First, let's define who is identified as "2e" or "Twice exceptional".
The National Education Association (www.nea.org) states that the “Identification of twice-exceptional students is complicated. It requires both an awareness of the unique relationship between the two areas of exceptionality as well as the knowledge and capability to employ assessment and identification procedures that provide alternate vantage points for viewing both giftedness and disability. Sometimes the disability may be hidden (e.g., ADHD, learning disability, Asperger Syndrome), which complicates the assessment and identification process.”
My son was first identified as having special needs through testing in the school district – he received special education for his first three years by being able to attend special education preschool and having an IEP in Kindergarten. It was when he was having his IEP renewed that the psychologist completed IQ testing and shared with us that he most definitely qualified for gifted and talented; but no longer qualified for an IEP because his needs weren’t negatively impacting his academics. I didn’t like him not having an IEP – I felt that he wouldn’t get noticed and that if he had difficulties they would be lumped into behavior issues; rather than concerns to look at.
So, first grade came and went with relatively little frustration. But then, this school year came. He was in second grade without his best friend for the first time in his career. His best friend is my son’s gauge on how to behave, how to react, and someone to go to or to help him when he needed help. I dismissed my concerns in September and October when my son’s teacher didn’t know that Ethan was part of GT; and when she didn’t (my perception) believe me that my son could/would react physically if he didn’t know how to use his words. My son continually shared with me his frustration about how bored he was in school. Fast forward to early 2017, I talk to my son about going to Gateway – our district’s school for gifted and talented kids. He was really excited to go and I was excited for him to have a project-based learning opportunity; a chance to build relationships with other kids that had similar giftings. But, our recommended learning environment came back to be our neighborhood school, and not Gateway. I was disappointed. So, so disappointed and frustrated. Will my son, never be seen the way that I see him? That despite the quirks and special needs, that he is the brightest kid I have ever met? Will the educators not see that most kindergartners don’t take about tap roots, or that second graders don’t normally know about geology, paleontology, engineering, and architecture? Will I be the only one that sees the tremendous potential that my son has? These were some of the concerns and thoughts that I was having. So, I reached out to my friends on Facebook and was really encouraged to reach out to my son’s principal. It took me a few weeks to actually reach out, but I did. And this morning, I spoke with my son’s principal. He listened to my concerns and frustrations, and we have a game plan for helping him not to be so frustrated next year. The principal is going to look into a social/emotional group for my son at school, talk to both his 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, and partner with me to help him have a better 3rd grade. At the same time, we’re going to work together to help build any deficits that he may have (such as hand-writing) and work together to challenge my son academically, as well.
Sometimes, I really hate that my son has special needs. Life with his older sister (who has typical neurodevelopment) is easy and carefree. Everyone can see her potential and loves her spunky personality and leadership. But not everyone can see that with my son. He’s quirky, a little bit socially awkward, and requires tasks to be broken down into the tiniest steps so that he can understand them. And, if you take the time to do that you will unlock one of the most unique, humorous, and amazing kids that you have ever met. Having a 2e student has taught me to be a more patient person, a better teacher, how to understand automatic processes, and has fostered the courage in me to advocate for the needs of my kiddo.
“Beyond just the numbers, there are other reasons why educators need to know about twice-exceptional students. They represent a potential national resource whose future contributions to society are largely contingent upon offering them appropriate educational experiences. Without appropriate education and services, their discoveries, innovations, breakthroughs, leadership, and other gifts to American society go unrealized.”