Friday, March 4, 2016

When It Isn't What You Think

Parenting is hard. Parenting when you have a child with special needs is very hard. Parenting when you have a child that you think you have figured out and suddenly your parentmobile comes to a screeching halt because you realize you were headed in the wrong direction with one of your kids is ARGH!!!!

Such is the case in our home lately. Our younger son is, what's the word, complicated. He has been for nearly his entire life. We started to figure him out, or so we thought, when our ideas came falling to the ground like sleet in the cold winter months. I am sure many of you have heard of the poem Welcome to Holland. For those who haven't, the premise is you start parenthood like you might start on a trip to Italy. You buy the tickets, plan, get on the plane, and all is good. But, you end up in Holland. And, while Holland is perfectly lovely in it's own right, you were supposed to be going to Italy so your entire paradigm has to shift in a massive way. The problem is, what happens when you never had a ticket to Italy in the first place?
We had our tickets and were headed to Italy with our son. I mean, we could smell the food. Problem is, his issues were completely different. We had a son with very defined special needs. He had SPD, food issues, and the list goes on. SCREEECH!

It hit us, our son has something else.

That something else is, we believe, giftedness.

Now, before you throw things at me and say in your most sarcastic tone, "oh, wah wah, baby girl has a smart kid". That's not what this is about. Yes, he's smart. He's very smart. He's the kind of smart that makes me know he will suprass me young and I am no intellectual slouch. But, giftedness is more than a smart kid who gets A's.

Imagine living with a child who is smart but has development that's not the same across the board (asynchronous development). Imagine a kid who can look at a new math concept that's already a few years beyond where his age is and just know how to do it who feels emotions with a massive intensity. Imagine sensory issues in a little body whose brain understands concepts far beyond his years. The list goes on. Add in a child with a talent like our son has and it can be downright hard most days. Add in that my child is one whom things come easy for so if he meets with something that takes some serious effort he freaks a bit, and it's a roller coaster right for sure.

People have always commented that he was smart. I watched him do things that I didn't think other kids his age did, but figured parents I knew just weren't sharing those activities. Slowly, however, it started to dawn on us that maybe this wasn't typical kid situations. I finally cornered someone I knew who had gifted children and worked with gifted kids to ask her about it. That's when the door opened to our actual destination. The more we read the more we felt like we were finally saying to our son "oh, there you are". The character traits, talent style, intelligence level, and pitfalls that come with it all, were like reading a biography on our child. It hit us, all those times we thought "does a 2 year old really know how to do that", "wow, I didn't teach him how to divide into numbers up to 100, how can he do that so fast and in his head" and so on were us seeing his giftedness.

The problem is, I packed for Italy. I guess I just didn't read the ticket. I knew biomedical. I knew PT and OT. I knew how to live in that world from our older son's needs. I don't know how to be the Mom of a gifted child. Thankfully my friend also shared a HUGE number of resources. I have been devouring them. It's like feeding a starving man. I feel like I have been malnourished from helping my child and never realized it until this door was opened.

We have a lot more work to do. We have to change the way to educate him because, honestly, he's bored and so far beyond where we have him (he's technically 2nd grade in age but is working right now at a 4th grade level and we need to up that). We need to figure out how to help him with his harder issues that come hand-in-hand with giftedness. We will be getting him tested to verify we are on the right track.

Holland is pretty this time of year. (ha ha)

I am going to share a few of the resources my friend shared with me. She gave me many more, far too many to list here, and I will share those over time. I hope you find the help you need if you are blessed with the wild ride of a gifted child.


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