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Homeschooling Twice Exceptional Children notify me

gifted with severe anxiety and depression

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christie r
Williamstown, NJ
10/14/2008
My 7 yr old has severe anxiety and also suffers from depression. He was officially diagnosed with Selective Mutism and OCD at the age of 3 1/2. This is our first year homeschooling and I am so happy to have found MBTP. We are having some struggles, though, and I'd love to hear more from others in similar situations.
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Karen C
Pleasant Lake, MI
2/2/2009
Hi- - I don't know much about Selective Mutism, but I do know that many gifted children have anxieties and depression. I've been to some seminars (back when I was still a public school teacher- -now I teach and learn at home- -it is great). I know that several seminars and several books that I have read have mentioned anxiety and depression and that a great deal of it depends on the child's age. As they get older, they also grow intellectually.

When our son was tested at age 6, he went in with chapped lips and a red circle around his mouth where he had licked. He chewed on his shirt and bit his nails, had tics and rolled his eyes. The person testing him spoke of OCD and anxiety etc. A week later, when she finished the testing, he looked fine- -we had just finished spring break. He had been at home and going to do things he enjoyed (Bug House at a college, Butterfly House, creating waterfalls and terrains in his sandbox etc). He was relaxed and not feeling the pressure of coloring endless worksheets.

I'm sure you have investigated this online, if not , do. I know with our son (he's 14 now) that I have learned that gifted people THINK ALOT! This causes anxiety and worry and lack of sleep. With our son (and my husband) there is still a little fidgety sometimes. With our son, I have things for him to handle or "fiddle" with - -like a slinky or Jacob's Ladder- -to manipulate and is also interesting.

I know that, from children I worked with, your son also has the frustration of a brilliant mind and some emotional obstacles.

Look online. So many websites helped us a great deal. So did a book called "Edison's Trait" It helped us to understand that for many GT kids their mind is extremely divergent (no brainstorming training needed for them) and will become more convergent as they get older (focus on a particular interest).

Your average child tends to be focused on coloring the worksheet and needs to be trained to understand expanding their minds (AKA brainstorming or thinking). This is one reason that teachers (overall) have no idea what to do with a gifted child.

These children are a gift and you are very wise to home school yours.

Best of luck and post if you need websites.
Karen
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Ellen M Y
West Chicago, IL
2/6/2009
My gifted child has struggled with severe anxiety- -she had generalized anxiety disorder at 5 with panic attacks, OCD at seven and had always been anxious from infancy. She is eight now, I just pulled her out to homeschool because her anxiety is caused by her environmental sensitivities and her school was too toxic for her. It has been a long road figuring this out,and it is very alternative, but probably true for many kids who struggle with this stuff. Her anxiety has nothing to do with parenting or school, though some situations and conditions will make it all worse. With a controlled environment and avoidance of foods that she is sensitive too, her anxiety goes away. I am expecting her to heal with avoidance for a few years. She is a challenge without the anxiety, but wantedb to let you know there are answers for these kids with anxiety beyond drugs and therapy. These kids are often overloaded with toxins and need a period of detox to recover. My daughter is severly allergic to chemicals (scented products (fabric care, perfumes, you name it) formaldehyde, ethanol, and the like). These things are almost ubiquitous. Also, as mentioned above, food sensitivities can contribute to this toxic overload. Two great resources on this are "Is this my Child" by Doris Rapp, and Debra Lynn Dadd's website on safe home products- -her book Home Safe HOme is also good. Another resource is www.feingold.org.
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Jill H
Irvine, CA
2/16/2009
Hi,

I know this was an older post, but I wanted to reply. I am homeschooling my five-year-old son, and he suffers from s3l3ctive mutism and seems to be depressed from time to time because of it. He is also very bright and very different from my nine-year-old twins. What worked for them for homeschooling at five definitely does not work for him. I am so happy to have found MBP. It was just what he needed. I don't know of too many parents who homeschool their children with s3l3ctive mutism, so it was nice to see someone else is doing it.

Jill
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christie r
Williamstown, NJ
4/13/2009
Hey, everyone. I was the original poster of this topic. I am glad to see some recent activity. I didn't get any replies for a while and forgot I had even posted! I just thought I'd update you on our experiences with MBTP. We have been really happy with the curriculum, although, I realized pretty early into the year that we needed to move at a much slower pace than expected. My son's anxiety and perfectionism can make simple projects last weeks on end. At first, I tried to make him work faster but I realized that he does better if I let him take his time. We also spend many days "unschooling" in between. It is working so well for us. It was tough to figure out when to push and when to hold back, but he is doing so well. For the Mom with the SM child: my son is now 8 and speaking to almost everyone! He uses a full volume voice and speaks clearly in most situations now. This was not the case last summer. I don't know if homeschooling is the reason, but I think giving him time to sort of regroup and focus on himself helped him over that hurdle. We removed the pressure and he is doing beautifully! We have some days where we just don't do any school because he is too anxious. I was worried at first that this would be a problem, but he's a brilliant boy and I am now allowing myself MANY days "off" if that's what he needs. The beauty of homeschooling is that we CAN take a day off for mental health:) We will only finish 2 of 4 concepts this year, but I still think it is working well.
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Karen C
Pleasant Lake, MI
4/14/2009
Hi everyone! I’m so glad to see others writing on this subject. I also think that you are wise to connect with your child's rhythm- -you know he's learning anyway.

I know from we have been through and are going through (our son is 14 now) that hearing that your child is normal for who they are…many people simply don’t understand this and that puts more pressure on your child and you. Once you understand, it is so comforting. You’re just lucky and so is the world. Your child is gifted.

I want to mention Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities. This information will help you SO much! I’ve included websites with Dabrowski and that discuss the heightened awareness and intellectual abilities of a gifted child. It makes it more obvious why the traditional and regimented way of current education is traumatic and causes anxiety.

While our 14 year old son has some obstacles when getting together with his age peers because their interests aren’t the same (he wants to teach them programming or level design and they want to play a video game), he has no problem going to a college near us for events or tours.

We went to Computer Science Grad school Open House for demonstrations and explanations. He had no anxiety about going and talked with a professor. He felt very much at home talking with intellectual computer gurus.

Now, he is 14 so often his mannerisms are typical, but what is going on in his head isn’t….2-5% of the population is gifted. I believe a great deal of their anxiety isn’t always ADD (as I saw while teaching), but just that intense feeling and pressure from school that they are “different”. Peer pressure or verbal attacks or attitudes toward them are painful and can leave some scars.

We were very lucky to find a group of families that are home schooling their gifted children. We were also lucky (and blessed) because the nearby college administrator helped begin a mentor program where Honors College students mentored gifted children (it was wonderful- -all thinking and doing and no worksheets).

Here’s the sites from Dabrowski. Take a peek.
http://www.stephanietolan.com/dabrowskis.htm
http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/a/overexcite.htm
http://www.metagifted.org/topics/gifted/dabrowski/
http://giftedservices.com.au/children.html#Dabrowski
(this last one is from Australia and they give many other GT topics)

Here’s a summary from Dabrowski‘s Over excitabilities in Gifted folk:

Overexcitabilities appear in five forms:

Psychomotor - surplus of energy: rapid speech, pressure for action, restlessness impulsive actions, nervous habits & tics, competitiveness, sleeplessness.

Sensual – sensory and aesthetic pleasure: heightened sensory awareness e.g. sights, smells, tastes, textures, sounds, appreciation of beautiful objects, music, nature, sensitivity to foods and pollutants, intense dislike of certain clothing, craving for pleasure.

Intellectual – learning, problem solving: curiosity, concentration, theoretical & analytical thinking, questioning, introspection, love of learning and problem solving, moral concern, thinking about personal and social moral values.

Imaginational – vivid imagination: creative & inventive, a rich and active fantasy life, superb visual memory, elaborate dreams, day dreams, love of poetry, music and drama, fears of the unknown, mixing of truth and fantasy, great sense of humor.

Emotional – intensity of feeling: complex emotions, extremes of emotion, empathy with others, sensitivity in relationships, strong memory for feelings, difficulty adjusting to change, fears and anxieties, inhibition, timidity, shyness, self-judgment, feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, heightened awareness of injustice and hypocrisy.
(Piechowski, 1979)


And, you probably know, but here’s a great site on gifted. If you are just starting out, go to this site and choose 101.
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/

Hang in there!
Karen
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Carolyn L
San Leandro, CA
9/26/2014
My 17yrs old had selective mutism although it was not diagnosed because no one knew about it then or as much. When she started school in 2nd grade, I remember her having to whisper to her sister what to say to others. We just described her as extremely shy and clingy to me. However, she was willing to read aloud to the class because she was advanced in reading and was quite proud of herself and that was it. I always knew she was gifted as she taught herself to read and I caught her reading ex's Stephen King and Tom Clancy books at the age of 5. At four, I remember her picking up a 9/11 magazine and asking me if all those people died when we didn;t even have TV. She was so bright and I would have never guessed the problems we would have with her in the future.

She had anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, cutting during her late elementary school and middle school. I tried to get her help but ex husband denied everything and said everything was my fault because I didn;t give her enough freedom. He took full custody and now she is a mess with drug use and pregnant and shoplifting. Her boyfriend is an adult (19yrs) and they are both addicted. I think her dad eventually realized that she needed help when they had to call the cops on her but it was too late. Now she is in counseling because she is expecting and truly hoping she changes in a short time for the baby's sake. I have a feeling that I will be raising her baby who is due in January because based on our last conversation maturity is not happening fast enough. Regardless, she was "treating" her anxiety and strong emotions with drugs and alcohol.

So get your child the help he or she needs immediately. This anxiety causes so much turmoil in kids that it can overwhelm if not dealt with appropriately. I was so busy dealing with her autistic older brother who had much worse behavior that I did not see how she was affected as well. She was quieter but hurting and suffering just as much.
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Faith M
Madison, WI
9/14/2016
I have a son who sounds very similar to yours - very much a perfectionist, very emotional and sensitive with a LOT of anxiety. This is his second year homeschooling and his therapists are so impressed with how much better he is. He has a touch of autism, which becomes very severe when he's stressed. A year after starting homeschooling, almost all his autistic symptoms have disappeared most of the time. We've just started with MBTP, and I'm anxious that we are already three lessons behind in science because my son has to make his drawings almost photographically accurate. The assignment says to draw four different plants and I know this is going to take four days because each drawing is going to take at least an hour. I've been driving myself crazy trying to teach him to hurry up. School is lasting from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed at night. I'm afraid that if he doesn't get through the whole year, he won't learn everything he needs to know. So my question for you is, how do take it slower? Do you skip activities? Or do you just let one unit take six weeks instead of three? Do you do science/social studies one day and literature the next? My son is on lesson three in science and lesson six in literature because we do literature first thing in the morning and it takes until lunch time.
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Carolyn L
San Leandro, CA
9/15/2016
We move pretty slow as well. I have a child who just plods. It takes a long time for her to retrieve the information and put it down on paper or even say it orally. I too get stressed about moving so slow but I would rather get it right than rush through it. So we do a lot of erasing until done right. When rushed she gets it all wrong or if I leave her alone to accomplish the work herself it's done wrong. I have another child complete opposite from her who moves slowly but it's perfectly and beautifully done. I would definitely tease out the stuff that you know will take a long time and will drive him to perfection. Look at the activities that would give him the most bang for his bucks. Do a lot of it orally perhaps to ensure he gets the main concepts. Is he a child that needs repetition to gain mastery of a concept or is that just busywork for him?
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Faith M
Madison, WI
9/16/2016
Thanks. It's reassuring to know there are other parents with similar issues. My son doesn't do at all well with repetition, and because of the autism, I sometimes don't know if he's understood something or not. Language is really easy for him (not pragmatic or figurative language, but the mechanics), so he whizzes through the reading and spelling. He has to write out the answers to every question, however, and any kind of writing or drawing assignment has to be done perfectly before he'll go on to the next. It feels strange to be teaching my child to do slipshod work, but that seems to be what I have to do - "Just do a rough sketch and move on." Also, the science experiments take him forever, so he's four lessons behind the literature unit.
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Carolyn L
San Leandro, CA
9/16/2016
You will have to teach him the circumstances where he needs to do perfect work and other times sketches. Important work vs did you get the basic concept, it's a hard skill to teach and learn for these kids. He may need to ask you do I need to do perfect work or just get the concept work or however you want to phrase it. Show him an example of perfect work and an example of quick sketches and have him practice a few times. Same with writing. Give him a reward when he gets it right. Praise or whatever works for your child.
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April N
9/19/2016
I know that the majority of children with Selective Mutism have a genetic predisposition to anxiety. Basically, they have inherited a tendency to be anxious from one or more family members. Hopefully this might help your relationship!