The sensitivities of gifted children

Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth!

I was so excited to take my little girl to this amazing place.

We had been visiting Palm Springs with my in-laws and the whim hit my husband and I.  We left my infant son with them and Chris and I drove the two hour drive to Anaheim.

The next morning we got up and took our sweet three year old to the Land Where Dreams are Made. When we walked in we observed that lots of little girls were dressed for the day. Little Belles, Ariels and Snow Whites where everywhere.

A Cinderella Dress

It was October and we decided to spend the money and purchase Emily a Cinderella dress. Cinderella was the only princess she knew and she could where the costume at Disneyland and again for Halloween.

There are several stores that cater to parents in our same situation and they were more than happy to sell us a very expensive dress with the warning that “all sales were final.”

We could NOT return this purchase!

No problem! It was an absolutely beautiful dress. Emily would look incredible and it was well made.

I took my sweet little girl into the nearest bathroom where we were both excited to put on this lovely dress. I took her clothes off and began to place the dress on her.

All was good for the first nanosecond until Emily began screaming like she was being murdered.

Everyone in the bathroom assumed she was mortally wounded and I’m pretty sure Chris could hear her outside. So, like any good mother, I reasoned with her and tried again. Emily doubled up her efforts and was able to scream louder than before.

I knew I had to cut my losses.

I didn’t want to be kicked out of the Happiest Place on Earth for abusing my kid. So, I placed her back into her soft, comfy clothes and came walking out of the bathroom.

Chris looked at me questioningly. I explained the scenario. I also made sure everyone knew that this dress WOULD be worn this Halloween!

After sewing a complete cotton lining into that outfit, she did in fact wear that costume on Halloween.

(That is not the only thing I’ve had to line. Apparently every dance costume is made out of the same torturous material! Consequently, she only danced in two recitals before we gave up the art.)

Those darn socks!

That was not the first time Emily had struggled with clothing, however.  Other than the tiny, very slippery socks that are put on infants, Emily has not worn socks.

EMILY. HATES. SOCKS!  With a passion!

I can recall sitting on our stairs with her, trying to get out the door on a day that was in the low 40’s, cajoling her into socks. The first try was never the one that worked. The seam wasn’t right, it hurt her toes, it was slightly twisted, nope, the seam again!  Argh! I tried wearing them inside out, I tried different types of materials, nothing worked.

Just wait…there’s more…

But Emily isn’t the only one of my kids who suffers from sensitivities.  Christian hates loud sounds.  Even as a tiny baby he would cry unconsolably when the noise level got too high.

When he would watch a movie as a family and Christian got scared, he would not cover his eyes, he would plug his ears. Eventually when he got old enough to go to the movie theater, he would always bring his baby blanket so that he could cover his ears.

And we learned that we can never be late to a movie because once the previews had started, Christian would NOT walk into a dark movie theater that was so loud.

He also had his own Disneyland terror and that was when the fireworks were set off.  I have a memory of him being on our good friend Seth’s shoulders to watch the show and Christian spending the entire display with his head buried in Seth’s sweatshirt just waiting for the loud noises to be over.

It’s not just us

I have since read and learned that many gifted kids have sensory challenges.

Our kids clearly have auditory and kinesthetic issues. In a previous post I’ve talked about Emily’s strong sensitivity to strong emotions.

Some of these issues can be debilitating and it is so important for me to know my kids and their limitations.

I know how Christian struggles and that it affects him at school. He cannot concentrate when there is noise. His performance plummets and he will dissolve into a whining, crying mess.

Everyone in our family knows this struggle and on our best days we try and help him be successful by providing him with quiet or giving him headphones to use so he can concentrate.

For Emily, I look for clothes that are tag-less and are soft to the touch. Last year I even found socks that are toe-less. Yep, that’s right, toe-less socks!

We have learned that she can brush her hair in the shower with conditioner on her hair. That lessens the amount of physical pain she feels when her hair is brushed. And I also will ask her to leave the room when Christian is going to be disciplined because she can’t handle the extra emotion in the room.

As parents, we know that each of our kids have idiosyncrasies. Kids come in different shapes and sizes and have varying challenges and issues.

These sensitivities are the physical reminder that even gifted kids have issues. And I’m thankful that they constantly remind me to give grace to every child I interact with, gifted or not.

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