Behavior problems led to something unexpected…

Have you ever seen a Cheetah Run? So much has happened since my last blog that I feel so behind.  Much to catch up on but right now, in the moment, I am learning more and more about my 6 year old boy.  I love him to pieces (and so does everyone else) which has made some of his social behaviors a challenge.  We have dealt with many comments, criticisms, suggestions, advice and such from others with all good intentions but still hurtful (for me as the parent).  We recently just finished what felt like a long series of tests initiated by teachers and counselors at his school who thought he might have a learning disability.  (code language for ‘your child is disrupting my classroom so there must be something wrong with him’) Without going through the nitty gritty detail, what we found out about this wonderful little boy is that he has an amazingly (and uncommonly) high IQ.  While we as parents were excited to find out that our child was inherently brilliant we also realized that this was an area we had not considered and needed to educate ourselves on.  This does not mean that school will be easy for him, actually, he already has had many challenges and from what I’ve learned so far, this is just the beginning. Academically he is doing great.  As a kindergartner he is reading almost at the 2nd grade level and has a good understanding of what he reads.  He gets the math, can write legibly so we’re not too worried about that part, although it’s not his favorite thing to do.  What is cause for concern in his classroom is his disruptive behavior.  We haven’t completely ruled out ADD/ADHD yet but are waiting for a little maturity to catch up before we head down that road. So, in our very beginning stages of research we have already found so many ties to the “quirky” behaviors that our son exhibits and the patterns of a child with an extremely high IQ.  For example, our son has some heightened sensitivities that seemed to come up randomly but now I feel like I can see a pattern.  Anything he sees as ‘gross’ causes him to have a gag reflex.  When he was younger he couldn’t really control it and would just vomit.  Now he has a bit more control over it and knows how to avoid puking.  He also exhibits ‘odd’ behaviors when he gets overly excited about something.  If we are going to a party or a friends house he might start jumping up and down and flapping his arms like a bird.  To a mom who has lived with this little guy, I know that he’s excited and that’s just how he chooses to express his excitement.  No harm, no foul.  To a teacher and other adults (and sometimes kids) this behavior is seen as strange, weird and abnormal.   He has a more adult-like sense of humor and can make adults laugh, where kids his age might not sense the witty tag line.  I’ve learned that highly gifted kids actually are multiple ages (i.e., adult-like humor, toddler like social interactions, advanced academics and age appropriate toys) which is difficult to deal with in a classroom where he is told his peers are all 6 year olds yet he doesn’t always find common ground there. A great read to start to understand this complex picture of life is described in an article by Stephanie S. Tolan entitled Is It A Cheetah?  It really helps a new parent or onlooker understand the beginnings of what a gifted child might face.  Have you ever seen a Cheetah run?  One of the things my son loves the most is animals, pretty much any animal but especially live animals.  We frequently visit the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.  If you haven’t been, here is their Cheetah Run video.  It’s a spectacular thing to see in person. We are just at the beginning of our journey and I feel like this blog will eventually morph into epiphanies related mostly to this topic.  I’m grateful for the honor it is to have children and to learn how to parent one that is highly gifted is just one more way I as a parent can stay more engaged in my child’s life.  I welcome any and all feedback and resources from parents that have gone through this experience and have some “wish I knew then what I know now” thoughts they would like to share! ~ Noelle

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