Saturday, February 8, 2014

The musings of Gifted and Sensory Processing Disorder

Sometimes people wonder why I talked about my kids being "gifted" so often. It isn't really about the IQ, but more about wanting to give people a glimpse into the full aspects of the world. One of the more common traits discussed among parents of gifted children is the issue of Sensory Processing Disorder, often referred to as Over Excitability. I am linking a video I did a while ago to show how the issues with Kel El/Clarke Kent in a school room were so similar to what happens with my kids. That is why I liken gifted children to Superman. When you have gifted children, you see one of the biggest things to Kel El struggles with - loneliness. It doesn't matter if he/she is in a public school/private school/ or homeschool, it is rare to find highly to profoundly gifted children with a lot of friends. Most gifted kids struggle with "fitting in" not because they are smart, but because they are different. Not just a little different. It is easy to understand how a child 2 - 3 standard deviations below the "norm" are different, we have so much compassion and empathy - we teach this empathy to our children. We rarely sit back and evaluate that 2 - 3 standard deviations above the norm is just as different and that difference shines through in sensory issues.
The easiest example for me to share is the sensory issue of hearing. We struggle often with my children and their hearing and it isn't because they can't hear - but because they hear too well. My daughter has had her hearing tested so often I am losing track. She failed her first hearing test as a newborn, then she passed the second one - they eventually concluded that maybe the machine was broken. It wasn't. My daughter fights with her hearing and turns it "off" and "on" regularly. Why? Because when her hearing is "on" she tops out every machine tried on her for testing human hearing. Meaning as high as the machine can test - she can hear at that range. Her range of hearing is literally "off the charts", meaning when they go to chart her range of hearing, the marks are above what the chart records - because so few humans can hear that well. While good normal human hearing is great, extreme hearing is debilitating. Imagine sitting in a room and hearing every, single, solitary noise that can be picked up by the human ear. Imagine hearing things other people can't hear. No really - what happens when my daughter is in a group and keeps asking people "did you hear that guy laugh?" No, they didn't hear that guy laugh, because they guy was laughing 3 rooms away with the door closed. No one even sees the guy or knows he is in a room 3 doors away - so she becomes the kid that is "hearing things". Do you want to play with a kid that "hears things"? Things no one else in a room of 20 other people hear? How would you feel if you ALWAYS heard things other people said they couldn't hear? Would you begin to feel a little crazy? In an effort to stop some of the noise, my daughter's body will automatically turn her hearing off when it just gets too much - she goes from hearing too much to not hearing thing she should. So, this little girl that was hearing a guy laugh 3 rooms away now can't hear someone calling her name. Now, take this phenomenon and apply it to all the other senses as well - taste, touch, smell, sight.
See why your kid hitting my kid "for fun" is such a big deal? Because my kid's sense of tough is so heightened that it really did hurt, even if you kids was "just kidding". I don't keep my kids in a bubble - they have to go out in the world and live their life and make friends and all that other good stuff. It's just hard that they are constantly reminded that thing aren't quite made "for them". It really is like being "Superman". Sure they can do math with ease and read even with dyslexia and discuss with great detail some of the finer points of structural engineering. But, at the end of the day - sometimes you just want to hear the birds and the breeze; sometimes you just want to smell the rain, sometimes you just want to touch the soft petals of a rose, sometimes you want to just play a fun game of tag. Being young, with sensory issues - means all of those things take my kids great lengths to experience - because they have to filter out hundreds of other sounds, smells, touches, tastes, etc. You can just eat a piece of cake, they can taste every ingredient in the cake with each bite. This is one of the reasons my kids request one thing to eat every day - rice. Just plain white rice - everything else is just so absolutely complicated. Sure, they like sweets, but those things are tiring for the body and mind because they are processing so much information just eating a cookie. My eldest had an allergic reaction to an ingredient the FDA still declares humans cannot have an allergic reaction to, so it isn't required to be on food labeling. Now, even I love rice.
So, when I say "Gifted" - don't get mad. Other people put all that pressure on "gifted" to mean something it was never intended to mean. Just like Kel El declare on his chest - it wasn't an "S". So even though everyone declared him "Superman" based on the "S" on his shirt - it wasn't even an "S" to begin with. Even though everyone thinks parents are bragging about our kids being "Smart" when we say they are "Gifted"; newsflash - it isn't an "S"

1 comment:

  1. Folks are just hung up on labels. I was a gifted athlete, I played college soccer and was on the Olympic B Team. I was bright student (which by the way folks is not gifted, bright kids are tenacious and hardworking but we are not gifted) I have a Special Needs Daughter, a Bright Daughter and a Gifted Daughter and by acknowledging their abilities I think I am better able to educate them. The denial of reality when it comes to the education of our children is a pet peeve of mine! Not everyone is gifted, but everyone is a special loved child of God! BTW the offer to post on my blog still stands. If you'd like to do a video that would be fine too! I'd love for you to provide my readers with some ideas on how to educate gifted children.