Sunday, August 6, 2017

Thoughts from SENG

The annual conference of SENG, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is just over. We spent several days there covering sessions and keeping a presence in the exhibit area there in the Marriott Chicago hotel of Naperville. The program included lots of good speakers, some of whom you'll read about in upcoming issues of 2e Newsletter. Here are some thoughts and impressions...

The 2e community might have an emerging "poster child" in researcher/author Scott Barry Kaufman, who gave a keynote on Saturday morning. Simultaneously engaging, funny, and informative, Kaufman, whose CAPD landed him in special ed as a child, sensed the audience was, as he said, "my crowd." Kaufman has a new book coming ut soon, "Twice Exceptional: Supporting and Educating Bright and Creative Students with Learning Difficulties," that will include chapters by authors familiar to  many readers of 2e Newsletter. In addition, a TED Talk by Kaufman on twice exceptionality will be available in the next week or so.

The conference seemed well attended. As usual, attendees were all motivated by the chance to share information about gifted kiddos and the social-emotional, mental health, or learning issues they might have. Our impression is that parents find it easy to make connections at these SENG conferences, and that the professionals in attendance seem willing to be accessible. Our impression is that parents are probably the biggest segment of the audience, then educators, then service providers.

The conference is 2e Newsletter's opportunity to make connections as well. For example, at our exhibit table we met a counselor from Asheville and one from Denver. Since we sometimes get calls from parents looking for resources of one sort or another in different parts of the country, and new connections help us point to those resources.

Sometimes at the conference we are able to point parents to resources that are right there at the conference. We pointed one local family to a suburban counseling/psychological services group that apparently does a lot of work with 2e children. The group had an exhibit table and was also giving several presentations.

We hear lots of stories from families, some about successes for their 2e kiddo because of a school district willing and able to take on the kiddo's challenges. We also hear about districts unwilling or unable to serve our kids. And sometimes we hear truly scary stories, for example about children way too young who are encountering existential concerns.

We re-establish connections with others who serve the 2e community and get inspiration on ways to serve the community. And we always receive inspiration from the "high achievers" we talk to -- those whose lives are virtually consumed by the roles they've chosen in the community as leading-edge educators, researchers, presenters, or information disseminators. They all have our deepest respect.

SENG's interim director Mike Postma, on the job for a few months, gets LOTS of credit for pulling together the successful conference in the midst of staff changes and other challenges. Hats off to Mike!

And we always appreciate it when an attendee stops by our exhibit table to tell us they've found the newsletter informative and useful. Feedback like that at a conference like SENG can keep us going for another year!

Watch for more information about the conference in our next newsletter issue and for pics on our Facebook page as soon as we go through them.

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