It all started with Curious Connor – a nickname we gave our son shortly before he turned two. He had a seemingly endless thirst for information about anything and everything. And he loved Curious George.
Connor’s inquisitiveness can be exhausting at times, but his passion for engineering always impresses me. And his ability to forgive bullies is nothing short of remarkable. He doesn’t hold grudges, even though early kindergarten through the summer following second grade were, in many ways, torturous for him. And me….
Everything seemed fine in preschool; however, one month into elementary school, all of that changed. It began with a child who started physically threatening him. We addressed that quickly, but by winter, a classmate was calling him “annoying” on a regular basis. After 3-4 months, other classmates were joining in – even the girl my son had previously told me was “the nicest girl in class.”
This dynamic played out in various ways for two more long years; mostly with other boys because my son was determined to fit in with them. He thought if he could entertain them or make them laugh, they’d accept him.
If you look up “perseverance” in the dictionary, you’ll see my son’s picture right next to the description. During the dark times, I reminded myself that this trait would be a wonderful asset someday, but at the time, it scared the hell out of me. I felt strongly that if we didn’t figure out why he was struggling so much socially, his compulsion to be accepted eventually would start playing out in life-altering (or life-ending) ways.
To avoid being viewed as a helicopter parent by the school, I Googled every key word and phrase I could think of to understand what was going on. None of the stories or explanations fit our situation.
He didn’t have ADHD. We weren’t alcoholics. It was maddening.
Was my child truly an anomaly? And how could I coach him on his social challenges if I couldn’t even figure out what they were, or what was causing them?
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with depression 18 months later that the puzzle started coming together. Within just two sessions of listening to me tell her about Connor, my therapist told me her suspicion – that Connor was gifted.
As I begin to write content for this blog, it has been only three months since that appointment (and three weeks since test results confirmed her hunch), but as I learn about giftedness and, therefore, my son, I’m seeing him in a whole new light. We’ve explained some aspects of it to him, changed how we approach various situations, and already are seeing signs of improvement.
There will undoubtedly be more bumps on this road, but at least we know what we’re dealing with now and can take appropriate steps to address it.
But then, there’s you…
As relieved as I am to finally have answers, I can’t stand knowing there are other children – and adults who care about them – struggling with this issue. And some of you don’t know what’s wrong, either.
I certainly don’t have all the answers. I also know there are aspects of being “differently wired” that always will be challenging.
However, in many cases, I do think improvements are possible. That we can make strides when armed with the right information.
Knowing this motivates me to find out more, and to do better. My son deserves it, and so do many others like him.
I hope the info I share here will inform and inspire you, too.