of time.
 
My son was a little over 2 years old then. We were able to secure an appointment with the developmental pediatrician months later. My son was around 2.5 years old when he was first assessed. The developmental pediatrician said that he's potentially-gifted. He said that's the term they use for very young children who show signs of giftedness.
 
Every year, around my eldest son's birthday, we would go back to this same developmental pediatrician and have my son assessed. Every year, he would tell us almost the same thing.
 
This year, we did something different since he's already over 5 years old. We brought him to a school that administers comprehensive testing on giftedness to kids as young as 5 years old. The results confirmed the previous assessments. Our firstborn is GIFTED.
 
The word GIFTED didn't mean much to me before. 

 
 
But when I learned about it's clinical definitions, my perspective and our family's life changed dramatically. You may read some of these definitions here, here and here.
 
Since I came to know more about the term GIFTED and GIFTEDNESS, I now feel uncomfortable whenever I hear or read "Everyone is GIFTED" or "All children are GIFTED."

If I did not encounter the clinical definitions of the word GIFTED, I would probably go on thinking that those statements are fine and acceptable. BUT I have discovered what the word GIFTED means; so, I feel compelled to share what I have learned so far.

I have learned that there are MANY definitions of GIFTED or GIFTEDNESS from various experts in the field. Although, there are many definitions for this word, I am still convinced now that saying "Everyone is GIFTED" or "All children are GIFTED" would not be right because that's not true.

Would you dare say that everyone is athletic? Or that all children are extroverts? Or that all children are autistic? Or that all children are dyslexic?

I don't think so.

Because that's not true.

Some of us were made differently, think differently, act differently, progress differently. Thus, we have different needs and preferences.

I do believe that each one of us has been bestowed with unique gifts, talents and abilities for a purpose. 

BUT we cannot apply the term GIFTED to everyone.

The word GIFTED was coined not to make one group of people (children included) superior over another group of people. The word was coined to describe a very small portion of the population that possesses  characteristics that are different from majority of the population.

What the word GIFTED means to me as a parent of a GIFTED child

I had mixed emotions when I first learned that my child is GIFTED.

At first, I was happy and proud that he has been achieving his milestones quite fast. Then, those feelings turned into fear because I didn't know how to handle his fast development. I also didn't understand what GIFTEDNESS really meant and how it would impact his life and our family life.

As my eldest child grew older, I became grateful that I discovered what the word GIFTED means.

The word GIFTED gave me a sense of relief somehow. It was a relief to me to know that the reason for my eldest son's behaviors was not because he's being disobedient or that I'm failing miserably as a parent. It was simply because he is GIFTED.

I have learned from the literature that I have read and from my own experiences with my son after reading A LOT of material on the subject that GIFTED kids behave differently from most children. That's because their brains were wired differently.

I have tried almost all the techniques that many parenting books shared on how to raise and handle kids but many of them leave me frustrated. My frustration was slowly diffused as I began to understand and accept that my eldest child is different from the kids described in those parenting books. That's why the techniques shared in most of them do not work with him.

As I read more on the subject and read more blogs by other parents of gifted kids, I have learned to SLOWLY adjust my parenting style. It's not easy. I still forget COUNTLESS times that my child is GIFTED! I still tend to go back to my old thinking and parenting style and sometimes I'm tempted to plaster this word GIFTED on the walls of our house just to remind me that my son is behaving the way he does because he is GIFTED. There was even a time when I wanted to put a sign on my eldest son's forehead that would read: "Mom, I'm GIFTED!" I need to remind myself that he's not the typical child.

I need to remind myself that he's not being disrespectful or disobedient or arrogant when he's intensely negotiating for something that he wants, when he's insisting to read one more book or play for 5 more minutes (which usually goes beyond that time), when he can't stop right away what he is doing or he can't follow my instructions or commands.

I need to remind myself to be extra patient with him when he's being hyperactive in situations where people are expected to be prim and proper and when he's being loud in places where people are expected to speak softly.

I need to be extra patient with him when he can't make his hands quiet and behaved even though he has been through occupational therapy for years and that 'quiet hands' has been part of the house rules ever since.

I need to be extra understanding with him when he is being overly eager and impulsive and not asking permission to do things that adults should be doing for him given his biological age.

I need to be extra patient with him when he can't turn his mind off and he finds it hard to go to sleep in the afternoon or at night and he seems to have more questions when it's time to sleep.

I need to be extra understanding and loving towards my son when he is being overly sensitive in many ways because he's not over acting or magnifying things into unreasonable proportions. He's simply being true to his emotions.

The word GIFTED would mean differently for every parent of a GIFTED child since there are many ways by which giftedness is manifested.

However, I think that parents of GIFTED children will still agree that not all children are GIFTED. Sometimes, even when you don't know the clinical definition of the word, by simply observing a child or by talking to a child for at least 5 minutes, you would come to realize that he/she is GIFTED.

I hope that by writing this post, I would be able to help raise awareness on the special needs of the GIFTED, especially gifted kids, and that parents of gifted kids would be able to find support in one way or another from other parents of gifted children and from the people who are closest to them. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child with special needs is extra challenging. Recognizing this group's unique needs by acknowledging what the word GIFTED means is one way of showing your support.

2 comments:

  1. Hi thank you for sharing your experience. Where did you have your son assessed?

    ReplyDelete
  2. First, with his developmental pediatrician at Asian Hospital. Then, when he was over 5 years old, at Headway School for Giftedness.

    ReplyDelete