I am so excited to have a REAL library here. Where we used to the live my home library carried more books and resources. It was very limited and small. Here there is a grand awesome library downtown and I think about eight more all across town. They are smaller, but they carry recent books and they are connected to the main library. I mention that because well, I was excited and because it has a TON of resources for Autism, gifted learning, and learning disabilities. I have been researching ways to help Daniel and Joshua with their reading struggles. I have been concerned about Joshua because he shows more prominent signs of dyslexia. As a matter-of-fact, he shows not just a few signs and symptoms, but he ranks extremely high according to the questionnaires, signs, and symptoms I have read.
I already knew this, but I started to doubt myself.
I explained this to his teacher at the beginning of the year. She seemed to feel that with repetition and with the five-day reading plan, that he would be able to grasp reading. He did not. He has struggled throughout the whole year. He also, freezes when he has to do timed reading assessments so I do not feel there was ever an accurate reading assessment done with him. (I am trying to help him and Daniel with this by practicing timed reading each week.) She wanted to retain him. I refused. I could not do it. The boy knows his subjects. He has mastered first grade math, science, social studies, etc … He struggles with handwriting and reading.
He is gifted in math.
There was no way I could live with myself keeping him held back based on these reading assessments and his ability to read sight words. He has progressed and in the last week, he has done extremely well. I have been researching and applying strategies from dyslexic sites I have been on. The library has an audio series that I plan on getting that goes through specific techniques that I think may help us. The more I read about dyslexia the more I thought about the word “gifted.” Ariel has already been placed in gifted classes. She is reading at 4th to 5th grade level with minimal work on my part.
It comes naturally to her.
It does not for the boys; however, math comes naturally to the boys and not for her. She has to work a little bit harder and it has to be explained in certain ways. I decided that I needed to trust my instincts when it comes to my kids. All of them struggle with handwriting, I have dysgraphia and I have other traits of dyslexia. (Types of dyslexia.)
They all show signs and symptoms too.
Something is seriously wrong when Daniel has a meltdown after every writing assignment and it takes him over an hour to write six sentences. Something is wrong when both Joshua and Ariel are in tears, reaching the point of sobbing after they get to the end of their writing assignments. They all need many breaks in the middle of it and that still does not help.
Have they improved?
Yes, they have, but at what cost? Thankfully, Daniel’s OT is suggesting that in his IEP next year for larger writing assignments he be allowed to use the keyboard instead. We will still work on handwriting. I am happy to know that the process has started for Joshua to get accommodations as well, the Special Ed teacher is awaiting approval. I hope that by the beginning of the year we can get some things for him. However, Ariel is not. Since she shows improvement and is in gifted classes, she does not get these accommodations. I have shared about her struggles, yet, it is another feeling that she will just acclimate and be able to adjust.
Currently, I will have to make do with helping her because she just-does-not-have-enough-visible-issues.
Urg! I will have to process that and see how she does this year. If it is too stressful and overwhelming, I will see what can be done. All of this made me think that I really need to find resources about being gifted. When I thought of gifted I had automatically thought things like, special, highly intelligent, in the advanced classes, not having struggles, not needing help, able to learn ALL subjects with ease, not me. That is not true, according to the criteria, I am gifted, and I did several questionnaires that give the indication that all three of my children are as well. My perception of gifted was skewed and this is confirmed through several resources I have read as well. How does society get things so contorted?
So what does gifted mean?
There are several views about this, BIG SURPRISE! It can vary. Here is the wiki quickie:
“Intellectual giftedness is an intellectual ability significantly higher than average. It is different from a skill, in that skills are learned or acquired behaviors. Like a talent, intellectual giftedness is usually believed to be an innate, personal aptitude for intellectual activities that cannot be acquired through personal effort. Various ideas about the definition, development, and best ways of identifying intellectual giftedness have been put forward.
Intellectual giftedness may be general or specific. For example, an intellectually gifted person may have a striking talent for mathematics, but not have equally strong language skills. When combined with an adequately challenging curriculum and thediligence necessary to acquire and execute many learned skills, intellectual giftedness often produces academic success. There is also artistic or creative giftedness, which may or may not be combined with intellectual giftedness.“
I will only use that definition – I think it is straightforward and clear enough.
When it comes to schools defining, it is done through each state. Each gifted program may differ and they may be called by different names. Apparently, some feel using the word “gifted” is a negative thing for a child. I have been researching off and on about giftedness because I noticed some things that concerned me about Ariel. She has made it clear that she is “aware” that she is different, but she is not really sure how. She knows that she is very smart and finds school to be boring and unchallenging at times. She is uncomfortable around her peers and no matter what I do to try to help her with this, she cannot seem to feel as though she can “fit in.”
She show signs that she is an introvert.
However, she is also not really upset by this for the most part. There are some days when she gets down, but many times she is just happy. I have reassured her that all of these things are ok, but emotionally she internalizes, can shutdown, and will isolate herself. There are times when she needs that solitude and other times when it is because she is feeling down. I have no problems with how she processes, many times when I observe her she is like a “mini-me” which is exactly why I wanted to make sure I did my part in helping her. I am not being overly sensitive she and Joshua both need more support in their social and emotional needs. I know this and that is why I have them participating in different activities this summer with kids on their own.
In two weeks, Ariel will start gymnastics camp.
It is a weeklong and for half the day. This is a big step for both of us. She has never done anything like this and we are both excited. She will get to do something “without the boys!” The next week Joshua will go to basketball camp. I think this will be great for him. He needs to have his own time away from Ariel and Daniel too. Daniel is starting his music therapy social group the third week of June which will be the first time I will leave him doing activity. He and I both need do that. I have other things planned for the summer and I am already preparing for the fall.
I intend on getting them into things that come naturally for them.
I have been concerned with their emotional needs very much since; a lot of my energy has been focused on Daniel. I know that I have dropped the ball and now I am at a place where I can focus more on their needs. Being that all three children are in the gifted range, I can apply what I learn to all three of them. I will have to tweak each thing to work for them as individuals, but for my first plan of operation, I can work with all three of them. A couple of weeks ago I found this book Managing The Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted. I have gained a lot from reading this book. (A lucky find at the teachers store on the clearance rack! $5.00!)
It gave me words for what I felt, but did not know how to say or approach.
All that I am learning is helping me understand myself much more too. I have written about my findings regarding people who are gifted here Short on Words — Me? It has some great resources, but after I wrote it, I did not venture off into it anymore. Now that I recognize many patterns in my children, I have a new interest in learning how to teach them. Because frankly, this last school year proved to me that they do not excel in their learning by preparing for state testing’s. I do not believe any child does, but that is my own issue. I plan on learning as much as I can to be able to use the curriculum and virtual school that we go through in ways that will help their learning be more positive.
I am not sure how I am going to do this yet.
I have only just started reading, so my mind is collecting data, connecting information, and pondering how each child processes, their gifts, and challenges. I am pulling together these thoughts and ideas to see how the information applies to them, and thinking of ways to prepare for the new school year. I have until August 12th! My first and most important priority is to help my kids understand themselves. They all three expect to be perfect at something the first time they try it. If they are not or they find it to be a challenge, they become upset. Many times, they speak negatively about themselves. I am sure that sometimes they are trying to get an emotional response out of me, but it is still not something I want them to make into a pattern of thinking.
I will use handwriting, it is one where all three of them say, “I am not good at this!”
Or “I will never be able to write.” “I do not know why I am so bad at this.” Then, there are tears, frustration, meltdowns, or shutdowns. There is nothing wrong with them. They are doing amazing work; I see how much effort they put into each writing assignment and how much it costs them emotionally and physically. They become exhausted, drained, and their hands hurt. I have the weighted pencils AND every type of writing instrument there is out there. We have done the OT exercises and the sensory diet. We have done the work.
I understand their frustration after trying so hard and still struggling.
What I find even more frustrating is that this “inability” is what the focus is on, or for the boys their reading challenges are the constant focal point. They are being continually reminded of what they cannot do instead of bringing balance of all the things that they do excel in. This is emotionally taxing on all of us. Joshua has another component where he does not understand why reading is so easy for Ariel and not for him. I am not sure if Daniel is aware of this. He does not seem to notice what Ariel is doing with school, but you never know. He observes so many things and details that he may be internalizing his thought about that.
In my efforts to help, I picked up this book The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide at the library.
I also got Mind Workout for Gifted Kids to help me by reading the parents’ guidebook and to see if the puzzle book is beneficial to the kids. It is all up in the air right now. I have confessed before my failures in remembering Ariel and Joshua’s challenges and struggles. I can be consumed with helping Daniel or trying to keep the peace (with everyone!) in the house. In this next week, I am going through The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide with each child and reading it with them.
This is taken from the description:
“Based on 1,000 new surveys with gifted kids, this book will continue to help countless bright, talented children know they’re not ‘weird’ or alone in the world. It answers their questions about what gifted is (and isn’t), how to cope with teasing, how to deal with high expectations and perfectionism, how to make friends, and much more. It’s upbeat, informative, friendly, and compact. At a time when some gifted programs are being challenged, scaled back, or dropped, it’s more important than ever to have “The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide”.”
I plan on discussing it with them and asking questions to help me know how to teach them better.
I want to know what they are feeling, if this book can give them words to what they have not been able to express before then, I feel that is a major achievement. I am spending this summer learning more about how to understand my children’s giftedness and about dyslexia. I will not second-guess myself again. I tried to teach in the way that I thought I was supposed to and granted my kids got straight A’s, they did not enjoy getting those grades. They just wanted to get it done. It makes me wonder what they will do if they actually have more fun while learning.
I will share several resources about dyslexia and some more that I found about gifted kids.
(I know, it’s a lot … I didn’t even share everything! I have been reading about this stuff off and on for a while. I am just now able to process and put everything together.)
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