By Sarah Vander Schaaff
One of my favorite lines form “30 Rock” is when Jenna tries to explain the concept of back-door bragging, giving this example: It’s hard for me to watch ‘American Idol’ because I have perfect pitch.
And so it might seem when parents of a profoundly gifted child talk about the problems they have finding the right stimulation, peer groups, and emotional support for their child who, from the outside, is just “too perfect” for everyday life.
But the concerns are just as deep, and at times frustrating or painful, for parents of the profoundly gifted as they are for the rest of us. At the end of the day, we all want our children to reach their individual potentials for happiness and fulfillment, whatever those may be.
If you’re wondering what I mean by profoundly gifted, you’re not alone. We use the term “gifted” so often, and with little standardization, that it’s a confusing arena. One useful explanation of what is meant by these terms can be found on a website created by a mother of a, (you guessed it) gifted child, on Hoagies Gifted Education Page.
Dr. Wendy Mathews, a Child Psychologist with Mindprint explains more:
“Profoundly gifted children, comprising less than 0.5% of the population, are academically well beyond even their gifted peers. For these children, the school’s gifted programs are often unequipped to provide the stimulation and challenge these students need to thrive. It is not uncommon for these children to grow bored, disengaged or develop behavioral problems as a coping mechanism. Schools encounter profoundly gifted children so infrequently that they may not realize the signs of a child struggling to cope. They could misinterpret these behaviors as defiance, disobedience, or a lack of great potential.”
So today, while I try to find a camp that promises to apply the appropriate amount of sunscreen to my fair-haired six-year old, the parents of the profoundly gifted child may be searching for one that promises to challenge a second-grader with middle school math.
Here is a wonderful list of links to help find programs around the country that offer support, enrichment programs, and guidance, including The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, for those with profoundly gifted children. Even those of us who are not experiencing the same challenges may find these resources interesting and of use. CLICK HERE for link.
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