Gifted children are, by their very nature, asynchronous.
Twice-exceptional (2E) children are even more out-of-sync. These children are both gifted and learning disabled. These learning challenges can include anything from anxiety to autism to dyslexia and more. Because the disabilities are so varied, this population is diverse and all-too-often misunderstood.
Many twice-exceptional children are able to use their strengths to mask their weaknesses. For many others, weaknesses hide their strengths.
They say if you’ve met one 2E kid, you’ve met one 2E kid.
I’m the parent of one of those 2E kids and today I’m sharing what twice-exceptional looks like in our world.
What Twice-Exceptional Looks Like in Our World (and 5 Things that Help!)
Our 8-year-old son is twice-exceptional. He is profoundly gifted and he struggles with sensory processing disorder (SPD), anxiety, and attentional concerns.
I often wonder which came first: the SPD or the anxiety. They are so muddled together and influenced by one other that it is tough to discern. In our world, SPD and anxiety are married. They ebb and flow in tandem. When one spikes, the other follows suit, making life tough over here. And then we will go through long lulls, during which we cross our fingers that this time the lull is permanent. Alas, that has yet to happen over here.
So, what does asynchronous development with a dash of 2E look like in our world? Well, the answer varies by the day, but here are some examples from over the years:
- A toddler with epic tantrums because he could not verbally express his thoughts and fears in a way that the adults could understand.
- A 2-year-old with significant stuttering for over a year; his thoughts were so much faster than his speech during that time.
- A dinosaur-obsessed 2-year-old who cannot sleep at night because he’s afraid that the human race will suffer mass extinction just like the dinosaurs.
- A 2-year-old terrified of death and its permanence. This fear of death carried over to a number of areas: fear of himself and others being hurt or injured, leading to intense fears and extreme caution.
- A 3-year-old who wants to know how the very first person came to the world and repeatedly asks, “Why are we here??”
- A 4-year-old who is fascinated by weather and yet terrified of weather events, such as lightning strikes, tornadoes, and tsunamis because he has read about them.
- A 4-year-old obsessed with space and yet terrified of comets, meteors, and the sun burning out.
- Difficulty with unknown noises, hand dryers, automatic toilets, lawn mowers, airplanes, thunderstorms, hair clippers, dental visits, etc. for years.
- A 5-year-old who is both interested in and terrified of diseases and asks, “How did the first disease get in the world?”
- A child who was terrified of television until the age of 6 because the themes and sounds were just too much for his little body to handle.
- A 6-year-old who annoys everyone while watching television because he points out every logical impossibility.
- A 7-year-old who is afraid that God will wipe the earth clean because of how selfish the human race has become…
… and so much more! One thing is for sure: there is rarely a dull moment over here!
5 Things That Have Helped
I’m not claiming to have all the answers, as I’m right there in the thick of it with you all. For those in the throes, I am happy to share five things that have helped.
- Asking for, and accepting, help-
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. When SPD and anxiety flare up in our home, we fight from all sides. We call up our occupational therapist and meet with a counselor who has an understanding of gifted learners. We simplify and leave more space, cross our fingers and toes, and ride the wave until we finally find that lull. I can say this: once you’ve been doing this a while, you accrue successes. When the spikes hit, you know you will all get through it… because you’ve done it before! Also, be sure to grow a support network. It helps when you are surrounded by people who understand you.
- Fresh air and movement-
I would argue that everyone is happier when they are allowed ample fresh air and movement, but these things are absolutely essential for twice-exceptional children. My son is his happiest, his most at ease, his best when he is given plenty of space to explore outside and move until his heart is content.
I find that we have the most 2E-related challenges when our schedules are too full. Whenever things get out of hand, we cut back on obligations. We leave more margin and everyone feels better.
- Space to be creative
My son thrives when he is given the opportunity to create. Creating is a stress-reducer for him, and this is important.
I have read everything I can get my hands on about giftedness and twice-exceptional learners. This has helped me to better understand and to accept my son. He is a compassionate, kind, sensitive, creative, and funny little fellow. He has many strengths… and many weaknesses. Don’t we all? I am thankful for this journey he has taken us on. Children are our wisest teachers.
Do you have an asynchronous gifted child?
Here are some posts I’ve written about our journey:
Does your child struggle with sensory processing disorder (SPD)?
Please know you are not alone! Here are some posts about our experience:
Does your child battle anxiety and BIG worries?
Well, we do too! Here are some stories from our family:
What twice-exceptional looks like in your world? Share here! Let’s continue the conversation and learn from each other.
This post has been part of the April 2016 Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop Gifted 2E Kids: What Makes Them Twice-Exceptional. Please click the image below to read other posts in this series.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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