Realizing We Have a Gifted Child

I have spent a long time debating how to best write this post, or if I should even write it at all. In the end, I decided that the purpose of my blog is to share our family’s journey — and this is part of our journey.

But my fear is that some will read this post and think I’m just trying to brag about my child, or worse, that someone will think that by using the word “gifted” I’m saying my child is superior to others.

This is not at all my intention in writing about this. I simply want to share what our family is experiencing, and maybe even help other families in similar situations. So please bear with me as I share this bit of our family with you.

 

The Stigmatism of Saying “Gifted”

Before I go into the story of how we came to the conclusion that The Boy is gifted, allow me to start out by saying that I believe that God created (and loves) each and every human being individually. I believe that every child is unique and that God has a plan for each one. I have no desire to say or imply that any one child is better than another.

However, there is a stigma out there when people hear the term “gifted”. Many times when people hear the word, they’ll say that “all children are gifted” and we shouldn’t say some children are gifted while not including all of them in the category. I’m going to respectfully suggest that having this view is like saying we should label all children as having “special needs” just because some of them fall into that category. It’s simply a word that is used to describe a certain group of individuals — not because they are “smarter” than everyone else, but because they are different in how they experience life.

I will come back to all of this later in my post, but for now, I’d like to share with you how Hubby and I came to the conclusion that The Boy is gifted. Please know that everything I am about to tell you is not to brag about my son’s achievements; but in order to accurately explain how we came to this conclusion, I have to first tell you about The Boy.

  

The Boy Thus Far

The Boy started “crawling” around 6 months of age (I say “crawling” because it was really more of a bear crawl), but by the time he was 8 1/2 months old, he had started to walk. When he was a little over a year old, I got a part time job and he had to go to day care for a few hours each week. According to his age, he should have been in the crawlers class, but he was well into the ability to run and play by that time, so he was put with the age group for 18-24 months.

At his 18-month wellness check, The Boy had about a 5 word vocabulary, which concerned his pediatrician, and he recommended we look into speech therapy. After completing the initial assessment, the speech therapist told us he didn’t think therapy was necessary, but that it wouldn’t hurt to do it either. We decided to go ahead and give it a try since our insurance would cover it. Only a few months later, The Boy was speaking in full sentences — and he has rarely stopped talking since. (Prior to realizing his giftedness, Hubby and I used to think The Boy was just waiting to talk until he could express himself more clearly. Now that I know more about it, I’ve read that this has been known to happen before with gifted children.)

By the time he was 2, The Boy knew all the colors of the rainbow and could identify the letters of the alphabet by name. At 2 1/2, he could put magnetic letters in alphabetical order, count to 10, and complete 36-piece puzzles without assistance. By 3 1/2, The Boy knew all of the letter sounds; and shortly before his 4th birthday, he started learning to sight read.

Now at the age of 4 1/2, he devours — with good inflection — beginning readers from the library faster than we can check them out (example: we got three beginning readers from the library on Saturday, and he had read all of them multiple times by Sunday evening); he knows several addition and subtraction facts; he can count to 100 by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s; he’s starting to learn how to spell simple words, and he’s performing at a 1st grade level is most areas of Language Arts. 

The Boy has been using a program for about a month, which uses games to teach LA skills. The program covers the areas of print concepts, phonological awareness, letter sounds, decodable words, sight words, reading comprehension, and grammar. The Boy is at a 1st grade level for all but phonological awareness (which he just started), spelling, and reading comprehension (he struggles with answering inferential comprehension questions).

Looking back on all of this as I write it out, I’m surprised I didn’t think sooner about the possibility of him being gifted, but as a first-time parent experiencing it all over a long period of time, the pieces never came together until a couple of months ago.

 

Connecting the Dots

When the thought first occurred to me that The Boy might be gifted, I had no idea what the word meant beyond its association with a high intellect. As I began looking into the common traits and characteristics associated with gifted children, a light slowly dawned inside. So much of The Boy’s behaviors and interactions with others started to make sense.

Soon, I was scouring the internet for more information and reading every book on giftedness I could find at my local library (there were fewer than 10 books in our library).

Giftedness can be difficult to identify because the traits associated with it vary greatly from person to person, but in my search for information, one of the best descriptions for giftedness that I found was one I came across on Sallie Borrink’s website. Here’s the definition (emphasis is mine):

“Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (Columbus Group, 1991)

First of all, gifted children develop asynchronously — meaning that while they are advanced cognitively, they may be behind in other areas. This can commonly be seen in a gifted child’s difficulty with learning to write, in them being ahead in some subjects while behind in others, and even in a somewhat high correlation with also having learning disabilities (this is known as 2e or Twice Exceptional), such as Aspergers, dyslexia, or processing disorders.

But out of all the information I came across, what struck me the most was the gifted correlation with intensity. Giftedness and intensity go hand in hand; if a child is cognitively advanced, but lacks intensity, they are not identified as “gifted”. They are bright, to be sure, but giftedness comes with areas of intensity that distinguish them from others.

These areas of intensity (also known as Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities) will fall under one or more of the following areas:

  • Psychomotor: Characterized primarily by a surplus of energy, children with this overexcitability are often misdiagnosed as having ADHD. This intensity usually presents itself in rapid speech, impulsive behavior, compulsive talking, and physical expression of emotions. (This, by the way, is the biggest one I see in The Boy.)
  • Sensual: This intensity is characterized by a heightened awareness of the 5 senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing). Children with this as their dominant intensity can become distracted in class by the sound of the lights, become bothered by the feel of clothing tags, and have a high need or desire for comfort.
  • Intellectual: Children with this as their dominant intensity seem to be thinking all the time and show a deep curiosity. They have a love for problem solving, are avid readers, and are able to maintain intense concentration on tasks they find interesting.
  • Imaginational: Characterized by a vivid imagination, this intensity can cause them to visualize the worst possible outcomes in any situation. It usually presents itself in vivid dreams, magical thinking, a good sense of humor, and a detailed structure of imaginary friends (sometimes including friends of friends).
  • Emotional: This intensity is primarily characterized by an exceptional emotional sensitivity, which often leads to a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. It usually shows up in high levels of anxiety, loneliness, shyness, a strong need for security, and a heightened sense of right and wrong.

 

Where I see These Intensities in The Boy

I see a little bit of all of these in The Boy, but if I had to take a guess at his dominant one, without a doubt I’d say psychmotor. Having read about the intensities experienced by the gifted as a part of their every day life, I have come to understand so much about my child that I did not previously understand.

Here’s what I frequently see in The Boy.

  • Psychomotor intensity is present in his constant chattering, high energy levels, a compulsion toward movement, and a desire to be part of every conversation.
  • Sensual intensity is present in his sensitivity to loud noises and his almost compulsive need to remove his shoes and fix his socks anytime they get twisted.
  • Intellectual intensity is present in his love for learning and puzzles, his avid reading, in questions like “What’s inside of celery?”, and in his ability to memorize our phone number after less than a week of having it posted near his bed.
  • Imaginational intensity is present in the new games he invents, the creations he comes up with while playing with his legos (including background stories and complete details about what each thing is for), and in the stories he comes up with on a daily basis.
  • Emotional intensity explains his need to always be in the same room as someone else, his difficulty adjusting to change, why he cries when I ask him to put pants on instead of shorts in the dead of winter, and how fully he throws himself into a tantrum (sometimes just moments after being completely content) when he feels that he has been wronged.

 

Conclusion

All of this is to say that being “gifted” is not just about IQ. There are some who may think that having a gifted child means parenting is somehow easier because the child is able to think at a more advanced level, but being the parent of a Gifted child comes with it’s own unique set of challenges — mainly related to the intensity I’ve already described.

In all my reading and researching over the past month or so, I have come to the conclusion that we, as parents, have handled his sensitivities and intensities all wrong because we had no clue that there was a logical explanation behind it. I am slowly trying to change my way of thinking and interacting with The Boy so that we can better meet his specific needs. This will most certainly be a continuing journey for us, as it can be difficult to change our way of thinking, but I know it is the best plan for our child. 

To all who have read this far, thank you for sticking with it. I know this post was long, but I wanted to get all of this information out together at one time. I plan to create a new section in my blog devoted to our experiences in this area and the new things that I learn about parenting a gifted child.

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Ephesians – Interpretation

Welcome back to another post in my series on Ephesians! Thank you for returning!

As you may have read previously, the first step in the Inductive Study Method is Observation. I posted my personal observations in 3 parts earlier in this series. The second step if this study method is Interpretation.

 

Determining Chapter Themes

My first step toward interpreting Ephesians was to read each chapter and come up with a theme for each one. By determining a theme for each chapter (and as you’ll see in the next step, the book as a whole), it can be easier to make accurate interpretations of the text. I’m not great in the area of discovering overall themes, but here’s what I was able to come up with:

  • Chapter 1: Our inheritance in Christ
  • Chapter 2: Our old ways vs. our walk in Christ
  • Chapter 3: Gentiles have access to the Inheritance
  • Chapter 4: Our new life as one body
  • Chapter 5: Live as wise imitators of God
  • Chapter 6: Stand firm wearing God’s provided armor

 

Determining the Overall Theme for Ephesians

Based on the themes present in each chapter, the next task was to think about the theme for the entire book. Again, I struggle with this sort of thing, but what I wrote down as the Theme for Ephesians is

Live like Christ using the armor God provided for us

Not overly profound, I know, but there it is.

 

Dividing the Book by Themes

Following this, I came up with segment divisions based on the themes of each chapter. I titled my segment divisions as “Topics of Discussion”. Then I separated the entire book into two main sections, as follows:

  • Chapters 1-3: Our inheritance as believers
  • Chapters 4-6: How to live the way God desires

In other words, the first half of the book discusses who receives the inheritance, what the inheritance is, and how it has changed believers from who we once where to who we now are in Christ. Then the second half of the book explains what our new life should look like, provides specific examples for the various stations in life, and even explains the tools God has given his people to help them live the way he has declared.

 

Interpreting Ephesians

Without much more direction than that, the rest of my Interpreting step was to read through the entire book one last time and write down thoughts that jumped out at me based on the text. (Perhaps that should have come before determining the themes, so I will switch that around for next time.)

Here’s a list of what I wrote down:

  • Christ gives his people spiritual blessings
  • I am adopted as God’s child through Jesus Christ (to me this “adoption” seems to imply that those who do not have (believe in) Jesus Christ are not considered to be God’s children. They most certainly are loved by God, but they are not his “children” until they have been adopted as such through a belief in Jesus Christ.)
  • Because I am his child, I have an inheritance provided by God
  • The Holy Spirit is my guarantee of the inheritance God has given me
  • All things are under the feet of Jesus, meaning he has authority over all things.
  • I was once separated from God because of my sin, but now I have been brought near to God.
  • God’s people are all one body: We do not all have the same jobs or roles — just as eyes do not have the same job as ears — but we are all used by God to fulfill his purpose.
  • God extended the inheritance beyond the people of Israel so that anyone who believes in Christ may receive it.
  • Anger is ok as long as it does not cause you to sin (Realizing this was a big one for me after the death of my mom. For a long time, I was angry that she was gone, but when my pastor told me that it was ok to be angry — “God can take it” he said — it was a huge relief to me. Seeing it again here in my study of Ephesians was a good reminder.)
  • Husbands are told to love their wives sacrificially; wives are told to submit to the husband’s wisdom.

Since this final point is often a touchy subject and the idea of a wife being submissive to her husband is loathe in today’s society, I am going to go into more detail about it. The verses I am referring to in my Bible say,

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Ephesians 5:22-25

If you read these verses carefully, you will see that God is not telling women to become their husband’s doormat. I understand the first part to be saying that when making decisions for the family, a wife — although she can certainly express her thoughts and views on the situation — ultimately should be willing to take the path decided by her husband, in the same way she would follow the path for her life as determined by God.

On the flip side of the coin, the husband is told to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. This means that a husband is to love his wife sacrificially — even to the point of death if need be. If a husband is obeying this command the way God intended, then any decision he makes would be made with his wife’s (and family’s) best interests in mind.

To show this playing out in a real-life example, let’s imagine a husband and wife are about to have a baby, and they need to decide whether or not someone will stay home to care for the baby or if they will put the baby in a daycare facility. (Really controversial example, I know!)

If the husband and wife are following the commands given in this section of Ephesians, they would discuss the various options available to them. Then the husband would weigh all of those options, thinking sacrificially about the needs of his family, and come to a decision that is best for all of them. Then the wife’s job, after the decision is made, is to support whatever decision her husband chose (knowing that he made the decision with a sacrificial love for her needs) and be willing to take the route he has deemed to be the best for their family.

I hope this adequately explains what is being commanded in this section. Being submissive does not have to have the negative connotation that society gives it today.

So there you have it… These are the interpretations I have discovered in the book of Ephesians.

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Energy Dance Out

Our family started a new tradition today. I wanted a way for my very active son to burn off some energy as it gets closer to bedtime, so I came up with an idea. 

After I put Little Miss to bed, The Boy and I (and Hubby a little too) had an Energy Dance Out. We turned on some music, and spent a few minutes dancing out our wiggles. The idea is that the Dance Out is our last big energy activity and that the last hour before bed (and after the Dance Out) will be designated for calm, relaxing activities. 

The song that played was one I like so I’m sharing an image here. Enjoy! And have a great night!


Good night everyone!

February Meal Plan

Hello everyone! If you’ve been following my BabySteps series, you may be wondering why this morning’s post isn’t Day 21 of my progression through FlyLady’s BabySteps. Here’s what happened to me yesterday…

I needed to have breakfast ready and on the table by 8:30am — which is not always as easy as it sounds when you eat “dinner” during the “breakfast” time slot — so that we could eat before Hubby left for work. Breakfast was going to take 1 hour to make, so I should have been up and out of bed at least 30 minutes before that in order to get my Morning Routine finished.

I, however, did not awaken until The Boy climbed into my bed — practically pulling my hair out in the process, I might add — at 7:15am. That gave me just enough time to go to the bathroom and then get into the kitchen to feed the cat and get the oven preheated.

I told myself, “I’ll get to my Morning Routine after breakfast.” Here comes the problem though…

Shortly after breakfast, a migraine hit me with such force that the sounds of my children playing were painful, the light hurt my eyes, and I became nauseated. I trudged through the morning, until it was time for Little Miss to take a nap and The Boy to go to Quiet Hour (this is 1 hour of every day when The Boy must play quietly upstairs), at which time, I promptly fell into my bed and tried to sleep it off.

Of course, I was not able to fall asleep and The Boy came bounding in my room, full of energy, 1 hour later. I tried explaining to him that I had a very bad headache, and to please talk quietly, and although he did his best, he is still only 4 1/2 so he was not overly successful at keeping a low profile.

I spent most of the afternoon on the couch, curled up under a blanket, halfway (who am I kidding, a quarter of the way) playing the dozen different games The Boy made up to play.

By around 5 or so, the migraine had dissipated enough (though not completely gone) that the thought of venturing to the bread store 2 blocks away was tolerable, and I thought that perhaps the fresh air would help a bit too.

Needless to say, I did not get much done yesterday in the way of my BabySteps routines. I apologize. I was, however, able to sit down last night and work on my meal plan for the month of February.

February Meal Plan

This is mostly a tentative meal plan. I try to stick to them as much as possible, but life isn’t always a breeze (as was evidenced yesterday), so it does occasionally get changed. It does at least give me a plan to focus on and it allows me to easily make shopping lists each week.

On a side note, I have tried in the past to buy all of the pantry items for the entire month all at once, and then only having cold items during my weekly shopping trips. I actually liked doing it that way, because it made my weekly shopping trips faster (fewer things to buy). Over the course of the entire month, it was actually less expensive to buy groceries this way. The problem with that approach was that we were living paycheck to paycheck, so having a larger, monthly shopping trip was difficult to handle financially with the upfront cost of it. I’d like to someday get back to that method of shopping, but for now, we have weekly shopping trips.

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Ephesians – Observations, Part 3

Welcome back! If you have been following my new Ephesians series, thanks for reading and coming back today!

Today’s post is Part 3 of my personal observations for the book of Ephesians. This will be my final post on my Observations, and tomorrow I will move on to the next step of the Inductive Study Method, Interpretation.

In the Bible I used for this study — The New Inductive Study Bible — there is an Observations Chart at the end of each book of the Bible where the student of the Word can write down their own observations pertaining to certain topics or themes.

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BabySteps Day 19 & Day 20

Morning everyone! Did you miss me yesterday? I did have a new post, but if you’ve been following my progress through the BabySteps, you may have noticed that yesterday’s post was not BabySteps related. (Shock! Horror!)

I promise you, it was not because I missed a day or because I forgot to post about it. There was actually good reason to combine Days 19 & 20 of the BabySteps process — reason being, Day 19 was exactly the same as Day 18. There was no new task to add to my routine; everything was the same.

The only extra thing for the day was to read a testimonial someone had sent from however long ago about a Bed and Breakfast she and her husband had gone to which actually turned out to be their own home because the FlyLady system had revolutionized her home. Nice to read for motivation purposes, but I figured my readers would not enjoy reading the same routines from Day 18 on Day 19 as well.

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Laundry Detergent

I make my own laundry detergent, which I use for everything except cloth diapers (because Borax is an ingredient — cloth diapers and Borax do not mix well). I thought I’d share my recipe with you.

This recipe was given to me by a family friend. I have not had any issues with it so far, and it lasts for a long time. The last batch (prior to the most recent one I made two weeks ago) I made was sometime in early summer. I don’t remember the exact time, just that it was before we moved into our current house, and that was in June. So that means one batch of this detergent, for my family of 4, lasted for about 6 months.

I know some of you are thinking it lasted that long because it was used infrequently, but no! Most weeks, I did 3-4 loads per week (sometimes more, sometimes less) so it’s a good amount of detergent, and you only need 1-2 Tbsp per load — depending on how dirty they are.

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