Is That Child Gifted, Troubled, ADHD, -- or Just "Indigo"?

A couple of much talked-about articles about unusual children and their parents have come out in the past week.

Of many things to say, the most relevant here have to do with how schools and educators treat exceptional children.

Is that child gifted, troubled, ADHD, "indigo," -- or just being bratty -- and how should schools and teachers and parents respond?


First there was a January 12 New York Times article about so-called "indigo" children (Are They Here To Save the World?).

Then there was a distrubing January 16 New Yorker profile ("Prairie Fire") about a young gifted boy in Nebraska who inexplicably committed suicide -- and who some think was an indigo child.

According to the Times article, indigo children (so named for their psychic aura) are exceptionally intelligent, empathetic, and impatient.

For some, the misbehavior these chlidren exhibit in school is a push to create positive change:

"The purpose of the disruptive ones is to overload the system so the school will be inspired to change," said Marjorie Jackson, a tai chi and yoga teacher in Altadena, Calif.. "The kids may seem like they have A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. What that is, is that the stimulus given to them, their inner being is not interested in it. But if you give them something that harmonizes with the broad intention that their inner self has for them, they won't be disruptive."

For others, the "indigo" label is dangerous because it encourages parents of ADHD children to push for changes in their children's education that don't promote learning:

"If you conduct a very open classroom," says Stephen Hinshaw, a professor and the chairman of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in the NYT article, "kids with A.D.H.D. may fit in better, because everyone's running around, but there's no evidence that it helps children with A.D.H.D. learn. On the other hand if you have a more traditional classroom, with consistent tasks and expectations and rewards, kids with A.D.H.D. may have a harder time fitting in at first, but in the long run there's evidence that it helps their learning."

The New Yorker article is much harder to discuss, not only because it describes a child who commits suicide without any obvious reasons why or warning signs ahead of time, but also because this child is educated apart from most others -- at home, and on the "gifted circuit."

There's a National Review essay about the piece -- about suicide, mostly, called Getting Off At Baltimore


Blogger Alexander Russo said...

A friend of mine who's an expert on gifted education writes:

"I am appalled by the whole indigo kid stuff.

Linda Silverman makes me ashamed of my field. She was also associated with the child genius who was revealed to be a puppet of his parent.

Most of the field has moved away from this crap."

10:42 AM  

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