How We Will Change the World in 2012

Inspired (belatedly!) by Craig Newmark’s “How Will You Change the World in 2012″ post on craigconnects, we want to share our plans for changing the world in 2012.

But first, the setting:

With all the progress made in many places over past decades as regards helping children with disabilities, children in need, improving education, and the like, most people would think that there isn’t a group of kids who aren’t being helped. It seems like we’re helping kids more than ever before.

But there is one group of children who don’t. Worse yet, these children are very nearly universally scorned, ignored, and even actively hindered because of their very nature. These kids are intense. They have intense needs. They’re extremely misunderstood.

Because of the way these kids are treated, they don’t learn like they should — not just content, but also good work habits, persistence, and trust. These kids constitute as much as twenty percent of all high-school dropouts. Few, if any, reach their potential.

Emotionally, many end up angry, bewildered, stressed, scared, disillusioned, despondent, even clinically depressed at ages as young as 3 or 4. (Yes, you read that right.) This kind of emotional trauma leads directly to severe physical health problems: blinding headaches, nausea, stomach aches, even ulcers. (Again, yes, you read that right. Stress-generated ulcers in small children.)

Socially, many such children founder, because they’re not placed with peers, and have little to nothing in common with those they are placed with. By adulthood, years or decades of this kind of treatment, lack of support, and even vilification by their very own teachers take severe tolls on health, social adjustment, work performance, and families.

Who are these kids, and why is society persisting in doing this to them?

Before I tell you, i’d like you to take a moment and scan your emotions. Do you feel sympathy for these kids? Now I’ll tell you who they are, and check again… still feel sympathy?

They’re gifted. Highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted.

I’m willing to bet you are now kind of annoyed. If they’re gifted, they don’t need help, right?

Wrong.

Here’s how we are going to change the world in 2012:

1. We are going to work to spread awareness of the extremely intense educational, social and emotional needs these children have. To help people understand that what they believe about gifted kids is 99% wrong. (The one thing that’s right? They’re smart! But that’s the source of many problems for these kids, instead of being a source of solutions.)

And we’re going to not call these kids “gifted,” because too many people have the wrong understanding of what that means. We’ll call them a more accurate word: Asynchronous.

2. We will continue to raise funds to launch a program to help asynchronous children in need by providing their families with aid for assessments for identification, advocacy, and educational support; supplies, books, and materials; and tutors, counseling, and the like. Our program is based on the real-life, proven effective approach thousands of families have used across this country for decades. Research on meeting the needs of such asynchronous children unanimously supports our approach, despite public misconceptions (and ironically, the misconceptions of teachers and administrators).

By doing these two things, we expect to help a generation of unusual and exceptional children and families, starting in California but as a model for the rest of the nation. We expect to help them grow up knowing what it is to be educationally challenged; to have good work habits and persistence; to reach their educational (and life) potential; and to have a chance to be as well adjusted socially and emotionally as possible.

These are things we wish for any child. Asynchronous children deserve the same.

Bring it on, 2012!

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