Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals

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Existential depression is a depression that arises when an individual confronts certain basic issues of existence.(Webb) Classic symptoms of existential depression include isolation, alienation, meaninglessness and lack of focus and direction.

At this week’s chat, we were excited to welcome Dr. James T. Webb to Twitter as well as our chat. Dr. Webb has written extensively about existential depression. His contributions were greatly appreciated. His book, Searching for Meaning is listed below.

“Psychologists and philosophers have known about existential depression for centuries. Only recently have folks tied it in with gifted. That makes sense, though. You have to be bright in order to realize the absurdities of societies.”                                                                      ~ Dr. James T. Webb

Existential depression can be caused by personal, environment & professional mismatches that is accompanied by a sense of hopelessness. For gifted young adults, an inability to find inspiring mentors & coaches to identify with can lead to existential depression.

“Existential depression may be caused by a traumatic event OR simply by awakening to our seemingly arbitrary existence. It’s important to know that existential depression can occur in very young gifted children as well as individuals of all ages.”     ~ Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis

Gifted individuals are more prone to existential depression because it requires substantial thought and reflection to occur. (Webb) A predisposition to existential questioning from an early age, increases the potential for existential depression in gifted adults. They can seek out their ‘tribe’; look for those who share their need for deep thinking. We were reminded by Dr. Webb that “existential depression can spur you to change in great ways – disintegration that can become positive. It is why we need to be close, kind, and caring toward each other. Shared idealism gives us purpose, I think.” Indeed … why humanity chooses to go on in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

How can parents help their children cope with existential depression? Parents need to understand that their child’s feelings are real and not to be minimized. They should help them know that they are not alone and there are ways to manage feelings. Dr James Webb suggests the importance of ‘touch’ for children grappling with existential concerns … daily hugs! Children experiencing existential depression should be encouraged to utilize bibliotherapy to learn how others have coped.

“Parents can provide their children a safe place to express their concerns, fears and emotions. Encourage their abilities and interests. Help them find peers.”                                                                                           ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources

There are several things teachers can do if they suspect a child may be experiencing existential depression. As with parents, teachers should not ignore the signs of existential depression or try to minimize child’s feelings. When dealing with students with existential depression, guidance counselors & support staff should be utilized.

We highly recommend viewing the transcript of this week’s chat for a more extensive review of the topic which may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 14.00 NZST/12.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Searching for Meaning Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment & Hope (Amazon)

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When Bright Kids Become Disillusioned

The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide: For Ages 10 & Under (Amazon)

Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals 

Gifted, Sensitive, In Need Of Meaning: Existential Depression

Of Giftedness, ADD, Depression & Being an HSP 

Existential Crisis (Wikipedia)

Rethinking Depression: How to Shed Mental Health Labels & Create Personal Meaning (Amazon)

The Experience of Emptiness (Amazon)

Existential Depression: The Disease of the Gifted & Talented 

2008 Dabrowski Congress Proceedings (pdf)

Exploring the Duality of the Gifted Teen 

Gifted Adults & Relationships: Ten Sources of Conflict 

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults & Youth 

your-rainforest-mind-front-cover

The Problem of Pain

Dabrowski’s Theory & Existential Depression in Gifted Children & Adults

Existential Psychotherapy (Amazon)

Cybraryman’s Mental and Emotional Health Page 

What Do We Know about Suicide? Not Nearly Enough 

Right Here With You 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Assessing the Situation: What to Know About Testing

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Testing is often the entry point for many children and their parents into the gifted community. Gifted children often feel different from age-mates and testing can help them understand why. Early identification should rely on assessments beyond IQ tests to ensure validity of the results. It is common for schools who do conduct universal screenings to do so in the third grade.

“Testing can tell us about strengths and weaknesses. I think IQ testing should be done between ages 5 and 9 – ideally.” ~ Carol Bainbridge 

It’s important to understand the difference between testing and assessments. Testing refers to predetermined, standardized tests with results reported as numbers and include achievement and ability tests. Assessments include but go beyond standardized tests and rely on the interaction between the administrator and the child. Good assessment includes both science and art; an essential tango.

There are many different tests available. Achievement tests – perhaps the best known – include SATs and ACTs. Ability tests include Stanford Binet, WISC-IV, Woodcock Johnson & Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test. Group ability tests include CogAT and Otis-Lennon; these being the most well-known.

Test ‘ceilings’ can they affect testing. Achievement tests have upper limits which generally compare one child to the average of all children in all school districts. To compensate for test ‘ceilings’, a student can participate in a Talent Search by taking above level tests at earlier ages.

How should test scores be interpreted? According to the NAGC, test norms should reflect the local demographic; not only national norms. A variety of scores including sub-scores should be taken into consideration.

“Date of manufacture is irrelevant… No matter the “score,” as a parent, you must enrich your child’s life and teach him agency.” ~ Tracy Fisher

Test results are not a guarantee that a child will be accepted into a gifted program. There are no universal requirements. It is essential that schools and parents work together to make sure the best interest of the student is remembered. For more information, a transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 14.00 NZST/12.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum: Testing and Assessments 

5 Factors Parents Should Consider Before Testing Gifted Children

Is Your Child Gifted? What to Look for and Why You Should Know…

Gifted Development Center 

Assessing Gifted Children 

Why Should I Have My Child Tested?

Testing & Assessment: What Do the Tests Tell Us?

Why do my child’s test scores vary from test to test?

Tests & Assessments

Parents’ Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education (Amazon)

How Can I Prepare My Child for Testing?

ERIC Digest: A Glossary of Measurement Terms 

York Region District School Board Gifted Screening Procedure

Pic courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Successful Parenting Strategies for Gifted Kids

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All parents hope their children will be successful in life. It is no different for parents of gifted children. The difference lies in the fact that parents of gifted children have fewer resources to guide them along the way. One of the first challenges these parents face is talking to their child about what it means to be gifted. At times, gifted kids receive mixed messages from adults that can lead to confusion about who they are and how the role of giftedness should affect them.

Parents must be diligent in explaining that it is simply a matter of being ‘different’; not ‘better than’. They may be ‘better at’ some things, but this isn’t necessarily the road to success. As Dr. Jim Delisle points out, “For gifted children, the difference is often the distinction between agemates and peers.” Parents can impress upon their child that age becomes less important as they grow older.  Gifted children must understand that ‘intelligence’ is only one part of who they are.

Interestingly, parents of gifted children soon learn that what isn’t said may be just as important as what is said. Parents are role models and should not say anything they don’t want repeated. It can make for very awkward situations outside the family especially when young intelligent children have not yet learned social protocols due to asynchronous development. Unreasonable expectations place heavy burdens on these kids. Even undeserved praise can be confusing. Dr. Peter Flom wisely observed, “Avoid making the child’s worth a function of how gifted they are.”

Parents need to strike a balance in knowing the difference between pushing and encouragement. Gifted children have abilities to accomplish many things, but still need the guidance afforded by their parents.

To provide a nurturing environment for their gifted child, parents should place value in being present in their child’s life ~ quality and quantity. Nurturing doesn’t need to be expensive; it simply needs to be a priority in parenting. A gifted kid needs to feel valued as a person rather than for what they do.

What’s the best way to approach a child’s teacher about giftedness? Teachers appreciate being given resources they can explore on their own. Few of them ever receive coursework in college or professional development in gifted education. Parents should also attempt to learn all they can about giftedness and the language of education so they are prepared when they do talk to teachers.

More than in any past generation, resources are beginning to become more easily available for parents of gifted children. Taking the time to learn all they can, find and network with other parents, and being present in their child’s life all can work together to raise a happy and successful gifted kid. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

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Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 13.00 NZST/11.00 AEST/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy & Successful Gifted Children (Amazon)

Some Children are Extra Sensitive to Parenting Style, Bad & Good 

When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social & Emotional Needs (Amazon)

A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children (Amazon)

Effective Strategies for Developing Self-esteem in Your Gifted Child

Tips for Parenting and Educating The Gifted Child

How Parents of Talented Children Hold the Line between Supporting and Pushing

ESSA Creates Opportunities for Parent Advocates

Developing Social Skills in Gifted Children

Parenting for High Potential (pdf) (Spring 2016)

Parenting Gifted Children (pdf) (Chapter 10)

Some Do’s & Don’ts for Raising Your Gifted Kids

Cybraryman’s Gifted: Parenting Page 

Hoagies Gifted Education Page 

SENG Gifted 

Gifted Parenting Support 

Shared Solutions 

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented 

National Association for Gifted Children 

Duke TIP 

Davidson Institute 

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum 

Bright Not Broken 

40 Sites to Bookmark If Your Child is Gifted 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Least Restrictive Environment for Gifted Students

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Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is a phrase that is usually associated with Special Education. In that regard, it implies that students needing support will receive it in an inclusive environment; the general education classroom. LRE presupposes that students will benefit socially and academically when grouped with age-mates.

However, when applying  LRE to Gifted Education; it has an inverse connotation.For gifted students, a regular classroom may constitute a restrictive environment. Gifted students often work at ‘keeping behind’ to not appear too different from age-peers. (Hershey, 2010)

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Who should decide what is the Least Restrictive Environment for a particular student? All stakeholders should be involved in placing student ~ the student, parent, teacher, IEP team (if available).  Multiple criteria should be considered in any placement decisions ~ don’t rely on single assessment.

There are no specific laws for dealing with Least Restrictive Environment as it relates to Gifted Education. Twice Exceptional students may use portions of federal law in the U.S. to seek accommodations pertaining to special education only.

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How can a parent advocate for LRE? Parents should educate themselves about state regulations pertaining to gifted education; learn the vocabulary. They need to make the case that there are consequences when gifted students languish in an unchallenging environment.

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When the Least Restrictive Environment cannot be achieved, there are alternatives. Parents and students should push for open opportunities such as standalone programs, acceleration, and ability grouping. Other alternatives can include mentorships, independent study, and online options. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 13.00 NZST/11.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

What is the Legal Definition of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)? 

Least Restrictive Environment for Gifted Kids

Educational Options for Gifted Learners

The Zone of Proximal Development in Child Cognitive Theory

When Schools Don’t Meet Your Gifted Child’s Needs

What Do Students Who Are Intellectually Gifted Say They Experience & Need in Inclusive Classroom?

Gifted & Talented Program (Prezi)

Position Statement: Grouping

PA Association for Gifted Education: Inclusion (pdf)

Montgomery Co Public Schools: Guidebook for Twice Exceptional Students (pdf)

NRCGT: The Law on Gifted Education (pdf)

Eric Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education: FAQs on Inclusion

The Least Restrictive Environment for Gifted and Talented Students (T&F Preview: Roeper Review)

IDEA Applies To ‘Twice Exceptional’ Students Too 

Special Education Rights and Responsibilities Information on Least Restrictive Environment (pdf)

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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