A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Friday, July 24, 2015

{Book Review} Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families by Pamela Price

Children who are different are an easy target for bullying. A boy who is sensitive, a girl who is good at math, a girl with a physical impediment, or a boy with behavioral challenges - anything that sets a child apart from expected "norms" - these children become targets for teasing and worse.

Gifted children are frequently targets, because they are so frequently different from their age-mates. They don't have the same interests, and they are avid and intense in their study of what does interest them. They are sensitive, emotionally intense, and don't fit in.

I wish I could say that we haven't had any experience with bullying, but sadly that is not the case. The Kidlet was bullied by a teacher - one who should have understood the uniqueness of gifted children, but who was so frustrated by him that she resorted to publicly humiliating him, isolating him, and making sure that every adult at that school saw not a joyous, exuberant learner but a social misfit who needed to be corralled and controlled. He was sent home from school at least once a week, and spent much of his school hours sitting in the hall outside his classroom with only a dictionary to keep him occupied. As his parents we were accused of poor parenting, not being supportive of the school environment, and inhibiting his learning. Our suggestions went unheeded.

He was in first grade.

Our seven year old child - who had loved to learn, was an autodidact in all things math and science, reading, and social studies - shut down and refused to do anything. By the end of that school year, he was convinced that he was bad at math (the kid who taught himself algebra in kindergarten!), and that writing was painful and hopeless. He was no longer happy and carefree - he had become anxious, socially withdrawn, and awkward. It took five years and the freedom of homeschooling to bring back his love of learning. It took finishing calculus by the age of 14 and discovering what his age-mates were doing in math to realize for himself the truth in what we'd been saying to him all along - that he is really good at math. Nine years later, we're still working on making writing an activity that is not characterized by a PTSD-like, anxiety-ridden response.

I wish I'd had Pamela Price's new book, Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families, back then. Price has woven personal stories, in-depth research, and helpful tools together in this short and beautifully-written guidebook. She addresses the gifted kids being bullied, when the gifted child is the bully, adult-on-child bullying, and special circumstances of dealing with bullying and twice-exceptional children. She focuses on how you - the parent, teacher, or other adult - can help (hint: resilience is in the title!), and shines hope into what can feel like a hopeless situation. She provides links to resources - most of them free - for educators, administrators, and parents to help in the classroom or in social situations where bullying is occurring.

I wish we'd had this book back then, because it would have given me a framework in which to address the situation and to help my child build resilience and self-assurance in the midst of it all. But I'm so glad that Price has written this book, and that parents have access to it now. Buy it. Read it.

(I should note that Pamela Price is a personal friend of mine, and that I did receive a free copy of this book for review purposes. But I also bought a copy of my own - because it's THAT GOOD!)