The name of my blog is “The Gift of Gifted.” When I started this blog and I was trying to think of a name for it, I thought of The Gift of Gifted right away and then tried to think of other ideas as well. Nothing else seemed to fit so I kept coming back to it. Being gifted really is a gift from God. There’s no way around it.
Imagine how you feel when you are given a gift. This may not be something you’ve asked for, but it was a really thoughtful gift that someone gave you. It was perfect for you and this person picked it out just for you. This gift is really useful and you can do a lot of things with it, if you learn how to use it properly. You can see where this is going…this is just like being gifted with giftedness.
However, there is one problem. You want to use this gift properly, but you open up the box and it is in pieces. You dig through all the pieces to try to find the instructions, but they’re missing. You don’t know how to put it together, so you start trying to put random pieces together to see what fits and what doesn’t. You become frustrated and overwhelmed with all these little pieces that need to be put together. No one else is going to get it put together for you so you keep at it until finally it all comes together.
Sometimes life with a gifted child is frustrating. It gets overwhelming. There are so many needs that are different and that require so much of your attention and you feel like you’re doing great with one need, but then other needs pop up and it all begins to add up and you end up buried in a pile of needs and emotions and you don’t know where to begin to dig yourself out.
As Asher gets older and bigger, he is also getting more intelligent. This is all great. However, we are noticing more “issues” (for lack of a better term) are starting to come up. He is still faced with overexcitabilities that he has to cope with. Mostly the psychomotor OE that we are still trying to harness. Summer is over now and we have considerably less time and ability to play outside. Outside has always been his outlet for energy. He was able to ride his bike, run around, jump on his trampoline, swing, pretend to drive cars, etc. When he is forced inside all he has are his drums. Luckily he plays them several times a day. He also goes to taekwondo class 3 times a week now so he has that as well. Unfortunately these things just don’t seem to be enough and he is wiggling around like he has ants in his pants.
A couple weeks ago Asher woke me up asking me if I could come lay with him in his bed because it was still a long time before he could get up and he was bored. It was 6:02 am and we always let him get up around 7. I told him that I was trying to sleep and he just needed to close his eyes and go back to sleep. A few minutes later he asked again so, since I wasn’t getting more sleep anyway, I went in to lay with him. I got under his covers with him and snuggled up and told him to go to sleep. That’s when I noticed his body wasn’t going to let him go to sleep. He was awake, so his body wanted to move…it needed to move. His feet were fidgety, he kept rubbing his eyes, yawning, he’d roll around in bed and change positions a lot. I wrapped my arms around his and held him in an effort to calm his body, but his little body just wouldn’t give up. It was no use. I really felt bad for him because it was like he was actually really tired and wanted to go to sleep, but he was literally unable to lay still. He didn’t have the ability.
This started me thinking about getting him a weighted blanket (which we did get thanks to my mom who made him one) to see if it helped him calm his body enough to sleep better and longer….which also got me thinking about his sensory issues. I’ve always known they were there, but at what point do sensual overexcitabilities become full blown sensory processing disorder? Asher has always had issues with textures of food, so much that he gags and sometimes vomits when he tries new foods. He sometimes overreacts to a light touch. He tells me he doesn’t like being tickled. As a baby he would arch his back and try to get away if I rubbed his back to try to put him to sleep. He hates getting his nails trimmed. Suddenly he complains about taking a bath. He doesn’t like loud noises unless he’s the one making them (and he makes plenty of loud noises, for sure!). Finally, just tonight he told me he wanted to wear a different shirt to bed because he didn’t like the tag in the one he was wearing. Oh boy.
Those are the heightened senses, but there’s also the senses that I feel he is under-responsive to. His sense of smell is almost non-existent. I noticed this awhile ago when we drove by a dead skunk in the road and the smell was so intense I could taste it. When I audibly complained about it to Asher he had no clue what I was talking about. He told me he didn’t smell anything. This was later confirmed when I asked him about different smells and he’d tell me his “smeller doesn’t work.”
And that’s just the sensory part of it all. We are having serious issues with listening and doing as he is told without arguing about it. Gifted kids are really good at giving you a list of reasons why they can’t do that right now when you ask them to do something.
-“Asher, clean up your toys please so we can get ready for bed.”
-“But I can’t clean up my cars until I finish pretending to fix the transmission on this Camaro.”
-“The Camaro can’t drive until it’s transmission is fixed. I can’t put it away because it can’t drive yet.”
-“Pick it up and walk it over to the car box please.”
-“Maybe I’ll leave it out and I can finish it when I come back downstairs.”
-“We asked you to put it away. Now put it away.”
-“But..I want to play with it in the morning!”
-*heavy sigh and runs to put it away.* He knows when we count we mean business and there will be a consequence if we get to 1.
We are working on following directions immediately, but when you have a stubborn, strong-willed child this takes time.
We have been working so hard at trying to identify and cope with all these issues that another issue showed up today and practically slapped me in the face. It hurt. It stung. I realized that I have failed to teach him something. Something important. We have always taught Asher to say thank you when he is given something or someone does something for him. He knows that it is good manners to do so, but we have failed to explain why this is important.
Long story short, I spent the entire morning and half of the afternoon focusing all of my attention on Asher. We played Legos, we did school, we ate lunch together, we watched YouTube videos, we played drums and piano, and finally we went back to the Legos. This was not enough for him. He literally told me that it wasn’t enough and I needed to play with him more when I tried to take a break for myself. He also went as far as to say that the garage I built for him (out of what Lego pieces were left after building a Lego set this morning) was horrible and looked bad and weird. Needless to say I took that garage that I built and tossed it back into the Lego box so that it broke into pieces. He got that message and we had a long talk about how we need to be thankful for what we are given and what people do for us because they are using their time to be nice to us. They don’t have to do it, but they do it to the best of their ability. I’m just glad that it was my feelings he hurt with his words and we were able to (hopefully) fix it before he took it out of the house. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard some of the words that came out of his mouth and I felt like somewhere I had gone wrong in my parenting. What a perfect time of year to get to teach him about thankfulness though.
Like the Lego garage that was broken into pieces, and the gift of giftedness, there are so many pieces of Asher’s life that still need put together. There will be good times and bad times and I know this isn’t the last time that I will feel overwhelmed with the task that God has given me to raise this boy. My only wish is to raise him to be a kind, respectable, successful man in whatever he chooses to be. My job as his parent is to help him put all these pieces together to the best of my ability, but it is him who must take that finished gift and use it to its full potential.
At the end of the day, Asher is still my little gift from God. He is that thoughtful gift that I was given to put all the pieces together and I will forever love and treasure that gift.