Home > Gifted, Giftedness, Uncategorized > On being a Gifted Learner with Learning Challenges- A Composition of Complexity in ‘G’ Major (or Minor!)

On being a Gifted Learner with Learning Challenges- A Composition of Complexity in ‘G’ Major (or Minor!)

I would like to share an excerpt from an article of mine that was published in the ILSA (Irish Learning Support Association’s Journal ‘LEARN’ (2004). It was titled ‘To be a Gifted Learner with Learning Challenges’   –

by Leslie S. Graves (2004)– Except from To be a Gifted Learner with Learning Challenges’ in ‘LEARN’ – Journal of the Irish Learning Support Association , Volume 26 (2004);47-56

As a  parent of children with these traits  I have spent many years adjusting and composing life around them. I have also, as an Educational Consultant,  spent years discussing the Educational and Emotional Issues surrounding this group of children with both Educators and Parents.

“If you are so smart, than how come…. “

The most hated phrase in all the world.  I cannot tell you how many times a child has come to me, bewildered and confused after someone has used this sentence.  One of the single, most pognant issues that affect these children and their carers and educators, is their sometimes surprising degree of uneven development.

A Gifted 8 year old may be able to discuss the Lord of the Rings trilogy (afer having read all three books in less than a week and its connection to Norse Mythology with her 22 year old Uncle.  She may throw an hour long tantrum (like a two year old), over which seat she should be allowed to sit in, play chasing with her age mates, and then be completely inconsolable if she catches a family member throwing out a piece of newspaper because ‘he is wasting trees’.

This unevenness between mental, emotional and physical and social worlds can become even more of a challenge when these children also have to cope with major overexcitability issues, additional Special Needs or Learning Difficulties.

In an article by Micheal V. Rios, found in ‘Uniquely Gifted’ editied by Kinsela Kay, and called ‘Living with Contradictions’ (2000:47) he uses “ADS or asynchronous development syndrome” (usually preceded by ‘severe’) to describe his profoundly gifted son.  This is a description with which a I would heartily agree.

I often like to think of these children in the context of a piece of beautiful music, which needs the sounds of their individual instruments (abilities and disabilities) adjusted by a stereo receiver, you know the ones with little levers that are marked min. and max. and say bass, treble, etc. for balance. Many Gifted Children, by lack of a better definition, those in the upper 2-5% of the population, or with IQ’s starting at 125-128 and higher, may not be emotionally and socially challenged.  In fact their emotive piece may be as well developed as their cognitive one.  They may be evenly advanced in all areask, well in advance of their peers.  Their levers are relatively even, and would most assuredly benefit from advanced work or placement within their educational environments. These children are ususally good candidated for straightforward programs of acceleration, and generally, with few adjustments, settle in well with a new group of children.  If you turned up the volume with these children, they would resonate beautifully, all instruments working in unison toward a deeply satisfying finale, that is, if the auditorium within which they are being played has the right kind of acoustics (or attitude).

Equally, there are many others among the Gifted population (usually the greater the giftedness, the greater the asynchrony or discrepancy who for some reason or another, have some instruments working at maximum (far to loud) and others at min. (needs work) or not at all.  In other words, they may have an instrument, or several that are beautifully in tune, and on the other hand have one or more or the rest of their orchestra at various stages of disharmony.  This may be in areas such as social and emotional maturity and /or physical or congitive capabilities in one or more areas.  Some of these children may even seem to have one or two instruments that appear not to be working at all or indeed be missing, leading to great discord in their lives and in the lives of those who live and work with them.

Provision for these children requires careful and thoughtful planning, supporting them where they are weak, helping them reach those elusive notes and finding their own rhythms (and instruments!!).  They may need assistance with choosing an alternative instrument to play that might be better suited to their talents and abilities, or even discovering a kind of music that breaths life into their souls.

It is crucial, however, not to forget to listen to the music and instruments that the child loves and plays with ease.  It is through these and with these, their areas of strength and talent, where the key lies to help them bring their own special harmony together into a unique piece of music all their own.

Failure to value, and provide opportunities for these children to work at a level that keeps their spark alive and interested, may result in the symphony that is that child, slowly becoming less and less audible until it is buried under the burden of mediocrity.  Another tragic loss to society as the future scientist, musician, doctor, researcher, teacher, mathematician, artist, master plumber loses the will to play his instruments and gives up.

How poor the world would be had people like Einstein (possibly Aspergers and Dyslexic, Mozart (possibly ADHD), and others like these not had people in their lives who helped them orchestrate their compositions….?

Ref. Micheal V. Rios (2000)-‘Living with Contradicitons’, in Uniquely Gifted-Identifying and meeting the needs of the twice exceptional student’- edited by Kiesa Kay, Gilsum, N. H., Avocus (USA)

by Leslie S. Graves (2004)– Except from To be a Gifted Learner with Learning Challenges’ in ‘LEARN’ – Journal of the Irish Learning Support Association , Volume 26 (2004);47-56

  1. Lisa Conrad
    September 2, 2010 at 9:43p

    Your own giftedness shines through in this blog. When will the world finally realize that the gifted must be supported? Continue the fight, Les. Millions of gifted children and adults deserve the right to appropriate education and social acceptance. Someone must speak for them.

  2. September 2, 2010 at 9:43p

    Thankyou for your gracious comment lisa.. much appreciated. ;-D

  3. September 27, 2010 at 9:43p

    This is such a deep blog! What can I say, youve hit the nail right on the head! You even added some videos to make it seem so much more real. Youve got a great way of communicating with the reader, a great way of making me feel like what you have to say is just as important to me as it is to you. Keep it up!

  4. October 10, 2010 at 9:43p

    Hi Mirko,

    Thankyou for your kind comment, it is really a nice feeling when people feel that they ‘get’ what you have been trying to ‘get’ across.. I truely appreciate your feeling like I am communicating to readers in a meaningful way. It makes me glad to know it is working the way I intended it to be.. I had been hoping to write a blog that did not just ‘tell’ people things and information, but allowed folks a window into the ‘experience’ of ‘being’ gifted, or alternatively ‘living with’ and supporting those that are meant to be .. You are kind.. ;-D

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