A different kind of normal
This blogging business is a bit hard sometimes. I have a bunch of stuff I'd like to tell you, share with you, but I have my teens' privacy to take into account.
So today I want to be a bit nerdy and talk about bell curves and IQ and levels of giftedness, because those things are impacting on my kids, and as a result, on us as a family. And I think we need to talk about these issues because sharing is caring, right? And I know that if I know someone else is going through the same sorts of things that we are, I feel a bit better. A bit more "normal". Whatever the hell that is!
And therein lies (today's) problem. Most of the population falls within the "average" range of intelligence. And most people think of "average" as "normal". Those people in the middle of the bell curve are not significantly different from each other. They find it relatively easy to find people to whom they relate, who are similar to them in their thinking.
If you are in the top 1% of the scores, the range of scores (from about 135 to over 200) is as broad a range of scores as is encompassed from the 2nd percentile (IQ 64) to the 98th (IQ 132). In terms of intellectual capacity, a profoundly gifted child of IQ 190, differs from moderately gifted classmates of IQ 130 to the same degree as the latter differs from intellectually disabled children of IQ 70 (Miraca Gross - Exceptionally Gifted Children 2004).
But IQ scores are no longer derived from a ratio, they are scored on a curve, so we don't get the fine detail of the upper end of the spectrum. For those that think in pictures, here's a close-up:
Now I'm not saying how far my kids are to the right or that curve. We don't really know HOW gifted they are because the newer IQ tests don't test that high - the waters start to get muddied around the 140-145 mark. Those scores of 160, 170, 180, 190, 200, 200+ plus are derived from an older IQ test that doesn't get used much now (the Stanford-Binet LM form - check out info on IQ tests and what they mean for highly gifted + here). We do know that they are in that grey area from the top graph. Somewhere on that line that contains very few people on the bottom graph.
My point is, they ARE different to the vast majority of the population. Maybe really, really different. And note I said DIFFERENT. Not better. Their brains are wired differently - their intellectual capacity lets them learn differently, faster, with a desire to think more complexly than the rest of us (probably myself included).
Is is any wonder they feel "abnormal"? Add the fact that they both experience Executive Functioning Issues. Also add in that with high intellectual capacity, usually comes high emotional intensity.
I feel sad that (at least) one of my kids considers themselves "abnormal". Because that means they think of themselves as something annoying or bad - the negative connotation usually associated with abnormal, whereas all they want to feel acceptable or good. What I want for them (both) is to consider themselves as part of the big normal, a different normal, but normal nonetheless. I want them to know I will do everything I can to nurture their potential and their intensity, but I also really want them to believe in themselves.
This teenage business is hard enough - finding your authentic self in a sea of hormones, peers, media and family. Tough times, people! Most of us would not go willingly back to those years! And here they are also dealing with being fundamentally different from those peers.
How do we deal with this? A LOT of patience, tea and tissues, I find helps. Knowing that this too shall pass. Talking about what being different means. That in this case, yes, it's different and not easy, but it's not a bad thing. Taking the pressure off - no expectations of cures for cancer here! But talking about what the differences are and why they are just different, not worse or better for that matter. Just different.
A different kind of normal.