The initials and Asynchrony (Oh My)
ODD, ADD, SPD, OCD, ED, and Asynchrony are more twice exceptionalities that frequently accompany giftedness.
ODD is Oppositional Defiant Disorder. ODD is challenging to diagnose particularly in gifted kids. Some major markers of this struggle include intense refusal to comply with rules and expectations that parents and caregivers impose. At first glance, this can look like a parenting issue--parents aren't firm enough on their kids and allow too much leeway. In reality, these are exhausted parents who have tried virtually everything to get their little lovelies to adjust their behavior. A behavioral pediatrician or psychologist can assess children for ODD. Once there is a diagnosis for ODD, there are therapies available to help parents and children learn new ways to communicate. There are also counselors to help parents learn new ways to use discipline to help their kids.
Even when we know a child struggles with ODD, we can adjust our parenting expectations to help meet their needs better. I help a family whose daughter has difficulty with ODD and Autism. A counselor had suggested they take a toy from her when she hits her brother. Through additional questioning, I learned the brother was disrespecting her toys and she was protecting them and herself. Rather than punitive action to the daughter, I suggested proactively helping her manage her feelings about her brother. And help the brother respect his sister. When we respond to our kids' route needs, we end up with better behavior results. Will this work every single time? No. And this is a rather straight forward example too. There are much more complex things happening in these kids' brains that require more creativity on the part of the caregivers.
ADD is Attention Deficit Disorder. This can be another challenging diagnosis due to the fact that many gifted people's brains go miles a minute. We can struggle to remain in control of our thoughts and bodies. Even though we often misdiagnose giftedness for ADD, there is a difference, and they can go together. With a gifted brain that also has ADD, we see epic creations and big thoughts, but an inability to maintain focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Einstein probably suffered from this diagnosis. By creating an environment where people with ADD can work and learn their way, we can help them gain success. There are also medications available to help reign in their explosive brains.
SPD is sensory processing disorder. Mack touches EVERYTHING. He learned to read hanging upside-down off the couch (which made it challenging for me to help him!). He learned math while jumping on a trampoline. He has always rolled in the sand at the beach. However, tags in clothes, underwear, and socks send him reeling. This is sensory processing disorder. Will struggles too, but differently. Food textures, clothes, shoes, icky feeling things, any new texture, and more send him into a spiral. SPD looks different for different people. For Will and me, avoidance. For Mack, seeking. Many of those with SPD of some sort chew too. Chewelery is a great invention to fill that need for oral stimulation. There are tons of fidget toys available to all sorts of needs too. Tiny hand spinners and flickers, rubber bands for around chair legs, and balance balls for seated work. We have found that a dedicated school room doesn't work for us because of the dichotomy of learning needs. Will is thrilled to work in the quiet of his room. Mack needs to move, so if his work requires ten minutes of seated time, he needs 20 of motion to recover. He used to require more large movements, but smaller fine motor activities are fine now, sometimes. This post lists several ideas for kids who need more sensory input.
OCD is obsessive compulsive disorder. This diagnosis is often flippantly joked about, and misunderstood. OCD isn't wanting a tidy home, or having places for everything. OCD IS a compulsion the person cannot control. The compulsion could be for any number of things--lights, stove, hand washing, door locking, and more. Because gifted brains are often running miles a minute, they can forget simple things like turning off the stove. OCD swoops in and forces people to turn off the stove five times before they can move to the next task. Many who have their OCD well controlled see flare ups during stressful times. Medications and therapies can be helpful for those with OCD that controls their lives. I have a very mild, nearly unnoticeable, no treatment needed bit of OCD. I must chew food the same number of times on both sides of my mouth. I must do the same finger touches on both hands. I used to arrange my papers and pencils just so. I color code everything. I cannot have red bubbles on my phone notifications. It drives me wild. My husband has tons and I cannot understand why that is okay! My symptoms do not heavily affect my daily life. If you know me really well, you will see it. I know people with raw hands from constant OCD driven hand washing, though. This is not a joke. It is serious. But there is help! Brain Balance is one option, but check with your care providers to see what's right for you and your child.
ED stands for Executive Dysfunction. I wrote about this in more detail in another post too. This is not scattered random ADHD stuff. Though they often go together. This is, I know I need to get my things ready for school, but what is a backpack?! Is this paper that says today's date necessary? Then forgetting to get dressed because you were working so hard to assemble your bag. In addition to ADHD and SPD, Mack struggles with ED. He wants badly to build things with wood, but he cannot plan his dreams. We had to step backward and remind him that following plans, instructions, and designs was necessary so the house doesn't fall down. The task is so daunting to him, though, he gives up. I am working on finding ways to strengthen his resolve and planning. Most of the time, he remembers deodorant, though, so progress!
Asynchrony isn't so much a disorder, but more something we commonly see with gifted kids that leaves us scratching our heads. Rory could do complex math and read high school level books at nine, but could neither tie shoes, nor ride a two-wheeler. Will could possibly read and calculate at three, but couldn't talk. Mack tied his shoes and rode a bike at six, could multiply at four, but couldn't read until well after seven. The lagging skills seem so much larger when the other skills are light years ahead. Often parents get concerned about the lagging skills, but when we look at typical development, we see they might actually be spot on for age with what we think is lagging. Kids commonly read at seven. They don't commonly multiply at four. So Mack seemed to be missing the reading skill that he didn't have until seven when really, his other skills were beyond what they should have been. The other part of this is that we are seeing gifted brains accomplish huge feats well beyond their years, so other parts of their brains might be a little slower in catching up. We work with the lagging bits while encouraging the speeding parts. Eventually, we end up with well-rounded kids like Rory who, though still light years ahead, is such in most aspects of life.
I know that is a lot to digest. It is a lot to raise and digest. Read it in bits. Ask questions. I tried to be thorough, but short. Thanks for reading!