Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To one's full potential

One of the hardest concepts for a parent of a gifted child to contend with is "full potential". People love to talk about allowing children to work to "their full potential" until they encounter a gifted child - especially a profoundly gifted child. We found this out with my eldest. He had been grade skipped into Kindergarten, was reading a a First grade level, but something just wasn't "right". So, we took him to a psychologist who specializes in working with gifted children (and who is amazing by the way!!) and our suspicion was confirm - he was dyslexic. As we searched deeper into his issue with reading we also found he had severe vision issues.
Now, fixing the "reading problems" of a child reading two grade levels above where he should be age wise becomes a challenge. Not to us, but to the traditional world of education, which we found we just couldn't bear to navigate. "Problem, what problem? He is the best reader in the class!" Okay. That might be true, but that wasn't his full potential and that wasn't okay with us and it shouldn't be okay with anyone.
I found people are very comfortable encouraging a child to work to their potential when you are talking about a child below the norm. Of course we want every child to be all they can be! Really? I had hoped this would be the case. Unfortunately, I began to feel the push to isolate and conceal. Conceal the fact that our three year old twins would be doing First grade math in the fall. When a gifted child begins to work to their full potential, it can become very uncomfortable for those around the child. It seems unnatural - does this little kid really like math that much? Yes.
I believe one of the hardest things people must fight against is comparison. My children working at advanced levels in academic subjects in no slight against any other child on the planet. My husband and I don't think our children better than any other children, we don't look down on anyone and don't consider other children "behind". Honestly, we are so busy trying to hang on for dear life as our children learn and grow we don't have time to think, let alone think ourselves "lucky" or "above". How can I think of myself as above, I need to wear a life preserver to keep for sinking under the weight of the challenge and responsibility of educating these three children that refuse to fit into a box called "age appropriate".
That is really what this blog is about. Wanting to finally give a voice to all those parents like us, hanging on for the ride. To show the people there is no formula for a gifted child, if they learn to read at 3 or 5 or 7, it really isn't the work of brilliant parents - these kids are just made in a unique way. Having at least one "twice exceptional" child (a gifted child with a learning disability) is an even bigger challenge. Have you ever seen someone park in a handicapped parking space - only to get out of the car looking perfectly healthy? This is the plight of the twice exceptional child - no one can "see" the disability - so they believe you are a fake and a phony trying to get some unfair advantage. So, here we are - dealing with the jeers and the sneers as we struggle with challenges people can't see with the naked eye. Its okay though - my child is worth the the struggle of giving him the opportunity to work to his "full potential". I'll admit, its amazing to watch.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for explaining it so well! I really connect to this with our son!