One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve had to face, both as a teacher and parent of gifted kids is that gifted kids do not have any problems. There is a pervasive belief that to be gifted, one must be high-achieving, eager to learn, and find no difficulty in learning anything.

This belief is not only wrong, it’s devastating to the entire population of gifted kids in our schools and homes. Gifted kids do not have all the answers. Gifted kids do not know it all. Gifted kids will not “be okay” if left to their own devices while teachers are pushed to bring their struggling students up to par.

Understanding Twice Exceptional Children -- Gifted kids with a learning or other disability

 

Gifted kids DO have disabilities.

A gifted child who also has a learning disability, ADD/ADHD, sensory processing difficulties, autism spectrum disorder, or another learning or neurological issue, is called twice-exceptional.

And twice-exceptional kids are tough. They’re tough to parent. They’re tough to teach. They’re simply tough to get along with.

I’m going to be really up front and honest with you here for a minute, and make a confession: After teaching gifted kids, many of whom were twice-exceptional, I prayed that I would give birth to a nice, normal baby of average intellect. I was pregnant with Trevor at the time, and I assume now that God, the saints, and all the angels were doubled over in laughter that echoed off the pearly gates…

…because that sweet little boy I gave birth to, the one who would make me a mommy for the first time, was not only profoundly gifted, but he was exceptionally twice-exceptional. Dare I say, thrice-exceptional?

Trevor has a very high intellect, but he lacks motivation. He struggles desperately with sensory issues that either coexist with, or make it seem like he has, ADHD. He is impulsive, energetic, explosive, empathetic, tender, charming, mature, immature, sensitive, disrespectful, and highly intellectual, while lacking common sense, sometimes all within the hour.

He is twice-exceptional.

Understanding Twice Exceptional Children -- Gifted kids with a learning or other disability

 

His high abilities mask his disabilities, especially in a classroom setting. And, his disabilities mask his intellect, again in that classroom setting. For the few years he attended public school, he was very difficult to teach and discipline. He became withdrawn, and at turns argumentative. He fell behind, and struggled with things that once came easy for him.

He lost all interest in learning.

This is a common story heard from many parents of twice-exceptional kids, and from 2E adults themselves as they remember their childhood. And, perhaps this is why among the growing nationwide population of homeschoolers, parents of gifted children make up one of the largest sub-populations.

Parents are realizing that the current model of education is not helping our gifted kids reach their potential. And they’re also realizing that homeschool is a wonderful setting for their exceptional and twice-exceptional children.

Whether they are able to homeschool or not, though, parents of twice-exceptional children need all the help they can get in advocating for their children. Most teachers can’t see past the disabilities or behavioral issues to get to the giftedness. They’re just spread too thin.

And, frankly, as parents it’s hard to see past them sometimes, too.

Understanding Twice Exceptional Children -- Gifted kids with a learning or other disability

 

Do you ever feel tired and overwhelmed when dealing with your 2e kiddo all day long. Like you’re going to trial or having a negotiation over every little thing? Like every choice you make and everything you try to do is wrong?

I do.

Know that you’re not alone. And you’re not crazy — gifted children CAN have learning and behavioral challenges that get in the way of their learning.

Now what do we do about it?

Stay tuned… we’ll chat strategies, dos and don’ts when raising, educating, and advocating for your twice exceptional kiddos later this week.

For more posts about parenting gifted kids, check out:

         

 

Understanding Twice Exceptional Children -- Gifted kids with a learning or other disability

 

Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.