Beyond IQ

Gifted Conference Planners presents:

Beyond IQ - Online!

Success vs. Failure
and other false dichotomies

2021 Presenters

Keynote Speaker:
Robert H. Frank, Ph. D.


Dani Backslash

Megara Bell

Anna Caveney

Ryan Caveney

Kit Finn

Lisa Fontaine-Rainen

Mika Gustavson

Drew Martin

Rachel Little Morris

Josh Shaine

Abigail Walzer

Mary Ellen Wessels

Matt Zakreski

YA Program Staff

Success and Luck

Robert H. Bruce, Ph.D. 


    (c) = Children's Program
    (t) = Young Adult Program

 Introductions (c)

 Scavenger Hunts 1 & 2 (c)

 Theater Games (c)

 Dani Backslash is going to need a bio
Identity, Orientation, and Labels Where do I belong? (t)

On gender, orientation, defining the self and the usefulness of labels, or not.

Having The Talk

On supporting your child's healthy sexual development, accessing resources and having conversations. What does it mean to be a sexually healthy human these days anyway?

 Megara Bell is the Director of Partners in Sex Education.
Melissa regrets that she will be unable to join us this year, but she expects to rejoin us next year!

 Melissa Bilash's bio can be found on the 2017 presenters page. 

Darion regrets that he will not be joining us this year and hopes to return in 2022.  Darion Breslau is an artist who has been making, selling, and teaching chain maille for nearly ten years, as well as dabbling in stained glass, ceramics, leatherwork, and photography. He has also been writing (predominantly fantasy) for over a decade.

Curriculum Design Factors for Highly and Profoundly Gifted Folks

What traits are we looking for in materials that will better serve our population? How do we find faster, deeper, or more flexible, and how do we know what to avoid? What special challenges arise from the asynchronous development that is common in this population? Please come ready to discuss your experiences.

Friends and Strangers (c) and (a)

Many of us are navigating our way to a more nuanced view of social experiences that supports a more functional social life. Asynchrony in childhood often contributes to social challenges, as the play activities we seek and skills we try to practice clash with the very different needs of the available age mates. By late elementary, many gifted children are desperate for friends with whom they can feel comfortable being themselves, but in order to pursue and maintain those types of friendships, they need to have developed many basic friendship skills. Those skills are honed in the many less intense and less intimate forms of casual interactions that many of us withdraw from, because our societal misfit is too unnerving. How can we develop a more courageous attitude toward low-risk, low-intimacy interaction, so we can practice the many small skills needed to find and develop and maintain the deeper friendships we desire?

 Anna Caveney is the former BIQYA Coordinator and former Director of the MIT ESP summer program for gifted high schoolers. Anna viewed parenting from the outside before jumping in with a teenager. Since then, she has embarked on a lifelong study of parenting from the beginning of the process with the assistance of her 8 year-old daughter. Anna and her family live in Malden, Mass.

Anna will be starting an online clubhouse for school age people, with plans to run an in-person school in the aftertimes.

 More Logic Games

 Norse Mythology 

 Ryan Caveney

Throw Out the Guidebook: Self-Care for the Neurodivergent

What if standard self-help advice doesn't work for you? Most information out there about study skills, stress management, eating, sleeping, and exercise is aimed at the rough median of human experience. It isn't meant to address challenges like ADHD, emotional sensitivity, sensory processing issues, non-circadian sleep rhythms, and chronic pain. This is a rough introduction in figuring out why common advice doesn't work for you, and figuring out how to improve your own lifeis a mental health therapist and genuine verified Adult (TM). Her interests include psychology, disability, LGBTQ+ issues, and medieval history. Lis has a BA in Psychology from the University of Alberta and a Master's of Counselling Psychology from Adler University.

 Lis Coburn is a mental health therapist and genuine verified Adult (TM). Her interests include psychology, disability, LGBTQ+ issues, and medieval history. Lis has a BA in Psychology and a Master's of Counselling Psychology..

Lis also teaches for GCP's online courses.

Thinking about Education

Education and schooling are not the same thing. While looking at a school or consulting one of the various options online for learning standards can be useful, this does not give you an overall approach to the entire project of raising a child. We will consider a way of thinking about that.

 Kit Finn has been an active part of the gifted education and homeschooling worlds for roughly forty years She was owner and administrator of the TAGFAM group of email listservs. She acts as an advocate and consultant for families. Her mentors were John Holt and Joyce Van Tassel-Baska.

From Gifted Teacher to Gifted Homeschooler

(Blrub to follow)

SET - Designing your own versions (c)

 Lisa Fontaine-Rainen is a homeschooling parent in Cape Town, South Africa. She's also a former teacher of the gifted in schools in Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

Lisa also teaches for GCP's online courses.

Nervous System Know-How: Using Polyvagal Theory in Parenting and Self-Care

We’ve all had experiences that underline the connection between our emotions, our brains, and our bodies. We might struggle to remember information when we are upset, or find that we feel a lot better after we have had a little dance party around the house. Sometimes we feel safe, or unsafe, and we don’t quite know why, and sometimes a connection with a friend will make the world look shiny and bright. Polyvagal Theory gives us insight into why that is, and how we can use that knowledge to help ourselves, and our children, learn to regulate emotions, move from unsafety and fear into connectedness and refuge, and become more resilient to the inevitable ups and downs of daily life. This session will focus on an overview of Polyvagal Theory, and how to apply that knowledge in practical ways in our own lives, and those of the people we care for.

How to find (or create) a gifted-oriented therapist

Even for the most mentally healthy among us, this is a difficult time. The right therapist can make a big difference in how you manage your (or your child’s) giftedness, overexcitabilities, neurodiversity, and anxiety. But finding a good fit can be hard. There are many misconceptions about what makes a good therapist, and many therapists may not realize they don’t know what they don’t know. This session will focus on practical ideas for finding, screening and educating a therapist.

 Mika Gustavson, MA, LMFT, she/her, is the Founder and Director of Gifted Matters, a psychotherapy and coaching practice specializing in helping children, adolescents and adults for whom “smart” is just the tip of the iceberg. Her specialty is working with parents of QUASIE (QUirky, Anxious, Sensitive, Intense, Excitable) children, as well as working directly with adolescents and young adults on issues including anxiety, perfectionism, impostor syndrome, depression, intensity, relationships and adulting. Although her own child’s official homeschooling journey is over, she also works with parents considering paths-less-taken in education, including homeschooling and unschooling. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with other professionals on issues touching on giftedness, homeschooling and parenting, and supervises and mentors other therapists. She has published many articles in print and online venues, and is the co-author, with Corin Barsily Goodwin, of two books: Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child, and Writing Your Own Script: A Parent’s Role in the Gifted Child’s Social Development. She works in Silicon Valley and when not doing any of the above she can be found messing about with yarn, listening to jazz and baroque music, and trying to figure out how to get back to playing violin.
Things that Fly (c)

Last year, we made things that float. this year, we make things that fly. We also build things, draw things, read things and talk things. only rule is no messing with little kids' fun in pursuit of your own. all welcome.
 Dane Kuttler is trying to be concise about this. Suffice to say: she makes food, builds poems, and talks too much.

Hexaflexagons (c)
Like folding, twisting, coloring, or paper models with interesting topological properties? If you enjoy any of those activities, come create artistically and mathematically interesting paper hexaflexagons.

 Alexa Kay is a Ph.D candidate and teacher in the Educational Psychology program at Penn State University with a focus on learning and teaching in mathematics, learning from multiple representations, and measurement and evaluation. Outside of school, Alexa enjoys finding inspiration through working with high school and college students on pre-calculus level mathematics, painting, and playing board games.

Theater and Improv Games (c)

Blurb:  We’re gonna make it up as go… Get it? Improv?

 Jessie Kay is having a very hard time writing a bio right now, but promised to have one to us soon!
Kathi regrets that she will be unable to join us this year, but she expects to return next year!
 Kathi Kearney's bio can be found on the 2017 presenters page. 

Carolyn regrets that she will be unable to join us this year, but she expects to return next year! will be with us, despite the prior message.

 Carolyn K is the founder and director of Hoagies' Gifted Education Page ( She also serves on the Board of Directors for SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) (

There is a lot more to be said about her. You could look it up!

 Introductions (c)  Kaisa Kindgrove has a biography and I am sure I have put it somewhere safe.
 Chess Variants (c)  Drew Martin will need a bio and a blurb
Erick won't be joining us this year, but we anticipate his return at BIQ 2022!.

 Erick Medina Psy.D. is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in philosophy, and Rutgers University, where he obtained his doctorate in clinical psychology. He did post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Harvard Vanguard, and at the Integrated Center for Child Development in Canton, MA, and has taught at the high school as well as college level. He currently does psychotherapeutic as well as neuropsychological work with children, adolescents, and adults, and also works with couples and groups.

Erick also teaches for GCP's online courses.

What Would You Like to Know?..a question and (hopefully) answer session for parents of young gifted children.
A mother and grandmother of gifted children, Rachel Morris will sit down and take your questions about life with your gifted young ones. She hopes to encourage and support you in your journey by sharing her life experience. Good natured humor should be expected.

 Dr. Rachel Little Morris is a mother and grandmother of gifted kids. She was identified as gifted herself in elementary school, but tried to blend in for a long time. This attempt was largely unsuccessful, so she tried doing things a different way with her own children. She is also a microbiologist and a medical lab technician.

Tammy regrets that she cannot be with us this year, but she hopes to return next year! Tamora Pierce's bio can be found on the 2017 presenters page. 

 Michael won't be with us this year, but may return at a future BIQ.

 Michael Rios is the parent of profoundly gifted children, has published on giftedness, and has done extensive counseling work with gifted adults.  For over 40 years, he has been involved with creating alternatives to conventional schools and workplaces.   He regularly organizes personal growth workshops focusing on communication skills, personal empowerment, and effective social engagement

First Time BIQ Attendees

If you have never been to one of our conferences, this will help provide you with orientation to recurring themes, particular vocabulary, and the various presentations throughout the rest of the weekend. I'll answer quotes, run rapidly through introductory material, and generally try to make you feel welcome!

Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration Questions and Answers

Beyond Overexcitabilities, we'll delve into the broader theory, including some esoteric bits, as we follow the interests of the attendees.

Logic Games (c)

Games you can play without buying anything. Games you can't win on luck alone.

 Josh Shaine is a migrant teacher, working for homeschool families, public and private schools, and whatever else comes down the pike. He works predominantly with gifted children, with a focus on underachievers and hg/pg issues. He is also slowly researching non-linear thinking styles.

Josh also teaches for GCP's online courses.

Melinda will not be presenting this year. We hope she will return for BIQ 2022!

 Melinda Stewart has worked with gifted children and adolescents in a variety of settings over the last 38 years. She is the founder and former director of Voyagers, Inc., and has been on the staffs of the Stone Center at Wellesley College and McLean Hospital. She is retired as the Director of Counseling at Groton School in Groton, MA. She now maintains a private counseling and consulting practice is Littleton, MA and volunteers far more time than she has to the things she loves: teaching at Voyagers Independent Learning Center and singing with the Nashoba Valley Chorale.

 Eric Van is unable to join us this year, but plans to return for BIQ 2022!

 Eric Van entered Harvard in 1972 as one of future Nobel Laureate Sheldon Glashow's particle physics tutees and graduated in 1978 as one of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop's students. He has spent a number of years back at Harvard, as a Special Student affiliated with the Graduate Department of Psychology, taking 20 undergraduate courses in the field in preparation for an eventual Ph.D. He lives in Watertown, Mass.

Media Literacy (ya)

 Abigail Walzer - See YA program for bio and description.

Making Stuff and Making Stuff Up (c)

Make *stuff* out of *stuff*.  (paper towel tubes, buttons, egg cartons, feathers....)  Play some drama games.  Make up improvised skits using the props you made!

 Louise J. Waugh has no advanced degrees and over 20 years experience with children of all ages. She probably knows some things and never eats children - even small, cute ones that would make a great snack.

What Makes a Musician a Success?

(blurb coming)

Are Grades Strictly Necessary for School to Work?(c)
(Insert your blurb here.)

 Mary Ellen Wessels is an educational advocate specializing in 2e kids, and a para professional at an arts integration charter school. She took the year long SEAT training through COPAA (Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys) and has worked as an advocate, a teacher and a paraprofessional. She has a M.Ed. in both Curriculum, and Arts Integration with a special interest in emergent curriculum. She is a musician, and a mother of two (2e) sons, one in high school, one currently unschooled. She loves collaboration, but her interests always outnumber her time! You can reach her at

Sit down before fact as a little child: Using the scientific mindset to bring compassion to EF coaching

When someone struggles with executive functioning, they often become locked into a self-stoking cycle of failure, avoidance, and more failure. Would-be helpers, in turn, become locked into their own cycle of failed attempts at support and control. Everyone feels more and more incompetent, helpless, and frustrated. By shifting to the worldview of a team of curious scientists, gathering and being led by data, we can step out of the cycle of blame and failure. Successful experiments yield information. Even if the data shows us a weakness of the approach we tried, it is successfully giving us what we need to collaborate on the ongoing project of refining our strategies. In this informal conversation, I will describe how we can use scientific habits of mind to detoxify the processes of coaching and of being coached, and then we’ll open up the discussion to talk about the nuts-and-bolts of how to apply this framework to the specific dilemmas you struggle with. All are welcome: kids, parents, professionals, people who for whom help rarely feels like help, people who wish they could get someone else to accept help, people who wish they could help themselves more effectively, and other curious souls.

The most distant path comes nearest to the self: Embracing exploration and the lifelong journey

Our culture continues to become ever-more-focused on ever-narrower definitions of success as an ever-more-competitive game. Parents become ever-more-obsessed with optimizing their children’s success and thus their own score as parents. We are trained from younger and younger ages to do shape our actions and lives to satisfy the imagined gaze of the outside world, rather than to listen to the calling of our hearts. When we find that we cannot actually do the thing we were supposed to do, when we realize that what we really want isn’t what we were supposed to want, when our interests shift or simply run their course, it’s seen as failure. In this informal discussion, I will share stories which illustrate more healthy ways of viewing the lifelong process of exploring, learning to learn, learning about the self, gathering transferable skills, and valuing the journey rather than the destination. Participants are welcome to share their own struggles; we will think together about how to apply these ideas to your own dilemmas. (If you are skeptical, then let me at least get you in the door by pointing out that this frame isalso in fact more effective, even if it may seem counterintuitive.)

Aimee Yermish, Psy.D. is an educational therapist specializing in work with children who are gifted, learning-disabled, or twice-exceptional, providing assessment, enrichment, remediation, mentoring, individualized program development, and parent and teacher guidance. She draws upon her analytical background as a research scientist and her practical background as a classroom teacher in order to create individualized strategies for each child. ( 

 Overcoming Perfectionism: How to Stop Moving the Goalposts Description:

But it's not perfect yet!! Perfectionism can be a major aspect of being gifted and twice-exceptional. This presentation will define perfectionism as an aspect of anxiety and how it manifests in and outside of the classroom. It is important to understand the personality factors and reinforcement patterns that maintain perfectionism in gifted individuals. We will also give practical solutions for managing these feelings and related behaviors.

 Matt Zakreski needs a biography!
   YA Program Staff:

Jade and Andy Piltser-Cowan and Avery Berlin coordinate the Young Adult program. Their bios, their presenters' bios, and the YA Program schedule and description will be here.

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