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A Parent’s Perspective: The Unexpected Journey of a Lifetime

Gifted Parenting and Strategies

THE UNEXPECTED JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME: 13 Years of Public School with a Twice-Exceptional Son and the Things I Wish I’d Known at the Beginning

Son, what’s our current altitude and direction? A quick check shows us at 38,000 feet and 331 degrees NW 429 K or 492 MPH. A snowy Mt. Shasta is coming up on our left.  We are on spring break to visit an amazing college where he might just spend the next four years of his life. As he splits his time between reading a book and looking out of the window enjoying the view, I’m excited for him and a little wistful.  This is as good a place as any to reflect on the unexpected journey of a lifetime, raising a twice-exceptional son.

TWICE EXCEPTIONAL

Twice exceptional or “2e” refers to those who are both gifted and have a learning disability.

This is a broad category; no two kids are alike. Gifted kids are not all alike. Generally, an IQ of around 130 or above is considered to be gifted. There are highly gifted (say 145) and profoundly gifted (let’s say 160)[1]. A 130 and 160 IQ are very different, despite the small difference in overall percentile, 99% vs. 99.9%, respectively. Learning challenges also, to put it mildly, vary greatly. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)[2] and Autism are two common types of learning challenges. You may also hear the terms low “working memory” or “executive function” challenges. The degree of each also varies widely. 2e is the lotto jackpot of difficult educational situations. These kids have gifts that hide their talents and vice versa. Teachers and administrators often misdiagnose and misunderstand these kids.[3]

MOMMY AND ME

In hindsight, my wife and I probably should have figured we were bound for an interesting trip when our son said “necklace” for the first time. Not that necklace is such an unusual word, but it was WHEN he said it, in a mommy and me group when all the other kids could barely say Mom-ma or Da-da. Heads turned, expressions of horror on their faces… ‘Did he just say “NECK-LACE???!!” In our semi-neurotic, achievement-oriented, parent circle the pronunciation of a multi-syllabic word probably sent a half dozen parents home googling “speech therapist.” We were sort of amused at their reactions, but didn’t think much of it.

INTERVIEWING THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

A year before my son was to be enrolled in kindergarten, I interviewed the principal of the elementary school. I went to the office and arranged a meeting where I could ask questions, size the administrators up and get a sense of what the school was like. When I set up an appointment a year early, they said, “We’ve never had anyone interview us before sending their kids to our school.” I was new to the area, the District had open enrollment and I wanted to be sure our local school was the right one for us. I wanted to know how good the schools were. I was surprised that no one had taken the time to meet with the principal before sending their kids there. My kids are my most important asset and I wanted to know that the principal and teachers were up to the task. When the principal changed the next year, I interviewed the next one. They thought I was a bit odd.  I didn’t care.  I wanted to be confident in their abilities. When my first kid started there the next year, I already knew the administration. In hindsight, that was very helpful.

RED APPLES/GREEN APPLES “I DON’T LIKE APPLES”

He started kinder at 4 with a fall birthday, against the suggestions of our sports-oriented friends who were aghast we didn’t “red-shirt” him and hold him back. His pre-school director told us he had maxed out their educational services, and was breaking down the walls. They said he was ready. When he got to kinder, he was the only one who could already read and do three-digit addition and subtraction. Again, we didn’t think much of it. When HE gave his wonderful and very patient kinder teacher homework (multiple math problems with coded symbols for numbers) she joyously accepted and completed it. (Thank you, you know who you are!) Didn’t every kid do that? One of our first clues that it would not always be easy hit us at kinder back to school night. There was a chart on the wall asking the kinders what kinds of apples they liked.  ½ of the class liked red apples, ½ liked green apples, and our son made his own column “I don’t like apples.” He’s always been his own man, not easily swayed by others. I’m proud of him for that, though we can assure you, such an independent streak is not always easy to parent.

FAILING 2ND GRADE?

The first semester parent teacher conference in second grade was an eye-opener. We walked in like fresh spring bunnies into the lion’s den, happy and clueless. We listened to the teacher for literally 30 minutes as she told us all the things he was NOT doing in class. “He’s not following directions.” “He’s not coloring between the lines.” “He’s not doing the math problems the way we taught him – he’s doing it his own way.” We left thinking he was failing 2nd grade. After going home and discussing it, we realized the teacher had not told us about any of his test scores, or what he was doing well. We called back and asked the teacher about his grades and she said “He has an average of 99%.” We were relieved, but annoyed, that the teacher could only focus on what she viewed as problems, no matter that it did not affect his ability to show mastery in the assigned subject areas. That would not be the last time it happened. The teacher’s approach was completely “deficit-based.” Where was the recognition of his love of learning? Where was the recognition of the “spark in his eyes?” In her own way, she was trying to tell us, without saying it, that she wanted us to have our son tested for attention deficits. We owe her a debt of gratitude. She started us on the road to testing and learning about our son. This was the beginning of a journey we never saw coming.

TESTING

Information about testing kids could easily be its own book, and probably is, somewhere. When you are a parent, the information you must dissect and process on testing is overwhelming. Most schools do not help, and most professionals give you a snippet of information, but I always had the feeling that there was so much more than I did not know. So, I did what I do when I feel that way, I researched, obsessively. ADHD, Structure of Intellect, Stanford-Binet, Woodcock Johnson, WISC IV, WISC V, Standard Deviations, Bell Curves, The Flynn Effect, NNAT, Eye-Convergence, Processing, Verbal Scores, Math Scores, Executive Functioning. I contacted experts, read books and scoured the web. I found out that many districts use short screener tests of an hour or less to assess IQ and eligibility for gifted programs. Unfortunately, schools DO NOT tell parents that these screener tests are not an effective way to learn about strengths and weaknesses. To do that you will likely need to pay out of pocket for private detailed testing by a certified educational tester. Beware!  Even private testers are not always up to date as I found out when I learned about extended norms on tests and the GAI (Generalized Ability Index) an alternate scoring system on the WISC (Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children). The GAI is used when there are significant differences in certain sections of the test. I found out about it by reading about the differences and contacting the maker of the test. This revelation led to a rescoring of our son’s test – up significantly – and an apology from the “Certified Educational Tester” who realized she had not kept up to date with the publications put out by the test maker. Lesson: read, understand, be an advocate for your child, trust but verify. Additional lesson: ADHD and executive functioning issues can falsely depress IQ scores, see footnote 3.

Testing also revealed an eye convergence issue we did not know about. Our amazing family therapist used a test called Structure of Intellect, which was developed by the US Navy to figure out why so many bright pilots were flunking out of flight school. The test measures not just how much intelligence but what kinds of intelligence. This is a much more useful test in many ways for a parent to help their children. Both of our kids were tested in 3rd/4th grade and to this day we are amazed at the personality traits that the SOI test successfully predicted, even before we could see those traits in our own kids.

A second lesson I learned with our daughter was that even well-meaning districts can choose tests for gifted programs that are over and under inclusive. One such test was used in our district. When the short screener test came back with a lower IQ score than we knew was the case, I challenged it. The district told us “We don’t allow outside tests.” “Why?” I asked?  Answer: “It’s not equitable for those who can’t afford it.” Equity in education became a phrase I hated to hear. Not because I don’t believe in equity as we commonly know it – equality for all – but because “equity” in school district parlance became a buzz word more often used to deny needed accommodations. It is a weird world where up is down and down is up. Yep, public education. Back to the test, where I wrote an appeal to the district and backed it up with facts and questions proving why a short screener test should not be the sole standard for GATE  admission when two full days of testing clearly showed the child was gifted enough for the GATE program; she was already a member of MENSA[4]. Well, here is another wrinkle, the screener test was used to help kids whose first language was not English. That’s admirable, but it turns out it also discriminated against kids whose strengths were verbally based (see different intelligences, above, footnote 1).

When I realized this, it angered me, so I did what I do, I researched. I found the maker of the test, called around and got his cellphone. I wish I had a photo of the look on his face when he picked up his cell phone. “Hello Bob (not his real name) this is Pat.” “Yes……??” he answered.  “Well, your test is both over and under inclusive, you see we had a very long set of tests done and I’ve found that your test discriminates against those whose skills are verbally based because your test, while well-intentioned, is non-verbal.  I was wondering if you’d like to revise your test? Or let the school districts that use this test know. That way they can inform the parents whose kids take that test, so they know this and can best advocate for their kids, and perhaps use a different test” You are probably not surprised to learn that he was reluctant to do so. I’m not impressed by someone just because they have a PhD. next to their name. I was plenty disappointed with the reaction of this individual and his reluctance to admit the issues that were plain as day. I thought it was weak, to put it mildly. Mostly, I felt badly for the kids and parents who would not follow through like I did and whose kids were likely missed by this widely used screener test. To this day I wonder what effect this had on their self-esteem and academic careers.

JOIN THE PTA, HELP OUT – aka you pay one way or the other

Everyone pays one way or the other. There’s no getting around it. You pay in time, or you pay with money. It’s public education and if you want the best for your kid, you have to pay by volunteering, giving your time, and sharing any expertise that may help the school. Join the PTA, join your school’s site council. Donate money, if you can. Help out with projects. You will get to know the teachers, the administration and understand just how hard most teachers and administrators work. I was on the PTA and site council for years. What I learned was eye-opening. I got an inside look at the incredible dedication of many teachers and administrators. Many donate countless hours to help students. Many pay out of pocket for resources for their own kids. Our district was neither wealthy nor poor, we were an upper middle-class district and so the teachers had some resources, but it was never enough. I want to thank the many teachers who are dedicated, caring individuals who do all they can to teach and inspire our yutes (if you don’t get the reference, don’t worry about it, maybe watch a few more movies though, like “My Cousin Vinny”).

My wife and I helped advocate for, and pass, multiple school bonds to help increase funding to our schools. I created fliers and PowerPoints explaining how our district was a low-funded district in terms of state funding, and the need to increase it. I walked door-to-door, asking for votes. I explained to many seniors, who had no kids in the district why we needed them to vote yes, and how good schools helped property values. We phone banked, we handed out fliers in parks and at the drive-in line to the school parking lots. The bonds helped renovate our schools and fund computer and science labs. We are glad we did it. Yes, I work full time and I did this in my spare time. Many times, this meant dinner at 9 pm. You pay one way or the other. Sometimes you pay with time AND money.

FLY ON THE WALL

My wife’s work schedule allowed her to help in the classroom once or twice a week.  Volunteer in the classroom in the early years from kinder to 3rd grade! You will help the teacher by making copies, organizing papers, and helping the kids in a large classroom. In return, you will be the fly on the wall. You will see exactly how your child learns and behaves in the classroom. Your child will be very excited and feel special that you are there. Then, they will forget that you are there, and you can see how they interact with the other students.  Are they listening during class? Are they interested and if not, what is going on? Is your child learning or do they already know the material and serve as helpers for the other students? It is ok for students to help other students, as long as they also continue to learn new things. Sometimes that requires teachers to create better-suited, more advanced homework assignments for your child; not more repetitious homework worksheets about something they have already mastered. The exceptional teachers did the former.

GATE AND GIFTED PROGRAMS – If you don’t have one, START one

My wife and I restarted the gifted and talented education (GATE) program at our kids’ elementary school, and pushed our school district until they re-opened the GATE program districtwide. This helped our son and our gifted daughter who came after him. As we got to know the parents of other bright kids, we reached out to them and asked the parents what they did. You work in aerospace, great. You work in the law, awesome. You are a doctor, perfect. You are a music teacher, great! Let’s set up classes to build rockets, visit the local aerospace manufacturing plant. Can you teach a class on advanced math, on the law, on medicine? My wife is kind, social, smart and funny. Much nicer than I. She is an amazing networker. Together we set up programs at our school 1-2 times a month for a few years. Then we did fund raising and trained others to take over after us. I wrote memos to the superintendent and the school board. I showed up at public comment and spoke up. I encouraged them to hire a person to do gifted education and professional development on a full-time basis. After a few years of relentless prodding I was able to get them to fund a ½ time position for GATE and teacher training on GATE. Amazingly, they even did professional development about the twice-exceptional. The district took my suggestion and created an annual conference for GATE students and their parents. I was thrilled when Dr. James Webb spoke at one of our first conferences. He passed away not long afterwards. It was a big jump to have these things, but it’s not nearly enough. We did not have a pull-out program, and the acceleration at our elementary school was not nearly enough.

JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR TALENTED YOUTH (CTY) AND TALENT DEVELOMENT PROGRAMS

If your school does not have enough to satisfy the insatiable curiosity of a gifted, highly gifted or profoundly gifted kid, what do you do? You supplement. You spend time in lots of book stores and museums and you seek out classes, after school, during the summer and online. The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth aka CTY is one of the best known. It is one of many talent development programs. After signing up for their qualifying screening tests and going to a testing center to take the tests, hopefully your child passes and then they are eligible to enroll in a wide variety of classes. For about four summers we had our son signed up for CTY classes. He took science classes in chemistry, biology and inventions from mostly college professors. The stimulation was great for him. The drop off week day classes were great, 2-4 weeks at a time.

CTY SAMPLE TEST QUESTIONS – the most unlikely person to find an error.

A funny side note here. CTY put sample questions from their qualifying test on their website. They are typically 2-3 grade levels above the chronological age. Before our son took them, I reviewed some of the questions with him, which is the point of making them available. We reviewed some of the math problems. There was one problem that I just could not understand. Full disclosure – my strengths lie in the verbal area, not the math area, as in I am really not good at math. So, it was not surprising that a math problem confused me. Still, I wanted to understand it. No matter how many times I tried, I could not get the correct answer. I took the problem to his very bright 3rd grade teacher and she could not figure it out either. Long story short, I contacted CTY and explained that we could not get the correct answer. Those questions had been on their website for years. Turns out there was an error in the question. I was a most unlikely person to find that error. My wife and I had a long chuckle about that one.  Sorry CTY.

DAVIDSION YOUNG SCHOLARS AND THE DAVIDSON INSTITUTE FOR TALENT DEVELOPMENT

If your child is profoundly gifted, in the 99.9% range then congratulations and I’m sorry.  I hope you did not like to sleep too much. You are going to be busy with an amazing, exciting and exhausting journey the likes of which you probably didn’t imagine when you thought of having kids. One of the best things you can do is try to join the Davidson Young Scholars Program out of Reno, Nevada. If your child is accepted, you will get free family counseling until your child turns 18. That’s really helpful. You are likely to have a LOT of questions. You will also have access to an incredible group of parents and kids who are an AMAZING resource. There are Davidson Informal Gatherings (DIGs) and they are great. It feels like home.  It’s amazing to watch the young kids play highly intricate games with their own made up rules. For those who want to do so, you can move to Reno, and your child can attend the Davidson Institute in person. Thank you to the Davidson Family who took the resources they amassed from making educational software, and created the Davidson Academy.

ADVOCATING WITHOUT BURNING BRIDGES – Do it whenever you can

If you have a gifted kid in public education — heaven help you if you have a 2e kid in public education — it helps to be comfortable with conflict. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not SEEK conflict, but you will have it, and you need to be prepared for it. There will be disagreements, and you will, from time to time, need to push. Whenever possible, view it as a long-term game if you plan to stay in that district. People talk, it’s better to be known as challenging but reasonable than unreasonable. Keep disagreements professional. Praise and thank those who help you. Thankfully, we had many amazing people help us. If you have to go over someone’s head because a policy needs changing, let that person know, and you can still praise said person to their higher ups while asking for an exception or policy change. It’s likely that the person whose head you just went over will have to implement the change you want.  Why not remain on good terms? When you are mad, write the email, then put it aside for 24 or 72 hours.

There was one particular situation we had where I had to write and re-write an email for 30 days, I was so mad. I nearly sued our district for when a particularly rigid honors teacher refused to implement the accommodations specified in our 504 plan. It was really, really close. I ended up not doing so after demanding a change of teachers, changes in policy and demanding a written apology from the district. I got what I asked for, including a written apology from a district adverse to admitting errors, much less in writing. It was good move on their part. Otherwise, I would have sued them. Sometimes it helps to be an attorney. I am not conflict adverse, though I have never had to file a lawsuit in my personal life, other than to fix my car after being rear-ended, while stopped at a red light, but that’s another story. Having a great partner is really key here. My amazing wife, seriously she is amazing, is patient and kind and helped me keep things in perspective. She has a much longer fuse than I do, so we were a great pair to advocate. Good cop, bad cop, if you will.  If you do make her mad, though, watch out! There was only one time in 13 years I saw her really hot, and it was because of mistreatment by the above-mentioned honors teacher who was, in my estimation, a bully – in addition to being an ineffective and unhelpful teacher. Lesson: Don’t make a momma bear mad. You won’t like her when she’s angry.

FIND EXPERTS AND MENTORS TO LEARN FROM AND LEAN ON – ADHD/GIFTED

If you have a 2e kiddo, you will need expert help to diagnose them and figure out how to help.

There are an amazing number of helpful parents and experts in the Gifted, ADD, 2e community. Read their books, reach out to them online, take advantage of their expertise. When we started on this journey, I read nearly every book I could, not because I wanted to become an expert, but because I felt so inadequate and unknowledgeable about gifted issues and ADHD. I felt the burden of wanting to help my son. When you know someone has incredible potential there is also the weight of necessity to help them, otherwise you are wasting a very precious resource.

I don’t think we talk about this “weight” felt by parents enough. I also don’t think you can fully understand it, unless it happens to you.

TEACHERS ARE NOT TAUGHT HOW TO TEACH THE GIFTED, and definitely not 2e.

Did you know that most teachers, even most ED’s or PhD’s in education do not take even one semester of classes on gifted education? That’s right. Most teachers were never taught how to teach the gifted, much less the twice exceptional. That is a failing of our educational and credentialing system. It’s not the teachers’ fault. I attribute it to the anti-intellectualism of the United States. Also, the gifted movement split from special education in the 1970’s or so and that has had unintended consequences. It also means that it is likely that you may know more about gifted education than the teachers or administrators at your school, and you may need to (nicely) teach them. Separately, it’s a good idea to try to find a therapist who specializes in gifted kids and or twice exceptional kids. Both the parents and the student may want to chat with a psychologist at some point. I know I did. I am very thankful to her for helping our family. You know who you are! Some of my favorite resources are:

  • Guiding the Gifted Child, by Dr. James T. Webb, Elizabeth Meckstroth and Stephanie Tolan. Virtually any book by James Webb. He is a legend in the gifted community.
  • Hoagies Gifted online – old looking website, great info, especially in terms of learning about the different gifted testing
  • Tilt Parenting – Great book by the parent of a 2e kid, Great Podcast, too.
  • Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, by Ellen Braaten and Brian Willoughby
  • A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, by James T. Webb, Gore, Amend, DeVries
  • Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, by Christine Fonseca
  • Hothouse Kids, The Dilemma of the Gifted Child, by Alissa Quart
  • The Bridges Academy and their 2e Movie.
  • Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Although their mission is to help profoundly gifted (99.9% + IQ) they have an excellent database of info available to all.
  • Twitter – No really. Much of Twitter is awful. Type in #GIFTED and #2e and be amazed at the info at your fingertips.

PUBLIC – PRIVATE – HOMESCHOOLING

By now you may have started considering whether to put your child in public school, private school or homeschool. This is a topic that could fill many books. People are passionate about their choice. Every family is different and what works for one may not work for another. We checked out several private schools, including a highly sought-after school for gifted kids but when we spoke with them, we found out they did not accelerate in our son’s area of interest. There was no point in spending tens of thousands of dollars a year for that. While I admire those with the patience and drive to homeschool, that wasn’t for us. Despite all the challenges in public school, my wife and I are firm believers in public education. We both attended public schools and excellent state universities which prepared us for challenging and enriching careers. The other reason we chose public school was because we wanted our kids to be able to interact with a wide-ranging group of human beings, and public school is a great way to do that. We have instilled in our children wisdom of Peter Parker’s Uncle – “To whom much is given, much is expected.” All the money we saved from public education will now be spent paying for a private college with a great fit for our son.

504 PLANS-Why don’t they come with an advocate for parents?

Your 2e child might be eligible for a 504 plan (comes from section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act) or even an IEP – Independent Educational Plan, if the 504 plan is not sufficient.

I have no experience with IEP’s. In 504 plans, parents, the student and teachers meet at the beginning of the year (don’t wait too long – I find districts want to wait a month or two and I’d rather do it the second week) to talk about what accommodations would help your child excel. Typically, the accommodations are things like more time on exams, more time to finish homework, materials at the desk if you child has an eye convergence issue, maybe a note taker etc.  Here’s the problem with 504’s, in my experience. When you start, parents have literally no idea what will help your child, and the districts do not typically provide a list of what they can do, and they don’t provide an advocate to help you push for what you do need. It took us a few years to figure out what worked and what didn’t. There should be a law change to require advocates to help parents with 504 plans. Otherwise you are fumbling in the dark for a while… Tick tock tick tock. Some teachers are great and willing to help. Others are not. Do not expect the teacher or the district to tell you what they can do, you have to figure it out. Go figure.

STRENGTH BASED APPROACHES – Why do we pathologize learning differences, anyway?

If you are the parent of a 2e kiddo, you need to be their advocate and work from a strength-based approach. Some teachers will want to tell you everything that is wrong or not being done. Don’t let them. Don’t ignore what needs to be done, but encourage teachers to work from a strength-based approach. When your kid grows up, they are not going to get a job doing something they are bad at or hate.  They will seek a job doing something they enjoy and are good at. Cultivate the positive. Minimize the negative. Don’t let your kids focus only on their deficits, it does not help them or you. It’s also not an excuse to let your kids take the easy way out. Remember, hard work beats talent (and brains) when talent (and brains) don’t work hard. Praise the effort and the process. They will learn to work hard and overcome challenges.

OUR EXPERIENCE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION (Some get it, some don’t)

Reflecting on 13 years of public school for our soon to be college student there are several observations that come to mind.

  • Many teachers are awesome and work exceedingly hard to help kids
  • Some teachers are too rigid. Many, but certainly not all, honors teachers are not that good. I’ve come to see that many honors teachers are used to high performing and very compliant students and are unskilled at teaching truly gifted kids who get bored and who have disabilities, like ADHD.
  • Non-honors teachers can be amazing. Some of our son’s favorite teachers were inspiring, funny, creative teachers who did not teach honors classes. I know, I know, they need to take honors classes to get into Harvard. Give it a rest. Honestly, if your kid hates the drudgery and monotony of high school, an engaging teacher to look forward to once a day can make all the difference. Thank you to the amazing teachers who care. We notice the time and effort you put in to make lessons fun and engaging for the kids!
  • A caring administrator is worth their weight in platinum. We were extraordinarily fortunate to have several amazing principals and administrators who helped us immensely. One middle school principle, in particular, understood our son, understood his challenges and helped us navigate a system that wants to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. Public education is largely made for the middle 80%, in my view. If your kid is on either side of that bell curve it’s going to be rough. A caring administrator is a godsend.
  • Say thank you, bring chocolates and gift cards and school supplies. People appreciate it.

GRATITUDE FOR TEACHERS, COUNSELORS, ADMINISTRATORS – Thank you!

After 13 years in public education, my wife and I are eternally grateful to the teachers, counselors and administrators who saw our son as the whole person he is, not just the deficits he has. Yes, he has ADD, yes, he may lose interest in class because he is bored (teachers hate the B word, too bad, sometimes it’s him, sometimes it’s you.) Regardless, he is so much more than that. He is funny, kind, strong, inquisitive and able to pull together disparate threads of information and reasoning that I can’t. I am continually amazed by how he thinks. I love his sense of wonder! The best teachers, counselors and administrators saw this in him and nurtured it. The best of you did things big and small to help. You smiled at him, you greeted him in the morning in middle school – a hard time for all. You told witty puns to the class to make him laugh even if he was the only one who got it. You gave him extra time when he needed it for exams and homework. You challenged him to think in a clearer fashion, backed up by facts and evidence. You let him know you believed in him. You took the time to write a recommendation for him on short notice when his sometimes-overwhelmed parents did not get information to you quickly enough (sorry about that!) You told his sometimes-worried parents “I don’t worry about him, you shouldn’t either.”  You helped pick the teachers for him that would build him up rather than tear him down.

GRATITUDE FOR MY WIFE -I hope you have someone to lean on during the journey

This is a journey for two people. It would be very hard to do it alone. It can be done, but it is not easy. My wife is incredible. At every turn, she was more patient than I was, kinder than I was, and helped me temper my presentations when “equity”[5] and bureaucracy made me nuts, time and time again. We are far, far better together than alone. I love you.

LANDING THE PLANE

As the plane begins a descent on the return trip after college visits, I realize that 13 years has passed in a flash. He loved his new school, and we are thrilled and excited for him. In a few months, another plane carrying our son to college will take off. Thank the lord, this school will not have homework worksheets!

Out of respect for the privacy of our children, the author wishes to remain anonymous.

[1] Many experts believe there are also different types of intelligence. The types of intelligence are debated and beyond the scope of this article. Some say there are as many as 9 types, including spatial, musical, logical-reasoning, interpersonal, linguistic, kinesthetic, intra-personal and naturalist.

[2] More recently there have been efforts to move away from pathologizing these differences and instead classifying them as nuero-diverse to recognize the distinctions without necessarily stigmatizing all of them.  The general idea, accepted by many but not all, is that conditions like Autism and ADHD are a normal part of genetic variation and have been with us as far back as we can measure. See https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/my-life-aspergers/201310/what-is-neurodiversity

[3] Yes, I know, teachers should not diagnose anyone. Read this book it’s an eye-opener. The Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults by Dr. James T. Webb (2004).

[4] MENSA requires an IQ of at least top 2%, most GATE programs require top 5% IQ. In some schools GATE admission can be based on other exceptional qualifications. In this case it was not a close call, and the District Administrator knew it and agreed.

[5] I’m not really against “equity” and am in favor of it. I am against the use of what looks like “equity” as a bureaucratic excuse to treat everyone the same when they have different needs. If you don’t know what I mean, see the parable about making a monkey, a fish and a giraffe all climb a tree. It’s equitable because they all have to climb the tree. No matter that the monkey is great at climbing, the fish has no arms and the giraffe doesn’t need to climb the tree.

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