FEATURED ARTICLE
Rural Life for Gifted Homeschoolers
by Amanda Campbell
While considering rural life, one might imagine slowing down and dumbing down. But that couldn’t be more wrong. Life on the farm can be simpler, but it’s far from slow and dumb. A very special gifted child taught me that life on a farm is just what the doctor ordered.

Our youngest child has been an anomaly. He never slept through the night, was clingy and cried often as a baby, and was constantly sensory seeking and difficult to manage. At ten months old, we gave him small pieces of pizza to try. He quickly spat them out and has never, in the eleven years since, eaten pizza again.

At five, he was diagnosed with Celiac disease after being too difficult to potty train. Public schooling was failing. He was consistently having accidents at school. By the time he was six years old, he was running, hiding, and crying while in fetal position, begging not to go to school. Combined with lack of support and understanding from the school, we made the decision to pull him. Sensory issues abounded and, without the tools or knowledge to help, we just thought we had a difficult child—our “squeaky wheel.” Once we decided to bring him home, our lives changed. Bringing his older brother home soon after became a blessing we didn’t know we needed. We’re continually thankful for our “squeaky wheel” making it happen.

At six, he was still unable to dress himself without me laying out clothes on the floor in the right direction and shape. He still was unable to write his name or read a word, and he still lived in an imaginary land far away from reality... I dug my heels in and did some major research on what could be the cause that my seriously smart boy couldn’t do basic things. After months of searching, I found what could be our answer: dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder, appearing more frequently in boys than girls, affecting fine and gross motor skills, motor planning, and coordination. Although not related to intelligence, dyspraxia sometimes affects cognitive skills. Symptoms can vary from fatigue and lack of motor planning to fine motor skill issues, reading issues, speech issues like apraxia of speech, sensory issues, lack of spatial awareness, clumsiness, and more. The more I read about dyspraxia, the more I realized it fit my son: a highly intelligent, curious, inquisitive, passionate, loving kid that couldn’t sleep through the night, dress himself, or tie his shoes.

An occupational therapist evaluation found my son to have fine motor skills in the fifth percentile. That explained why he struggled with writing and holding small items. Gross motor skills have also been an issue—having lived on this earth for twelve years now, he is unable to ride a bike, or scooter, or anything that requires balance. My son attended weekly (sometimes twice a week) occupational therapy sessions and one visual therapy testing session where they identified tracking issues and provided exercises for the OT to support what we could do at home. He did two years of behavioral therapy where the therapist struggled to identify whether or not he was an empath or a “severe perfectionist.” An educational therapist tried to test him only to discover his sequential learning was far surpassed by his visual-spatial abilities (fifth vs ninety-fifth percentiles, respectively).

After all of the therapies, we realized that not only was suburban life not for us but that occupational therapy was basically farm chores. The OT had him haul mulch, push wheelbarrows, walk in a crab walk, and swing on a swing to pick up items off the floor to encourage coordination, so why were we paying thousands of dollars annually in insurance premiums, insurance deductibles, and more, for farm chores?

Additionally, we wanted a simpler existence. We didn’t fit in with suburban life or the Keeping Up with the Joneses mentality. Country life allows time for coordination, learning at our pace (regardless of how fast or slow that might be), and living life our way. The community I need not impress now sees my heart, not my pocketbook. My chickens don’t care what car I drive or mind the spider web on the front porch. The friends who come visit us at the farm enjoy leaving spiders there and examining the web design. A hummingbird caught in a spider web fluttering and struggling to free itself exhilarates us, as we can appreciate its life for what it is and the purpose it serves. Living in the country is worthwhile for the nature that surrounds us and for the greater appreciation of our place in the world. We have twenty acres of nature now, which is something I will never want to be without.

To the GHF community: don’t let rural living scare you. Life experience taught me that we can stretch our twice-exceptional and asynchronous wings to become the beautiful butterflies we were meant to be. We’re given room to do it, and that’s easier for me in a rural setting than in an urban or suburban one.
FEATURED WRITER
Amanda Campbell
Amanda Campbell is the secretary for GHF Learners and a homeschooling Mom of three boys, two of which are twice-exceptional. In her past life, she worked in the medical field coordinating clinical trials and as admin support in Interventional Radiology, as well as support in Medical Records. After recently moving to twenty acres of land, her new passions are chicken ownership and gardening. Next year, she plans on adding to the farm with goats and, maybe someday, alpacas. She is happily married and lives in a Kansas City, Missouri area suburb.
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FROM THE EDITOR
The Rural DIYer
By Stacie Brown McCullough

Rural life is indeed just what the doctor ordered. I’m definitely biased; I have lived in rural Texas for nearly all my life. Yet, the similarities between GHF Writer and Board Vice President Amanda Campbell’s story and my own are striking. Some might say . . . eerie.

My son has dysgraphia and dyspraxia (diagnosed as Developmental Coordination Disorder) that affects his mental fluency and executive functioning. He has difficulty with handwriting, motor planning, processing speed, organizing thoughts, and visual and sensory processing. We went through multiple therapies as well, and we finally decided that enough was enough. Because we live on several acres, we, too, could more easily implement heavy work and sensory breaks into his daily routine. Gardening, chickens, and a playground in our backyard have led to a more peaceful existence for my family.

And when any of us feel the need to talk to ourselves for hours at top volume while we work out a problem or to yell so loudly that we wake up Martian methanogens, we can simply go outside. Sure, our neighbors might hear us, but at least we have their sympathy.

Have our eerily similar stories spooked you, or do you feel right at home (whether rural or otherwise)? Country people are no strangers to DIY, and neither are homeschoolers. We see what needs to be done, and we do it. We grow so used to doing it ourselves that we sometimes don’t realize that it’s perfectly acceptablenecessary evento get help when we need it and that asking for help isn’t a sign of failure but of personal growth.

We gifted DIYers might also struggle with executing our best laid plans, so we learn to let go of cleaning those spiderwebs on the front porch because we know that Halloween comes around again, andhurray, we’re ahead on the decorations! Mine stay up year-round!

Getting help when it’s needed might be terrifying for us rural homeschoolers, but we can RIP knowing that help is well within our ghastly grasp. The GHF Choices: DIY Education program is included in your GHF Membership for under $5.00/month. Check it out!
GHF CHOICES: DIY Education
Most of us have watched DIY shows on TV. Handy people invite us to watch their creative approach to their current project. Have you noticed that the bigger the project, the more help they need? These folks consult experts, source materials, explore options, and enlist help.

Your project is your child's education, with the goal of helping them learn what they need to become independent adults. Our kids may engage in higher education, trade school, careers, volunteer work, or go down a host of other paths, but our job is to help them be as prepared as possible to reach for their goals.

Homeschoolers do not DIY with only their own wits and limited materials. Homeschool parents are some of the most resourceful people in the world. They consult experts, source materials, explore options, and enlist help. Sound familiar?
#MYGIFTEDSTORY
#MyGiftedStory is visual storytelling project that focuses on our nation’s gifted and talented population at every stage of life, from urban, suburban, and rural settings, representing zip codes from all fifty states. ​

Exploring the question, "Who gets to be gifted in America and why?" the project spotlights stories of giftedness that represent cultural and gender diversity from a variety of perspectives including discovery, neurodiversity, trauma, advocacy, education, equity, disability, and more. ​

​Become part of an unprecedented visual tapestry, visit https://TheGWordFilm.com/my-gifted-story to participate!
GHF DIALOGUE

What does it mean to find community? To belong? My body answers with a soft sigh of understanding that I must belong to myself before I can belong to another—to an individual, a family, a group, a society, a race, a nation, humankind. What is belonging? Brene Brown offers the definition, “being part of something bigger but also having the courage to stand alone, and to belong to yourself above all else.” I choose to belong to myself first. This is not always easy, natural, or safe.

My twice-exceptional son has modeled this type of belonging for me his whole life. He is largely unbendable, but in the most beautifully quiet, calm way. I see this trait amongst the gifted community, and I admire it. The quiet bravery to honor thine own self. To belong to oneself first. In the middle of our current cultural crisis in America, this is vital. When we, as individuals, understand in our bones that we must be an active part of the dismantling and restructuring of our current power systems, I see and hear one gifted voice after another call out for change. I know underneath these calls to action and accountability there is a foundation of belonging to oneself first. I admire the courage to speak out and ask questions in the effort to learn, to grow, to transform.

GHF PRESS
We Hope You Enjoy This GHF Press Latest Release!
Is Giftedness a myth? What is a Gifted Child? Why is Giftedness such a hot-button issue? Where does the fear and dislike of ‘gifted’ come from?

Come on an adventure about how Mrs Einstein, newspaper articles from the 1920s, and the San people of the Kalahari Desert can help us understand what gifted is – and is not.

In an easy-to-read style, Gifted Myths explores these and other stories on the history, science, and lived experience of gifted and twice-exceptional families.

Gifted Myths is a must-read for parents, educators, and professionals who work with gifted and twice-exceptional children.
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ABOUT GHF
GHF connects all sorts of people who love gifted learners. We offer both family and professional memberships to support and encourage adults working to create new ways of educating gifted learners. Our members homeschool gifted and twice-exceptional kids, run homeschool co-ops and microschools, write to foster understanding of gifted and twice-exceptional learners, mentor students one-on-one, teach online classes, provide services specifically designed to meet the social and emotional needs of gifted and twice-exceptional learners, and more. We'd love for you to join us.

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