Gifted Education is not therapeutic
Dick Kantenberger –
Gifted and Talented Education does not cure ADD (Attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) any more than it cures acne or schizophrenia. What it does is to provide Gifted Education services to gifted children that allow them to be themselves and to learn at their own pace.
We get calls from the media from time to time and they invariably ask how we go about curing this affliction or that. We of course do not cure anything. We only provide Gifted Education services to gifted kids that are unable to receive these services in regular schools.
We have three general types of gifted students that come to gifted schools. 1] The majority of our students are gifted students whose parents have known they were gifted from a very early age. These children have experienced Gifted Education services early on and they thrive in Gifted Education schools.
2] The second group are gifted children whose parents were unaware their children were gifted and entered them in regular schools. At first they loved school but soon became bored because they learned the material in the first few minutes in class. They soon rebelled at continuing to do drills and homework over material they have already mastered.
They begin to think there is something wrong with them. They begin to exhibit negative behavior. In time they hate school and shut down doing any school work at all; drills, homework or exams. Many administrators and school counselors don’t know what’s wrong, but it looks to them like the child has ADD or ADHD or some other disorder and is thus misdiagnosed.
Gifted children not stimulated in regular schools in time begin to exhibit symptoms similar to ADD or ADHD. In addition, the more intelligent a child is, the more sever are the symptoms. In many cases the child is given prescription drugs by his caregiver to keep her quite so as not to disrupt the school.
In time, the child is tested and found to be gifted. When the child is put into a Gifted Education school and receives Gifted Education services, often within days the child’s deportment and attitude takes a 180 degree turn. The child is miraculously “cured” of ADHD, which of course s/he never had. The child was just a misdiagnosed gifted child.
Now you may think this is the exception, but it is not. There are hundreds of thousands of these misdiagnoses made every year in this country because many counselors and administrators just do not understand giftedness. There are anywhere from 20%-40% (my opinion) of these kinds of gifted children who thrive in our Gifted Education schools today.
3] The third group of kids we see in Gifted Education are gifted students who are also afflicted by various disorders like ADD and ADHD. These children are called Twice Exceptional. This combination is so prevalent today the symbol 2e is used extensively in the literature all over the world to mean Twice Exceptional.
The Gifted Education head of school and the school’s psychologists evaluate the this gifted child to determine if she is a fit within that school. Usually if the child shows a history of keeping up with his physician prescribed remedies, she will be accepted in the gifted school. Usually the child thrives as well.
Occasionally, there are slip ups. The affliction get worse or the child does not follow the physician prescribed remedies, the head of school has no choice but to remove the child from the school. These cases are relatively rare.
In all situations, the children that are accepted into the Gifted School are tested and screened to make sure they are gifted and a good fit for the school.
These Gifted Education services are expensive as our student to teacher to ratio is very low, averaging around 9 to 1. Gifted teachers have to be thoroughly trained as every student has his own individual curriculum. Since she must continually be challenged, that curriculum has to be adjusted sometimes daily or weekly depending on how hard he is pushing the envelope of learning.
In short, we try to find the gifted child, then find their interests and then keep them challenged. We are not therapeutic. We do not cure any disease or medical or psychological disorder. We do allow the child to be themselves and to reach their potential.
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The Rainard School for Gifted Students, Board of Directors/ Director of Marketing
National Gifted Education Writer, Examiner.com