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    chelrie's Avatar
    chelrie Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Oct 25, 2011, 08:52 PM
    Gifted with focus and attention issues.
    My gifted child is in 4th grade. She was selected for the honors program at school, covering the 4th grade material at a more advanced level, but not the advanced program where they skip to the 5th grade material. She finds the classes in her current placement "too easy." Her test scores and grades qualify her for the more advanced program, but the teachers held her back due to "issues with focus and attention." The problems they describe are common among the brightest kids in our family, but we don't know if there's a medical term. It's like the opposite of ADD -- extreme focus on the task at hand to the point of being unaware her surroundings, such as not noticing that her name has been called or that the class has moved on to something else. She occasionally gets caught up in some piece of her schoolwork and loses track of time, like a penmanship exercize or a creative writing assignment. When this happens, she produces exceptional work but fails to complete the rest of her schoolwork on time, having to work through lunch or snack break to catch up. She's often the last kid to realize it's time to pack up and get in line simply because she has tuned out the world around her as she focuses on her work. While acknowledging that she is an excellent student (straight A's), her teachers feel she might be overwhelmed if they challenge her and want to wait until she develops better focus and time management skills. Personally, I feel that my daughter is managing her quirks well, and that they are never going to resolve completely. She has no missed or late assignments, and the quality of her work is excellent. I don't believe holding her back academically is likely to help anything.
    Is there a name for this problem? Is it common among gifted children? Are there any resources I can show her teachers to convince them not to underestimate her potential on account of her quirks? Is there some way to help her focus less intensely?
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 38,809, Reputation: 5431
    Jobs & Parenting Expert

    Oct 25, 2011, 09:30 PM
    Years ago, I was a gifted child before educators understood giftedness and knew what to do with us. I've taught gifted children and am thinking your daughter could possible be somewhere on the autism spectrum (being very smart with intense concentration and focus on a favorite thing are characteristics), it could be an OCD thing, or she may have simply "trained" herself to focus and block out everything.

    Meeting with a school counselor who is familiar with the ups and downs of gifted students would be a good start.
    chelrie's Avatar
    chelrie Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Oct 26, 2011, 05:33 AM
    Thanks for your advice. OCD seems to almost fit, but not quite. Her teacher once noticed her erasing her name on a paper and rewriting it 3 times because it wasn't perfect, but she only did that once, and the paper was a handwriting exercise. She exibits no specific ritualistic behaviors characteristic of OCD. Can it be OCD with no little rituals and no anxiety over changes in environment? She loves adventure, spontaneity, a change in routine. Autism doesn't quite seem to fit for the same reasons. Plus, she's an outgoing and empathetic child. She makes friends easily and is popular both at school and among the neighborhood kids. I've heard this over-focusing thing can happen with gifted kids, but nobody seems to have a name or a list of symptoms to match. The school counselor, like her teachers, has never heard of an OVER-developed attention problem. She thinks my kid is fine, and that if she's slow to finish things she must be over-tired, struggling with the work, or suffering from some kind of performance anxiety.
    chelrie's Avatar
    chelrie Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Oct 26, 2011, 05:43 AM
    Also, it's definitely not something she trained herself to do. She was born this way, and several of my family members are the same. No one else was ever held back because of it, though. They were placed by their academic abilities. Teachers point out her odd little moments every year. In kindergarten, she color the same picture over and over until she ripped through the paper, wasting a good portion of her work time. When asked, she said it was Joseph's every-color coat and she was making it every color. In second grade, the teacher gave her poor marks in "conduct and behavior", although she had never been disruptive, because she was always the last in line, and she had to say her name more than once to get her to look up. I suggested getting the kid that sits next to her to tap her on the shoulder when it was time to go. It worked for my little brother when he was a kid.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 38,809, Reputation: 5431
    Jobs & Parenting Expert

    Oct 26, 2011, 07:42 AM
    You sound very aware of who she is and how she handles herself (plus how the family history is with this), so your gut feelings are probably right on the money.

    How about role playing with her without filling her in on what you are doing. You be "her" and act a certain way, and then let her be Mommy or Teacher and "help" you. Then talk about it with her (without telling her you are "teaching"). And then switch places and let her be her and you be you. Get her to tell you how you should act to help her when she exhibits her focused or otherwise somewhat odd behaviors.

    I hope you have a library card, because the library is a great resource for books on gifted children with their pluses and hangups (and what to do about them all). Many books have been written and there are even magazines devoted to the gifted. Ask a reference librarian for help, if you need to, and don't hesitate to ask for books to be brought in through interlibrary loan.

    Please post again as you work through this. Giftedness is a special interest of mine.

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