I’ve always noticed Madison was different, I just didn’t know why. Madison was born within an hour of my water breaking, I didn’t have time for drugs or for the doctor to show up. She had trouble transitioning and was put in the NICU for 10 days where she had Brady Cardiac arrests frequently. When she was born the nurses warned me that she would always be headstrong. I laughed. I was obviously completely clueless. The joke was definitely on me!
Madison continued to be a very difficult baby. She didn’t sleep for more than 15 – 20 min for daily naps. She screamed constantly. I could not take her out of the house. There would be times I didn’t leave the house for weeks. She was very strong-willed. And exhausting.
I noticed she met all of her milestones very, very early. It became extremely apparent between 12-18 months. I knew she was gifted but the rest of my family didn’t, so I decided to put her in Kindergarten without saying anything and to wait and see what her teachers/school thought. She tried to do her best to fit in, but she didn’t really and was coined as a behavior problem. I was lucky that her teacher was a Love and Logic teacher, so she helped Madison get through Kindergarten with positive reinforcement. She tested well in the Kinder GT test and showed many signs of giftedness so she was put on the ‘list’ to be tested for the GT at program in 1st, which is when they test for the program. And then came First Grade, aka Hell.
Madison and her teacher butted heads right from the start. So I set up a meeting and explained she was gifted and her characteristics and quirks. I immediately requested testing from the Gifted teacher at school. Madison was tested and only missed 3 questions on her COGAT test. I provided the documentation to her teacher to help her modify her teaching style, but it didn’t matter. The class was a dictatorship classroom and the problems got worse. Her GT teacher offered an after school enrichment class on her own time since GT pull out classes had been eliminated by the district. It helped Madison a lot, but not enough to prevent her from begging for me to Home School her. She hated school and dreaded it. I did some MAJOR research. I couldn’t figure out why MY child was having so many issues. Well, come to find out, there’s different types/levels of giftedness. And excitabilities. And all sorts of gifted quirks. Geeze.
So I set up another meeting with her teacher to discuss differentiation for Madison. That meeting absolutely tanked and she said some pretty horrible things about my child. I met with the administration with no avail. I almost pulled her at that moment. The only reason I didn’t, was because an amazing thing happened…she got a Student Teacher. I’m not kidding, for Madison, it was a gift from God. Someone who made the world of difference in her life and was the reason she finished First Grade in the public school. I cannot even begin to tell you what a difference she made in my daughter’s life. In the meantime, I submitted Madison’s test results and she joined Mensa at the age of 6. I joined so we could find support. One of the best things I ever did!
I found a Psychologist that specialized in Giftedness. Our insurance didn’t cover her, but I didn’t care. I wanted to find out if my daughter was the problem or the public school system, and since she topped out of the COGAT test, I felt had to do more in-depth testing for answers. Dr. Lusby (who is professional and I HIGHLY recommend) did a History Questionnaire and Parent Interview session to discuss what test would be best suited for Madison and to discuss why I wanted her tested. Then she administered the WISC-IV. She did a complete write-up on the results of the test and her behavioral observations of Madison and met with us to explain them.
I was so relieved because she saw the same child I know. It basically contradicted everything her teacher had said and documented about her. After seeing the results of the test and that there were no underlying behavior issues or disabilities (which can be masked by giftedness) my husband and I decided to seek out private schools. I loved the test Madison was given because it let us know her Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, and Processing Speed. When you score highly in all areas, your success in school should be greater, not poorer.
I searched several schools and found the perfect one. We applied and she was accepted, but is 3rd on the wait list. There is one class per grade with 16 students. We were ecstatic, there was now hope!
And then I became very aware of Education Reform. As I saw why I loved the private school so much, I realized sending her back to the public school would put her further behind and God knows, neither of us could handle another day of her crying when she got home because school was so awful. We had too many of those days. That’s when I decided to Home School until a spot opens up at the private school. I am very excited, as so is she. I have researched Giftedness to death. I know now that I will have to advocate for her for the rest of her life. I know I will have to have special people in her life to teach her extra curricular activities and I am SO grateful for the ones we have now that she is successful with. She is not an easy kid. Jeff and I pull our hair out on a daily basis. She is very unique. There is a specific way to motivate her and specific ways that destroy her soul. And unfortunately, most of the way things are taught are the destroyers to her. But once someone sees how to motivate her without crushing her, then she does amazing things and it is so amazing and rewarding.
She has come so far with learning how to deal with her characteristic traits and not ‘loose it’ and I am so proud of her. This is definitely a journey. I have provided my favorite articles I have read recently below. Also the contact information for Dr. Lusby. She is listed on the Hogies Gifted Site as well, but it took me awhile to find a Psychologist that is truly educated on giftedness. I wish pediatricians were as well. It would have saved me from being told Madison had ‘Princess Syndrome’ and that she needed punishment (ex. physically holding her into a corner of a public place for a time-out).
That is why I am writing this blog. Because being a parent of a Gifted child is tough. It’s exhausting and most of the time a very lonely experience. Trying to deny a Gifted child of their characteristics and telling them they should be a certain way is WRONG! Regretting what one thinks they should have done differently isn’t productive and doing what you feel is right as a parent going forward is what matters. As a parent, you are the one that knows your child best!!!
I dedicated my time to figuring out what was ‘wrong’ with my child and I have learned SO much along the way. I am dedicated to helping others learn about giftedness too, because the amount of time it took to figure out what was going on and to find the best path for me to lead my child down was DAUNTING!
More posts to come! And more that are in-depth. 🙂
There are GREAT resources on Twitter by searching the hashtag #gtchat
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