Discovering Mensa and journeying TOGETHER
This has been an interesting week for my family. We brought in July with a bang– a huge fireworks display and party with friends. And now we’re at the Mensa Annual Gathering in Baltimore for my son. I’ve been reluctant to speak about my son’s neurodivergence too much in the past. However, I know I’m not alone in parenting a child like him and wanted to share our journey to potentially help others as well.My son is highly gifted. Like off the charts- Mensa gifted. For those of you not familiar with Mensa- it’s an organization for individuals who score at the 98% or higher on a standardized IQ test.
This is why I’m often reluctant to share this information. I feel like it comes across as bragging- hey, look how smart my child is. But, for anyone who knows someone who falls into this category, you know these academic abilities are often accompanied with challenges.
My son is amazing. But he is NOT an easy child to parent. There are the quizzes about flags, country capitals or sports statistics that begin first thing in the morning before my morning coffee. Finding reading material that is topically appropriate for an eight year old on an 8th grade reading level can be difficult. There are also the extreme emotions, inflexibility and difficulty with social cues and friendships.
Finding our village: Mensa Community
Enter Mensa Gifted Youth. One thing I need to stress up front, many of Mensa’s materials and resources are available for anyone, including children and adults who do not necessarily score at member level, but are still academically gifted. There are reading challenges with appropriate suggested reading lists for young advanced readers. There are also enriching lesson plans for educators and activities for either educators or parents at home.
For members, there are also both regional youth activities and access to the annual national gathering which has an amazing gifted youth camp track.
I want to clear the air here and say Mensa is in no way “elitist”, “pretentious” or composed of individuals only concerned with bragging rights as many might imagine. In reality, I’ve found it to be a welcoming place of acceptance, good conversation and nerdy fun for both children and adults. I’m amazed to actually see a ton of families here all enjoying the benefits together. I’ve even met a number of people who admit to meeting their spouses at gatherings in the past!
We’ve thrived here this week. My son is loving the camp activities and most importantly he’s met other kids like him. I’ve found it helpful to meet other parents who share my frustrations, struggles and concerns. I’ve also received a ton of helpful information, ideas and suggestions to hopefully improve our journey moving forward.
So, if you know anyone else facing these struggles, are an educator teaching children like this, or are an adult looking for an enriching community for yourself– I strongly recommend checking out the Mensa community. Have a great weekend everyone!