A Grateful Grandmother

Last week the Gifted Development Center changed the life of my 10-year-old grandson, “James.” I have known Dr. Linda Silverman as a dear friend for nearly 30 years and have done volunteer work at GDC for the last year, but when the arrow hits your own family, it is a horse of a different color altogether.


“James” had a difficult birth and we almost lost him.  As he grew, he appeared average at home and at school. He always seemed easily frustrated, antsy, somewhat defiant and generally a handful.  Normal boy... right?  Wrong.  


In 4th and 5th grade, problems began showing up big time.  Finally, his  wonderful teacher started pressuring my daughter to investigate a Section 504 plan for him.  Last week we had a range of tests including intelligence, achievement, self-concept and auditory processing. We discovered that  “James” had extreme discrepancies. Although we had just had his vision and  hearing checked at the pediatrician’s office and were told they were both  perfect, we discovered that the processing in his left ear was much weaker  than his right ear, his eyes did not communicate well with his hands, and he  was about as asynchronous as you can get. He was at the 99.6th percentile in  his abstract reasoning ability, but only at the 1st percentile in his handwriting  speed! ADHD is in the mix also. He had been compensating his whole life, but his ability to do so was disintegrating as the work got more complicated.  He was starting to say, “I’m stupid.”


I know that no other agency could have seen through his disabilities to find his giftedness, which was hiding behind them. Bobbie Gilman, GDC’s Associate Director, has been a champion for twice-exceptional children. “James” might never have finished high school or gone to college because he would have deemed himself incapable. Now, an ear filter, accommodations (e.g., using a computer, seat assignment in class, more time for tests), vision therapy and a host of other interventions, will allow him to have a healthy self-concept and believe he is capable of succeeding in any path he chooses. Thankfully, his school is willing to implement the long list of accommodations in his report.


Linda and Ann DeMers, the two who worked with “James,” are masters at seeing beyond the obvious presentations of children to their inner worlds.  It is their passion and their gift. Their devotion and persistence in discovering this inner world is admirable and uplifting.  It has changed the dynamics of life for my grandson and for our whole family.  We will never see “James” through the lens that we had before the testing, but more importantly, he will never see himself that way again.  My younger daughter saw him this week-end and said, “Mama, the light in his eyes is back. It hasn’t been there since he was a baby.”


If you see anything familiar in my story, please get your child or grandchild tested.  Yes, the GDC forms may seem complicated and time consuming, the trip takes effort, and we are all so busy in our own lives. But the forms contain a wealth of important information for the tester and the senior staff member evaluating them. This experience is WORTH it all—in ways that you cannot imagine. If you have one of these twice-exceptional children in your family, GDC can make a world of difference.


My gratitude to Linda, Ann DeMers, Lee Ann and all of the staff at GDC is immeasurable.  


With love,

A Grateful Grandmother