““I’ve done lots of reading, I’ve looked at the standard definitions, I listened to the niggles and ‘problems’ that different people – my GP, a friend, my child’s teacher etc. have mentioned. I know my child’s quirky . . . But, is my gifted child autistic?”
It’s a question almost every parent of gifted kids I have ever talked to has brought up at one time or another (particularly the parents of highly to profoundly gifted children). And though it seems there should be an easy answer to this question – a quick test, a definitive way of putting a yes or no to this question, the answer is actually much, much more complicated.”
“When, all those years ago, we decided that homeschooling was the right choice for our deeply asynchronous children, I kind of hoped that this would mean an escape from age-based norms and expectations. We would be free to craft the curriculum and activities that ‘fit’ our kids without the limitations that came with the age-grade lockstep that is the traditional way schools organise learning.
Gosh was I naive.”
“Now, I could write about why dismissing the idea of giftedness is harmful. And I have previously here.
And this isn’t the first or the last ignorant piece written by well-meaning but poorly informed people who think they’re doing everyone a favour by dissing on gifted people. You can read my previous responses here and here and here.
Instead I want to talk about why the idea that difference ‘doesn’t matter‘ is harmful. I see it all the time – “Everyone is different“, “Let you’re unique self shine!”. They’re lovely memes. Lots of fist-pumps and “Yeah! That’s awesome!“
But it’s a rare person that actually means it. Instead, a more honest meme might be:
“Think Different! But Not Too Different.”
“Be Different! But Don’t Make Me Feel Uncomfortable.” “
“I have a child who uses a completely different set of body language to me. Which I often get wrong. And that was and is, eye-opening. But realising that I understood things about neurodiversity and difference in my head – but not in my heart, or in the way I acted, has helped.
Just because my kids didn’t look engaged, didn’t make it true. My kids love to dive around while they think, jump on trampolines, wander off, wander back, or half listen while watching something completely different. But their recall is razor-sharp, and both, in their own way, show how well they understand. From their body language, it was easy for me to assume they weren’t taking in anything. But I was wrong.“
“The boy is so excited – it’s his first time in a canoe in years. But the paddles – which he held so easily on the shore are hard to handle in the water. And the canoe is so big – he’s never had to control something this large before. He splashes about in the water, going in circles. He’s still strong, but he pushes the paddles so hard against the shore he tips the canoe over and it fills with water.
A few of the other parents laugh at the boy, “All those years in canoe school and he can’t hold a paddle! We always knew the strong ones were lazy – they never make it to the other shore.”
The boy is devastated. He’s never had to handle so many new things at once before. Escaping the crowds, he leaps out of his canoe and runs home.”
“Adapting our homeschooling environment to support our kids needs has been a work in progress that has taken years of trial and error. I personally love the idea of self-directed learning and unschooling, but I have had to adapt it to fit the needs of my children.
As much as I would love to be able to say ‘you can do whatever you want’ and let it happen (with me strewing and facilitating, but having the kids in charge), it hasn’t happened. Instead, we have taken a lot of slow, small steps in that direction, and have had to treat it as more of an end goal than a blueprint.“
“It can be hard to figure out how to fit all the bits and bobs into a small apartment when the house is full of makers. We do lots of drawing, and crafting, painting, sewing, woodwork, game creation and science experiments in our homeschool. And before we know it, it can quickly descend into chaos – it’s beads everywhere, with the pencils and the card games scattered and the floor can regularly disappear. . . but I have learned a few tips and tricks to keep things roughly in order.“
“What do you do when you realise you need to make your learning spaces ADHD friendly?
Well, if you’re me, you go on a cleaning and reorganising binge. Here are some of the things we’ve been doing that seem to help.“
And that’s a wrap. A big thank you for all my readers, and I hope you all have a fabulous 2017 . . . even if everything is accidentally dated 2016 for the next few months!