What does twice-exceptional look like?
As a young child, I was extremely quiet, could polish whole chapter books off in a day, and spent my young years compiling 20 journals in which I religiously recorded my thoughts and experiences. At the very mature age of 10, I would utilize post-it notes stuck to my desk lampshade in order to record all of the ideas that I would get, most often and inconveniently at bed-time, where I found it difficult to turn off my brain. These post it notes served as a holding bin and quite literally demonstrated the phrase ‘Stick a pin in it.’ I was “different’ than my peers, usually finding certain topics so interesting that I would become a little expert on them. By the age of eight, I adored my babysitter’s high school text books that she brought over to complete her homework. Time with adults was my safe space, as they never commented or made fun of my advanced vocabulary.
What many did not realize is that I also spent the better parts of second, third, and fourth grade unable to complete any of my school work. I have distinct memories for the duration of these years, of wondering why, yet again, I could not get my work done like the other kids who got to go out to recess. I, instead, would be spending another recess with my never-ending list of unfinished assignments. Although I have memories of making patterns out of the numbers on the paper or creating storylines for the pictures on the work page, I did not connect these things to not getting my work done. And for a long time, no one helped me connect those dots. I was left to wonder how the other kids did it, because I assumed they also made patterns and created storylines and managed to get their work done. It didn’t cross my mind that they simply focused. Some might say I was “bored.” Maybe, but that answer was too simple. In retrospect knowing what I know now, I realize that my brain was breaking up a task that felt tedious. In a way, by stopping throughout the worksheet to do something my brain enjoyed, I was breaking up the overwhelm and providing myself with a little “preferred activity” reward.
I so desperately wanted to know what the other kids got that I just didn’t. I could not, for the life of me, understand why I struggled to keep things organized, even with the best of intentions. I probably more resembled a charming, but unorganized professor, with my stack of books by my bed, some having been read multiple times. It wasn’t until the middle of my fourth grade year, that a teacher finally took action and informed my parents that I had a list of about 20 unfinished assignments. It was the first my parents had heard of it. I had always maintained A’s. I suppose I was graded on the fact that I could read many grade levels ahead of my age or that writing was something that I could almost feel. I loved writing so much and reveled in using newly noticed author’s craft from texts I had read. Playing with the syntax of a sentence was like a game for me and I loved to try a sentence several different ways just to see how it could change the impact of the words. Yes, at the age of nine. I also believe it was because I was quiet. At all costs, I avoided getting my name on the board. But finally, someone was willing to reflect these challenges in my grades. My parents worked with the teacher to immediately create a system, walked beside me as I completed unfinished work, and presented me with an incentive which forever helped to establish the habits that led to being a doctoral student with a 4.0. Most important, I don’t remember being in trouble. My parents did NOT let me know how disappointed they felt, even though I am sure they felt that and so much more… worry, confusion, frustration, upset they didn’t know earlier.
This was not the end of challenges for me. It created a platform and I grew. But I still struggled through my jr. high years to figure it out and many times learned the hard way. I had to become aware of the things that were difficult for me and I found ways to compensate.
Have compassion for our littles that are gifted and the unique challenges they face. The asynchronous development. The ones who simply don’t understand why their vocabulary of a 20-year-old does not fit inside the frontal filter of a seven-year old. They are our future thinkers, inventors, creators, yet they are one of our most underserved and misunderstood populations. They will not work for companies; they will create companies. They will not follow ideas; they will create ideas and advocate. It is not for us to decide a child’s future but to help them reach their potential. To walk alongside them and to help them connect the dots in the unique way that works for them. And by the way…these characteristics are now my superpowers. I still adore and swear by post-it notes and seek to advocate for our twice-exceptional youth!
If you would like some guidance for your twice-exceptional child, I would love to walk alongside you and bring my expertise to help! Check out my 1:1 coaching sessions where I customize strategies to help you meet the needs of your family at http://www.deannawestedt.com.