Gifted Advocacy and Support Groups

We are currently on a drive to get local support groups  going around the country. If you have registered with the Network but heard little or nothing from us, check your spam folder and make sure our emails are not being filtered out! You might also drop us a line to let us know that you would like to be included in any support group which may take shape in your area and where, precisely, you are based.

We originally asked people to list their county when signing up. However, this is not always the best way to match people up into groups. Someone in Cork might be more conveniently matched with someone in Kerry or Tipperary than the Cork group, for example. Also, individual personalities, ages of children etc all come into play in determining whether a particular group of people will gel.

When I first set up the Wicklow group in 2009, I had no idea how much, if any, interest there might be. All I knew was that I was fed up with having to travel to Dublin for meetings of a group that was not particularly active. Four years later, we have almost forty members on our list, coming from as far afield as Wexford and North Dublin. This has been a very gradual process and there are times when things go very quiet and times when new people join and there is a real sense of excitement. Based on our experience, here’s my advice to anyone who would like to be able to talk to other parents of gifted children:

1. Don’t be afraid to volunteer to be the one to get things going. It does not have to be an onerous or time-consuming task. If everyone waits for someone else to do it, nothing will ever happen.

2. Try and find one other person to work with. That way, you will never be left stood-up when no one shows up to a meeting you have arranged. It makes a big difference to have a “partner-in-crime”.

3. Don’t expect too much too soon. Even if there are only two of you and you hardly ever meet, at least there is a focus and, over time, others will find you and the group will grow. If there is no seed, nothing will grow.

4. Although it is nice for everyone to have met face-to-face at least once, it is not necessary to have regular meetings. Once email addresses/phone numbers have been exchanged, people can contact each other for a chat or to arrange to meet up for coffee when the urge strikes.

5. Initially, it may be necessary to have groups which encompass a large geographical area and some travel for members. However, it is much easier to attract new members when there is already something happening. I believe that, with a bit of effort, we can expand the Network so that such groups will grow and be able to divide into more convenient arrangements.

6. I am inclined to think that group boundaries should be loose. For example, our group is supposed to be for South Dublin/Wicklow but we have people who sometimes come to our meetings from North Dublin because the time/date suits them. This can be mutually beneficial.

7. If you are a teacher, don’t be afraid to get involved. We have a couple of teachers in our group and we all learn a lot from each other.

We have a support group section on this website and will set up a separate page for each group so that it can be used as a noticeboard. We will also happily advertise group meetings via Twitter and Facebook. We will do what we can to facilitate any group.  Although it has been a slow process, we are nearly ready to get things up and running in the Midlands, Meath and maybe Clare/Limerick. North Dublin is well on the way. Please get in touch and get involved.

Catherine Riordan