When it was first suggested by one of my son’s gifted programme teachers that my son could be 2E, I struggled to get my head around the concept. I thought it meant he had two areas he was particularly gifted in = twice exceptional. Made sense to me!
But no, I had it wrong. It basically means being intellectually gifted AND having a learning difference or disability. I think it is pretty cool that these children are considered exceptional both because of their intellectual gifts and because of their special needs. So positive.
There is this picture perfect image people seem to have of gifted children, that I had! – perfect students, obedient and well-behaved, and who receive numerous certificates and awards at school. In comparison, 2E children commonly have poor social skills, can be very stubborn and opinionated, highly sensitivity to criticism, have high impulsivity, get frustrated easily and are often disruptive in class – that’s a very different picture. My boy ticks all those boxes! (There’s plenty of good stuff too).
Master 9 had been diagnosed with ADHD three years previously – something we may revisit, as the characteristics of giftedness are often misdiagnosed as ADHD in children. Aspergers has also not been completely ruled out.
With his recent assessment we also found out he has dysgraphia. Another term I hadn’t heard before – although I was familiar with the rest: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia. The term dysgraphia comes from the Greek words dys (“impaired”) and graphia (“making letter forms by hand”). Of course!! My boy had NEVER enjoyed handwriting or even drawing and colouring in. His letter formation is not consistently from top to bottom, left to right – something that frustrates me, every time I see him do it! Writing for him is a slow process that requires huge effort. His writing looks messy and immature. He struggles to orientate his writing on the page – he does not leave sufficient spaces between words, and writes from the middle to the right of the page rather than from left to right. In contrast, he is an amazing speller.
And then there was this term ‘Highly Gifted’ with his overall intellectual functioning score in the 99th percentile. A week or two after his assessment it was highlighted to me the difference between ‘gifted and talented’, and ‘highly/exceptionally/profoundly gifted’. I was told not to bother researching anything about moderate giftedness; that highly gifted 2E kids are too far outside the box. It seemed harsh. I guess it’s that tall poppy syndrome again, with ME this time trying to minimise the HIGHLY gifted label, and bring things closer to ‘normality’. If I admit it, I was probably scared too. We all want are kids to fit in; to be happy. What would highly gifted mean for my son?! University at age 12?! That IS scary!!! How would his older sister feel about him being in a higher school grade than her?! Would we need to move to a university city? But I am getting ahead of myself…
I needed to read information specifically on 2E PG. This advice was received AFTER I had been to the library and got some books issued out on working with gifted and talented learners – books that have since been returned. There are only a few books on twice exceptional children and again on highly gifted children, let alone both! So it seems I am restricted to reading articles on the internet and seeking advice from other 2E PG parents. Thankfully the mums I have chatted to are so willing to share their experiences. It is nice not to feel so alone through all this.