Thursday, May 6, 2010

INTRODUCTION: Strange Beginning

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Before he was in Kindergarten, he could read the Newspaper out loud (he could pronunciate the words, although new vocabulary would force him to ask us what it meant).

He was in school chiefly for social learning. He still had to learn proper distancing from others as he tended to talk to other children almost face to face. After school, the real learning took place. His hours had been cut back for his at home behavioral therapy. He was learning everything so quickly. His Mother taught him advanced subjects for hours after school (stay at home mother).

Since the age of 3, he was used to 8 to 10 hours a day of studies. The secret to his advancing was consistency and our initial guiding tenet...Give him the LOVE of learning through positive reinforcement. Even on the weekends, he still studied and read, albeit for fewer hours (same thing during Summer break). We gave him 1 hour free time which he usually used for some kind of computer game (he likes the puzzle and Sim games). He also loves to free write. He will type out a many page story on which ever interest he has at the time.

Throughout the years, his time with the ABA program was gradually reduced as he had so rapidly, and solidly, learned and applied all of his lessons. Since last year, we have taken over the helm. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our State and the ABA program. They worked wonders...but little did we know, until just over a year ago, how well he had advanced.

In School, after Kindergarten, he skipped to 2nd grade. In Third Grade, he was sent to a lab to use a computer program to teach him Intro to Algebra. His rate of learning was (and is) phenomenal. Within 3 months, he was almost done with the program. In Forth Grade, he was given special advanced work in English.  For Math, he was sent to the advanced 7th and 8th graders who were learning Algebra I.  He scored 100% on all 3 tests so far this year (actually 120% on his last one as the teacher had an extra credit section also).

During 3rd grade, his Mother had Alex apply for the John's Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth testing (His IQ scores qualified him to take it - The tests are open to all 50 states and to 118 other countries - an Intellectual Olympics). We took him to a special testing center where he was in a room with a proctor (no one else was allowed in) and a computer. The test consisted of 50 questions in English Comprehension and 50 questions in Quantitative Reasoning. He had 22 minutes to answer each group of 50 questions. We were anxiously awaiting in the waiting room. After the English Comprehension test, he came out to us. He seemed calm...we were the ones sweating it out. He went in to take the Math portion.
We had previously gone over the basics of test taking...skip over ones that he may get stuck on and go back...and always use up the available time to double check all his answers.

He walked in and walked out in 8 minutes!!! Actually, I was a bit steamed. I think I actually scolded him for not double checking his answers. He seemed calm again. Hmmm.

We got the results in the mail a few weeks later. He had scored very high in English Comprehension and he had maxed the Quantitative Reasoning portion. We hadn't realized the significance of his feat until we had attended the award ceremony. The tests are for Highly Gifted children..the tests reflect questions geared for many grades ahead. Only the top percentage of all those who take the tests get an award. Many received an award for only one category. Alex qualified for both categories. But...there was more....we looked at the program guide. Alex was to receive a second award...he was called up a second time to receive a Top in the Country Award in Quantitative Reasoning.

There are 4 levels of giftedness. Gifted / Highly Gifted - the level needed to qualify to take the testing / Exceptionally Gifted - the level that gets an award - 1 in 1000 - 99.9 percentile / Profoundly Gifted - Top in the Country Award - Alex's level in Quantitative Reasoning - 1 in 10,000 - 99.99 percentile.

Since then, his Mother began compiling a portfolio of Alex's work and scores. There is a great program called - The Davidson's Institute Young Scholar's Program - open only to the Profoundly Gifted in the world. His mother applied and waited. It was many weeks waiting for the fateful E-mail. We had gone to his school's Spelling Bee. He was in the 4th through 6th grade category.  He, and a 6th grader, won the right to represent the school in the district Bee. To top it off, that evening when we got home...We got the acceptance E-mail. We were elated.

We had taken him to a renowned Psychologist who specialized in IQ testing for Gifted children. Alex scored, to the amazement of the Psychologist, extremely high across the board. Those children who are gifted and in the Autistic Spectrum (Twice Exceptional - 2E children) usually score in peaks of specialization. He attributed a lot to his learned intelligence - providing the thrust of this Blog... He has a Mother of exceptional attributes. We are both of the same mind when it comes to child rearing...she does it all :)

Actually, not so much of a joke as a planned approach. We agreed before hand that children need a full time mother. I make enough to make that a viable option.

Let me explain... THE MOST valuable person in society... one who raises the next generation in an enriched atmosphere of love; engenders, and encourages, a dedication to, and so, a love of learning; provides a diet rich in nutrients (yes, fish/poultry/vegetables/fruit/nuts/supplemental omegas - He is 3/4 Japanese and was raised on, and absolutely loves, Japanese food); researches and maps out supplemental educational material; oversees his homework and teaches his advanced work; shows basic morals etc... is MOTHER.

Alex's Mother is a prototypical Mother (some would say a typical Asian Mother - but, I say she would be considered a phenom even among Asian Mothers). The best I could have hoped for. Through her efforts and our combined love for him - as demonstrated through Positive Reinforcement in every aspect of his life, we went from deathly afraid for his future to excitedly looking forward to it. Again, he is not being pushed. He is being guided with love. His inherent love of learning came about not by accident or by providence, but through a planned approach.

The key is through early intervention, firm and consistent application of behavioral modification through positive reinforcement which gives him/her the LOVE of learning. Get them used to everyday study habits and school becomes fun as they will always be ahead of the curve. Life itself seems easier as he/she grows older, for they know the key to happiness lies within themselves. Whatever they don't know...they always can know through a practiced habit of study. For most, repetition is the key to learning. Repetition is fun if learning is a passion. Something they love...they love doing until understanding comes about. A firm root in the basics as lead through by a parent (usually the Mother), on a daily basis, will keep frustration at bay. He/she will not founder. School will be an adventure. A place of pride and a key to their future.

It all goes back to...Mother. Schools must operate at a state not too advanced for fear of leaving some behind. A Mother can operate at the child's pace and beyond.

Read to them nightly - and quiz them on what had transpired and what they think will transpire.

Oversee their homework and guide them (not answer for them) to the correct founding principle and have them try again. Give them the understanding and they will answer all questions related to the principle forever.

The goal is 100% understanding. An A is meaningless if it is regurgitation.

Start out young. Start out correctly. Many hours of learning everyday puts the child on a Positive Spiral. The higher he/she goes in life, the easier, and more fun, it becomes. The child is used to a work ethic that shall serve him well, forever, and in everything.

Start out easy and life becomes drudgery. It is a Negative Spiral. The world becomes gray and frustrating. Fear of life in general leads to escapism (drugs/crime/gangs/dropping out of life).

Our next goal is to prepare him for his SAT. He is 9 yrs. old now. We might try next year. There is a special program at a University where 10-18 year old profoundly gifted children whose score in the SAT, and whose attitude and emotional level, is very high, may apply.

Alex is finishing the 4th grade now. His Mother is going to home school him from this point forward as, even though his school wished to have him skip another grade...he would still be bored. His school has been very accommodating and we were lucky to have him there...however, we know that he needs to move at a faster and more in depth pace if he is to take his SAT in a year or two.

You must be asking yourself...Where is this SuperMom? She is a typical Japanese woman. She is an introvert by nature, as am I...but only half so, as I am half Japanese :). She absolutely forbade me to post her picture. She is the powerhouse of knowledge on our son and on the therapy that was applied so successfully to him. She posted a similar Blog in Japanese for the mothers in Japan with similar children, but with no equivalent services. Through her explanations she hopes to give the mothers the capability to give their children the therapy at home themselves.

Yes, I am tremendously proud of my son. However, what makes me most proud, and compels me to love him like I have never loved anyone his very gentle nature. His eyes become watery as he stands next to hurt children. He sees someone in distress and he becomes quiet and walks to them with tears gathering in his eyes. He has great empathy and a sense of justice.

What a GREAT human being. He is destined for plan :)

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  1. To go to Alex's mother's Blog in Japanese:

  2. You have a very gifted son but for sure there has been tons and years of effort both you and your wife put in on her. I would love to read your wife's blog. Very unfortunately I don't know Japanese. I wish I could learn some skills from her. My girl is 5 but not as smart as your son. I've found that something that school claimed that she was not able to do, she did that after we worked hard with her.

  3. Yes...the key is giving him the love of learning through positive reinforcement so he has the inner drive necessary. Also, early good study habits...daily. Also, very important, our stressing of conceptual understanding rather than regurgitation.

    Always remember...profoundly gifted only means learning doesn't mean they have a higher top end. All children could eventually rise to the same heights with just a little more time and effort given. Were my son not to have good study habits...he would be passed by those who had better study habits. The most valuable attribute is drive...with that...they can not help but succeed. Daily study ensures it happens far more quickly.


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