My son is 'gifted'. What to do now?(11 Posts)
I have not been on MN for years but did not know where else to go.
I thought my 6yo son was struggling at school, he is bright but struggles sometimes with wanting to do homework especially creative writing. I knew he was bright and wanted him assessed to see whether there was any issue preventing this (he does have some weird habits that I thought could be related to the autism spectrum). I saw a good education psychologist privately. It turns out he is a very normal kid. They tested his IQ and he came out at 139. His reading age is 12yrs 9 months and in other areas he is ahead but not in his writing.
Now what do I do with this information? The school are aware he is clever but say he doesn't apply himself as much as he should. His teacher is quite stubborn and does not appreciate much parental intervention. He was in extension groups last year but not this year as they do not have enough resource. I will be doing extra activities at home working on his handwriting with him. BUT what should I do with this information. I have been told by another mum with a 'gifted' child that presenting results from an educational psycologist will put their backs up. I know I shoudl speak to the school, but shouldn't they be picking this up anyway. I don't want to look like a pushy mum.
In addition, my eldest who is 7, is also bright but has no issues with homework. Shoudl I get him assessed too now?
Any advice on my next steps would be appreciated.
BTW I hate the term 'gifted', as it implies so much. I prefer the term High Learning Potential.
Hi there, we had similar issues with my DS about handwriting and creative writing. We were very lucky to have a fantastically supportive school who identified issues even before we did and worked with us to try to help him overcome some of these "blocks". He had got himself worked up into a bit of a state about creative writing in particular where he had loads of ideas whirring around his head, but he couldn't structure them into a logical format on paper and his handwriting was way behind his language skills.
Long story short, with the handwriting we used a kinaesthetic handwriting system (name escapes me but sounded Romanian!!) which seems just like "taking a line for a walk" type stuff but really works to improve their fine motor skills. But the real breakthrough came when they started to do cursive (joined up) writing when he was about 10 and all of a sudden it got easy for him.
On the creative writing issue, we found that using mind maps really helped him to organise his thoughts; and then use that to structure his writing whether it was a book report, story or piece of personal writing. After a while he didn't need to use the formal maps but the whole process helped him have the confidence to get his ideas down on paper.
He is still much more of a facts kid than a fiction kid, but at least now he doesn't have a mental block about his writing holding him back. He isn't the fastest writer either but it is legible and he gets the work done.
There are things you can do to help- I got so upset seeing my DS get upset and frustrated then upset again trying to sit down and do homework but we have got over it now and he is flourishing now at aged 11.
You should be asking the school to meet your child's needs whether he is gifted or not. (What did his profile look like? Flat across the four areas, or noticeable spikes?)
If he is struggling with certain areas, school need to be addressing them. Given that school are aware he is bright, and have offered extension groups in the past, I don't think there is any necessity to start parading the report and demanding he be given additional stuff just because you have a report, however, it would be interesting for the senco to be able to read the report on terms of the areas he struggles with and the discrepancy between his potential and his lack of ability to display this in certain areas.
Fwiw, at 6 it is on no way unusual for a boy to be finding lengthy writing and creative writing dull as ditchwater, and to be unable to bother with it...
What other tests did the psych do to rule out ADHD and asd? I would expect a full battery as well as big standard wechsler and WIAT. Did they do Conners etc? BASC? A gifted score on an iq test doesn't rule out additional dx (ds1 has the same profile, but he also has an ADHD dx and aspergers traits. Dd2 is gifted and has cp. dd1 is gifted and NT).
Ds1 has never applied himself as much as he should, and at 6 was still largely ambidextrous. he's still gifted.
At 6, I wouldn't fret too much about the writing side. If he can articulate the story etc, you could ask him to type it, or you could type it. You can also try one or other of the zillions of writing schemes, or follow a programme for kids with fine motor issues (as these are often the root cause of handwriting issues or reluctance). Search in here for mrz's ideas wrt fine motor skills.
I like 'write from the start' which is an OT programme (Teodorescu and Ali available through the dyspraxia foundation) but tbh, the writing issue for a 6 yo boy is absolutely typical. Being gifted doesn't stop him from being a 6yo boy.
If he is desperately unhappy with the level of work, then sure, go back in and ask to discuss. School seem to recognise he's bright though, so I don't think this is a case where you have anything to 'prove'.
Did you get him tested because of the possible AS, btw? Or for another reason? What were the results of the ADHD/ AS tests? Which ones did they do?
Has he been tested for hypermobility in the joints?
Our DS also showed strong early ability that always seemed to be compromised by slow, sloppy and/or unwilling handwriting. We only found out when he was 10, and being checked in relation to something else, that he has hypermobility in his hands that makes writing hard and uncomfortable. Not saying it is this, but there's also apparently a link between hypermobility and autistic spectrum disorders. You might consider going to a private paediatrician for a check-over. Trying to do it via CAHMS etc. might take forever, and I gather it's something they can easily test for in one session.
If you had a medical report about anything like this the school would be forced to take his handwriting difficulties into account, eg giving him extra time on written tests. Our DS gets given a laptop at secondary school and is allowed to complete everything that way, which might also help down the line.
As for the high IQ, I don't know. G&T provision varies a lot from school to school. I'd probably focus on getting him involved in out of school activities, tailored to his interests, and know that he's capable of being stretched and achieving well in whatever they are.
Wow. Lots of info. Thank you guys. It is nice to have some feedback as it is hardly something you can discuss with other mums. He had no peaks across the four areas all of them were over 120. He testing him for ADHD and AS as thats what I was worried about but stated he had none of these issues. I haven't got the report yet but the doctor who did them Dr Congdon is specialist these areas and he was sure he was normal, just bright. He did some tests but I am not sure what they were.
We had an issue today with the homework set.. research and write about the traditions of christmas. We spent an hour on it and got two sentences. He just was completely dis-engaged. This has galvanised me to go and see the teacher. I know he is capable. If I get nowhere with her I will go to the SENco teacher who was his form teacher last year.
I will take on board what you said about his report and will not band this around. I was always worried that they might want to assess him and he would end up with a label. So I am quite happy to keep this quiet and look at them meeting his individual needs and not just because he has a high IQ.
Thanks for your help and support.
It is tricky. Ds1 is either on fire, or completely disengaged. I suspect that if Peter Congdon had done his tests, he wouldn't have an ADHD dx.
You still don't know why he's disengaged though, so that's the issue, not necessarily whether he is gifted or not (although that's worth considering as an adjunct).
So, if you've ruled out the attention issues, was the work too hard, too easy, too frankly this is boring and I don't give a monkey's uncle, does he have an extreme interest in Pokemon and would rather play with them than do written homework at six years old (perfectly valid), doesn't believe in the commercialisation of Christmas and believes traditions to be a nonsense, wanted to watch tv, was tired, has fine motor difficulties and finds the writing too laborious, etc etc.
So some of those might be impacted by a higher level of thinking, others are to do with being 6. now that you have the report, you can consider the higher level of thinking issues.
Fwiw, ds1 doesn't give a fig about the school curriculum. Never has, never will. The odd bit of it fires his interest and he is away, but largely it has been a complete slog for 6 years, with every single teacher asking me how to motivate him. You can't make a kid care about Christmas traditions. in a way it's trickier with bright kids, because they know that the vast majority of school work is time wasting crap. so why bother? I suspect at 6 his faculties aren't quite that advanced, though.
If you do find out how to motivate a bright kid that really doesn't give a toss about school work, do let me know.
The only potential answer I've come up with is home Ed. At least he'd be able to choose stuff that rocks his little world, instead of the national curriculum.
<last 14 parent teacher interviews: 'he's soooooooo clever!' (In tones of awe)
Immediately followed in an embarrassed tone by 'um, but what can we do to motivate him?'>
Stick, carrot, bribery, punishment, grounding for a million years, pizza lunches, Pokemon cards, explaining the finer points of effort and achievement, brainology... Etc etc etc ad infinitum.
Oh, and ADHD medication.
Either he's going to drop out at 14 (y5 teacher prediction) or he's going to rule the world.
Jury is still out.
Oh, I think it worth mentioning as well - this isn't because he's gifted, btw. As I said earlier, all three of mine are gifted - (my youngest has cerebral palsy and a higher iq by far than your son and mine), but ds1's personality type means he just doesn't put any effort to stuff he doesn't care about, whereas dd2 (and dd1) are way more people pleasers and recognise the benefits of working hard even on the boring crap. Completely different work ethic.
You might want to read some carol dweck.
What did the great man say, anyway? Presumably he came up with a great raft of suggestions, not just some scores? If so, that's what you need to be liaising with the senco about.
I do think it's quite usual for children, particularly boys , to be come tell uninterested in writing. I would just back off and wait. Something will apart his interest. My des only started getting interested in writing when he was about 10 and started to read the You g Bond books and wanted to write his own spy stories!
He's only 6- be"ll get there. Have fun- you'll. never get the 6 year old him back again!
I'd echo the Carol Dweck recommendation - her book Mindsets should be required reading for all parents, but particularly for parents of high achieving children.
Which of the Mindsets books would you recommend. There seem to be a few.
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