If you hang out in homeschool circles at all, you have likely heard the term "twice exceptional" or "2e", but do you know what it means? In its most basic form, 2e refers to gifted children who have some kind of disability. The disability can be a learning disability (and it often is), but it can really be any kind of learning challenge. In fact, I often become frustrated when I see twice exceptionality associated *only* with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. That definition is way too narrow. A 2e child is one whose giftedness is further complicated (I would say "enhanced", but I really want to keep it real here, and parents of 2e kids are nothing if not realistic) by another challenge. I say another challenge because, make no mistake, giftedness is a challenge in and of itself.
There are several common "exceptionalities" in 2e kids:
- Aspergers/High-Functioning Autism
- APD/CAPD (Auditory Processing)
- Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia
- Sensory Integration Issues
- ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Each of these "Alphabet-Soupisms" presents special difficulties for a parent. When the symptoms of one or more of these disorders are conflated with the evidence of giftedness, though, it can be very difficult for parents to begin teasing out what's what. That's one of the things that makes homeschooling a gifted child an extra blessing - it's not a worry that has to consume your day.
Without getting too far off track, we're still not entirely sure what our 2e son has. He was diagnosed with ADHD at 7 by his therapist. At 9, his psychiatrist did in-office testing that said he did not have ADHD. His therapist still begs to differ based on behavioral observation. After an audiology workup, we were referred for a complete CAPD workup. I'm in the paperwork phase of that now. What everyone does agree on is that he has OCD. He does take medication for that, but only because he has intrusive thoughts that don't allow him to sleep at night. How much of this stuff makes schooling him more difficult? I'm not sure. I do know that homeschooling him is a major challenge. I definitely know that traditional school would, for him, be a total disaster.
Resources for Homeschooling 2e Kids
Without a doubt, Hoagies Gifted Education site is the best place to go for any resources on homeschooling gifted kids. Their page on homeschooling 2e kids is no exception. If you have a question about a particular exceptionality, this is the place to go. You can also sign up for the 2e newsletter - it's a great resource.
While Hoagies is the clearinghouse for information on all things gifted, Uniquely Gifted is the repository for information on all things 2e. There are so many great articles on this site that I am frustrated that I can't link them all. If this is a topic that interests you at all, it's a site well worth your time.
Davidson Gifted is a great website about gifted kids in general, and it has a good introductory article on the issue of twice exceptionalism.
So How Do You Homeschool 'em?
Trick question! You homeschool your twice exceptional munchkin just like you homeschool all your other children - in a completely individualistic way! Seriously, these gifted children more than any others require patience and workarounds. Don't expect what you're doing to work right the first time, and don't necessarily expect what worked today to work tomorrow. I know how frustrating that sounds - and it is.
What really helps me, though, is constantly reminding myself that whatever I am doing at home with my son is SO MUCH BETTER than what he would be doing at school. Because of my son's OCD, I don't always know why he insists on doing things a certain way - and that's okay. Unfortunately, my Type A personality does not mesh very well with his OCD. Combine my gifted with his gifted, and it's pretty much a firestorm around here some days. Again, though, that's okay. Be realistic. On any given day in our homeschool, we do more substantive schoolwork than they do in the public school down the street in a week. How do I know this? Because I'm friends with the moms whose kids go to that school. Because my kids take the same standardized tests.
Every day you need to remind yourself that your child is not like all the other kids, so you can't expect him to act or learn like all the other kids. You can't treat him like all the other kids. Does that mean you don't have rules, expectations, and consequences? Of course not. But you have to be realistic. Anything else will just have you beating your head against a wall and your 2e child wondering what he is doing wrong and, possibly, beginning to hate school. Why do we homeschool if not to instill a love of school in our kids?
This is one topic near and dear to my heart, and it is one with which I struggle daily. However, my space here is limited. If you have a 2e child, explore some of the links above, feel free to email me, and don't forget to thank God for entrusting your extra-special blessing to you!
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