Ok, so last week we talked a bit about what is gifted… and we agreed that question is a big can of worms!
One of the prevailing myths is that gifted kids do not need help, they succeed at everything and never run into trouble.
Well, that already sounds like rubbish, do you know ANYONE in life, regardless of how intelligent they are that has NO problems, EVER? 🤨🤔
The truth is that gifted kids have plenty of challenges and if you are a parent of a gifted kid, I know you feel that already!
Gifted kids experience the world differently, just as you might imagine other neurologically diverse (ADHD, autism, and Asperger’s) kids do.
Giftedness is a part of their identity and how they experience the world.
Also, many gifted kids are neurologically diverse in more than one way with giftedness often mistaken for, and experienced with, ADHD or autism.
Gifted kids who also have a learning challenge or are neurologically diverse in other ways are referred to as 2E or twice (or multi) exceptional.
It means that one exceptionality is their giftedness (exceptionally high potential) and the other exceptionality is seen as their learning/living challenge (exceptionally hard and atypical) such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, speech delays, ADHD, Autism… it can be many things.
This label, like most labels, provides a common language or understanding.
However, 🤔 what troubles me about it is:
1) giftedness is seen as the positive exceptionality (and as parents of gifted kids, we know all too well it is not all sunshine and lolly pops for our highly sensitive kids but there is no diagnosis/acknowledgment for the challenges of the emotional turmoil and sensory repercussions of ‘just being gifted‘)
2) it sees other exceptionalities as solely negative (when there are strengths we should also focus on as well and these aspects of their identity are as much a part of our kids as their giftedness. We often look at deficits first but what if we look at strengths?)
I think the truth is that if you’re gifted, you’re 2E. 😲 Yup.
All those gifted characteristics that make it hard to fit into the norm, that make anxiety, depression and existential crisis common, that make life that little bit more challenging make you 2E.
Being ‘just gifted’ isn’t a thing. You can’t be gifted and not be intense, highly sensitive, (insert all the characteristics we talked about last week in here!) because that’s what makes gifted, gifted.
But we’ve needed 2E to advocate for all of those kids that have been overshadowed by their ‘deficit’ such that the grown-ups around them have struggled to see the giftedness. 😓
We’ve needed 2E so that we have a language that says, I experience the world in an exceptional, gifted, way and yes, ADHD, dysgraphia, anxiety, speech challenges, autism is another part of my identity.
First, I discovered my kids were gifted and then much later I realised one of my children was 2E and then possibly both (we’re still figuring that out 😧 – giftedness and autism are feeling like two sides of the same coin right now– it’s a journey, right?! and a whole other blog!).
I’ve talked about my middle child’s severe speech impairment, which has most definitely been a challenge, and at first, I didn’t realise that this would be considered 2E, but 2E encompasses many and all learning/life challenges and disabilities.
However, the nuance is that my child has received a great gift from her speech challenge.
She had to learn how to talk and she had to practice a lot!
In doing that she developed a growth mindset and we’ve seen her apply this resilience and determination to learning all sorts of things, it’s now ingrained in her character and will serve her well in life. It’s a part of her identity.
Many other ‘deficits’ have strengths too. 💪
The world is also, slowly, shifting to understand and appreciate the strengths and what folk on the autism spectrum can uniquely offer with some forward-thinking companies seeking to work with and understand their autistic employees because they know how valuable they are. Their unique perspective of the world is valuable, rare and a huge strength.
It is important that 2E kids (and all gifted kids) are advocated for and understood.
They need the understanding to support their challenges (be that from giftedness or their learning/life challenge or disability) while getting the opportunities to thrive and shine (expanding the strengths from their giftedness and from their ‘deficit’) so that the world can benefit from the unique perspective of these would-be happy, exceptional, grown-ups.
Giftedness is complicated and when you throw other complications into the mix, life and parenting can be very challenging, but you are not alone.
There is an immense sense of inner calm that comes from understanding yourself and/or your children (because they are mirrors of us, maybe more about that next week?!).
Maybe you’d like to share your journey or thoughts in our Facebook Group.