Help, what’s that? Here are some synonyms for help: assistance, relief, advice, aid, benefit, comfort, support, service, lift, cooperation, guidance, avail, maintenance, remedy, sustenance, utility, or helping hand. As you can see, the word doesn’t have negative connotations and is actually something we should want. Now let’s look at the antonyms for help: injury, obstruction, counteraction, harm, blockage, encumbrance, handicap, hindrance or hurt. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of these. And I know from experience that if we don’t get help or advocate for our gifted children harm does in fact occur. By not seeking help, gifted are harmed via increased rates of being bullied, higher levels of underachievement, boredom, misbehavior, dropping out, and failure (academically and/or socially).
I know that sometimes we don’t ask for help because of our own fears and view it as a sign of weakness. Sometimes we don’t ask for help or speak out because we don’t want to be viewed as “that pushy parent,” we have had people roll their eyes at us, or we’ve had our concerns dismissed. Maybe we received inappropriate help in the past or the cost of help is beyond our means. There also are so many myths about giftedness that often our children are overlooked and don’t get needed help. In addition, some states and some school districts make it very difficult to access gifted services or have too many restrictions. Other districts even refuse to service 2E students. Some pediatricians do not know about giftedness characteristics either. All of this just makes it harder to find appropriate help.
Sometimes, we don’t even know where to go for help or that we really need help. If you have a gifted child you may need help in advocating for the best educational program or services. Maybe your child was just diagnosed as 2E (twice exceptional, gifted and special education). Maybe your child was diagnosed as profoundly or exceptionally gifted and you need to learn about the spectrum of giftedness. Maybe you need help finding a therapist, finding an early college or dual enrollment program, or finding online gifted programs for enrichment. Maybe you have been told your child needs acceleration, be it single subject or multiple grades. Maybe you need help finding support, be it from a local SENG group or any type of parent support group. Maybe you need to find other gifted homeschoolers. Maybe you want to find talent search programs because not all homeschoolers are aware of them and not all public schools participate in them. The point is, there are lots of reasons you might want help.
Do not be afraid of asking for help. Getting help is necessary for you, your family, and your gifted child. Giftedness affects the whole family. Dr. James Web (Guiding the Gifted Child) has 10 suggestions for helping gifted children:
- Treat them as children. They are still children.
- Maintain a consistent system of values and a happy, healthy home.
- Give them a special gift: time.
- Don’t stifle the gifted child.
- Intellectually stimulate the gifted child.
- Encourage friendships and discover hobbies.
- Avoid discouraging unusual questions or attitudes.
- Don’t overschedule your child’s life.
- Respect the child and their knowledge.
- Get involved in school efforts and community programs to plan for gifted children.
Here is a list of places to get help or additional information for understanding your gifted child:
- The Global Center for Gifted and Talented Children is an international gifted organization
- National Association for Gifted Children has parent and educator resources
- Open Education Database has a great list of 50 essential links for the parents of gifted children
- University of Connecticut’s Gifted Educational Digest has an article “Helping Your Highly Gifted Child”
- SENG has a section “Does Your Gifted Child Need Professional Help?”
- Davidson Institute has lots of articles all related to gifted children
- Gifted Kids.IE is from Ireland, but information is good for all parents regardless of country
- Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page has information for parents and educators
- National Society for the Gifted and Talented has a list of individual US state organizations
- Columbus Cheetah’s Gifted Myth Buster
- Online Gifted Resources listed on my blog
- GoodReads has a good list of popular books on giftedness (80 books)
- Family education lists 10 books recommended by social worker Noreen H. Joslyn for giftedness
- Hoagies’ Gifted booklist contains 100’s of titles
In your own community you can start seeking help from any of the following:
- School district gifted coordinator (not all districts have such a person)
- School district special education director (sometimes gifted education is covered under special education, especially if they do not have a gifted coordinator)
- School psychologist or guidance counselor (some campuses have one assigned to them and some have both, either should be able to help)
- Public library (free books and other resources that could be used for self-help or for enrichment purposes for your child)
- Pediatrician (if they don’t know, you may need to find another or ask them for a referral)
- Psychologist trained in giftedness (this may be hard, but you can ask questions before setting up appointments or ask within any of the gifted support groups for recommendations)
- Occupational therapist (they can help with sensory issues and or writing issues if that is needed)
- Speech pathologist (they can help with social communication or pragmatic language issues if that is needed)
- State gifted association (every state has one and they may be able to help find a local contact)
Not all families have access to gifted programs nor have money for after school enrichment. Here are free resources:
- Exquisite Minds has a list of mostly free gifted lessons and curriculum
- Examiner has free or low-cost gifted programs
- Davidson Young Scholars has free services (must have qualifying IQ or achievement scores)
- MIT OpenCourseWare has free classes
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Online Learning Initiate has free classes
- Open Educational Resources has free curriculum and resources
- Khan Academy has free online learning as well as SAT prep for free
- Gutenberg’s free books
- Mensa for Kids has some free online activities and reading lists
- Hoagies’ Free Materials for Gifted Classrooms has lots of resources
- I Am Homeschooling has lists of free online resources and places to obtain free kits or DVDs
- Only Passionate Curiosity has a comprehensive list by subject of free resources
- Mobymax is a K-8 curriculum that is free or low cost depending what features you want
- Scootpad is a K-8 ELA and Math curriculum that is free or low cost depending what feature you choose
Ignore the myths. Be your child’s advocate. Be a voice for all gifted children. They do need help and so do the families of gifted children. We all struggle at some time. And, we all need to ask for help. There is no weakness in asking for help.
Acknowledgments and Credits
This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on How and When to Ask for Help. I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.
Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the titles, blog names, and links of other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_asking_for_help.htm