Contemplating the journey

Posted by: knute974

Contemplating the journey - 11/20/20 02:45 PM

I don't come here often anymore. When I first joined back in 2009, my DYS daughter, then seven years old, had just been identified as a highly gifted dyslexic/dysgraphic student. There were times, particularly in elementary school, when I doubted every decision that I made as her parent. She was in a gifted and talented classroom from 1st through 8th grade. She went to our local high school which had an IB program but she opted for the AP route instead. Now, she is just finishing her first quarter of college.

She is in college close by so I try to go have coffee with her every week or two. Recently, I asked her to reflect on her K-12 experience. I was curious about what she thought. She told me that, as I suspected, elementary school was miserable. At the same time, she said that she would never be where she is today if she hadn't been in a GT classroom. She said that although she often felt like an imposter being in class with kids who were talented in language arts, her teachers never treated her like she was stupid because she struggled with spelling and writing. Her teachers recognized her deep thinking and extreme attention to detail. We recalled the time when she made a model of mountains and valleys using aluminum foil. They were then supposed to draw a map of their model using the creases in their models as a guide for their pseudo topo map. My daughter drew every line that she saw in the foil. When I looked at it, it looked like she had scribbled hundreds of lines on the paper. My first thought was that she hadn't even tried to do the assignment correctly. She had a wonderful teacher who asked her to explain her drawing to me. It became clear that she literally drew every crease that she saw in the aluminum foil, so much that it looked like a total mess. She had too much detail. This gave me much needed insight into why she sometimes got overwhelmed by the input that she received from the world.

The things that she listed as successes in the early years included vision therapy which helped resolve a visual tracking problem and eliminated the headaches that she got when she tried to read, my reading with her every night for years (even though she hated me for it at the time) and making her participate in meetings with her teachers (when we started doing this in 6th grade, she literally huddled under the desk for most of the meeting). She also cited piano lessons as being a big positive. She remembered that she would go to lessons upset and/or drained from school and come out energized. I fessed up that I kept sending her to lessons for the mental health aspect.

Things that didn't work included a typing class that was recommended by the psychologist who did her testing (the reliance on computer "games" that rewarded speed and accuracy totally stressed her out). She also mentioned the elementary school sending her to see the school psychologist to address her anxiety about writing which they scheduled during the writing portion of her class - she missed the writing instruction and had to make up all of the work which stressed her out even more. We laughed about how much she hated being sent to out of the GT class to the lowest spelling group in the grade. At the time she couldn't understand why she had to work on baby words while her friends got interesting words. I asked if she could spell the baby words. She said of course not, but she figured that she wasn't going to be able to spell consistently either way and she could have been learning some more interesting vocabulary.

In middle school, she told me that she thought I was lying to her when I said that things that were easy for other people might be hard for her (i.e. reading) and that things that were hard for other people might be easy for her (math/science). We had a lot of clashes as she wanted independence and I continued to worry that she needed more support. She said that having a gifted dyslexic English teacher was awesome. She said that worst thing was having a terrible music teacher in 8th grade but she appreciated that I went to bat for her and got her out of a toxic situation.

High School had a lot of drama. I took a back seat and tried to let her deal with it. She almost failed three classes one semester but managed to pull off As and Bs in the end. I told her that I was proud of her for digging herself out of that hole. Although she didn't always make choices that I would have made, she mostly ended up making good choices for her and from the "bad" choices, she learned a lot. There was one point where she thought about taking an alternative career path that really did not require her to go to college. She explored pretty seriously during her senior year and realized that she wanted something more intellectual. That exploration allowed her to apply to college with much more focus and purpose.

During her first quarter of college, I've watched my kid shine. My little introvert actively work on making friends in the dorm during COVID restrictions. My dyslexic worked out getting extra time on exams. She spoke to her professors and TAs about her spelling challenges. She actively sought out a professor who was doing research on a topic in her major and got herself into his lab. In short, she has done just fine without me and I'm thrilled about it.

For those of you who are still with me, I just wanted to thank this forum for making me feel less alone on this journey and for keeping me sane through the years.



Posted by: Platypus101

Re: Contemplating the journey - 11/22/20 04:08 AM

Wow, knute. I am as happy for you as I am inspired for my own kids. You have done an amazing job, and your DD has grown into an impressive young woman.

It really does mean a lot to hear an update like this, thank you. All the very best to both of you.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Contemplating the journey - 11/22/20 04:59 AM

Thank you for sharing. Helps to hear about drama in hs and digging out of similar holes last few years. And to hear that after all that "spotting" trying to keep them balanced on the path, they can manage on their own.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: Contemplating the journey - 11/22/20 08:13 PM

Thank you so much for sharing! My eldest is finishing their first year of uni now. Last two exams today and Wednesday. I should write up a similar reflection, if only for them to look back on, we have had many chats over the last year.

This jumped out to me:

Originally Posted By: knute974
I asked if she could spell the baby words. She said of course not, but she figured that she wasn't going to be able to spell consistently either way and she could have been learning some more interesting vocabulary.


This is SO important, in so many contexts, not just spelling. We want them to learn as much spelling as they can, or math, or EF, or whatever that significant weakness is. But at what cost. What cost is acceptable? What do we remediate aggressively and what do we accept as something that just needs to be supported as best we can along the way?

I am still in the trenches with my youngest at the moment, preparing for a meeting where I am expecting an attempt to reverse a double acceleration. This is more to do with a change in school philosophy than especially personal to my child (who is none the less not without issues). I am expecting "Won't someone think of their social skills" and "Developmental appropriateness"(where developmental = age), their health problems "The work should be easier because they have health problems" and also EF "The work should be easier so EF can develop"...

I cannot think of a scenario here (not the US), where a child who was clearly coping very well with the level of work across most subjects, struggling with one and bored with others would face the suggestion they should be retained (or put back even further) because they have poor spelling, or are bad at math, or have poor EF or health problems.

We do things to 2E kids, in the name of "helping them develop holistically", that would never even be discussed as an option for children in lockstep placements who are struggling in a particular area, for any of the many reasons that can come up.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Contemplating the journey - 11/23/20 12:23 PM

Originally Posted By: MumOfThree

We do things to 2E kids, in the name of "helping them develop holistically", that would never even be discussed as an option for children in lockstep placements who are struggling in a particular area, for any of the many reasons that can come up.

Actually, we do exactly the opposite with learners on the other end of the spectrum, in the name of holistic development--like placing children with significant learning delays with their age-peers for socialization reasons. It's mostly societal regression to the mean by philosophy.

But to knute's original post: I am so impressed and inspired by how much your child has grown and benefited from the tremendous amount of consistent investment that you and she put into this process. Parenting is a long-term project, often with outcome measures that only become clear when they've been achieved (partly because we don't always recognize what the truly valuable outcomes are without hindsight).

Thank you for sharing these successes with us.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: Contemplating the journey - 11/23/20 05:59 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh

Actually, we do exactly the opposite with learners on the other end of the spectrum, in the name of holistic development--like placing children with significant learning delays with their age-peers for socialization reasons. It's mostly societal regression to the mean by philosophy.

AEH I don't want to de-rail Knute's post, which is so valuable and this is so tangential. Perhaps this should move to a new discussion? But I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the extent to which philosophies about to how manage education for children with learning delays is applied to gifted children (and perhaps particularly 2E kids), and how positive or negative the outcomes of that seem to you.