“So called ‘late-bloomers’ get a bad rap. Sometimes the people with the greatest potential often take the longest to find their path because their sensitivity is a double edged sword – it lives at the heart of their brilliance, but it also makes them more susceptible to life’s pains. Good thing we aren’t being penalized for handing in our purpose late. The soul doesn’t know a thing about deadlines.” Jeff Brown
When many parents bring their kids to see me, we discuss their children’s unique and wonderful traits. Yet many of these children are challenged to live their magnificence in the educational system in which they are provided. As a result, their parents, doctors, teachers, and others label them and sometimes even chastise or shame them for “not fitting in”. This experience often burdens these children for years after they have left their education behind. (I know because I often meet them as adults.)
The lucky ones will remember their gifts in these later years, and begin to feel comfortable and confident in their skin. As their confidence increases, so does their self-esteem. Suddenly these individuals “find themselves” and begin to experience successes – socially, professionally, personally. Society often describes them as late bloomers.
Wikipedia defines a late bloomer as a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.I’m glad that so many of these individuals are ultimately recognized as late bloomers, but why do they need to wait?
The number of kids being diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with ADHD or anxiety has increased significantly over the last decades. Many are questioning why this is, and I’m sure there is value in asking that question. But there is another question that needs to be addressed now: WITH SO MANY KIDS BEING RECOGNIZED OR DIAGNOSED, IS IT STILL TO BE ASSUMED THAT THEY ARE THE ERROR THAT NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED?
My goal with the students that I meet is to help them to identify, accept and honor their gifts, as well as to minimize the challenges that they experience. But it shouldn’t just be their responsibility to do the changing, and their true gifts shouldn’t have to wait to be recognized until they are AWAY from the system that pigeon holes them. It’s time that we do more to change our systems to better accommodate the changing child(ren).
One way is to recognize and honor the multiple intelligences as identified by psychologist Howard Gardner. When we accept that there are more ways to be intelligent than the traditional school models of verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical, we provide an opportunity for more learners to soar. Here are the abilities that Gardner identified:
- Verbal-linguistic (words, language, reading, writing, telling stories, memorizing; this is measured in Verbal IQ assessments)
- Logical-mathematical (logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers, critical thinking)
- Musical-rhythmic and harmonic (sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, music)
- Visual-spatial (spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind’s eye)
- Bodily-kinesthetic (control of one’s bodily motions, capacity to handle objects skillfully, sense of timing; includes sports, dance, acting, and making things)
- Interpersonal (sensitivity of other’s moods, ability to cooperate as part of a group)
- Intrapersonal (introspective and self-reflective capacities)
- Naturalistic (ability to recognize flora and fauna and to be able to relate information to one’s natural surroundings)
- Existential/Moral (though Gardner did not wish to include spiritual intelligence, he called it existential, and it’s best recognized as a source of guidance)
The concept of multiple intelligences is not new in the field of education. Educators have known about the prevalence of these multiple intelligences for decades, and we were encouraged to remember that some children learn differently. But it was assumed that the verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences were the most prevalent and other types were in the minority. As a result, most teachers added some educational delivery or assessment methods to meet the minority’s needs, but it typically was only occasionally.
I’m not convinced that these kids are still the minority. (I would love to see some data on this). Regardless, I believe it’s time to change our educational system to further recognize these multiple intelligences and to more equitably provide educational delivery and assessment for all, with the addition of explicit social instruction.
Regardless of your political beliefs, our society seems to be focused on change – of financial systems, rights, and so much more. How we perceive these kids and how we educate them should be one more.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield, MI. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties, work or school related anxiety, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders, and those who wish to Remember and Become ‘Who You Really Are’. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to replace medical care.