by Edward R. Amend
SENG has been many places over the years, from its roots at Wright State University, through its time at Kent State University, to its current independent nonprofit status. In that time, SENG Conferences have crossed America. As I began reflecting on my involvement with SENG, I realized that I have been involved in some capacity for most of my adult life – from when I was a graduate student with little more than the personal experience of growing up gifted (and not really knowing what that meant) up to today, now that I am a clinical psychologist who regularly presents on topics related to giftedness. Along the way, I have attended many conferences, met many fascinating children and their families, and learned a lot.
With the 22nd SENG Conference almost upon us, I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few things that I have learned. Maybe these few words will be the impetus to move those of you reading, but still sitting on the fence, to register and join in the SENG experience. So, here goes!
The Top NINE things I have learned at SENG Conferences (OK, I know there are supposed to be TEN, but I am an underachiever):
9. Acceptance and validation are the norm. SENG values giftedness in all its forms and all its diversity. If you are like most past participants (adult or child), you will undoubtedly feel connected, refreshed, and rejuvenated after the conference.
8. Don’t skip the Friday Night Dinner and Keynote — you will be sorry!
7. If Jim Webb or Jim Delisle are speaking and you want to hear the presentation, you better arrive early to get a seat — otherwise you will be listening from the hallway!
6. Educators who take the time to understand parents’ views of their child more readily recognize a child’s strengths and meet his or her needs.
5. Parents who take the time to understand a teacher’s view of the child as a student more readily recognize a child’s weaknesses and work to develop skills.
4. If you have questions, ASK — no matter how dumb it sounds in your head! Although it is easy to be intimidated by the presenter badge — especially if you are an introvert — conference presenters are often willing to talk even more about their work, as long as they don’t feel thrust into the awkward position of having to provide professional services in the relaxed conference setting.
3. Educators think differently than psychologists. While this may seem obvious to some, it became clear to me as I met more educators and learned their perspectives. Both care about kids, of course, but not only do we sometimes speak a totally different language, we sometimes use the same words to mean different things.
2. Even though you have read The Book, nothing compares to hearing the author in person. Sometimes what he or she says parallels what is written; sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, it is always very interesting.
And, the number one thing I have learned at SENG Conferences…
1. NETWORK! Meet other parents and teachers who share your concerns and your passion for these special children. Although I have gained much knowledge throughout the years, what I remember most are the people I have met and the relationships I have developed.
I am looking forward to another exciting SENG Conference in Albuquerque, and to meeting many more new faces. I hope you make yours one of those new faces. Join us!
Edward R. Amend is a psycholoigst in private practice in Lexington, Kentucky; co-author of Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults; and is serving his fifth year on the SENG Board.