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For those who grew up gifted and didn't know it...


Embassy
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I learned I was gifted when I was 13, so kind of halfway. I had been identified to be tested for the gifted program in public school. (Before that, I went to a small school with high standards but no gifted program.)

 

Before that, I think my parents knew it, but they didn't say it. They did enroll me in a Lutheran school a year early. My mom always made it clear that she believed I was capable and expected high grades and such. But "gifted" was not something we discussed.

 

I think I knew I was smart, but once I was labeled as "gifted" it made me feel all kinds of special, for a while. Eventually I figured out that it didn't make me all that different from everyone else. It just made me thankful that certain things came easy to me.

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I took a test to get into a magnet school when I was in eighth grade. I missed the cut off by two points but the psychologist giving the test recommended I be admitted anyway. I was. But the effect was that I *knew* I didn't belong there and forever thought I wasn't smart.

 

Fast forward to when my daughter was about six and I was dealing with her extreme academic needs. I had run out of ideas and we did testing with her. She tested extremely high (PG). But more telling was the fact I recognized some of the questions on one of the tests that was given to her. The people who did her testing were amazed and asked if I knew the score I had received on the test. I told them and they were amazed. I had ceilinged the test. I had not done poorly on it all those years ago. I had reached the end of the test and run out of questions to get correct. My daughters testers told me that not only was my daughter a very very smart little girl, but that I had been and was too. I cried. Why had no one explained any of this to me all those years ago?

 

I didn't know as a child because I wasn't in a place where it was allowed for me to know. My parents don't believe in gifted. They didn't want me to feel better than my classmates.

 

I found out as an adult after doing the testing for my daughter.

 

Advancement was a huge no no in my area. That would mean that you had a big head. I wasn't praised for any grade ever. I was assigned extra practice in handwriting because I got a B+. No one ever commented on the A in anything or volunteered any more interesting work.

 

My parents expected me to sit still, be good, and not cause trouble. That meant not sticking out too much. I tried really hard to do that. I was not successful. My teachers hated me. I made them look stupid. It was horrid.

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I wonder if that came into play somewhat with my parents as well. Growing up nobody in their family even graduated from high school. My parents never talked about me going to college. I pursued it completely on my own.

 

I don't think they thought it mattered. And to some extent I don't think they were wrong. The only thing I want different for my kids are more opportunities to go further than I had the opportunity to.

 

Both my parents graduated from high school and my dad graduated from college. But only 1 of 4 of my grandparents graduated from high school (he also graduated from college - he was a math teacher. Think he was gifted? :tongue_smilie: They also had a fruit farm.) My dad went to college by the skin of his teeth - it was all his own doing. His 2 siblings did not attend college.

 

My grandmother was raised in a family of 13 kids and had a dead beat dad. I think she got through 8th grade. She died last year with a extra difficult suduko book half finished and shelves full of books. Definitely gifted. Both those grandparents were blue collar workers.

 

But because of my grandparents upbringing and my parents upbringing, gifted was not at all on the radar. I went to a small Catholic school that had no gifted programming. It was the bright cooperative kids that got any attention at all. I was quiet and out of the box and was dxed with a vision issue early, so I didn't read until age 5/6. I was a good reader, but no one ever told me that. I just did my best to fit in with the crowd, which was VERY hard for me. I always thought something was seriously wrong with me.

 

I was put into honors/gifted classes in high school, but my dad told me that was because I got a superior education at the private school. :001_huh: I graduated in the top 10 in my class of 400 without too much effort. I got into every college I applied to and got scholarships. My husband has a similar story. Oh, I had good ACT/SAT scores and excellent grades. But I was a "hard worker". Or at least I showed up! :D

 

I knew nothing about gifted until our oldest went to kindergarten and whined and cried every day after the novelty wore off. He took a GT screening test and hit the ceiling of it. I about fell off my chair. That send me on a reading spree to find out what it all meant. It was VERY therapeutic for me to read about gifted kids and gave me great insight into my own childhood. And even some of my parent's behaviors.

 

Anyway, much of this led to homeschooling for us. I want my kid's to be happy and enjoy their childhoods while being challenged and learning how to try and learn thing incrementally. It's been great for that so far.

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I knew, and I didn't know. I knew that I read adult-level books, got good grades, made the accelerated track in math, and tested into GATE at my public school--but I honestly believed that anybody could do those things, and the kids who didn't were just plain lazy. After all, it's not like those things were hard to do.

 

It wasn't until I was in high school, and I watched a close friend of mind struggle and fight and sweat to earn her A in AP European Civilization that I finally realized that I was the lazy one.

 

Advancement was okay, when it meant taking a little higher level of math in middle school. But grade advancement? No way. My mom is very much against grade skipping, or even starting a kid in K if they would be one of the youngest in the class (for social development reasons).

 

That's why, though I will start my kids doing work whenever they are ready for it and let them move on at whatever pace, their work will be called preschool, pre-K, etc. to the family to avoid conflict. The question is, though, what do I call what we are doing now? I pretty much just don't mention it at all.

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Did you grow up and find out that you were gifted as an adult? Why do you think you never knew as a child? What gave you the idea that you were gifted as an adult? Was advancement a no-no in your neck of the woods? What was the attitude of your parents?

 

I was told that I was the opposite of gifted. At age 6 I took the Stanford-Binet L-M. My father told me the score but did not understand what the score was really saying. He told me that my score proved that I was "an idiot" his words.

 

When my son began to have some math issues we took him to be tested. Of course, we did a lot of research right after getting his scores and that's when I found out that my score was in the gifted range.

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Did you grow up and find out that you were gifted as an adult? Why do you think you never knew as a child? What gave you the idea that you were gifted as an adult? Was advancement a no-no in your neck of the woods? What was the attitude of your parents?

 

I do not really know whether I am gifted or not, because I never took a test. I tend to think that it might be very possible. I started school a year early, was bored for 12 years of school and got A's without making any effort, always learned stuff quickly, read way above age level, was always top of my class. I went to college, majored in physics, made A's after the first rocky semester (during which I struggled because I had no study skills- never needed them in school) and had my PhD at 26.

 

When I was growing up, gifted testing was not something that was done. It also did not play any role. My parents expected me to do well in school, showed no surprise that it came this easy to my sister and me - it was just what was considered normal in our family. I never understood as a kid why others were slower to get stuff - I though I was normal.

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No one ever came out and said anything. I went to private school when I was little. I remember having time away from class to do other things and taking lots of "weird" tests when I was in elementary school. Then I moved to MI and went to PS starting with junior high. The high school biology book for 10th grade was the same one I'd had in 7th grade in private school, that was an eye opener. ;)

 

A few months ago I received some of the things from when I was younger (both of my parents are deceased so no one to ask really) and found some of the tests I was given as a child. :svengo: I didn't realize that they gave things like yearly ITBS back then, I had no idea I'd been tested so heavily and placed into private school (with Catholic nuns mind you) for just that reason. Looking back I don't think it helped that much. :D I do remember my parents always expected A's, no matter how bored I was, and I thought that was ridiculous.

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I'm older, so they didn't recognize any differences in ability in school other than skipping kindergarten. I did however, even as a child, make "back-door" deals with my teachers in order to not stand out.

 

It wasn't until college I was able to produce in a more public way academic work; yet it still caused intense social problems. Again, side-deals on any additional material I covered independently and "ungraded".

 

And it wasn't until I was an adult in the workforce I was able to do what I loved at full-speed without any social consequence.

 

My sisters, brother and all of our children have similar stories.

 

We knew as children to sandbag or withhold any extra ability because of the trouble it caused among peers and adults. Any significant learning was done at home and not in the public eye.

 

Acting on or speaking of interests in school settings or outside the family was clearly prohibited.

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I knew because I was placed in the GATE program in 3rd grade. My parents must have approved of the school testing me but I don't remember that part--only enough to know that my siblings were also tested and put into the GATE program. I do know that I was always in the advanced reading and math groups all through school and that I had all A's except for choir (the teacher was HORRIBLE and gave C's to just about everyone). But as an adult, some days I feel dumb because compared to my DH, I am.

 

DH is extremely gifted but never knew it until we started seeing the signs of it in my DS a few years ago. As I brought things up about my DS, my DH started thinking about his own childhood and how he was always bored in school. In high school he essentially taught his science class because the teacher was a moron--he also wrote the final exams. He is hoping to goto law school this spring and took a practice LSAT test the other day. Without any prep at all, he got a 165 which is good enough to get a full ride scholarship to the school he's looking at.

 

In DH's case, his parents failed him big time. DH should have been grade skipped, put into GATE classes, something. His parents never did anything for DH school wise. I use DH as my example of what not to do with my own kids.

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I knew I was gifted because I was put into the GATE program.

 

My parents' attitude stunk because of their issues. I never felt I could be good enough to earn their approval.

 

My daughter is probably about the same level as I, but I feel dumb compared to my son.

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I just found out (for sure) this past summer.

 

I went to a small Catholic school with very high standards and very small teacher/student ratios, so we were all "smart". I switched to a different Catholic school when we moved and I had two really horrible teachers who had very specific pets and since I was a new kid, I wasn't one of them. They made my life hell, so my parents then transferred me to the local PS, by that time everyone had already been tested and were in the GATE program, my parents never pushed to have me tested.

 

Academics always came easy to me as a young child, so I never learned how to study or work hard. I also have ADHD tendencies (not sure if it's real ADHD or result of a TBI as a two year old) In high school I didn't do so well in my AP classes because of that. Same with college when the work load was more rigorous.

 

I finally, this summer, decided to go through a whole battery of neuropsych testing and I scored in the 91-98th percentile in everything. My shrink was blown away. (Considering I was there to find out what was "wrong with me").

 

He then told me that he was very pleased that I was homeschooling my children because I have so much to offer them.

 

ETA: Also, at my high school, being smart was cool. Our valedictorian was the QB of our football team.

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I knew I was different, but my parents weren't the types to celebrate academic success so even though I was top of the class / top of the school / academic teams all over the show, no effort / bored out of my mind etc I had no idea that could be a good thing - they were to busy telling me it was my fault I was being bullied because I must have started it and I was being too sensitive if people upset me. That's how I saw myself - too sensitive and always doing the wrong thing so people would hurt me. I'm 2E and neither side of my 'skill set' was supported, just teasing for getting things wrong and ignoring achievement. Differentiation / acceleration was unheard of and it was more important to get kids to 'fit in' with the rest of the class than meet needs in those days. I learnt in high school that I could do what ever I liked behaviourally because no punishment would ever be followed up on because they needed me for their academic teams... didn't make for the best social / character development :lol:

 

My parents even now will say things like, "wow, why are your kids so smart, I remember when you couldn't even spell fish. They must get it from their dad" and "are you sure they're really that smart, don't you think it's just because you're a teacher and you've taught them this stuff. They should be children. Don't make them do that." They're carrying on the tradition of teasing kids about what they can't do, hassling them to do things they don't want to do (like watch endless children's TV and play with trains) and ignoring what they can do. Needless to say my children don't see a lot of my parents ;)

Edited by Grover
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just curious ... why do you ask?

 

and an answer: I knew I qualified for gifted enrichment, b/c I'd taken an IQ test in early elementary, but my mother lied to me about the score and said I'd tested at the lowest possible qualifying level. So I thought I was on the dim end of brightness ;) which was fine. I saw the scores when I was in college and was going through my high school file for some reason. Then I just felt like an underachiever ...

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I guess I'm curious too:001_smile:

 

It is interesting that for most of these stories the parent attitudes were important. Some of these stories are heartbreaking too:crying:

 

 

I love your signature - "global kids who love to learn".

 

I agree, some of this is really heartbreaking. The attitudes don't make sense to me.

 

I'm personally still learning what "gifted" is. An IQ range? There were no gifted programs that I know of when I was in school. My impression of "gifted" was the child who could play Beethoven on the piano at 3, or the character in Rainman, you know?

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I agree, some of this is really heartbreaking. The attitudes don't make sense to me.

 

 

 

I think that many of our parents were taught that it was very important to not let kids get a "big head." And I think it was not unusual in past generations for parents to insult their kids in order to motivate them to work harder. I would say that in many of the stories told above, it was more the cultural fear of raising a show-off than an actual belief that one's kids were "idiots" or whatever. Like many touchy subjects (sex comes to mind), parents felt safer keeping mum versus teaching kids how to think and talk about them.

 

I once told my mom's friend about something I was proud of, and my mom told me off roundly, saying I was "fishing for compliments." A shy kid already, that silenced me pretty much forever.

 

I may say my kids are "smart" when they impress me (both the advanced one and the one who struggles), but I think I say "you can do better" a lot more often. Who knows what message that really sends?

Edited by SKL
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  • 9 years later...

As a kid, I was a bit different. I held school in a play room on Saturday afternoons, teaching math and seemed faced on 3 dimensional shapes. I had a lab in my bedroom with a microscope  and samples I would disect, mostly plants and rocks. I was in dance, played instruments, But, as school I failed grade 2, they told my mom I would not make it though high school.  No one noticed the stuff I did. I just did it.

Later as a young adult, I returned to school. I wasn't quite done. My grades were different, I became confused, I did not understand what was going on.  The first shock was a math exam where my grade was 99%. I checked the name, is this my paper? I never had 99 in anything. But, this became standard, I was confused. I soon realized all my grades were high. Wasn't sure how, or why. I finished grade 12, advanced placement, and went to university to study physics and mathematics, science.

 

It was there I found out I as gifted, I just pushed it off. I don't think I absorbed it. A prof asked to test me.

I Aldo raised a gifted son, currently a young adult. who attended  gifted eduction program. 

My family,, makes comments "you think your so smart" etc.Im the only one in my family, extended included who went to university.

 

Not knowing was a disservice to me. I did not get what I needed from education as a child. My parents were passive, and did not question the school, I was never tested.  I tried a couple of times to "beef up my work" and I was punished with an F, I did go home crying. I joys did not understand why. I was in the wrong school. I never studied. But passed.

 

Its been a struggle. Bot knowing Im gifted as a kid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

When I was in high school and got close to 1600 on the SAT (only took it once). I had IQ testing too and scored higher than the psychologist had ever seen. And I ran out of math classes at the public school by 16. I wanted to go on to college but all anyone in those days could think about was socializing and having tons of friends. I did not realize I was gifted when we moved between school districts and the original district had me in 4th/5th grade and the new district said I was too young and put me back in 3rd grade. They even suggested that I go back to 2nd grade because I was young for 3rd grade. Then they made a big deal of my lack of friends (I had plenty of friends at my old school and was being bullied at the new school). I spent the next few years, rest of elementary school, which went through 6th grade, miserable. And I do recall begging my teachers to let me go ahead in math and such so I could learn. I was actually sent to the principals office (who was also our neighbor, nice guy actually) who gave me a talking to about needing to be with my own age and how important it was that I make friends in this grade before moving on. Realize, at my old school, I was in a small group of kids who had all accelerated grades. We were similar in age but had high aptitude. My older sister still tells me about how much this experience scarred her because she went through the same thing. She was in algebra in what was 6th grade age grade and 7th grade for everything else. They stuck her back in 6th grade for everything and she was not allowed to take algebra again until 8th grade.

I know this does not exactly answer your question, but I wanted to tell about my experience. It has come to head for me recently when I decided to put middle son back in school and they accelerated him a grade. My old trauma of having it rammed in to me that I was a failure because of a lack of friends keeps hitting me. I have to remind myself that if we take care of his mind first, the rest can fall in place. Maybe he will never have tons of friends, but he will be unhappy if he gets banned from learning, like I was and like my sister was. (I wonder if we would have been treated the same way if we had been boys).

Edited by Janeway
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  • 1 month later...

I knew I was gifted (tested in Kindergarten and put in gifted pull out then) but it wasn't really discussed. My sister and I were often told we were smart, but there still wasn't a lot of emphasis on learning -- it was more about being good in class and not getting in trouble.  Well, my fourth grade teacher told my mom I was headed for a life in prison when I forged my dad's signature on a test, I got placed in all day time out for talking non stop, and by middle school I was just the mediocre one between my sister and I.

I felt like an alien at school, zoned out during class, forgot homework constantly, and just gave up until high school.  When I started dating my now husband I turned things around.  Realized I was actually smart - but was just bored and lacked good executive functioning and a reason to do well in class. 

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