January 29, 2011,
E.M. asks from Boulder, CO on January 28, 2011
Artistic Giftedness 5 Year Old
My 5 year old was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 4. She still shows some major signs that are on track with ADHD, especially in the school setting. She is extremely bright. At home she will sit for hours and draw while humming to herself. Very self-motivated artistically but has problems with sitting still, attending, staying on task etc. in a school setting. Her teachers don't see the artistic side of her because she is fidgety in class and because they are obviously doing other things. What do I do? I don't want to be the obnoxious parent who thinks my kid is gifted but at the same time, I want her strengths recognized in school as well as her weaknesses. Should I get her evaluated for giftedness or let the teachers figure it out? If anyone knows anything about this I would love to email you some pics of her art. Just trying to pinpoint what is going on with her since she does have an ADHD diagnosis and an IEP.
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
First of all, you are all so sweet. She would be a great candidate for a home-schooled kid but I think it would be sooooo hard. We are expecting our third baby in one month and I have an off the wall almost three year old who is also home with me full time. My five year old would never get the quiet environment she would need or enough of my attention at home to teach her anything! I talked to some of the school experts today and they gave me some direction. I am not going to have her formally evaluated for "giftedness" just yet because they said, until she turns 6, the tests are too iffy. They did tell me to get in touch with the TAG program at her school next year and to make sure to sit down and meet with her teachers before she starts kindergarten. The reason I worry that she will be lost without formally identifying these things is that not only does she act differently in school, but in any formal environment with a lot of other kids where she is expected to pay attention. For example, she taught herself to swim but put her in a swim class and she would do nothing but march to the beat of her own drummer, goof off, interrupt, literally not seem to hear the teacher. Same in ballet class and gymnastics. She has taught herself handstands, cartwheels etc. and is very physically advanced and graceful for her age--but in classes, she gets in trouble, stares at herself in the mirror the whole time and almost seems "slow" she is so out of it. So I certainly can't blame her school....she really just marches to her own beat and learns things very quickly but only on her own terms. She is not on meds and can hyperfocus on whatever it is she is currently trying to master--usually either physical skills (handstands etc. or art) NEVER "boring" things like letters, numbers etc.
N.S. answers from Chicago on January 28, 2011
Your child might be Twice Exceptional, or 2e. Oftentimes ADHD kids or Autistic kids have amazing talents in other areas. They may be behind in some areas and way ahead in others.
Encourage her artistic ability at home! Maybe enroll her in art classes somewhere else. Definitely nurture her talent while helping with school.
Also, check and make sure she really does have ADHD. Sometimes artistic kids are VERY visual and they fidget in school because they don't understand what's going on. They need to see it, feel it, etc. My 9-year old was suggested that she have ADHD in first grade because of her inability to pay attention, follow directions or learn. Turns out she's just a very, very visual learner. We homeschool and as long as I have lots of pictures and visual aids she does not squirm and she learns just as quickly and well as other kids her age. She's now ahead of her grade instead of behind and she now knows that she needs to ask for help instead of squirming or goofing off. She is also very artistic.
Hope that helps some!
2 moms found this helpful
T.C. answers from Colorado Springs on January 28, 2011
If she were my daughter, I would take her out of school and let her be at home. Firstly, many children are not ready for the classroom environment at 5. You sound like you would make an excellent homeschooling mother. Let her develop her artistic skills. I would put aside the formal schooling for a time, maybe even up to 2 years. You can sneak in reading and math with manipulatives, but I wouldn't make it a high pressure thing. If you know she doesn't do well in a school setting, give her what she needs. You know her strengths and weaknesses. You are the best one to encourage them in her life, and work on her weaknesses at the same time. One size does not fit all. This is much too important to just let slide.
1 mom found this helpful
K.D. answers from Provo on January 28, 2011
Just because she has ADHD doesn't mean she's not artistically gifted. They can go hand in hand. And having her teachers recoginze her gifts may help them be able to deal better with her in-class fidgetyness. I would approach her teacher along the track of, "I want to help her suceed in school" not "Look at how wonderful my kid is". If you go to the teacher and say something like, "I have noticed that at home she can sit for hours and do art. I've brought this example of what she did recently. What can we do to encourage her to focus this interest to her schoolwork? Is there any way to incorporate more art into her school projects?" Make sure you are viewing your child's teacher as a partner in the education of your child and not an adversary. If you listen, the teacher may be able to give you some suggestions of what you can do at home that will help her in school. And at the same time you will have given the teacher some insight into your child that gives her a way to help her focus during the school hours.
From my own experience (me growing up) when my parents were able to point out how something that I couldn't concentrate on (because i wasn't interested in it) would help me be better at something I was interested in, Suddenly I had more motivation to pay attention, sit still, etc.
Good luck to you!
1 mom found this helpful
M.K. answers from Chicago on January 28, 2011
Dear McK5 -- I think you have a bigger issue than whether or not the school is meeting her artistic needs or recognizing her gifts. The first thing I would do is let her teacher know how concerned you are that she is not able to sit and stay on task at school, considering she is able to do so at home. This is a problem that must be addressed immedaitely, regardless of her artisitic talents. This can impact her academic performance for years.
Her teacher (and any therapists) should have MANY proven tools to modify the environment to help her -- I would ask if they have tried anything. (For example, have they tried letting her use a sensory seat cushion? Etc.)
Without a doubt, goals for this type of issue should be addressed in her IEP. Jump on top of this one, Momma -- you'll be glad you did! Best Wishes.
C.S. answers from Milwaukee on January 28, 2011
I'm ADD so I can relate to your daughter! My first question is -who diagnosed her? Statistically most girls have ADD--the rate of the H is much higher in boys. I'm not saying she doesn't have the H-just somehting to think about-can affect the meds she takes, (if she does).
I would seek out a therapist trained in working with kids with ADD. Try the CHADD.org website or google -ADD and loving it. A great book is Driven to Distraction-written by a therapist with ADD.
When I was your Daughter's age I was very smart, but got bored VERY easy. It came out in talking to much so I was labeled a 'social butterfly' and my mom was always told that 'she's great, but she talks and distracts the other kids' to much. Took me 38 years to figure it was ADD!
As a parent I think proactivity and education is key. Before you have her tested for being gifted get the ADD on track-is she on meds? If not, and you're not opposed that could help the classroom setting immensely. What I'm guessing is happening is that at home she can super-focus, (another trait), because there are less distractions-while at school she is overwhelmed with stimulation-which makes ADD'rs fidgety and distracted, etc.
I'd also talk to the teachers and figure out how much they know about ADD-sadly a lot don't know a great deal.
Also-if you don't want to do meds-you're child can still learn coping skills to help in the classroom. And the teachers should be expected to help encourage those.
Finally-maybe think about a different type of school-a charter school that has a smaller class size so she gets more one on one and can change directions more quickly might be better for her. And those schools are usually still public so no $$. Or Montessori if you can $$ it.
Good luck! I'd LOVE see her pics and talk more if you'd like!
J.N. answers from Salt Lake City on January 29, 2011
I'm glad you mention she already has an IEP. What I would suggest now is to bring it up at the next IEP meeting (or even, if it's a ways out, request to talk to the IEP team, even briefly). Tell them about how artistic she is and how well she focuses, so they can start looking for a way to use this love and skill to reach her and teach her.
This is a classic marker of ADHD, by the way. Complete lack of focus and attention on some topics and circumstances, and hyper-focus on others. Being able to identify and build the areas of a child's strengths is important for every child, but especially for one with ADHD. They hear so often how they are lacking in school skills and how they need to work harder; it's good for them to hear just as much about what they are good at. And you can specifically point out how well she focuses on these things. Build her self-esteem. And the more she hears that she is good, from you and the school, the better she gets - in more areas.
Like I mentioned, the school should teach to her strengths. She may not love numbers or letters, but if, at least part of the day, the teacher can teach things in a way that she can express them artistically, it will benefit not only her but every child in the class. And in pre-K and Kindergarten, there should be plenty of opportunities for kids to be creative and artistic; it should not be all drill and such.
I will be honest - school will probably be a struggle for her all the way through (I taught a couple of kids with ADHD, as well as watched my brother, and now my son, go through the school system - there will not be any shortage of challenges) so she will need your help and support. Be her biggest cheerleader, but also be firm and require that she spend a few minutes a day on "homework" (playing games with letter and numbers is good for now). As she gets older, expect that homework may likely take her longer than for other kids, and that you will need to sit with her as she does it. But as she gets older, she also will mature emotionally, and be able to see that there is a need to try to focus and go along with what the class is doing.
In the mean time, enjoy her independence and creativity - and let her build on those!