Every child is exceptional in their own way. But the term “twice-exceptional kids” focuses on children who are both gifted and challenged.
What does that mean, exactly? If your child excels in school but tends to learn differently than the majority or even has a learning disability, they’re considered a “2E” kid.
They’re exceptional in two ways, which makes them incredibly unique. Unfortunately, this distinction also tends to bring up a lot of myths and stereotypes from people who don’t fully understand what being 2E really means.
So, how can you address the needs of your twice-exceptional child while avoiding the stereotypes?
Let Them Shine and Help Their Struggles
Perhaps your child is a math whiz, rattling off numbers and solving problems in a matter of minutes. But they might have a hard time with focusing or when under pressure. So instead of seeing their abilities, it’s easier to focus on their disabilities. This is common with kids who deal with chronic issues like ADHD.
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to learn where your child shines. And then, encourage them in those areas. At the same time, it’s also essential to learn about their struggles, so you can help and support them. One of the best ways to do that is to talk to their teachers about how they can help.
When you’re able to educate your child’s teachers, they can finally see just what your child has to offer, instead of looking at them as just an average student or a student with learning disabilities.
Play to Their Strengths
It’s human nature to want to be the best. That’s especially true when it comes to our children. So it’s natural for parents to want to focus more on their child’s weaknesses and how to help them improve. While encouragement and support are crucial (see above), it shouldn’t be your main focus.
Your child’s gifts and challenges are on an even playing field. One shouldn’t be more important than another.
Talk with your child’s school about any programs they offer that have individualized learning plans. Sometimes, that’s all it takes for a twice-exceptional child to excel and for their weaknesses to become less of a hindrance. But don’t spend all your time focusing on “fixing” those weaknesses either. The more you encourage their gifts, the better.
Make Learning Accommodations for Them
Students with learning challenges can absolutely be in gifted programs and accelerated classes. Unfortunately, there are plenty of assumptions that they wouldn’t be able to keep up in such programs because of their learning differences.
Keep this in mind: If your child is gifted, they do have the ability to learn and comprehend the things being taught in accelerated programs. They might just need accommodations to learn those things in their own way. That might mean taking more time, hearing things out loud, or working away from others.
If there is an accelerated program at your child’s school, talk to the teachers about possible accommodations for your gifted student. You can work together to support and encourage their gifts by putting them in the classes they should be in.
Learn As Much As You Can
As noted at the outset, 2E kids are incredibly unique. But they might not have the social cues most other children do. They may get frustrated with other children their age who don’t comprehend things as quickly. Or they might like more mature conversations with adults, rather than their peers. There are a lot of variables.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do is to learn as much as possible about your child’s gifts and their challenges. If they’re enrolled in school, talk to their teachers. Working together with your child’s school can make things easier for them and will allow them to truly shine and share their gifts in an environment that works for their learning style.