Is There a GT Kid in the House?

Does your child incessantly ask questions?  Is your child compelled to take the simplest of tasks and create a new design or way of doing it?  Does your child have an intense internal drive to learn things?  Does your child seem to know how to do things before they were taught?  If so, you may have a gifted and talented (GT) kid in the house.

A mom recently told me a story about her almost four-year-old son.  They were in the car talking about the concept of backwards.  He said, “Mommy, did you know my name spelled backwards is W-E-R-D-N-A?”  She explained how impressed she was with his knowledge.  I responded to this story by wishing her “good luck!”  When she looked at me puzzled, I explained that raising a GT kid can be an extremely demanding task.

Gifted and talented children make up only 3-5 percent of the general population.  The National Association of Gifted Children defines gifted as a person who “shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance” in one or more of the following areas: general intellectual ability; specific academic aptitude; creative thinking; leadership ability; and visual and performing arts.  This definition encompasses a wide range of abilities, intelligence is thought of most often.  A child with an IQ above 130 is considered GT.

Often, people are confused at the difference between a high achieving child and a gifted child.  In most children’s development, the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional areas all progress at the same rate.  In a high achieving child, all of these areas are advanced.  Simply put, the high achiever is good at everything.  Often with a GT child, what we see is they are incredibly advanced in one or two areas, but the other areas lag behind their peers.  Here are a few more differences:

High Achievers Verses Gifted Learners
Knows the answers Asks the questions
Enjoys a straightforward, sequential  plan Thrives on complexity
Works hard Plays around, yet tests well
“What do I need to do to get an A?” “What is the purpose of the assignment?”
Enjoys peers Prefers older students or adults

There is a widespread myth that GT children do not have behavioral problems.  In reality there are four areas that get GT kids into trouble.

  1. Intensity – They often get “tunnel vision” and forget what they should be doing.
  2. Sensitivity – They often empathize too much with peers, get their feelings hurt, and take criticism very personally.
  3.  Multi-potentiality – Where they can pay attention to several things at one time, they can also have trouble making decisions.
  4. Extra Energy – They often require less sleep than their peers.  This extra energy causes them to prefer fast paced activities and they tend to interrupt others in an attempt to speed up the conversation.

In conclusion, if you come home to find that your kid has disassembled the toaster oven and he/she has reconfigured the parts to create a whole new toaster oven, there are two wise parenting responses.  First, verify that the fire extinguishers are in working order and readily available.  Second, contact your child’s school to have them tested for the GT program.

Do I have Food Sensitivities?

You are feeling sick…again!  It is the second time this week that you’ve developed a migraine and you can’t get rid of that intestinal discomfort. Maybe you haven’t been able to fight off that runny nose or cough for the last month.  Perhaps you’ve battled the aches and pains of arthritis for years now or you can’t seem to determine why your 8-year-old has another patch of psoriasis on his skin.  You’re exhausted and tired of going to doctor after doctor to discover why all of this is happening.  You’ve done skin prick allergy testing, tried medications, used all of the new lotions, and eliminated gluten or dairy to see if it would fix it…but nothing is helping!

Does this feel familiar?  If this is similar to your story, perhaps there is more to it than food allergies or medications.  Why is it that the routine allergy tests did not provide any positive allergy results, yet you notice that you or your child are still “reacting” to certain foods such as wheat or dairy?

There is a difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. Food allergies show an IgE reaction which cause acute (usually severe, short-term) reactions that typically result in swelling, choking, or other terrifying symptoms. Food allergies do not always show the source of the problem. The most common food allergies include tree-nuts, eggs, soy, dairy, and wheat. However, traditional food allergy tests do NOT identify what we call delayed or hidden (Type II, III, or IV) hypersensitivities.  This means that someone can test negative to many foods as allergies. However, he/she might have a food or chemical sensitivity: the body’s immune system has an inappropriate response that might cause a delayed reaction.

In the case of a sensitivity, the body recognizes the food or chemical substance as a foreign intruder and will attempt to fight it off. This fight can damage white blood cells which then produce potentially damaging and reactive materials in the bloodstream. If enough of this damage occurs over time, the body’s weaker organs or systems produce symptoms that are rooted in these delayed hypersensitivities.   The following are some examples of potential delayed hypersensitivities:  migraines, multiple sclerosis, ringing in the ears or earaches due to autoimmune meniere’s syndrome, rhinitis, recurrent cold and flu symptoms, asthma due to hypersensitivity (not primary diagnosis), irritable or inflammatory bowel symptoms, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.

There are many approaches to discovering hypersensitivities. As the Registered Dietitian at Heritage Behavioral Health Consultants, I utilize the LRA (Lymphocyte Response Assay) by ELISA/ACT®. The LRA is a procedure that identifies signs of immunologic overload and delayed reactions.  The LRA is a simple blood draw (provided off-site) and the procedure is relatively simple.  It entails a 12-hour fast followed by a one ounce blood draw.  Depending on which panel is chosen, the laboratory measures reactions to as many as 400 items from the following: foods, additives/preservatives, environment chemicals, toxic minerals, molds, danders, hairs, and feathers, medications, therapeutic herbs, and food colorings.

After an initial consultation with a dietitian and a subsequent off-site blood draw, the client meets with the dietitian again to plan how to accurately avoid the substances using an elimination and rotation diet. The strong reactions are avoided for 6 months while the moderate reactions are avoided for 3 months.  After 6 months, a monitored reintroduction of the previously reactive foods can be planned. This type of nutrition planning can be complex and limit social interactions, so it’s not for everyone. However, it is a great tool for people who are weary of looking for an answer to their health conditions  and are ready to make some more complex changes.

For more information on how to pursue LRA testing or to schedule an initial nutrition consultation with a dietitian, please contact us at 713-365-9015 or email heritage@heritagebehavioral.com.