Growing With a Gifted Child
By Diane Scanlon 1996 - Updated 2008
When my son was 3, he could read those great big dinosaur names and match them to their pictures. I knew this was not normal. That’s why I hid his books whenever we had guests.
At 3 1/2 he was reading ingredients on boxes in my grocery cart and telling me which ones we shouldn't buy. People would look at him funny, so, I did my best to leave him home whenever I had to go to the market.
When he was 4 and reading high school level books, my cousin, the public school teacher, told me public school would ruin him. I didn't listen. I honestly thought for some reason that they would love to have a kid like this in any ...view middle of the document...
In the third grade, he tested for the gifted program in the Cranston, RI School District. However, he didn’t make it, even though he was 10 times smarter than every other kid in the district, including the sixth grade and everybody knew it. Unfortunately, over there the high achieving academically talented student had to struggle through what was called gifted education and the intellectually gifted child got writing resource and drugs were always an option. Go figure!
By the 4th grade, I hadn't received much help to understand why my boy who loved learning so much was miserable in school. While special education instructors tried their best to dumb him down, I didn't interfere because I honestly believed they knew what they were doing. However, the more they tried, the more depressed he got.
The fifth grade was somewhat OK because although the teacher didn't have the materials to give him what he needed, at least she knew what he didn't need.
I knew I had to do some learning myself. That’s when "I" hit the books. The education I received was frightening. I read case study after case study of children of promise who were damaged in an educational system that would not bend to accommodate them. Somewhere along the way I learned that without the right kind of emotional and educational support, kids like this started to fall apart almost as soon as they hit middle or junior high school. They needed specialized teachers and needed to be away from peer pressure. Instead, they were left in the regular classroom and attention was drawn to what they could not do - but none was drawn to their intellect. Their teachers grew to resent them and they were put on drugs that made them behave but stole their creativity. The ones who were not hyperactive got picked on relentlessly by age mates and were pressured to conform. Many of the exceptionally gifted kids were plagued with some kind of handwriting or spelling problem, which makes them appear less able than most children instead of more able. These problems were more often than not due to asynchrony. That's uneven development. However, they were so smart that they could hide these problems in the early years. Possible disabilities were left unchecked, or modifications were flimsy at best. If by some miracle they actually made it to high school, they could not take the lack of recognition of their advanced intelligence anymore and cracked. I learned that Schools labeled them as troublemakers, deviants, emotionally unstable, behavior disordered, ADD, ADHD. Take your pick. That's when I promised myself it wasn’t going to happen to Joseph.
At some point during the 5th grade, I found out that about 10 percent of the children in our district should be gifted with maybe 3 or 4 at a level similar to my son. Then I ultimately learned that at his level, he was maybe the only one. That's when I knew I couldn't hide anymore.
So, I fought for a gifted program and I tried to get my point across that...