Thursday, March 13, 2014


"Twice exceptional."  This relatively-new educational term sounds like a description of something with which we're well acquainted.

I'd love to link to the "Mind Over Manners" article by Mrs. Rivka Schonfeld (published in the Friday, March 7, 2014 edition of the Jewish Press) in which I read about 2e, but it's almost impossible to find and link to an article on the Jewish Press website.  So, for lack of a better alternative, I'll just have to quote, paraphrase, and/or summarize.

" . . . twice exceptional children are gifted intellectually, and also can have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Aspergers Syndrome, Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), or dyslexia.

Many times, children who are twice exceptional can become problem students . . . " Mrs. Schonfeld mentions that Einstein "exhibited behavioral issues, was a terrible speller, and had trouble verbally expressing himself.  In many subjects, his report card grades were close to failing.

. . .

Research has also established that children who are 2e are the most underserved populations in the school system.  Most of the time, children who are twice exceptional go through school without recognition of their considerable talents.  Instead, they enter adult life without the necessary skills to compensate for their learning disabilities, Therefore, may of these children develop low self-esteem and believe that they are simply stupid and 'not good at school.'  The shocking news is that the U.S. Department of Education estimates that 2%-5% of all students are both gifted intellectually and suffer from some form of learning disability."

". . . children who are 2e are the most underserved populations in the school system."  We can tell you all about that.  Our son went through three different special education placements and one year in the mainstream before we finally fought for and received authorization to place him in a state-[under]funded private special education school.  The problem was that the New York City public school system had no idea how to educate a child who had both special needs and above-average intelligence, and was simply letting our son rot intellectually (by, for example, placing him in a special-ed. class in which the teacher saw no need to have him write book reports even though he was in fifth grade).
. . .

What teachers can do:
Look for discrepancies:  . . . between a child's 'potential' and his actual work."

. . .

"Differentiate instruction:"
Good luck with that, in a class with more than 20 students.  One of the reasons why mainstreaming didn't work for our son was that the teacher, though well-meaning and even willing to work with our son before the start of the school day, simply didn't have enough time to give our son the extra help that he needed.

"Raise awareness:"

. . .

"What parents can do:
Don't ignore the giftedness while trying to fix the disabilities:. . . . Because they are gifted, they will get depressed if they do not learn anything new."  We read to our son until he was in about fifth grade because he was delayed in learning to read and we were concerned that he would be bored by books that he was capable of reading by himself.

"Don't ignore the disabilities while trying to feed the giftedness:"
The short version:  Giftedness without skills is just frustrating.

"Trust you child:"
If she says she can't do something, find another way.

If anyone had told me, when our son was 10 and having a tough time learning the multiplication tables, that at 20, he'd be a physics major, I would have thought they were nuts.  On the other hand, it isn't every kid who can use the word "malfunctioned" correctly at about the age of 5 (which was our first clue that our son had an interesting brain in there somewhere), or who can tell his evaluator, at the age of 6 or 7, that he wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up, or whose favorite exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, when he's still in elementary school, is a film about plate tectonics.  So all I can say about this article is been there, know that.


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