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    #47896 - 05/20/09 07:33 AM A friend needs some advice....
    Katelyn'sM om Offline

    Registered: 10/22/08
    Posts: 1085
    Loc: Austin, TX
    My friend asked that I post this for her b/c she is literally at her wits end on what to do with her DD (15 yrs old). DD is profoundly gifted child and has been in the private school system for most of her education. She went to a French Immersion program up to part of middle school and started showing signs of having major anxieties during 7th grade. They took her in to psychologists and they suggested that she be placed in the public sector due to her anxiety. So they moved to what is suppose to be one of the best public districts in NYC area and enrolled her but it completely backfired and in her 8th grade she never went to school but completed her work from home and fell deeper into her anxieties and depression. Of course I know NOW that Gifted consideration in public schools in NY is not really a consideration so this is part of it. So this year she is in 9th grade and they paid to put her in a very tiny private school which is the cost of Harvard. She was doing well in the beginning but started missing school again. She does have some major life altering things going on in her life. Her mother and step-dad separated in January and I am pretty sure that is part of the problem. Her step-dad completely loves her and even though the marriage did not work out he still wants to adopt her and he is the one footing the bill for the private school.

    So that is some background .. now the pattern:

    She will miss a day or two and that brings on the guilt and before you know it a week has gone by. She lives with her mother who has to go to work and catch a train before DD's bus comes to pick her up in the morning so my friend has to rely on DD getting on the bus.

    She has not been in therapy for a while and is fighting that option but after today (another long stint of not going to school) my friend is insisting she go back. The school loves DD and knows her intelligence so they have bent over backwards for her but it really is to the point that they have no option but not pass her to the next grade, which of course is causing major tension in the family (My friend with her DD; Step-dad with his wife and DD) and intensifying the issues even more.

    My friend has taken away everything she could think of to get her back into school: Computer, books, phone, TV, blinds in the room, etc.

    We know DD really needs structure and with her mom working she isn't getting it.

    So my friend would appreciate any suggestions from you. Is there something we are missing that would help? We have also talked about boarding school for next year b/c it has structure and maybe it is what she needs. Back at the end of 7th grade they sent her to a summer program in New Hampshire and it was very structured. She soared in it. But with her not going to school and not having grades ... we don't know if any good boarding school would take her. But just in case ... does anyone have suggestions for boarding schools that might specialize in gifted children?

    #47900 - 05/20/09 08:37 AM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: Katelyn'sM om]
    westcoastmom Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/14/09
    Posts: 39
    This isn't specifically a gifted school but I recently read a book about character education by two staff members (The Biggest Job We'll Ever Have) and it sounds impressive--they're really trying to address the whole kid and her needs, and in the context of her family:

    #47902 - 05/20/09 08:48 AM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: westcoastmom]
    passthepotatoes Offline

    Registered: 04/07/09
    Posts: 687
    There are so many details that are hard to get from a post. Overall I'd say the most important thing is to find a plan the daughter really wants to commit to because really there is no forcing someone her age to do anything. She has to buy in or it isn't happening. Treating the underlying anxiety and depression is essential.

    No idea if this would be a good fit in her situation but an unconventional solution they may not have considered would be to do a version of homeschooling where for the price of Harvard getting her a full time teacher/ educational coordinator person who could help teach her. Some combination of online high school and college might also be considered as well.

    #47951 - 05/20/09 03:15 PM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: passthepotatoes]
    melmichigan Offline

    Registered: 09/05/08
    Posts: 679

    What is the daughter saying about the whole thing?
    EPGY OE Volunteer Group Leader

    #47958 - 05/20/09 05:02 PM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: melmichigan]
    Katelyn'sM om Offline

    Registered: 10/22/08
    Posts: 1085
    Loc: Austin, TX
    PTP: I totally agree with the importance of treating the underlying anxiety and depression being essential and I even suggested that perhaps over the summer they send her to an outward bound program b/c anxiety is anxiety. Perhaps something of this sort would work on the anxiety and team building.

    And the alternative educational route has been tossed around but my friend is not comfortable with it b/c if her daughter can not even get out of bed to go to school she doesn't see how she could get her to commit to distant learning programs and again my friend has to work. It is basically a single mother household at this point.

    And melmichigan:

    It is so hard to describe DD and her reaction. She is not flippant with the whole ordeal. She is very apologetic and seems to really want to go to school but if she misses even a day the anxiety of letting everyone down builds up and paralyzes the child until she can't go. She loves her school and wants to go there but she gets into these moments and the moments become long periods of not going.

    So the update on the situation: Had a meeting this afternoon with the school and due to how much school she has missed she will not get credit for 9th grade BUT they will not hold her back next year b/c intellectually speaking she has mastered the work so she will have to take extra credits throughout the rest of her high school days to earn the 9th grade. I know I know ... it doesn't make complete sense to me so trying to describe it is useless but for me it seems that they are stuck with the school b/c to leave now she would have to repeat 9th grade anywhere else but at that school she can start in 10th grade next year.

    They also got her to agree to go back to the therapist and possibly be put back on medication. The school brought up hospitalizing her but the problem with that is they did that before and after 2 days the hospital is ready to release her because she doesn't meet all their criteria.

    #47967 - 05/20/09 07:33 PM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: Katelyn'sM om]
    Grinity Offline

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    I would reccomend any book by Martin Seligman, if they haven't already read him, such as 'Raising an Optomistic Child.'
    A style of therapy called 'Cognitive Behavioral Therapy' may be useful.
    PG kids can have a very hard time, and it's heartbreaking.

    Seems to me that a service project that the DD can really sink her teeth into would raise her belief in her self, if she can manage something that interests her.

    I'm wondering if the school could manage to have a place for her to get 'little rests' in, as needed, perhaps a nurse or special ed teacher, so that she can attend even when she is sick.

    Weirdly, I'll bet it's not to late to start 'praising effort' instead of inborn traits, particularly when the child can overhear 2 adults discussing her, rather than to her face. I'd even suggest that you advise the Mom to start praising her own efforts aloud, as a model.

    Lately we've been saying things like:
    90% of life is just show up. Now it's time to show up.


    We know that it's been very hard, and that things haven't always gone well in the past, but we believe that if you keep trying, sometime soon, you will find that the strength you need is inside.

    over and over and over and over again.

    Some people, especially gifties, seem to 'not get' that life is often really hard. A friend of mine says that he enjoys Buddism because it taught him that 'life is supposed to be painful.' (not sure if this is true or not, but it's interesting.)

    Lastly, if she has recent enough test scores, I would highly reccomend that the family apply for Davidson's Young Scholar Program. Spending time with other families in similar situations would be a great relief, I'm sure. At the very least, see if your friend would be willing to sit down with you and read some of the posts here. A surf party!

    love and more love,
    Coaching available, at

    #47978 - 05/21/09 03:57 AM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: Grinity]
    Ellipses Offline

    Registered: 02/22/09
    Posts: 407
    Loc: Colorado
    I loved the Seligman book and it has helped. My husband and I both were (are?) gifted and have high sensitivities. He has had migraines and anxiety attacks since Middle School.

    My daughter began having anxiety attacks this year. The first time, my husband took her to the ER, but now we know how to treat them.

    Sorry for the long extra 'stuff'. She has to be treated first. She is taking these changes really hard and does not want to displease anyone.

    Things in my life started to go wrong for me at this age (father's death, mother's abandonment, etc). If she does not do this now, this sadness or whatever you want to call it, will follow her. The process that finally worked for me was EMDR. At this age, she does not know which path to take and will definitely beat herself up for the path she chooses. EMDR helps. Nothing else really sunk in.

    #48060 - 05/21/09 08:11 PM Re: A friend needs some advice.... [Re: Ellipses]
    Katelyn'sM om Offline

    Registered: 10/22/08
    Posts: 1085
    Loc: Austin, TX
    Thanks for the Seligman book suggestion. I passed it on to my friend.


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