“You know, Bud, when I was gifted…”
“I was gifted when I was your age…”
I caught myself saying these things to my son so often in the beginning to “relate” to him. When I was his age (all you will get out of me is that it was more than 20 years ago), you didn’t claim your giftedness. It wasn’t seen as a blessing or even a struggle, but a privilege (as if my parents bought my I.Q. or won some sort of lottery for me to be in a pull out program). To claim it boldly was considered prideful. Like walking around telling people, “I’m so beautiful!”
The struggles that we now recognize in our son to be part of his cognitive development were seen as behavioral issues when I was growing up. DS9 had an extremely high I.Q. and an anxiety disorder. He’s been seeing a counselor twice a month for two years. He has a 504.
But every single day, I see in him exactly how I was as a child. He responds to things the same way I did. He gets overwhelmed by the same things, anxious about the same things, panics about the same things. Because of the disconnect at the time between Giftedness and emotional struggles – the concept of “twice exceptional” (or 2e) did not yet exist – my anxiety was deemed a behavioral overreaction.
As a young adult, I didn’t identify with being “gifted.” I no longer thought about it. In fact, I hadn’t since the age of 12, when I removed myself from the pull out program offered because I didn’t like the resulting attention – like a spotlight on how I was different. In my teens and early 20s, struggling through what I now know are overexcitabilities, I thought I was mentally unstable. In fact, many people directly fed into that belief. It didn’t occur to me until we found ourselves raising a profoundly gifted child that it wasn’t a mental or emotional issue so much as never being taught coping mechanisms for my overexcitabilities.
The thing about fully investing in the needs of your gifted child is that, when you start doing the research, you learn a lot about yourself too. Studies show that a child’s I.Q. is typically within 10 points of his/her parents’. And, while I knew in the back of my mind that I’d always been and would be gifted, it was only when I began investing in our son’s needs that I began embracing my gifted identity.
So, I’ve changed how I approach conversations when I’m trying to relate to our son and the many similarities in how we see and process the world. I no longer address my Giftedness in past tense, but in the present, so he sees it as a part of who he is and always will be too.
“I’m gifted too, and when I was your age….”
Funny thing is, while I started changing my words for his sake, it began changing my self belief and identification for the positive too. Who would have thought?