Gifted... What next(66 Posts)
Our son has been assessed by an EdPscych as being highly gifted, IQ 145, top 1%.
He's just over 5 and had recently started year 1. We took him to EdPscych because he's having trouble at school (not happy, meltdowns every evening, nightmare to get there, anger, anxiety, bad behaviour there, etc...) and I suspected he was bored. Which it seems he is.
I just have a real problem with this diagnosis and what we are supposed to do with it I guess because it doesn't actually tell us what he struggles with or why he's struggling.
His teachers are adamant that he's average and he's been given the lowest reading books level. When he brings it home, if I can persuade him to read it, he does so fluently, but with massive protest. I know he can read above this level but it isn't his strength at all. However, I think he's basically fed up of being told how to learn, what to learn and is rebelling with just refusing to do what he's asked to. So they think he can't read.
Not a massive issue, I don't read the books he brings home with him anyway as it's not worth the effort, he just reads books he's interested in and learns that way, but even this is becoming a struggle now. He's lost his love and joy for learning and has started to play the Joker at school as he so wants to fit in.
I spoke to the senco prior to getting him tested as they kept suggesting he had ADHD (pretty sure he doesn't)and she offered no help.
The school is really disorganised, and I really don't want to go to them and mention the gifted thing as I just want him to be happy and fit in and I don't think isolating him in anyway will help and I definitely don't think they'd know what to do with him.
He really needs the social aspect of school, so I don't want to home educate.
I want to see him happy, and he's not. He's not challenged, he hates the repetition of stuff he already knows, but I don't know what to ask them to do.
I don’t think that ‘boredom’ is an adequate reason for a Y1 child with high IQ to be experiencing meltdowns, anger, anxiety and bad behaviour at school.
It sounds like he’s young in his year. He might be exceptionally bright, but he’s only just 5 – it’s most likely that he’s struggling with the routine of Y1: he’d rather be den-building, fighting pirates etc. Maybe the school’s approach is quite formal in Y1, and he’s struggling. If that’s the case, maybe have a chat with the teacher about how the day works, and explain to your son what is required of him and how he needs to try to behave as school expects.
Is he happy socially? How are his friendships at school?
Was he fine in Reception? Has this only started in Y1?
Did the EdPsych only assess his IQ? Was anything behavioural picked up?
He may be too young to do this, but… regarding his work, he needs to learn to work quickly and accurately, and then politely ask the teacher for more. He needs to do this every time. Make himself a positive problem: ‘show off’ his abilities (without shouting down the rest of the class). Not refuse to do the ‘boring’ work.
Once he is delivering the work quickly and to a high standard, you can legitimately ask the teacher what he/she is doing to stretch him. If the teacher is unhelpful, take It higher.
Can he read fluently yet or is he just "better than the easy books he's being given"? If he can read send in books for him to read at school and ask if he can be a "free reader" if he's ahead but not reading fluently yet, teach him. It will keep him busy and once he can he can get on while the class are learning things he knows already. Same with maths. Teaching gifted children at early primary is easy. Later on it's a bit more tricky.
Instruments can add interest as can gymnastics/martial arts etc.
Sorry should have said, the behaviour issues are all saved up for home.
I agree, boredom isn't the reason for the issues When I say bored, I don't mean the work is too easy, he's not a fluent reader and does struggle with it, his writing isn't great, all things they will be working on at school so he shouldn't be bored at that. I've been unwell most of his life and he's got unbelievable energy so he's spent most of it outdoors, not in books or anything academic so it's a big change. What I mean is what you said ginmummy , he wants to be doing other things, he fantasies about going back to reception. He's incredibly creative and doesn't have the opportunity to play basically. He tells me he just has to sit on the mat all day and listen to the teacher. I'm sure this is a massive exaggeration, but it's what it feels like to him.
The behaviour stems from anxiety, which comes from a multitude of things such as noise, change, social situations etc...
This can be managed at home by talking to him and getting him to open up. I don't think this is really possible at school but he's not behaving badly at school anyway....for now
The EdPscych said didn't think ADHD as his ability to concentrate is actually higher than expected at his age but only when he's engaged and likes what he's doing. She wasn't very good, I asked to assess everything but ended up just getting this information.
I think dyslexia might be an issue, but this wasn't mentioned.
He doesn't want to read the easy books because the plot is non existent. When he started in reception the teacher said he spent all the time looking around the pages then making his own plot up rather than reading the words. So he's been trained to read and now hates it, and immediately gets defensive if I suggest he reads a word.
At home I used to give him a book about something he's interested in, pick a page and ask him to tell me something about it. E.g. a book about planets, I'd give him a certain page and ask him to find out what the surface of Mars is like... He look around, find the picture of Mars, read the snippet 'the surface of Mars is rocky, dusty and cold'. He'd get stuck but would be happy to work it out with help. Now he literally won't read a word, just says 'you do it'
He's really good at music and sports so that does help outside of school. He does play in a band in school too but it's only a half hour a week.
Missed the social bit.
He's a great friend one on one. Funny, kind, caring, encouraging of others, engaging, has lots of friends. In group situations (when he's anxious) he's not, gets really close to people's faces, acts the Joker , tries really hard to fit in to the point he will be naughty in order to impress a friend, he gets really loud and hyperactive.
So this is a big struggle for him he needs help with.
Also, when he says he's bored, I think to a certain extent it is boredom with repetition... Things like phonics, he picks everything up so quickly and retains it, that repetition really winds him up. Obviously he still had to sit through it and I will take the tip of getting the teacher to tell me about the structure of the day and explaining what's expected to him.
The first bit of your response sounds like you are concerned he might be autistic?
Are school concerned about his behaviour? What do they say?
If you have questions about the edpsych assessment write them a letter voicing them.
I'm wondering if he's Hypermobile at all ?? Some of his issues could fit around that quite well as iHypermobile Ehlers Danlos is condition that comes with other symptoms such as sensory processing problems, which could explain some of his problems in class. His poor writing could be due to pain in his hands due to overly flexible fingers making pen grip difficult. That happened with my own DD. There are also seems to be a high proportion of zebras amongst gifted kids
I should have added, my daughter never mentioned pain in her hands until asked, as she had no idea at this age that it wasn't normal. It was only as she got older & gained medical language (she loved all things medical) that she began to express her symptoms
Will he read magazines/ books etc about sport or music? Not in a homework type way, more 'oh ds I got you this in the supermarket if you're bored later'. Same for maths, try puzzle books or similar so it isn't connected to school.
Can't really help on the writing. Dd and I can both write very well if we try. Up until y5 she only bothered if the subject motivated her. Then she widened it to include when it was important. I'm the same. Good memories allow us to store the knowledge of how to write well, but neither of us enjoy it enough to bother recalling it unless we need to. So she does very well at school in it now, but unless the subject really interests her it is only maturity that prevents her scrawling a few badly constructed sentences.
Plus both of us have thoughts that run faster than we can write, so writing tends to be playing catch up.
Your ds could be the same, but 5 is too early to say.
Re the possible sen/s. At 5 it's hard to diagnose most dc, but gifted dc are especially hard because the sen disguises the ability, and the ability disguises the Sen. And there is far less research into how they manifest in gifted dc. So for now I'd just be open minded that it could be anything.
As for school, most parents of gifted dc know that schools either try their best, or they do little, and as a parent you can't do much about it. The only thing you can do is try and show the boredom isn't helping him, and to do that he'll have to demonstrate he understands the work.
This might be useful to you...
Traits in Gifted Kids
Bless him, he's only five. Sounds like he's just a bit immature if you ask me. Lots of kids (especially boys) struggle with sitting still and formal learning at that age. We do make children start school very young in this country. It sounds like he just isn't quite ready.
He's obviously a bright little boy, but I wouldn't focus too much on the gifted angle at this stage. If he is still struggling with some aspects of the work, I doubt that that's the problem.
Have a look at Twice Exceptional kids, there is a bunch on the web. He is little to diagnose with anything, but it sounds like there might be something helpful for you in that material
He is little to diagnose with anything
. Why on earth do you think that?
Giftedness comes in different levels as discussed here. A series of articles on the highly gifted can be found here. Other good sources of information are the davidson institute and pegy.
Highly gifted children often manifest Dabrowski's overexcitabilities which can mimic ADHD behaviour. A child can be just gifted, or have one of ADHD or overexcitabilities, or have all three, and it is very difficult to distinguish between them. Oversensitivity to noise can be a sign of sensory overexcitability. Is he intense, oversensitive? see Dabrowski.
Re : "The EdPscych said didn't think ADHD as his ability to concentrate is actually higher than expected at his age but only when he's engaged and likes what he's doing". Sorry but this plain wrong. Kids with ADHD often show flow or hyperfocus, which is the ability to concentrate intensely on a topic providing it is intrinsically interesting to them. However where is all falls apart is when you give them something mundane to do, and they just can't focus. This doesn't mean he has it, just that her rationale for ruling it out is not safe. It can be extremely difficult to discern whether ADHD is present when there is also giftedness. Two good articles are: Lovecky and Flint
The ed psych presumably used the WPPSI. They should also have tested reading and other academic areas and made recommendations for school? The WPPSI alone cannot diagnose (or exclude!) ADHD but there can be hints in the WPPSI profile. Specifically if there is a large gap between the verbal and performance scores (approaching or more than 20 points, with verbal > performance), or if there is significant variation (> 7 points) in the subtest scores e.g. some at 18/19, others below 11, or if there is an ability-attainment discrepancy (i.e. maths, reading significantly below where IQ would predict) then this alone is not diagnostic but suggests further investigation is warranted. Assessment tools which are specific to ADHD include the Conners scale and the test of everyday attention. There are strong associations between ADHD, dysgraphia and dyslexia. Diagnosis can be frustrated or delayed in the highly gifted because their high ability allows them to compensate and masks their difficulties. Early identification is vital.
Re: "I really don't want to go to them and mention the gifted thing as I just want him to be happy and fit in". You are probably right that the school won't know what to do with him. But that is why the ed psych should be making suitable recommendations in a formal report. Have a look at the research on academic acceleration. e.g. Colangelo and Gross
Regardless of whether ADHD or other difficulties are confirmed, the level of ability is such that he will need bespoke provision - acceleration and/or an IEP. This is inconvenient for the school and you will probably need to advocate politely but insistently to get even half of what he needs.
OP I understand, and agree, that your aim should be for him to be happy and fit in. But I don't think you can do that by ignoring the giftedness. IME, it's worst in Y1 as what was less obvious in the free flow of Reception suddenly becomes really hard to deal with in the more formal setting. He's suddenly being forced to sit still and listen to stuff he knows, multiple times a day. He's learnt not to show his abilities (possibly to make friends, or possibly because he's not comfortable with the teacher). He's miserable and behaving badly. This isn't working for him at all.
If you've tried everything you can with the school, you may need to look at moving schools. I know you said HE wouldn't work because of the social aspect, but you might well find he gets on better with older children, and so the mixed age aspect of HE (if you do have groups near you) could work. I personally couldn't HE, but I do know people with twice exceptional children (gifted and SEN) for whom it has been brilliant.
On Mumsnet, people tend to focus on how to make a gifted child behave to fit in with the norm eg they need to learn to be bored, they need to be patient with other children, it's good for them to teach other children even if they find it easy, they have to learn to play. I think all that is true to some extent, but if taken to the extreme it means failing to cater for the specific needs of your child. It's not pushy to try as hard as you can to get his needs met, even though some may see it as such because what you're pushing for is catering for high intelligence.
He is little to make some diagnoses because of the reading piece. At his age there are many kids in the normal range who struggle with aspects of phonetics, reading and word manipulation and there are several diagnoses that rely on distinguishing below normal ability from the normal range for these skills. It doesnt mean its impossible, but just difficult. We got a steer on my DS dyslexia diagnosis aged 5, but we couldnt confirm it until he was past 6 and continued to lag with his skills. My personal choice with mine is to be aware that issues might exist and follow them closedly with Ed psychologists. The earlier you can help, the more chance you will be able to help
Few children are diagnosed with dyslexia before 7 but the other conditions mentioned here can be diagnosed earlier. An autistic child was born so, as was a child with ADHD, anxiety is often more difficult to treat if left unsupported to become embedded.
They can in theory be diagnosed earlier, but unless it's obvious we all know many dc aren't given a dx till older anyway, and when you complicate it with high ability even more so because they both mask each other.
Thanks so much for all of this information everyone.
I've been looking at the articles mentioned.
I actually don't think he had ADHD. The hyperactivity is always associated with something happening he doesn't like or anticipation of it.
As such I think it's anxiety. For example, entering a new place or being put in a new situation, loud noises, big groups of people, going into hospital, unexpected changes to plan, preparing for things (holiday, school starting back, going out for the day) they all seem to cause him anxiety which he won't mention. He will get hyperactive, until I realise what's happening and encourage him to talk to about what's worrying him. When he's done this, he calms down even if he still has to do the thing he's worried about. It's taken a long time for us to realise this, so the hyperactivity had always played on my mind as a possible issue.
The was an article above which was very interesting about overexcitabilities. I can really relate to that while article with him.
The reason I think dyslexia is an issue is because he really struggles with getting numbers and words back to front. He writes in complete and perfect image mirror image alot (letters mirrored and word will be right to left). Also if I drew a load of 14s and 41s on a page and showed him a 41 and asked him to pick them out, he wouldn't be able to do it.
Will reply more later
They can in theory be diagnosed earlier, no, they are routinely diagnosed earlier than ks2. The anxiety OP describes is typical of a child with ASD, or social anxiety.
(Nb OP I'm not saying he has either condition). I'm interested in what his teachers say, do they see any difficulties?
The reversing at 5 isn't something I would worry about too much. It tends to settle in a year or two.
Come of it zzz loads of kids with more serious problems are 'diagnosed' with immaturity, bad parenting, naughtiness etc for years before they get an accurate dx.
And again you're ignoring the fact it is far more complicated with a gifted child as lots of things cross over.
I'm not saying he either does or doesn't. Just that it might not be possible to know either way at his age.
OP I had two 5 yr olds who tested well above 150 at age 4. Honestly it means nothing at this stage.
Deal with the behavioural issues. Are you firm and consistent at home?
I think it is probably easier to diagnose earlier than later myself as the focus of most assessment tools is preschool or early ks1. I'm not ignoring anything. All these conditions span all levels of IQ. My own children happen to be in the much higher end of that spread.
If overexcitabilities seems to fit, then there is a book which may be helpful - Living with Intensity by Daniels and Piechowski.
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