Friday, November 12, 2010

They're Gifted Therefore They'll Survive and Other Myths

As we're wrapping up the first trimester of school and looking toward the second trimester, my hopes are that with a 504 in place and an IEP assessment scheduled, we will see more differentiation and appropriate curriculum for Logue.

Logue was diagnosed as profoundly gifted at age 8. Recently he has been diagnosed as having Asperger traits, Selective Mustism and Social Phobia. It's taken us approx. eight years and five psychologists to come to the right diagnoses. From the stories I've heard, our journey to getting special accommodations was not that bad. It's taken a year and a half and I'm only semi-psychotic about 20 days out of the month. It's pretty common when you claim your child is gifted that the reaction will be along the lines of, "Oh well, he'll do just fine - we teach to all levels in our classrooms." And if you're not very versed in the vocation of advocating through the 504, IEP systems, differentiated and compacting curriculum and what you need to do and who you need to do it to in order to get what you need for your can be the highway to hell the long and winding road.

During the last school meeting, I was challenged by questions from a couple of the teachers. "Can he manage feeling different if his class is doing an assignment and he is not?" Or, "This is a unique way of being in school, can he handle the confusing complexity he is likely to feel when his peers are doing something in class that he isn't?" These examples are by no means verbatim as they were presented to me in even more of a rhetorical fashion (yeah, yo no comprende either).

Now, I say they "challenged" me with these questions not because they came at me with their gavels and demanded I answer with five supporting fact-based statements to back up my theories. I mean it challenged me because I believed them at first. I believed that because they were bringing up these potential problems, they were bound to be legitimate problems. I bought into the myths. I had to take a step back, take a deep breath and reread How To Raise Your I.Q. By Eating Gifted Children, (I had to throw that one in here). When I get centered in my thinking I remember that I KNOW my son. I can debunk these myths about differentiated curriculum, at least for my kid. Er, at least until the next meeting where the questions will challenge me in a new way.

In case I get off-center again, please copy, paste and post on my kid:

What is most important to Logue is NOT that he feel like a "normal" student.
It's not important that he feel that he is "like" everyone else.
He doesn't care if he's doing the same things as other students.
He has known for a very long time that he is different than what he sees in most of his peers.
A unique way of being in school sounds like a relief to him.

What IS important: That Logue feels UNDERSTOOD.
That his needs are met emotionally and intellectually.
That his teachers identify with him in some way and validate who he is.
That he feels he can identify with his teachers.

I suspect this will elicit feelings of relief for Logue.

Social Phobia is the fear of being judged.
Teachers are really the ULTIMATE JUDGES from a student's perspective.
Elevate him in a way that enables him to take back some of that power.
Word. I mean, Ohm.

Photo: New NAGC Poster courtesy of Tamara Fisher and her blog Unwrapping the Gifted

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