Early this year Channel 4 managed to create a modern freak show 'Child Genius', a hideous MENSA quiz for children. None of the 'cast' came out of it well, you were either screaming social services at the screen or hiding behind cushions cringing. If you were to ask the average person would you give money to a charity that helped gifted and talented children - quite honestly you'd be laughed at.
The reality is there is a charity doing just that previously the National Association for Gifted Children and renamed Potential Plus UK has been going for 47 years. If you did watch Child Genius you'd be forgiven for wondering what on earth the charity does but when it comes to G&T please put that bloody programme out of your mind! The fact is that gifted and talented children aren't the odd, lacking in social skills, with weird parents kids that your primed to think.
Children with higher intelligence are more likely to suffer depression and eating disorders as young as 6. Their brains do work differently so it's not that they can't socialise it's just they want to socialise with children on the same level as them. A high number of kids that schools can't cope with talk about killing themselves and the only option is to home school them.
Most of us of a certain age remember watching Wogan and seeing 'the freaky antique boy' that then turned out to be trans gender, Lauren. Basically there has never been any thought or sympathy towards the children that are afflicted by what is meant to be a gift. Both boys and girls having 'teenage' illnesses such as depression - it's not something to be laughed at. The team at Potential Plus not only support parents who have no where to go for help they also help with training teachers to deal with pupils that need different teaching, when help with changing schools comes up they're there and they give the chance for like minded kids to meet up and realise they're not alone.
This is a hard post to write, we knew Toby was gifted we didn't know what level we knew he had nothing wrong with him, nothing on the autism spectrum which is the first thing that pops into minds when they see a clever child. He recently had an independent assessment just to see how his brain worked. Toby is in the 99.99 percentile his IQ is 154, he is a genius. I could hear what he was being asked, and from a day lasting from 10am till 5pm I could answer about 2 questions, yes it says more about me I know.
I wouldn't wish this on any child, he can't play with friends at school, he runs around the playground so he 'looks busy' he loves going to parks to meet older kids that he can play with or other children that can play on his level but he has had dreams about killing himself, he's not a happy 7 year old, he's got more empathy than any adult I know (another side effect) as parents we feel like we have an egg that we can't drop and all we want is for him to be like 'the other children' and be happy not to analyse everything. We need help to find Toby the right school - thank goodness for Potential Plus because otherwise just how long do we leave him lonely and miserable.
So if you can see the importance of charities that deal with depression can you imagine how magnified it is to have help for vulnerable pre school kids that depression and eating disorders relish? I'm well aware how many children struggle to keep up at schools but how happy are they in the playground? how much does it effect there every thought? This is about tiny kids with brains that are doing their best to fit in tiny heads and somehow they miss being children, adult thoughts and sleepless nights - we should just be feeling proud of Toby instead he feels like a dirty secret we need to keep under wraps for fear of ridicule.
Potential Plus UK do heaps of research alongside amazing support for parents and children - I can't imagine how many lives they've saved - but they have - thank you.