I think we can probably all agree that gifted and twice-exceptional children are really really neato.
Sometimes they ask questions that deepen our understanding of the world and the people in it.
Or they make jokes that show wisdom beyond their years.
They might complete amazing feats of computer/software engineering that push the envelope of what people think is possible.
A lot of the time they show such a deep understanding and empathy for others that you worry how to best protect such a sensitive little soul.
And still… there is so much more to these guys than this.
I realize that not all gifted children will display these types of behavior or reveal their talents in these ways. More than anything, it’s these children’s sensitivity and drive that make us stand up and take notice, regardless of the details.
And perhaps they’re struggling to integrate into their community due to these differences.
So how do we stand up and take notice?
After all, you really want the world to know how cool your kid is! Are you trying to expedite that process by pressuring them to add very large numbers in their head at the dinner table in front of your parents? Do you quiz them about history facts when you have guests over? Do you have them proudly announce all their accomplishments to your friends and family?
These are some examples of the subtle exploitation of gifted children. The intention is so pure, but the result can be quite damaging.
Often gifted children are tasked to tutor others in the classroom or are the constant example of a child who’s “doing it right”. It’s easy for a stressed out teacher in an overfull classroom to rely on the child who finished his 30-minute activity in 3 minutes as an assistant.
What message does this send our gifted and twice-exceptional children? The message is that we care more about what they can do and less about who they are.
Don’t get me wrong — some children LOVE to show-off, perform, or have an audience… and that’s great. (I also know that this type of personality has it’s own set of challenges).
When it comes right down to it, the issue is about choice.
To give a child choice is to give them respect and acceptance, two beautiful needs for any human.
If your child was to say to you “I don’t want to do math right now” or “I don’t want to be the teacher’s assistant,” how would you reply?