Gifted Children & Bipolar Parents

A NY Times article posted on Slashdot about efforts to develop gifted children is a very interesting issue to me. I was a fairly sharp kid and always had problems in Elementary School because teachers were not able to grasp that I was very far ahead of my classmates. Basically I’d always get in trouble because they would think I cheated or something because I did my work so quickly and I’d argue with them about it and in many cases prove them wrong in front of the whole class which just made things worse.

In particular they were not amused by me drawing sketches of animals taking dumps on my homework. What can I say.. there wasn’t a rule against it, I’d always enjoyed sketching as well as poop jokes, and it was much more amusing than doing the same homework again, so why not do it? I would /always/ have to redo everything and it was more fun drawing steamers than redoing an assignment for the 3rd time. It was SO frustrating being able to finish all of my school work for the week in a matter of hours and not have teachers believe that I was done.. so they’d make me do it again, and again, and again…

For instance, after graduating High School I received all of the various test scores, report cards, logs about me going to the principal’s office and so forth that I’d accumulated from Elementary School through High School including results from my Stanford Achievement Tests. I was looking through them and found the results from taking it in the second grade– I scored “Post High School” in all categories except for math. My math scores ranged from 8th-11th grade which is nothing to be upset about as a second grader. I remember a Psychologist coming-in and giving me IQ tests around that same time and asking me why I like to draw animals pooping and why I hated school, so that would explain that. I never did see those in my folder however. For some reason I’m thinking I’ve always thought I scored 142, but it was so long ago I don’t know for sure…

On a related note, I’ve taken a bunch of informal IQ tests online over the years and my scores have been anywhere between 142 and 156, but I think they are probably inflated and generally inaccurate (not to mention all of the various bias in them, etc), so I don’t put much if any faith in them. If I had to guess I would say that 137-142 is more accurate. Supposedly professors and researchers typically score in the 130-140 range which is an interesting point of reference for me. For example, I’ve dated a few women who were or eventually became to be academics over the years and I have generally felt like I’ve been on fairly equal mental footing with them.

Anyhow, back to my story– luckily a teacher recognized that I was not lying and took me under her wing. She later became the Principal of my Elementary school and always did her best to keep me and a few others challenged including starting a Gifted and Talented program, getting us involved in various trivia type competitions, taking us on her own dime and time to hear people speak, etc. It was really great of her and I appreciate all of her efforts to this day, though I know I gave her a lot of grief over the years. I was glad to have a friend in the Principal’s office, because I was there a lot in Elementary school…

Oh, yet another side note, it looks like she recently won an award:

“Overall, Carlyn has made a tremendous difference in education because she is continually striving to move forward, whether it be in technology or in dealing with social issues. Her foresight has been extremely beneficial to the quality of education our community has received and we are fortunate to have her in Holly.” Carolyn Yokum is being honored as the 2004 recipient of the Demont Award because she has demonstrated: high moral character, compassion for children, and has made positive contributions to education.

Yep, that sounds like her alright…

Reading the various comments about the article on Slashdot made me wonder if there were any link between IQ and mental disorders (in particular, being bipolar), and ironically enough I found that Stanford has just released a study about the relation between bipolar parents and the creativity of their children.

Many scientists believe that a relationship exists between creativity and bipolar disorder, which was formerly called manic-depressive illness and is marked by dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Numerous studies have examined this link; several have shown that artists and writers may have two to three times more incidences of psychosis, mood disorders or suicide when compared with people in less creative professions.

In summary:

“The results of this study support an association between bipolar disease and creativity and contribute to a better understanding of possible mechanisms of transmission of creativity in families with genetic susceptibility for bipolar disease,�? the researchers wrote in their paper.

Admittedly I worry about the bipolar thing sometimes as there is history in my mom’s side of the family with it which is why I’m interested and have some knowledge about the topic. I’ve left it up to a couple of close friends to let me know if I’m getting more crazy than usual in case I do need to deal with it someday though. :) But generally I find Psychology interesting and have thought about at least minoring it it before (as well as Philosophy, Math, Business, and pretty much any other major.. ha).

The first question I had after reading that a lot of the subjects were medicated, is if they still had the same abilities being that they would not be able to (in theory) reach the manic state again because of the medication. Wouldn’t you know it, they answered that:

The researchers had hypothesized that the scores of children with ADHD would differ significantly from the scores of bipolar children so they were surprised when the scores did not. Chang said this indicates that mania is not what is fueling the creativity. “The kids with ADHD who hadn’t been manic yet still had very high levels of creativity,�? he said.

Interesting stuff– it’s good to see that someone is studying that, but it’s surprising to me that this is the first study I could find any reference to about this particular topic.

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