Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Different. Not more.

I post a lot about autism. This blog, is called, "April Walks with Autism" after all. But really what I try to talk about is "special needs." "Differently abled." "Not normal." But today we will broach that small line under the title of my blog that reads, "and a few other things too."

Today I write about...
the GIFTED child.
Yep, I got me one of those, too.

But wait? Doesn't that fall into the category of "special needs?" "Differently abled? "Not normal?"

I mean Luke is autistic and he has an IEP.
Jared is gifted and he has an IEP.

So I think it's time we talked about it.

It's interesting. I meet a lot of parents with autistic kids that are sort of embarrassed to talk about their child's autism. Almost like there's this badge of shame in saying that your kid may be less than "whole" somehow. I'm the mom with a puzzle piece tattoo on her a$$ so what does that tell you about how shy I am about it? But when it comes to talking about Jared being "gifted" (see I even put it in quotes) I.... start to squirm. In fact, I think my body temp just went up about 10 degrees and I'm pitting out in my shirt. I don't like it. It's almost like saying, "My kid is better than yours." and I never EVER want to say that.

And then comes the stereotyping and the stigma that comes with having a gifted child.
"Life is so easy for him."
"It must be nice to have things come so naturally to him."
"He's an introverted nerd."
"You probably push him really hard."
"You'll never have to worry about that one."

**Sigh** One at time.

"Life is so easy for him." I could literally write a 40 page blog about this statement alone but instead I'll leave it at: is life easy for ANYONE? And does your IQ really have ANYTHING to do with how "easy" life is? Was it EASY for Jared to undergo open heart surgery at 8 days old? I'm guessing no.

"It must be nice to have things come so naturally to him." Yes, I'll admit. Many academic things come naturally to Jared. Math is part of his DNA (not from me, for the record). He taught himself how to read when he was 3. He remembers pretty darn much...everything. But guess what? Jared struggles in many OTHER areas. Jared has absolutely NO problem solving skills. I know, I know -- I said he was good at math. But for a kid like Jared, math is not a problem, math is logic. We had a situation this summer where he couldn't figure out how to screw the elmo sprinkler onto the hose. 9 years old and doing 6th grade algebra and high school reading but he can't screw a sprinkler on to the hose. Ya feel me on this? I mean he COULD NOT make his mind figure it out. It was utterly amazing to watch. (And REALLY frustrating, too) So, he must be....

"He's an introverted nerd." Introverted - NO. NOT a lick. Not even when we WANT him to be. (((grin))) Nerd? Well that's in the eye of the beholder but if by "nerd" you mean "nose in a book all the time," then you aren't talking about my boy. My Jared loves to be outside and play with his friends and play basketball and be on the Destination Imagination team, and laugh and giggle and PLAY just PLAY with his brother. In other words, he's pretty well rounded.

"You probably push him really hard." NO. NO. NO. NO. and by the way, NEVER. At the age of 3 he sat down and started to read a book. We NEVER taught him to read. Do we encourage him and "push" him to be his best. ABSOLUTELY. Shouldn't ALL parents do that? Do we drill calculus problems into his brain every day for 3 hours after school? No, in fact, he's watching Johnny Test as I type this. We follow Jared's lead. Period.

"You'll never have to worry about that one." ((((SMACK)))) how STUPID are you? Of course I worry about my child! DUH!!!!!!!! Since when does "High IQ" = "nothing to worry about?" Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr......................

My point is, people think that having a gifted child is so easy. And while it's true that in many regards it can be, we have to work and fight for Jared just as much, and sometimes more than we have to fight for Luke. And that... will be my next blog topic.

Until then - - think about this, with autism, we say
"Different. Not Less"
With gifted kids should we say,
"Different. Not more?"

Just because a child is smart doesn't mean they should be stereotyped. Stereotyping and profiling hurts no matter what end of the (pun intended) "spectrum" you're on. Gifted kids struggle with just many things as "typically developing children" and "special needs" children. The things they struggle with are just....


And that kicks off my month long topic of living with a gifted child!


Unknown said...

You're so right...a high IQ definitely doesn't mean a person has it easy. People will always have struggles, no matter what their natural talents or disabilities are. And we'll always worry about ALL of our kids. :)

Looking forward to reading more!

Unknown said...

Yes, I have watched Jared, not as much as I would have liked to but sometimes there are reasons unknown to us.
I brag how brilliant he is, today we were laughing at work that he will be Einstein for Holloowen, in fact he was last year I think, (He is too old now for Grammie to make his costumes!) Anyway, he does struggle with "street smarts" sometimes but you know what, that's ok. He is loving, giving and cares about all people. Who cares if he knows how to change a tire.....
But I know it gets hard sometimes to keep him occupied.

Karla said...

Yes, my oldest daughter is very smart and talented in art, math, singing, etc and has great grades. I worry less about her future then I do my son's. But things are NOT easy for her and they never have been.

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