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As a teacher or school administrator, you have many competing priorities – managing students’ wide-ranging academic levels is just one of them.
If you have students who are gifted (or who you suspect may be gifted) the resources below can help you better understand these differently-wired students, including the social-emotional challenges they can face and how they differ from high achievers.
Free recorded presentations
One-hour overview of the inner, familial, educational and societal challenges of gifted children, by licensed psychologist and gifted expert Linda Silverman (this presentation is helpful, funny, and includes great stories and examples)
Invite an expert to present during one of your upcoming professional-development events, or an event for parents or families through your school district:
- Executive-function workshops and presentations by executive function and 2e coach – and guru – Seth Perler. Seth’s passion is atypical learners. He is one, and because of that, he thought he was a failure until his early 20s; therefore, he can connect with these students on a deep level. (“The more complex, the better,” as he likes to say.) He also loves demystifying these struggling students for parents, educators and anyone else who will listen!
Professional societies and associations
- National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), which includes:
- Some of NAGC’s resources to help you nurture your gifted students
- Administrator resources section
- Educator resources section
- Resources for university professionals, who help prepare our future teachers, psychologists, counselors and researchers
- Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)
- Continuing-education program – affordable, accredited home-study courses, webinars, and workshops at annual and mini-conferences (approved by the American Psychological Association)
- Medical Misdiagnosis Initiative – contains links to articles, videos, physician interviews, free collateral materials, etc.
- Honor Roll of Outstanding Educators – educators who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to helping gifted children or young adults; receive certificate, several forms of recognition, and complimentary SENG membership for one year
- Mental health provider directory – lists mental health providers who have experience working with gifted, talented and/or twice-exceptional individuals
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Center for Psychology in Schools and Education, which contains:
- Gifted and Talent Development section
- STEM engagement section
- evidence-based teaching and learning tools
- Coalition for Psychology of High Performance page
- Center for Psychology in Schools and Education, which contains:
The first topic that most educators think of when it comes to “gifted” students is advanced lessons and differentiated learning. While that’s understandable – particularly given how misunderstood these kiddos are – this is a type of neurodiversity that affects the whole child; not just academic potential. They interpret and respond to the world differently.
This is even more true when a child is twice exceptional (2e), which means that the person is “outside the norm” in two significant ways: they’re highly intelligent and they have a disability. The disability can be anything from autism or slow processing speed to clinical anxiety or dyslexia.
Most teachers, pediatricians, therapists and even child psychologists have no training in giftedness, let alone the world of twice exceptionalities (or even multi exceptionalities). Therefore, 2e kids tend to be incredibly misunderstood.
Here are some books that explain how being “differently wired” can impact kite kids in the social-emotional sense:
When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet their Social and Emotional Needs by Judy Galbraith, M.A., and Jim Delisle, Ph.D.
Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings by Christine Fonseca
Anxiety disorders and clinical depression are far more common in kite kids than most educators realize.
A sobering, three-part podcast series, called Suicide Among the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional, that podcaster Emily Kircher-Morris, LPC, MEd, released in October 2019 explains why:
- Mind Matters episode 39 (part one) – Is suicidal ideation more prevalent among the gifted population? Do our beliefs about suicide square with statistics? Dr. Tracy Cross sheds some light on a dark subject, and shares his Spiral Model of the Suicidal Mind.
- Mind Matters episode 40 (part two) – Lisa Van Gemert, author of Perfectionism and Living Gifted, discusses some signs of depression and suicidal ideation. (Lisa is a former teacher and school administrator, so educators will find this episode particularly extremely insightful.)
- Mind Matters episode 41 (part three) – A mom named Lisa shares the story of what led to her son Nick’s suicide. We also get a glimpse into her current state of mind (nine months after Nick’s death).
Breaking the stress cycle:
When a child has clinical depression or an anxiety disorder of any kind (generalized anxiety, social anxiety, etc.), he must know what calm feels like before he can begin the process of achieving that state on his own. This can take time, explains Stuart Shanker, PhD, author of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life. Each child is different, so what enables one child achieve a state of calm may do nothing to help another kid. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
Also, if a child has significant social challenges, don’t try to tackle that until after addressing the child’s stressors.
Why? Because anxiety disorders and clinical depression are straight-up debilitating. In fact, he won’t even be able to access the thinking part of his brain (the pre-frontal cortex). That’s the part that makes it possible for us to interpret facial expressions, control impulses, discern what’s a true threat, and more.
Dr. Shanker talks about this in Self-Reg. Social competencies guru Michelle Garcia Winner does, too. She’s the speech-language pathologist who created the Social Thinking® methodology and curriculum. (See below.)
Building social competencies
As the two books above suggest, it’s common for kite kids (my term for gifted) to have a deficit in “social smarts,” which are the skills needed to successfully navigate the nuances of conversation (and social interaction in general). This is particularly true when the student is twice exceptional.
I’m a big fan of Michelle Garcia Winner, SLP, and her Social Thinking® Methodology. (My building social smarts story explains why.) She has published many resources; however, these two books, in particular, are ideal for educators:
- Thinking About You Thinking About Me by Michelle Garcia Winner – Great for school counselors, teachers and SLPs, who want an overview of the Social Thinking® Methodology, which teaches students “social smarts” skills and how to apply them in everyday situations. The method also provides the foundation for using books like her popular Superflex Curriculum and You Are A Social Detective!
In addition, this publication explains the best way to assess “social smarts” skills.
Hint: The best way isn’t in an unrealistically quiet room. Assessments also shouldn’t deconstruct, and examine, communication in parts. That’s because the real-world test (by peers) demands that students be able to successfully integrate communication skills, and perform each component and transition quickly (two seconds or less).
- Why Teach Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner – This resource is perfect for school counselors, school psychologists, school administrators and any educator who wants to make a case for:
- adding social instruction to a student’s treatment plan
- incorporating a social goal into a child’s IEP
- infusing “social smarts” lessons into a classroom or campus curriculum plan
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition).
There are many reasons to shatter misconceptions about giftedness; one of the most alarming is the frequency with which “kite kids” are misdiagnosed with behavioral, emotional and mental disorders. Much of this stems from unfamiliarity with their social-emotional traits, including:
- asynchronous development (higher-than-average intellect and average, or below-average, social-emotional development)
- five types of overexcitabilities, or intensities, identified by Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski in the 1960s (intellectual, sensory, emotional, imaginational and psychomotor)
As a result, some of these characteristics and behaviors are incorrectly attributed to pathology and disorder, rather than recognized as common traits of giftedness. This is particularly a risk when a child is twice exceptional or multi exceptional. As you can imagine, medical misdiagnosis can have an enormous impact on a student’s behavior, sense of self, and mental state.
And then, of course, we come to academics! Lol Here are a couple great books on the topic.
The Cluster-Grouping Handbook: How to Challenge Gifted Students and Improve Achievement for All by Dina Brulles and Susan Winebrenner
Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner: Standards-Based Activities and Extensions for Middle School by Dina Brulles, Karen Brown and Susan Winebrenner
Teaching for High Potential, NAGC’s quarterly newsletter for educators
I also am constantly scanning Teachers Pay Teachers for lesson plans, STEM challenges, fast finisher activities, and other differentiate products. Here are some of the Pinterest boards where I’m sharing them:
- Ideas and info for teachers (broken down by subject, SEL activities, growth mindset activities, classroom decor ideas, and even teacher t-shirts with encouraging messages) 🙂
My articles for educators
I post new articles on my home page regularly that address a range of topics related to kite kids. Some stories are deeper dives on educational and social-emotional aspects of giftedness; others are fun (and awesome) ways to encourage and inspire these kiddos.
Here are some I think you’ll like: my educator articles
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