Before we begin
On a personal note, I absolutely love working with 2e, twice-exceptional kids. I often say, “the more complex the kid, the better”, because 2e kids are truly the most interesting people I know. They tend to be intellectually deep, incredibly creative, emotionally intense, quirky, and when they get their educational needs met, they do really cool things as adults. Many of the people who “change the world” were twice-exceptional kids. They’re just super cool people, and too many of them fall through the cracks because they are misunderstood.
Adults don’t always understand their strengths and/or challenges. In fact, strengths and challenges often mask each other. Consequently, rather than figuring out what these kids need to thrive, they are often shamed with ignorant messages like, “you’re lazy”, “you don’t try hard enough”, “you don’t care enough about school”, “you just need to be more disciplined and motivated”. These shame comments don’t help, they hurt, and many of these kids internalize the messages and begin to feel like they are not enough, that they are stupid, that they are failures, or that they are broken.
I happen to see these kids as the most important game-changers for creatively solving the world’s future problems, and it’s particularly important to society as a whole that these kids get the education they need. Now let’s dive in…
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What is 2e or Twice Exceptional?
Generally speaking, twice exceptional, or 2e students, are both intellectually gifted & talented and learning disabled. In the education world, giftedness and learning disabilities are both considered “exceptionalities”, so the term “twice-exceptional” refers to a student with exceptionalities on both sides of the proverbial bell curve. In a nutshell, if you have a child who you know is smart/bright, but who struggles to show it, they may be 2e. About 5% of kids are 2e.
The ‘2e’ abbreviation – People use the abbreviation “2e” for simplicity. It’s used interchangeably with the term “twice-exceptional”.
Multi-exceptional – Many professionals, myself included, prefer the term “multi-exceptional” because of how complex these kids are. Labels like 2e can be misleading because there is often a lot more that needs to be considered when planning to meet the complex educational needs of these kids. For example, it’s not uncommon to have an intellectually gifted child who has also been diagnosed with ADHD, ASD, processing disorders, and an emotional disorder. Unfortunately, teachers rarely know the full story, and even if they do, they are not always given the time, training or resources they need in order to meet the needs of these kids.
Asynchrony – The #1 key concept to help understand 2e learners is asynchrony, aka dyssynchrony. 2E kids tend to develop quite “asynchronously”. They are “all over the place” in terms of grade level ability or age appropriate development. For example, you might have a 6th grader who reads at the 12th-grade level, has the fine-motor handwriting of a 1st grader, writes papers like a 3rd grader, understands math concepts at an 9th-grade level, calculates math facts at a 4th-grade level, can hold remarkably deep conversations with adults, and has temper tantrums like a 3-year-old. You get the picture, the developmental levels of 2e kids aren’t “in sync”. The discrepancies between “potential” and “output” causes many problems.
I read a lot of neuropsychologist reports and it’s not at all uncommon to see a 2e child in the superior range for some metrics and in impaired range for others. For example, a 2e child may be at the 98th %ile for verbal ability, but the 2nd %ile for processing speed. As you can imagine, these discrepancies cause a lot of misunderstandings.
I like to think of asynchrony like an old stereo EQ (see below). Imagine that each slider represents one developmental area. Perhaps one slider represents math, writing, reading, social, emotional, visual-spatial (of course you could break it down into smaller sub-skills if you wanted to). Sliding it up indicates greater ability and down indicates less ability as compared to most peers of a similar age. The image below could describe someone who was “on grade level” since the different domains are all at the same level, they are in sync. Standardized tests for such a child would show average grade level scores (they might be labeled “proficient” on tests). Now imagine an eq for a 2e child where the sliders were all over the place, some average, some very high, some very low. This would represent asynchronous development.
Neuro-typical – When discussing 2e kids, it’s good to be familiar with the term “neurotypical” (a word commonly used in ASD circles, originally used to refer to non-ASD people). This word refers to kids who experience “neurologically typical” development cognitively, socially, emotionally. For example, it might be considered neurotypical to learn multiplication tables in 3rd grade or to be able to write a good research paper by high school. Some would argue that neurotypicals compose 80% of kids in the “middle” of the bell curve. 2e kids are, by their very nature, not neurotypical. I sometimes use the term neuroatypical to refer to 2e kids or other kids who are outside-the-box learners.
Bell curve – Bell curves can be useful when used properly, but the metaphor of the bell curve can cause a lot of misunderstanding. I want to clarify how I think of it so you can have a better understanding to help your kids. The bell curve below is called the “normal bell curve” and the world normally carries a lot of baggage. The problem is that if there are “normal” people than there are “abnormal” people, and that frame can carry a lot of hurtful judgment. I have seen way too many kids who feel like they are broken, who feel like there is something wrong with them, and those feelings can cause a lot of trauma. I wanted to mention this because it’s important that we are careful about the messages we send.
3-d Bell Curve – I think of the normal bell curve as being limited and one-dimensional. In other words, it doesn’t give me nearly enough information about the complexities that make up students. These are human beings with incredibly complex and rich personalities and learning needs. Therefore, I like to think of these metrics as parts of 3-d bells, with countless interrelated qualities. Imagine that you could look at this bell from hundreds of angles to get perspective on various relevant aspects of these kids. It’s so much more interesting and useful.
Identification: How do I know if my child is 2E or Twice Exceptional?
It’s critical for parents and teachers to have clarity regarding their Twice Exceptional students because a failure to understand them can have devastating effects. Also, as stated above, adults who don’t understand 2e often use shaming words that are damaging, sending misinformed messages that these kids are lazy, don’t care about school or don’t try hard enough.
Testing for intelligence and learning disabilities – 2e students are “smart but struggling”, so if this describes your child, you should explore this until you feel clear about what’s going on. Generally, parents have a gut feeling about this sort of thing, but many families find clarity through getting professional testing done by a neuropsychologist or other diagnostician who tests for giftedness and learning problems. Schools may also provide testing in order to see if they will offer services.
When parents ask me to refer to someone for testing, the most important factor I consider is how well the diagnostician consults with a family after testing. For example, my favorite neuoropsychologist in Colorado spends a great deal of time with families afterwards so they leave with all of their questions thoroughly answered. I’ve seen too many families come to me with an overwhelming 10-page report that they don’t even know how to read. What good is paying for testing when you don’t understand the results?
Common tests you can research – WISC IV, WAIS III, Stanford Binet, Woodcock-Johnson, DAS, UNIT, Ravens Progressive Matrices, NNAT, K-TEA/NU.
Discrepancies – The difference between what a child should be able to do and their actual execution causes a great deal of problems for these kids. Adults often say things like, “he’s got so much potential, I don’t know why he doesn’t try harder?!?!”. These kids are trying, but it’s often masked. These kids are working very hard using their strengths, abstract reasoning abilities, and intelligence to compensate for their weaknesses, so they are often misunderstood. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true, their challenges can mask their gifts.
Common Learning Disabilities, Differences or Challenges
Don’t let the stigma of the word “disabled” (dis-able) scare you, because what’s most important is that you know the truth about your child’s abilities and needs. Even when there is no formal diagnosis, parents often have an intuition about their child’s “gifts” and “disabilities.” Here are some common differences to look out for:
- Dysgraphia – writing disability
- Dyscalculia – math disability
- Processing disorders (sensory – visual, auditory, CAPD)
- ASD, Aspergers, Autism
- Dyspraxia, Sensory integration, fine motor problems
- Dysphasia – problems understanding language
- Speech & language
- ADHD, attentional, executive function
- TBI Traumatic Brain Injury
- Emotional disorders, mood disorders, depression, bipolar, anxiety, OCD, etc.
- Physical disabilities
Types of Gifts to consider
It does not have to be “book smarts,” there are many ways a child can be gifted:
- IQ, GT is often thought of as 130+, 160+ is often considered profoundly gifted
- Academically – math, science, language arts, etc.
- Artistically – art, music, dance, etc.
- Kinesthetically, Athletically
- Verbal ability
- Problem-solving ability, original, unique ideas
- Abstract thinking, flexible thinking, highly creative, insightful
- Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences: musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, linguistic, naturalistic, visual-spatial, bodily/kinesthetic
- Asks unusually deep questions, High-level thinking
- Intuitive or spiritual, “indigo kids”
- Unusually observant in strength areas, learns very quickly in strength areas
- Can communicate in a very mature way (sometimes being incredibly immature at other times)
- Enjoys intellectual challenge
- Advanced sense of humor
- Remembers a lot of details easily
- Crave learning and intellectual stimulation
What are common challenges facing 2e learners
Here’s a list of common problems these leaners face. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but should adequately shed some light on the issue.
- They fall through the cracks, don’t get their needs met, waste years of their adult lives “finding themselves”
- People who don’t understand 2E learners often use ignorant statements like this: “He’s just being lazy”, “She’s not trying her best”, “He doesn’t care enough about school”, “What a shame, she’s got so much potential”, “He needs to be more motivated and disciplined.”
- Compensatory strategies that these kids use can mask the gifts or the legitimate learning differences/disabilities (“masking” can even lead to NOT being diagnosed)
- Discrepancies between strengths and challenge areas can negatively affect how these kids are perceived
- Low grades can mask true ability
- Misperceived as not “gifted enough” for GT services and not “struggling enough” for SPED services, therefore do not get the support they need
- Spend a ton of time and energy to process and do work as compared with peers and often get lower grades regardless of effort
- Schools don’t keep up with the research on 2e and don’t train teachers adequately to serve them
- These kids are often bored, they learn fast and when a school doesn’t accelerate curriculum, these kids disengage
- They can be sick of things that feel like pointless busywork and refuse to do homework
- They often thrive with different aged peers but are kept with same-age peers because of “grade level”
- Can’t take advanced class because they are “underachieving”, causing more boredom and resistance
- Pull out programs may not be adequate
- Pullouts may make them feel different since they are being pulled out of class (middle schoolers hate to look different)
- Sometimes kids in pullout programs still have to make up “missed” work
- Sometimes there are no accommodations whatsoever, often when there has been no identification or while they are going through an RTI process that drags out
- Processing information at incredibly fast speeds but output ability is incredibly slow
- Not using accommodations
- Accommodations not articulated meaningfully to make a difference for the student
- Teachers unaware of accommodations or disregard them
- Teachers not adequately trained to differentiate for all learners
- 2e learners feeling broken or like something is wrong with them
- 2e learners NOT having opportunities to build upon their strengths / too much emphasis on weaknesses (strength-based education)
- Never tested at all
- Overexcitabilities, sensory, emotional (see Dabrowski)
- Have to “do what everyone else does” even though it isn’t working for them
- Deficits can shadow gifts: often, there is a lot of emphasis on how they are NOT performing, they can’t shine,
- Diagnosis – as you can imagine, these kids can be difficult to diagnose. When kids take tests, many factors can influence the results in both directions, including processing, compensation, intuition. Under-diagnosis, over-diagnosis, misdiagnosis, no diagnosis
- They can learn to resent school and learning particularly after middle school begins.
- May not “look” gifted
- Standardized test problems
- The can internalize shame and feel bad about themselves
- They don’t know the value of their strengths
- They don’t develop gifts/talents/strengths
- They don’t feel capable
- Don’t know how to advocate for themselves, how to articulate what they need
How can parents and teachers support and empower 2e learners
- Use education (and life experiences) to build upon their strengths, gifts, talents, interests, passions
- Don’t put too much emphasis working on weaknesses. There’s a time and a place to do this, but it should be done mindfully.
- Create project based lessons based on interests, that give students ownership and choice in their learning
- Use experiential learning experiences
- Use authentic forms of assessment
- Get rid of assessments that do not measure what we are looking for
- Get rid of pointless busywork
- Rethink homework all together and only give homework when there is a real purpose
- Understand what the research says about the value of homework (hint: it’s not nearly as valuable as you might think and interferes with much needed family, social and play time)
- Alternate product possibilities based on student choice, don’t just do tests and papers for assessment
- Provide alternate options for how kids process knowledge
- Support social and emotional needs
- Coach EF skills, like how to chunk studying, how to use a planner, organize, etc..
- Teach HOW to learn, not just what to learn
- Build independence
- Differentiate: Scaffold the curriculum. Accelerate curriculum to keep pace with learning. Compress curriculum,
- Teach self-care
- Catch em’ being good, celebrate even small successes
- Provide kids with great role models, older peers who can guide them
- Make sure that documented accommodations actually work! They should be carefully and thoughtfully articulated so they effectively communicate to teachers what is needed. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen accommodations that are unclear and thus meaningless. Also, the older kids get, the less their teachers know about their accommodations, so advocacy is critical.
- Expose them to a diverse range of experiences to expose them to many areas where passions may develop
- Plan experiences that allow them to explore their curiosities
- Allow them to use their imaginations regularly to explore learning
- Dynamic assessment, performance assessment
- Ideas for teachers and parents they can post
- Use adequate wait time. Be patient and let them process their thoughts instead of expecting quick responses.
- Give honest compliments and praise… Often.
- Actively listen to your children: Ask “what do you think? Why, why, why?” Really listen.
- Design creatively differentiated curriculum
- Interdisciplinary learning experiences teaching holistic approaches
- Make learning RELEVANT, meaningful, make it matter, give them experiences they care about.
- Make clear expectations, in writing so it’s concrete and not abstract.
- Learn to coregulate emotionally
- Challenging work
- Don’t focus too much on memorizing facts, worry about teaching how to think
- Reconsider what “achievement” means
- Educating teachers and parents about 2e
- Advocacy, stick up for these kids (and all kids of course)
- Do your own deep, inner work. The more you take care of you, the more you can support your child
- Know your legal rights, make sure your child is properly identified and that they have effective documentation to support their needs. This may include ALPs ILPs IEPs RTI 504 Documentation (see IDEA)
Avoidance & Resistance
Another giant issue to consider is avoidance, and it deserves it’s own section here. It’s can be very difficult to help children when they seem unmotivated, when they avoid, when they are overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, withdrawn, push you away, and when they resist help. Their emotional overwhelm is so great that they have created many tools designed to avoid the perceived stress of dealing with these issues.
Be sensitive to these issues and consider a good coach or therapist to help deal with the underlying emotions so your child can learn to break through this avoidance and start to have more successes.
As you might have guessed, 2e kids often struggle with Executive Function. Often times, because they have trouble with “execution”, their grades do not reflect their abilities. Problems with EF/execution include problems with organization, time management, planning, prioritizing, focus, reflective thinking, emotional regulation, and more.
In my experience, processing issues cause seem to cause most of the misunderstandings. In other words, adults seem to confuse processing issues with some sort of willfulness, and this causes a lot of damage to students. When a student has trouble processing information, but the adult doesn’t know that this is going on under the surface, it can look like the student is not trying, isn’t paying attention, is being lazy, isn’t motivated, etc..
When giftedness is noticed and learning differences are not, adults often blame problems on laziness, not trying, low self-esteem, unmotivated rather than noticing how the disability affects the learner.
When the disability is acknowledged without noticing the giftedness, adults tend to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.
When unidentified, this is the grey area. Perhaps worst scenario of all, the most misunderstood of the 2e kids, they compensate “too well”, and the “two exceptionalities” hide one another.
Ideally, there is clarity regarding gifts and challenges so that we may design learning experiences that are appropriately challenging and supportive. Our educational culture is usually looking for easy ways to teach and measure, but kids are complex, and 2e kids are extraordinarily complex. We simply cannot rely on cookie-cutter curriculum to meet the diverse needs of these learners. There is no quick fix or magic bullet. Educating these kids requires a real investment in time and energy to creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences.
Freebie: 2e Twice-Exceptional Assessment Tool
Download and print my informal assessment below. It will help you gain a much better understanding of your child.
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2e ASSESSMENT tool
Great Links to 2e & Twice-Exceptional Resources
- 2e Newsletter is a great website/blog with tons of excellent free articles. It’s probably the best resource out there and I definitely recommend subscribing.
- SENG Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted – a classic site got GT families
- Hoagies Gifted Site is one of the best sites out there about gifted learners. It’s a classic.
- Bridges Academy is a well-known 2e school in Studio City, CA.
- Gifted Homeschoolers is a great site for homeschool families and they have an excellent 2e resource.
- The National Center for Learning Disabilities is the place to go to understand your rights as a parent of a 2e child.
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring educational services to children with disabilities. IDEA is good for parents and teachers to become familiar with.
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Parents and teachers, what’s up? I’m here to answer an important question for you. What is 2E? What is 2e? What is twice-exceptional? What is a twice-exceptional student? What is a twice-exceptional learner? What is a twice-exceptional kid? Let me start off by telling you that I am biased because my favorite students work with are twice-exceptional students. I just think they’re amazing and I think that their potential is absolutely incredible. And what I mean by that is that these are students that have some of the quirkiest, most creative, most interesting brains I’ve ever seen. I’m also biased because I happen to think that these are the kids that are going to make the most important impacts in terms of solving the world’s current and upcoming problems as they as they grow up. One of the problems that we have with kids is that they can slip through the cracks, which means that these kids with incredible potential, not only for them being able to contribute to their friends, families, and communities, but for them to be able to contribute on a global level. If these kids don’t get their needs met, if they are not seen for their strengths, if they fall through the cracks, they will not achieve their potential. Not only does that hurt them, but it quite literally affects the entire planet, in my opinion.
So anyway, what is 2E or twice-exceptional. A 2e student, or a 2e learner, or a 2e kid is somebody who has two exceptionalities. In the education world, giftedness is considered an exceptionality as are learning disabilities. So a 2e student is somebody who is, on the one hand, gifted and talented and on the other hand, has some sort of learning disability or learning challenged. So you put them together and you got two exceptionalities. Now, you’re probably thinking what if there are three exceptionalities, or 4 or 5, and that is a very valid question and that is called multi exceptionality and I prefer that word because human beings are extremely complex. Anyhow, and twice-exceptional kids are even more complex. I’ll get into that in just a minute. Real quick, the terms 2e and twice-exceptional are interchangeable. They both mean the exact same thing. Maybe 3 to 5% of all students are twice-exceptional.
The number one most important concept to understand when thinking about 2e or twice-exceptional kids is this concept called asynchrony. Our world, in this world of standardization and standardized tests, in the education world that so dependent on highly manufactured curriculum, in a world that’s so obsessed with collecting data in order to understand students. People don’t talk about asynchrony because we think of students as being these standardized beings that ‘should’ perform at certain levels depending on their age or grade. Don’t get me wrong, there are developmental tendencies. Most students tend to be at a certain level in Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, Speech, Language. etc at certain grade levels. So we tend to think of students as learning and developing synchronously at predictable developmental levels. However, many students and don’t develop synchronously. They don’t meet the standards at the exact same times. They’re either above or below grade level. Very few students are at grade level in all subjects. So really most students are fairly asynchronous anyway, but one of the characteristics of gifted and talented students, I’m not talking about 2e students yet, I’m just talking about your typical gifted and talented students. One of their characteristics is that they tend to develop asynchronously, anyhow, meaning that they’re not following the standards. So if you were to look at different metrics like Math, Science, Social Studies, Reading, Writing, you can even look at metrics like social skills, emotional skills metacognitive ability, musical talents, physical talent, you can look at any metrics you choose but gifted kids tend to be more all over the place. But your typical gifted student will be above grade average in most things typically.
Now, there’s a lot of nuance around types of gifted and talented students. In fact, George Betts talks about six different types, I’m not getting into that here, but typically you can think of your gifted students as being strong in multiple subject areas. Now, 2e student is what I would call ‘super asynchronous.’ They are very all over the place. They develop very asynchronously. They may be an 8th grader who is reading at college-level, writing at 3rd-grade level, maybe they’re in 10th-grade level in math, maybe there at the 6th-grade level for science. Maybe they’re extremely immature when it becomes too emotional handling things that don’t go their way, but extremely mature when it comes to having very very high-level conversations with adults about certain topics. Maybe these kids are extraordinarily off the charts talented in certain areas and their other areas were you just baffled and you’re saying “I don’t understand why this child is struggling so much in this particular thing.” So asynchrony is a key, key, key when understanding twice-exceptional kids. These kids are super asynchronous, they’re all over the place. There’s a term called neurotypical, a neurotypical is what you would consider your general typical learners. These kids that learn asynchronously, these twice-exceptional kids are neuroatypical, they don’t learn and think and feel typically, they’re all over the place. So if you’re to look at a bell curve in terms of different domains again, in terms of math science, social, emotional, etc and you were to look at it a bell curve in terms of any domain you wanted to examine, you would see that there are people in the middle of the bell curve. The outliers are where 2e kids fit. Be the very definition 2e kids are outliers or they are super outliers. They’re outliers in many different domains. How do you know if a student is twice-exceptional or not? The most important thing to know is that there’s a lot of misunderstanding around this. There’s a lot of over-diagnosis, underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, misunderstanding, and misinterpretation. So you have to be really careful when you’re looking at these things having said, that testing is a great way to do it. You can test for various learning disabilities, you can test for giftedness, etc. A neuropsych is someone who does a wide range of testing, so neuropsychologists do really deep intense tests so that they can get a really deep understanding of all the various aspects of a student. You can also try to figure out if your student is to 2e by listing to your gut. A lot of times parents and teachers know in their gut. “Hey, there’s something going on with this kid. I think they might be twice-exceptional.” So a lot of times that’s a great way to know. You probably just know. Now, you’re looking at gifts and you’re looking at challenges, and one of the biggest problems that 2e kids face is the discrepancies between their gifts and their challenges. If you have a student this often happens, where there have really incredible verbal ability. These are the kids who can have an adult conversation about a really deep topic in the adult is just going, “Holy cow, this kid is brilliant, and then they can’t turn in their homework week after week and they’re failing four out of six classes.” The discrepancy between executive function and verbal ability is so big that adults are often baffled. They’re saying, “I don’t understand why the student is failing. It doesn’t make sense to me. I know they’re smart. I know they’re bright. So why is this happening?” And then it gets very convoluted and then we tend to think, okay well this kid must not be trying hard enough. They must not be applying themselves, they must be lazy, they must not care about school, and all these different stories that are based on misunderstanding. So that’s one of the biggest challenges with 2e kids is the discrepancy. The discrepancy can be a challenge in another way to and then that is when the disabilities outshine the abilities or the gifts and gifts are not even noticed. This can happen too and then these kids are off and put into remedial classes that may not be appropriate and etc. etc. They’re all kinds of other problems that happen with this. But the point is is that a lot of problems with these kids are because of the discrepancies and the confusion that these discrepancies cause adults.
Some common disabilities will be dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, speech and language issues, attention issues, executive function issues, brain injury issues, concussions, emotional disorders, depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. Now some of the gifts that they can have is that they can having a high IQ, they can be artistically gifted, they can be athletically gifted, socially gifted, incredible verbal ability, visuospatial ability, mathematically gifted, great with abstract thinking, problem-solving, they ask ridiculously weird and deep and interesting questions, they’re incredibly observant in certain strength areas. They love an intellectual challenge in their strength area. They think can be really funny and have a really deep interesting sense of humor, a really unusual sense of humor. They can remember tons of detailed very easily in certain areas and they can just crave stimulation and learning.
Now, as I said before, these kids face a lot of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is that these kids can fall through the cracks. Another challenge is that these kids are often misperceived as being lazy, not caring, not trying, not working hard enough and this can cause a lot of shame. Shame is very internally damaging. These kids can have low-grade which masks their ability. Other challenges that schools often have is that they don’t understand 2e, they’re not doing training for the teachers on 2e. So these teachers don’t even know that they have 2e students in their class, and if they do they really don’t know what to do with them or don’t know enough about it. The schools are not equipped to handle that. These kids are off and bored and this causes tons of other problems. Sometimes these kids are performing well enough that they can’t get the services that they want. They’re not struggling enough, even though they desperately need services and parents see it and teachers see it but they can’t make it happen because of the bureaucracy and hoops that schools have to jump through. Sometimes pull-out programs can make them feel different. Sometimes these kids are never tested at all and nobody ever finds out that they’re 2e.
There’s a term called overexciteabilities, which means that these kids can be highly sensitive. They can be sensitive with their senses, smell, touch, taste, vision, hearing but they can also be sensitive emotionally and this can be a great strength, but it can also cause a lot of problems. Their deficits can often overshadow their strengths and their strengths can often overshadow their deficits. They can be difficult to diagnose properly and accurately. These kids often aren’t aware of their strengths and their strengths are often not built upon. Oftentimes their weaknesses are so focused on that they start to feel bad about themselves. Standardized tests often don’t tell the whole picture of what’s going on with kids and these kids off and don’t even know how to advocate for themselves. They really don’t know what to say. They’re not even aware that they’re 2e or that the term even exist a lot of times. But there is a lot that you can do as parents and teachers to help support these kids.
One of the things that you can do is help build upon their gifts and their talents and their passions. These are the things that they’re going to create careers out of anyhow when they get older. So the more you can build on that whether a teacher or a parent the better. Beware of how much emphasis you put on the challenges are the weaknesses. While it’s important to address these things just make sure it’s in balance. Project-based lessons for teachers are a great way to allow them to have ownership in choice, in buy-in in the assignments that they’re doing so that they can really take it and run with it in a way that’s congruent with who they are and what their strengths are. This means that you’re going to have to let go of some of the more traditional curricula and find creative ways to build these things into your classroom. Using more experiential learning helps them and also using authentic forms of assessment rather than traditional scores and grades are very important. Authentic assessments are going to give you real feedback, a real understanding of the growth and learning that they’re making rather than just giving them a letter grade or a number grade. It’s going to give you actual feedback. Being very careful to get rid of pointless busywork, things that actually are not benefiting them, learning about compacting and acceleration in terms of teaching, rethinking homework altogether, and making sure that any homework that is given really has a real purpose, a meaningful purpose for these kids. And for all kids, of course. Give these kids and all kids alternate ways of process. There’s content process and product process, the product is how you show your learning, give them other ways of showing their learning than just the typical ones the typical ways of showing learning are tests, papers, and your old school projects. Make sure to support their social-emotional needs, coach them in executive function. The biggest problem that these kids have, the biggest problem that really affects their lives and impacts them negatively is that they struggle with executive function.
All 2e kids who struggle in school struggle with executive function in some way shape or form, so learn about executive function and helping coach them with executive function stuff is critical for these kids. That’s probably the number one thing I have to say about how we can support them. Teach them how to learn, not just what to learn. Make sure to teach them self care and catch ’em being good. Use the 3-1 rule, find three positives to every one perceive negative you’re going to use with them. Really find the things they’re doing well and reinforce those over and over and over and over. Don’t focus too much on what they’re not doing right, focus mostly way mostly, on what they are doing right, on their effort, not the outcome but the effort. They desperately need that. Give them great role models, older kids that can help them, or teachers that take an interest in them, or relatives that take an interest in them. Parents and teachers, be sure to document interventions that are working, accommodations that work. Keep track of these so that you can communicate these easily from year to year from the new teachers’. Exposure. Give them exposure to a wide range of things that they can learn about of experiences that they can have so that they can really try on a lot of different things to develop their strengths and interests and passions and talents. Learn to co-regulate. So learn about your own emotional regulation so that you can co-regulate and help them when they’re nervous system is out of whack so that you’re more attuned to where they’re at in their nervous system is that you can help them to regulate when they start to become dysregulated. Advocate for these kids, be the squeaky wheel when there is a need don’t stop advocating for these kids. They really need you.
Now, one of the other biggest problems that these students have, the 2w kids have is resistance and avoidance. Resistance, resistance, resistance. “I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it this is stupid. This is dumb. I don’t care. I’m a failure. I’m just lazy,” whatever the story is they resist, they have stories that help them to not take actions, to not execute, to not use executive function to do things they don’t want to do, whether it’s because they think it’s pointless busywork, whether they’re just exhausted emotionally, whatever. So resistance is a huge thing to deal with. It is outside the scope of this video but I just want you to know that resistance is a huge characteristic of to 2e kids and a huge issue that you have to contend with in order to help them be successful. You want to approach it in a really positive, honest, and open way. Finally, we really need, literally, I’m not trying to be cheesy here, the world needs 2e kids. We need them to develop their strengths. They have a very very very unique perspective and approach to life, to thinking, to problem-solving. We need them to develop their strengths and their talents and their passions and their interests. We need them to feel good about who they are, as a culture, as a world we need them. But also just for themselves to have a great quality of life. To be able to self-actualize, to be able to feel happy and successful. That’s what we really want for our kids. So, I hope this video helped you, if you like it please click thumbs-up subscribe to my YouTube channel. Share this with somebody and have a great day and take some positive action for the 2e kids you know. Take care.
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DRAGUT VIOLETA says
The identification of 2E students, thus we lead them to performance, their misunderstanding, their non-training at their level, generates conflict, boredom and school failure. Let’s also appreciate exceptional children
N. Zielinski says
My 4th grader is 2e and in public school. He did not do well during virtual learning (we are in Maryland) and definitely prefers in class. the school identified him with ADHD and private testing confirmed this along with dyslexia. He is very creative, funny, athletic but his behaviors at school overshadowed his strengths. He does have a 504. His 4th grade teachers have done some project based lessons that were well received. Worksheets -especially in math are tedious and boring for him. Procrastination, tears, frustration over homework (despite the assignments being covered in virtual class) Yes, he was even put in a math group for extra help and hates to show his work. Public school doesn’t really know how to engage him. Perhaps this will improve with returning to school 4 days a week. Would moving him as a 5th grader be a good decision?
We are considering switching to a private school that specializes in neuro-diverse learners.
kristina kraszewski says
Montgomery county, in Maryland, has a really good twice exceptional program. My understanding is that it is district wide. If you are near the area, may be worth a look
Kim Rigor says
Are there any good schools for neuro diverse and 2e students in il. Bluffs community school is where my son goes now and it’s very small and so far the year we had 504 meeting to reexamine he is struggling bad in reading and elaborate but his badgrades are due to incompletui9j of work. The state tests he is average and above average has always been ( but reading teacher said this year they were lower than normal) in class tests quizzes assignments he gers As Bs and rarely studies at home. They refused to
agree to any accommodations besides fidgety and extended test times if needed. His doctor and people who gave evaluation suggested many things to help suchas reduced work,text to speech, grading quality nit quantity and not taking points for late work. This is 2nd time they don’t want to listen and this time they actually aresayi g he is showing no effort in class and is using his adhd ex function to get out of work. They just let him keep getting furtherbehind with no Intervention or communication to me. He hates school now has refused to get up several times they are blaming that for his grades. So now instead of helping they are threatening after-school homework detentions and principle stold him if he doesn’t step it up and show some effort he would have no problem holding him back in 7tn grade next year after the reading g teacher assured me they wouldn’t because of homework grade because his test scores proved otherwise!! I think he is gifted bored and his executive function slow processing and adhd are the cause not his purposeful defiance to not do the work. I think he is overwhelmed embarrassed and down on himself. I believe he would thrive around kids like him and teachers who want to support and encourage his success and who can’t teach him the ways to do this with me. I was shocked when they put threats out to him. They thought I was just there to not have homework one teacher said and her so has adhd!!!!! The school does t have to be I IL but I believe with their lack of knowledge obviously of adhd executive functioning teaching and their passion poor responses and negativity towards this situation that they aren’t equipped for what he needs nor do they want to and they should have to pay for him to go out of district to get the education he deserves I would leave il in a heartbeat if them paying Canberra where ever I choose. Not sure how that works! Can anyone help me or guide me of where to go from here? He has one teacher who thinks what they are doing is wrong and see my sons creativity and goes out of his way to encourage my son and be a positive role mode to him. His dad passed when he was 4 so it’s just us to and there is no village. It’s so heartbreaking! Thank you for all your wonderful teachings!
Kristin Fox says
Seth – Did you present a sailboat metaphor to replace Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at the recent 2e conference??
This has fundamentally changed how I see life and all I have are 2 screenshots from the conference with no source.
If this wasn’t you, do you have any idea who presented this?
Either way, thank you in advance!
Petra Acosta-Harper says
Thank you Seth, this information explains in better detail what might be going on with our 2nd grader. His teacher has brought up the possibility. We need to get him tested and we are not sure of a good neuoropsychologist. You mentioned you knew a great one here in Colorado. Would you be so kindly to pass on the information so we can contact this person for an evaluation. We have gone through the school however its been going on 3 months and we have not heard anything. We are not trying to waste anymore time with public school testing.
enkhtuya sonompel says
One of the most important but less addressed issues.
Thank you! Misunderstanding of these special people is very common.