Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Together We Can Change the World
We are delighted to join with our friends in Germany as they celebrate their first Gifted Awareness Week. We invite our readers to visit their website and read the many articles contributed by some very eminent people in the field of giftedness. However, we make no apology for writing as parents. We send our very best wishes from Ireland!

Parenting gifted children can be a rollercoaster. Just as you think you have it all figured out, the unexpected can happen and leave you feeling isolated, scared and frustrated. There is little awareness within the education system, of their needs, quirks and characteristics. Teachers and psychologists, most of whom have little or no training in the field of giftedness, may misinterpret assessments and misdiagnose behaviours. Parents may be left dealing with a bored, frustrated, difficult child with nowhere to turn for help and advice.

This is where parents' support groups are invaluable. Each child and each situation is different, but the one thing which we parents all have in common is the burning desire to do what is best for our children. New members often arrive to their first meeting full of anxiety but, having spoken to other parents of gifted children for the first time, they go away relieved to know that they are not alone and that they are not failing as parents.

Over time, we will all encounter difficulties and a good vent over a cup of coffee is extremely therapeutic! When you are in a support group, this is only ever a phone call or an email away. Between us, we have children spanning the entire age range, so we have a huge pool of knowledge and experience to share.

The only people with an unwavering vested interest in gifted children are their parents. No matter what career opportunities or barriers cross our paths, we will always have our children's happiness and welfare at the head of our agenda. So, it is vital that we not only support each other, but that we also work together to raise awareness of our children's needs and to bring about change within the education system. We cannot sit back and rely on others to do this for us.

Natalie, Deirdre, Catherine and Karen on a sunny day in Bray!
Natalie Butler, Deirdre O'Donovan, Catherine Riordan, Karen McCarthy,  and Michele Pippet (missing above) represent Gifted Advocacy and Support (GAS), a parents’ support group in Dublin and Wicklow, on Ireland's east coast. The group has run meetings and outings for parents of gifted learners and has been involved in advocacy at national level since 2009. Recognising the benefit to parents of getting together to share ideas and support, they are now working towards helping to build other support groups around Ireland and providing a means of communication between them. Through their website, parents can come together to give each other valuable support and friendship as they negotiate their way through the challenging years of parenting their gifted children.

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