Christmas preparations 1


The Dabrowski Dogs have played a chess match with the Black Dogs to determine whether the Black Dogs would be permitted to appear in Sprite’s Christmas picture or must be content with sending their apologies and a greeting card.

The board was set so that the Dabrowski dogs and Twitter Birds could play against the Black Dogs and Sally-Anne McCormack’s ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) from her books Stomp out the ANTs and Living with ANTs.

On the White Team the Memory Elephant was the king and Emotional Dabrowski was the Drama Queen. Sensual Dabrowski and Imaginational Dabrowski were the bishops, Psycho Motor Dabrowski and Intellectual Dabrowski were the leaping knights, the Topiary Tessellation Bird Leaf Tree and the Topiary Wheel Tree were the rooks and the Twitter Birds were the pawns.

On the Black Team Guard on Duty Black Dog was the king and Wistful was the queen. Thinks He’s an Alien Black Dog and SAD Seasonally Affected Dog were the bishops and Leaping Attack Black Dog and his Shadow were the leaping knights. The ANTs were the pawns. The Pair O Noids were asked to be the rooks but were anxious about being separated so they both acted as one rook and a rook was borrowed from the chess set for the other one.

Kiwi and Echidna waited hopefully on the sidelines for any ANTs who were ejected from the game.

You will probably be pleased to learn that the White team was victorious and Guard on Duty Black Dog has presented a greeting card made from my Inktober portraits of the Black Dogs to be included in the group picture. No Black Dogs will personally attend the group photo session to get an opportunity to put a dampener on the occasion.


Donkeys live a long time


I called in to Sprite’s Site to check a couple of references and was greeted by Imaginational Dabrowski.

“Where have you been? Was it an exciting expo or a creativity conference or……? Where have you been?” he asked.

“I participated in RSCON 5  and I will be writing about that soon” I said

“I have been working on an art course online at Derwent Academy

“And I updated my personal website with the July FB Creating Challenge   and the 52 Illustrations Challenge and June and beginning of July My Sky  pictures.”

“And I went to visit posts on a couple of blog hops and I will write about that soon too” I said

“Why didn’t you write posts for Sprite’s Site and why didn’t you take Sprite and Retweet along with you?” Imaginational asked.
“Well, um … because reasons … real life got busy” I said

“I was looking for you because Sprite is all depressed” said Imaginational “ And  when I tried to cheer her up by suggesting utopian ideas she just hugged her donkey tight and said ‘That is how it is supposed to be – but it isn’t like that!”

“It is probably SAD Seasonally Affected Black Dog  who is making her miserable. We have had a lot of storms and rain lately” I said.

“No, I blame Intellectual Dabrowski” said Imaginational.  “He let her read Orwell’s Animal farm and the newspapers!”

I found Sprite sitting on the chair in the Naughty Corner cuddling her donkey.
“How’s Eeyore?” I asked

“He is not Eeyore. He is Benjamin and he says ‘donkeys live a long time’ and he is sad” she replied.

“It sounds as if we need to have a talk!” I said

The G word


“Why is Columbus Cheetah sitting on the chair in the Naughty Corner?” I asked Sprite.  “Black Dog  put him there” she replied. “He said Columbus was using naughty words and needed to sit in the corner and think about it. But I don’t know what he said that was naughty. He didn’t say the F word, or the S word, or the B word!”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“Columbus was talking to Intellectual Dabrowski  about my education plan for next term.” Sprite said. “Columbus said that even though I have some learning difficulties I am gifted and should be given acceleration opportunities.

Then Leaping Attack Black Dog suddenly pounced on him and dragged him off to the Naughty Chair and now Guard on Duty Black Dog is sitting there and not letting him move out of the corner!”

I knew that Sprite often used stories about Columbus Cheetah and the overexcitable Dabrowski Dogs and the depression causing Black Dogs to express her concerns.
So I was anxious to find out more about the background to this particular story.

“Tell me what happened” I said.
“Columbus and the Dabrowski Dogs were talking about my education plan for next term (except Psycho Motor who was outside chasing butterflies and Sensual who was having a Lavender Lathers grooming parlour session).
Intellectual was discussing the definitions of giftedness and the levels of giftedness on different scales and whether ‘Gifted’ was really the best word to use and he and Columbus were talking about the Hoagies May Blog Hop about “Using the G word” and all the posts which can be read at


“I tuned out after a while and talked to Imaginational who was suggesting all sorts of great sounding programs and provisions.
Imaginational was saying it would be great if I could have either a De Bono Brown Brogues – Do the Most Sensible Thing program
Brown brogues
or a De Bono Grey Sneakers – PBL Investigations program
Grey sneakers
with contact with a mentor for astronomy
Purple riding boots
and help and support in the areas I need it.
Plaster cast
He said it even said in the Iowa Acceleration Scales manual that students should not be denied acceleration only on account of learning difficulties.”

“Intellectual snorted and said that would happen when the porcine aeronauts arrived and that my school was locked into their paper shoe covers system because they were saying all their students were gifted.”

Then the Pair O Noids arrived and said that it was not politically correct to say one student was gifted unless you said everyone was gifted.”

“So Columbus Cheetah got really upset and said that obviously people were not taking any notice of his myth busting efforts;
and that it was just not true that everybody was gifted; in the same way as it was not true that nobody was gifted!
Hadn’t anybody been listening when he presented ample evidence that although every student was precious and every student had areas of relative strength, every student was not academically gifted?
Hadn’t they been listening when he said that all students need excellent education but gifted students need an education which suits their needs?”


“Emotional Dabrowski started howling in sympathy and then Black Dog arrived!”

“Why do you think Black Dog attacked Columbus rather than you?” I asked.

“Well,” said Sprite. “I think it was because Imaginational and I were happy discussing possible programs that would be really great.
But I can only have a limited amount of influence into whether the good things can be made to happen. I need people to advocate for me as well.”

“ And when Intellectual was being cynical and the Pair O’Noids were being paranoid  it made Columbus wonder whether his myth busting was ever going to be completely successful.
And then Emotional started howling in sympathy and then the Black Dogs turned up.”

“Your have shown me a few things I can do to overcome the Black dogs.
(Read all about the Black dogs in the Youblisher booklet Sprite and Black Dog )
And anyway I was feeling happy because Imaginational said that I could hope for good programs.”

“But it must be very disheartening to keep advocating for gifted and 2E students and giving the same message for years on end and still finding that attitudes are not changing! “
“In a way I suppose the Black Dogs were also trying to get at me by attacking Columbus; because if he gets too disheartened he might stop advocating and then I certainly wouldn’t get good provisions and I would get depressed too!”

The Third S.I.P. – P for Physical and Practical Part 5

“Some people say that now that I know how to manage Black Dog I should just get on with my life and shoo away Wistful Black Dog who sits next to the Memory Elephant wishing things were different in the past,” said Sprite.

“But I don’t want to do that,” she said “because if Wistful Dog goes a lot of good memories would go with him because the good things would not have been so good if there was no bad as well.”

“And I think all my memories are part of me and the bad things that happened helped make me who I am; so I don’t want to forget them completely.”

“Alison Brown, the psychologist, says that it is very helpful to tell your story and record it so that it won’t be lost. It is called Narrative Therapy” I told her.

“Black Dog is like me” said Sprite.” He can’t write his memories down. So if I record them would you transcribe them for me, please?”


The Third S.I.P. – P for Physical and Practical Part 4

“Do I really have to go to school today?” asked Sprite.
“I’ve got a headache and a stomach ache and my leg is really, really, really hurting and…”

It had become a daily litany.
Usually I managed to cajole and jolly her along but this morning she was refusing to get out of bed and even I could see the shadow of Leaping Attack Black Dog.

“You don’t have to go to school. We are going to tackle Leaping Attack Black Dog today.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Sprite vanished under the blankets.
“I don’t want to tackle him. I’m too scared! I just want to ignore him and maybe he’ll go away.”

“We are going to help you recognize the times he is likely to attack and use some dog obedience training methods to control him” I told her.

“When you train dogs it is important to teach them to HALT on command, especially if they are not on the lead. There is a hand signal to tell the dog to stop and drop immediately. It is very useful for controlling dogs that are rounding up sheep or cattle.”

We are also going to use the HALT command as a check list for you. If you feel that Black Dog is about to leap think
HALT – Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Any of those things could make you vulnerable to attacks from Black Dog”

“The H can also stand for Healthy and we are going to take you to the Doctor and get a thorough health check.”


The Third S.I.P. – P for Physical and Practical Part 3

Apparently Perfectionism was not the only thing preventing Sprite from getting past Guard on Duty Black Dog
The other issue was Anxiety.
“What happens if Big Bertha the Bully is on the bus today?”
“What if I can’t find a friend for lunch time?”
“What if I get an answer wrong and everyone laughs at me?”
“Do I really have to go to school today?”

Fortunately the Twitter Birds who have been lavishing me with information about interesting websites, helpful books and great computer programs, in an attempt to make up for publicising Sprite’s disastrous protest march, brought me news of this book by Marjie Braun Knudsen and Jenne R. Henderson, Ph.D. titled BRAVE Be Ready And Victory’s Easy A story about social anxiety.

Marjie’s website is at and there are a lot of helpful links at
And there is a review of the book by Dr Michele Borba the parenting expert for the TODAY show at


Dabrowski’s dog


“Black Dog has fleas!” accused Sprite.
“He sits there and scratches his fleas and they get into my cast and make my leg itchy. And then they make my woolen jumper all itchy too and then I notice that the tags on all my clothes are scratchy. And then I notice that the seams on my sock are not lined up straight and they are digging into my toes.
And then I feel itchy all over and anxious and out of sorts and it’s all Black Dog’s fault!”

I had been wondering where the various Black Dogs that had been pestering Sprite had come from, hoping I would be able to return them to their various owners. None of them were wearing ID tags.

But I recognized this one now!

“That must be the Dabrowski’s dog,” I said. “I meant to warn you about Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities when I was telling you how to help Black Dog who feels like an alien. Because increased intensity and sensitivity is often part of being a gifted person. Itchy Black Dog and you are possibly suffering from Sensual Overexcitabilities.
We will talk about it more later but in the meantime you might like to read Stephanie Tolan’s Dabrowski’s Over-excitabilities – A Layman’s Explanation

The Third S.I.P. – P for Physical and Practical Part 2

“What can I do about Little Bully Black Dog?” asked Sprite. “I think it could be quite fun to play with him but he always ends up getting too rough and making me feel bad about the things I can’t do”
“Is it my fault? Am I doing something wrong?” Could I learn how to play and joke with him so he would play nicely?”
“Is he just a mean bully or does he have problems too and wants to feel better by making me feel worse?”

I was impressed with the insight that Sprite was developing and I knew of a couple of programs that could be helpful for her.

First we looked up Psychologist, Evelyn Field’s Bully Blocking website at and found helpful information there.

Then I showed Sprite Psychologist, Alison Brown’s website and told her about her programs which help children to build and keep friendships. The titles of her programs appealed to Sprite.
“The Rainbow Connection – that sounds really hopeful and Football or Fractals? – Well, that’s just how it is!
Except for me it’s more like Harmonic Motion of the Planets or Stick on Stars and Makeup!”


The third SIP – P for Physical and Practical Part 1

P for Physical and Practical and Perfectionism

Clearly some of the causes of Sprite’s depression were anxiety about the future and therefore an aversion to taking any risks and her perfectionism which sometimes prevented her from starting any activity which she did not think she could complete perfectly.
This was what had caused her apprehension about the Guard Duty Black Dog.

I found some very helpful articles about perfectionism

Carol Peters describes Dr Linda Silverman’s attitude to perfectionism in an article which can be read at

Perfectionism is an inevitable part of the experience of being gifted.
Silverman believes that perfectionism needs to be appreciated as a two-edged sword that has the potential for propelling an individual toward unparalleled greatness or plummeting one into despair. The secret to harnessing its energy is to appreciate its positive force, learn how to set priorities and to avoid imposing one’s own high standards on others.
Dr Silverman says
Perfectionism is an integral part of Giftedness because:
1. The sine qua non of intelligence is the capacity for abstract reasoning, and perfectionism is an abstract concept. An affinity for perfectionism is as natural to the gifted as a love of mathematics or literature.
2. Perfectionism is a function of asynchrony: gifted children set standards according to their mental age rather than their chronological age.
3. Many gifted children have older playmates so they tend to set standards appropriate for their older friends.
4. Many gifted children have enough forethought to enable them to be successful in their first attempts at mastering any skill. They come to expect success and fear failure since they have had little experience with it.
Dr Linda Silverman’s article can be purchased from the Gifted Development Center at
There is a useful A PowerPoint presentation by Kevin Kendall at
And Shaun Hately discusses the connection between perfectionism and depression in Perfectionism and the Highly Gifted Child which can be read on Hoagies website at


Shielding the thoughts

It looked like a scene from the movie ‘Signs’.
Sprite was sitting reading to Cute Version Just- Needs -More -Hugs Black Dog and they were both wearing silver foil hats.
“What on Earth are you doing?” I asked.
“Well,” said Sprite “if Black Dog and I are not aliens, we need to shield our thoughts from them and then our positive thoughts won’t get hijacked and turned into negative thoughts.”
“I have a much better method of shielding your thoughts,” I said. It is another S for Spiritual S.I.P. It is by thinking about things which are good and positive and lovely. You can find it in the book of Philippians in the Bible.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Meditate on These Things

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:6-9 New King James Version