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I really dislike the term “gifted.” It makes this type of neurodiversity sound like Easy Street.
Although the reasons may not be obvious to onlookers, being neurodiverse is never easy. (In the case of giftedness, while intellectually advanced, these kids often struggle socially and emotionally.)
Kites are similar
As I began creating my website, and trying to think of a different name for these children, I began to picture a kite. There are tons of similarities.
For example, kites are engineered for great heights, but they’re also fragile. (Hello, asynchronous development!)
Gifted kids also have the ability to soar, but they can’t accomplish that on their own. They need a constant source of wind. It doesn’t need to be the gale-force variety, but when the airflow only happens in spurts, they start to take off, then flounder and descend. With no wind at all, they drag along the ground…and may even break apart.
Learning to soar
The adults in a kite kid’s life are the ones most likely to provide any amount of thrust, or wind, on the under-side of the kite that helps push it into the air.
Also, you can’t simply let go of a kite once it’s flying. There’s turbulence up there!
One way this plays out with gifted kids is that, because they talk like, and have the intellectual capacity of, an older child, most people assume they also have the social and emotional maturity of an older kid. This is totally false. Problems – sometimes serious ones – occur when people make this assumption.
Trying to stay airborne
Another parallel with kites is that if these kiddos get a bit too wild, they may need a tug to regain balance. (Overexcitabilities, anyone?)
What’s really cool is that you can influence a kite’s “lift” by adjusting what’s called its angle of attack. That’s the point at which the kite leans into the wind to achieve greater height.
This reminds me of the day my son was evaluated. It was the happiest I’d seen him in months. The psychologist gave him challenge after challenge, and instead of feeling stressed, he had a “bring it on” mentality. Even she was surprised how far he could go.
After we left, he kept telling me he wanted to go back. It was bewildering, but also funny – and a relief. He was comfortable in his own skin. Finally!
Watching “gifted” kids flounder can be baffling.
And helping them succeed is a more delicate balance than most people realize. But once you optimize the competing forms of pressure, they’re fun to watch. At least for this kite kid mama! 🙂