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During your time as an educator, you’ll come into contact with kids who differ in countless ways. Accounting for various personalities and learning abilities can be difficult; however, the more you know, the easier you can navigate the differences.
That’s why I started this blog. I saw my son (who I now know is “highly gifted”) struggling a lot socially. And no one could help me figure out what was going on; not his teachers, not the school counselor, and not his pediatrician. I’ve never felt so desperate for answers!
How to help minimize this
- Don’t fall for the myths about gifted students. (This article by a gifted educator describes four common misconceptions that teachers have.)
- Know the hallmark traits of giftedness:
- asynchronous development
- the five types of overexcitabilities (a.k.a. “intensities” or “supersensitivities”) that Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski discovered in the 1960s
- This is true neurodiversity. Neuroscientists have even seen the brain differences on MRIs.
- Because of this unique “brain wiring,” there are distinct differences between high achievers and gifted students.
- Keep in mind that many kite kids have been misdiagnosed with conditions, such as ADHD, OCD, ODD, sensory processing disorder, sleep disorders and Asperger’s. It isn’t your job to fix that, but imagine how that might impact the way you try to support a student. And how frustrating it can become when well-intended, but misguided, support doesn’t produce the desired outcome.
- On the flip side, it’s also important to know that some kite kids are twice-exceptional (2e). Because of this, their struggles and disabilities can make their giftedness difficult to see (and vice versa). As executive function and 2e coach Seth Perler often points out, many 2e children go through life being told their lazy or feeling like failures, even though they have off-the-charts talents.
If you think your student may be a kite kid
If you have a student who displays several kite kid traits, please tell the child’s parents.
I know there are rules around what you can (and can’t) say, but something is better than nothing. Most people have no idea what “giftedness” really looks like and how it can present itself. Therefore, conveying your suspicions would at least put the possibility on the parents’ radar – and the ball in their court.
If you know your student is a kite kid
- Don’t assume the student’s parents have been told about anything other than academic accommodations. I can almost guarantee no one explained asynchrony or overexcitabilities when discussing the evaluation results with them. So don’t be shy about mentioning that – or telling them about great ways to nurture a “gifted” child. Again, this is neurodiversity we’re talking about, so it’s incredibly difficult to support these kids if the adults in their lives don’t understand that basic information. (This includes educators.)
Telling your student’s parents about the Kite Kid Mama blog doesn’t hurt either. (They can subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll send more info to help educate and support both them and their kiddo.) 🙂
- If your student is experiencing significant social-emotional issues, and it becomes a discussion point between you and the child’s parent, tell her that most child and family therapists aren’t familiar with asynchronous development and overexcitabilities. Therefore, she should find a therapist who specializes in giftedness, and will take that into consideration during evaluation and treatment.
(Before learning that my son is gifted, I took him to a play therapist who made a Rain Man reference after meeting him one time, even though he isn’t autistic.)