Dear Gifted Me: A letter to Tom

Welcome to another installment of DEAR GIFTED ME, featuring our very own, Tom Furman. Take it away, Tom:

Dear Tom,

You will have some great times ahead of you because you have an amazing set of abilities. It may not feel like it at times, but you are a very gifted and brilliant person. Very few people will “get you” but that does not matter. You will have a number of teachers who don’t understand you either, and yes, teachers of all people should have an understanding, but most don’t. See, you are gifted, but you are also learning disabled. Don’t be scared, and don’t for one minute think that having a learning disability has anything to do with intelligence, because it doesn’t. LD just means that you learn, comprehend, and understand things differently than most people. You are exceptional, and I mean that in the best way possible. As I said, you have some amazing abilities that you can unleash, but I feel the need to impart some advice since I’ve been through it.

Your teachers won’t understand you, and they aren’t stupid, so don’t call them that. They are just uneducated in how to deal with somebody who is so gifted and LD. But don’t call them “uneducated” either, they don’t like that, trust me, it doesn’t help the situations you will be in. :) They will want to find the areas you struggle in and try to make you do repetitive tasks to drill the ability into you. Don’t beat yourself up about not doing well. Once you understand the process, do it the way your mind understands it, and don’t worry about doing it the way they say is “right” as long as you get the right answer and understand what you’re doing.

You bounce and fidget. Enjoy that. Don’t be somebody you are not. You will never be a round peg. You will be a square peg in a round hole world. You will stand out and you will shine. If you try to fit into the round holes, you will shave off the edges of your world and it will be painful and you will NEVER fit for long. As I said, you are a square peg, and you will stand out, and you will shine. Very few people will “get you” but you will make waves in a lot of waters.

You will be intense. You will be emotional. You will love with amazing passion; fight for what is right with that same passion, and live your life with the passion very few people can understand. Embrace it, love it, and cherish how much love you have to give. Follow your dreams, cry when it hurts, laugh when it’s funny, and love through the hurt – even when the hurt feels unending, because it does end and the love never goes away.

Most of this first part was about your giftedness, but as I said, you’re exceptional in another way too. You are learning disabled, and again, don’t think that it has anything to do with being less intelligent

IQ tests are not easy to do for you due to a less than stellar working (short term) memory and dysnomia. You’ll score very high on them, but they score you too low. So even though you may score 135, it’s not accurate. Dysnomia is the “word on the tip your tongue” thing that drives you nuts and will make fill-in-the-blank questions next to impossible. Don’t sweat it. The reason you need to not worry about these issues is because they may actually help you. Dysnomia leads to finding synonyms and expands your vocabulary. It’s great for being creative and finding 5 or 6 words that would work instead of just limiting yourself to one.

The lack of short term memory is only relative. You score in the 33rd percentile, so it’s not as if it’s really horrible, but it just feels that way since you have so many strengths. The difficulties will make it easier on you to understand the full process of concepts rather than memorizing (which also gets nailed by dysnomia). This is why you have to figure out how to derive all those formulas in math and understand the “why” in science classes. Again, this is a bonus. Instead of just plunking in numbers and coming out with an answer, you will understand the questions and be able to not only explain the answers, but modify the formulas to fit situations that are different. It will drive your teachers crazy. It will drive your brothers crazy too since you can help them get the right answer, but do it the “wrong” way. Here’s a tip for you early; no matter how you derive the answer in math, there isn’t really a wrong way. It’s just finding a different path to the same destination. Your way just isn’t so well traveled.

Hang in there and enjoy who you are, because you are exceptional in many ways. Just as you enjoy roller coasters, your emotions will be the roller coaster ride and dampening them down with drugs is not a good thing even if you feel you need a break from it. Keep camping, stay green and growing, and know that there are people who do understand, but they are few and far between. They’ll be scarred by life/school/society as well, but when you make those connections, you will feel it in your soul. Until you find those people, know that I get you and love you.

Yours truly,

~Tom

P.S. This isn’t about the gifted LD thing, but when you meet that psycho with the initials R.B.B., RUN!!!!! You’ll find the right one eventually, but it’s really not her.

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7 thoughts on “Dear Gifted Me: A letter to Tom

  1. Thank you for sharing that. Oh, if only we could find a way to deliver these letters. And LOL (Yes, actually Out Loud) re the psycho with the initials R.B.B. I almost put one like that in my letter. To this day, if I refer to him, he is only known as “psycho-boy.” Though perhaps if I had avoided him, my experiences with him might not have gotten me ready to be with the classic “nice guy” like my husband.

    Thank you for continuing to advocate for gifted and 2e kids.

  2. Thanks Donna, I almost left the P.S. out of it. As much as I agree that I don’t want to change who I am and who I married, and I am the result of all of the things that have happened in the past, but since I could take the liberty without fear of actually changing the present for real I figured I’d go all in.

  3. Tom,
    I am keeping this in arsenal to share with my kids when they are a little older. All four of my kids are gifted and have dyslexia and some of them have additional challenges as well. The view from ahead is one I expect they will ascribe more weight to if it comes from a stranger on the internet than if it comes from mom.
    Thank you,

  4. I love this letter – I love this series. EEP!!!

  5. I’m printing this off to share with my 2e 10 year old son. I think he needs to hear this from someone on the other side of school. The only difference is that I’m still not 100% certain what LD he might have, other than puke-poor processing speed and a near-total LACK of executive function skills. :( LDs indeed, but not ones a school could have helped with.

  6. Pingback: Having my doubts | An Intense Life

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