Hello there, my friends! Happy Monday to all of you!
I am super sorry for leaving you hanging with my last blog entry. If you didn’t read it, please go back and read it here first because this one probably won’t make sense if you start here.
On to my story…
I will admit, I assumed my youngest would have a challenging year in kindergarten. I worried about her outbursts and her overwhelming fears and her crippling frustrations. People on the outside assumed these behaviors are coming from a place of disrespect, poor parenting, a refusal to complete a task and total disobedience. Heck, even I thought that at first. So, like I said in the last post, I wrote a two page letter to the school, hoping to explain my baby to the outside world.
Thank goodness they read it.
Kindergarten was delightful for my daughter. She made a few, select friends. She LOVED her teacher and she even earned Citizen of the Month! But, when I visited the classroom, I started to notice a few things. The students’ work displayed on the wall all looked the same…except for my daughter’s work.
Her drawings, handwriting, worksheets, etc. looked like it had been completed by a third grader. It was oddly noticeable…when I stood in the hall, looking at a display…out popped her work…and not just to MY mommy eyes because I’m all biased and fixated on my kid.
It almost made me uncomfortable. I paid attention to how the other children spoke, how they interacted with one another and how they played during center time. There was a VERY obvious difference between the other kindergarten children and my daughter.
Our psychologist refused to diagnose her with any label before the end of that school year. What a smart and insightful doctor…I am so thankful for her hesitation…
Because…my daughter’s kindergarten teacher saw something that I was too close to see. (And she recommended my daughter for GT testing.)
Bogged down with concerns and worries, sleep deprivation and life-controlling melt downs, I saw nothing but the challenges…I was DROWNING in the challenges. I owned a binder FULL of notes, medical reports and evaluations that focused on what was “wrong” with my baby. My entire goal at this point in the journey was to find out WHY she was acting like an out-of-control banshee. I knew once I had an answer, I could find a solution…a way to help her function and deal and adjust and live a happy life.
A particular moment in time burned a permanent memory into my mommy brain: After one of her more severe break downs, I was rocking her back and forth in her bedroom. She leaned out of my arms, looked right at me, and through her tears, asked in the most serious voice, “What is wrong with me?” I can barely relive the thought without crying myself. It broke my heart. I immediately told her, “I don’t know. But I promise that we will find out and I will help you get better.”
I meant it.
In the spring of 2012, paperwork from the elementary school came home explaining that the kindergarten teacher recommended my daughter for testing and her scores qualified for the Gifted and Talented program.
My husband and I didn’t think much about it. My brilliant son didn’t “qualify” for the program until the end of 5th grade so the testing process never really impressed me. I put my daughter’s “acceptance letter” on my nightstand and barely thought about it. Truth.
A few days later, my husband called from work asking about the scores. Particularly, he wanted to know WHAT tests were administered.
I am about to tell you how an ordinary mom’s life changed.
The letter was SO important to me (those are super sarcastic words, my friends) that I had to dig the paperwork out of a stack of other non-sense. (EMBARRASSING to admit that!)
My husband and I sat in bed that night and Googled the name of the first test. It was an IQ test. We didn’t even know that. My daughter’s score was well above the school’s admitting score. Ok. We didn’t even think much of that…
Until we Googled HER score.
We both sat there in disbelief.
When I typed in her IQ score, thousands of sites came up…and almost all of the information described our daughter. Could this REALLY be what was causing all of my daughter’s challenges?!?
I was a teacher in my previous life and I NEVER heard of this before! I didn’t believe anything.
I was in complete denial.
So, what did I do?
I called the school and made an appointment with the GT specialist.
I honestly thought she would tell me the version of the IQ test given by the school wasn’t the same one I found on Google. I thought she would tell me it was a mistake, or that she got the numbers mixed up. I thought she would tell me it was no big deal.
But, she didn’t.
She told me kids like my daughter usually do not stay in public school and she handed me the contact information for a support group for families with profoundly gifted children. She also suggested I find a professional psychologist to administer a different, full-scale IQ test.
In a daze, I got in my car…wondering what the hell just happened?!?!
Within a few weeks, I found myself in a different psychologist’s office. (Not our regular one, but a doctor with experience testing gifted children)
I sat, waiting for my daughter to be given a full-blown IQ test with all subtests. We scheduled two testing days and blocked off about three hours for each day. 6 hours of testing. It cost a small fortune (About 1/2 of my Disney savings)
Just after two hours on day ONE of testing, the psychologist came to the waiting room and said she needed to talk to me in her office.
My daughter was done testing.
At first, I totally had the mom fears…assuming my daughter refused to go no further…maybe she was tired or stressed or overworked…was there a fly in the room?!?
As I followed the doctor down the hall, I felt the familiar “embarrassment-over-my daughter’s-behavior” red face, cold sweat response start to creep up and cover my body. I sat in a large, over-sized, comfy chair and faced the doctor to hear about my daughter’s refusal to complete the test.
The doctor said, “Your daughter is a delightful little girl.”
And, I just sat there…terrified that the next sentence would start with the word “But…”.
BUT…that word never came. My daughter completed the test. In two hours. There was no need for a second day of testing. The doctor asked me to give her a few minutes so she could do some preliminary calculating. I sat there, still in complete denial.
My baby MUST have rushed through that test. She was 6.5 years old.
And then the psychologist looked up from her paperwork and said a number. My daughter’s IQ number. My face was frozen. The doctor told me that the test ceiling was 150. (That is GREATLY important, as different IQ tests have different test ceilings, but I didn’t know that at this point in my journey.)
I did NOT feel ready to hear what she was saying. I didn’t even really KNOW what she was saying. My head was spinning. Was I about to throw up?!?
My first thought was, “CRAP! My husband should be here to hear this!”
THE day I received a diagnosis for what was “wrong” with our daughter…my husband should have been there. (But, it was just the first day of testing! Who knew?!? Ugh!)
The psychologist spoke for several minutes…I didn’t even take notes or ask questions. I was in complete shock.
“EVERY score on EVERY subtest fell between the 98th-99.9th percentiles. That means your daughter’s cognitive functions are in the very superior domain. Her full-scale IQ is in the 99.9th percentile. Your daughter is profoundly gifted. Do you have other children? They should be tested, too.”
As I sunk into that comfy chair in the psychologist’s office, all of the information sounded like a college-level symposium. The doctor told me about several schooling options, as well as a private school for the highly gifted in Houston, Texas. I made an appointment to come back and hear the full report…and bring my husband. The life-changing meeting would be on my 39th birthday.
When we left the office, my daughter appeared more relaxed than normal. I called my husband before I even started the car.
He didn’t answer. (Does that ALWAYS happen to you or is it just me??)
Then, I realized I didn’t even write down her IQ score…or the subtest scores…or the name of the school in Houston. UGH! My mind was swirling. What was wrong with me?!?
By May of 2012, we spent another small fortune (the other 1/2 of our Disney savings) to have our older daughter tested as well. Her scores and subtests fell between the 84th and >99.9th percentiles. We found out that her full-scale IQ is also in the profoundly gifted range.
Our girls are only 4 points apart, but their subtest scores are quite telling about the way their minds work and how they are wired differently. Our youngest daughter’s scores label her “globally gifted”. Our other daughter has a slower processing speed but scored off the chart, surpassing the test ceiling, in perceptual reasoning. It explains A LOT.
So…this is how my ordinary life turned upside down.
And, this is also how my family became us.
Though we don’t put ANY emphasis on IQ scores today, these tests did provide us with information that ultimately lead us down the right path. No other books, doctors, websites or parenting suggestions gave us the information we actually needed.
The IQ tests and scores told us that my daughters (specifically my youngest) NEEDED to learn.
Learn quickly. Learn A LOT. Learn NOW.
Most profoundly gifted people have challenges which are called over excitabilities. Without boring you with details, it has been suggested that profoundly gifted people take in about 200% more stimuli than the average human–that means more noise, more lights, more scents, more details, etc…and boy, does that explain my children.
The way my children experience the world is completely different than my experience–and that will not change.
I got to work immediately…I was going to find a way to reach my daughter.