I’m delighted for the opportunity to share my good friend, Bob Yamtich’s perspective on Twice-exceptionality. I love what he has to say about his experiences and how to support 2e kids.
A few years ago, I left a self-help group of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, offering gratitude for the group’s support over a span of years and reporting “I think it’s more that I’m gifted than Aspie.” I promptly received replies, “That sounds like black-and-white thinking; it could be both” and “You are always welcome back.”
I have since returned and remain grateful to their support. It’s always a blessing to find one’s tribe, even if that tribe has a lot of different names and meeting places.
When Jade invited me to write a guest blog about Type 5: The Twice-Exceptional (2e) child, I immediately said “yes!” and started taking an honest look at any insights I could offer to address this. I looked (again) at the 1988 article profiling the six types of gifted, back when they were calling 2e “the double labeled.”
As I mentioned, two of my main exceptionalities are giftedness and Asperger’s traits, so my understanding of 2e comes from both self-exploration as well as my work as a therapist and coach with gifted/2e families.
For the past several posts, Jade has been working with you to identify and understand the six types of gifted child. And if you answered mostly E’s in her quiz, you may have a Type 5 gifted child. The Twice-Exceptional child refers to intellectually gifted children who have some other form of possibly diagnosable condition, often viewed as a disability (though I certainly don’t see it that way).
By now, I imagine most all of those reading Jade’s blog know that asynchronous development and the overexcitabilities of giftedness can lead to precocious access to perception, understanding, and wisdom. However, I would like to describe a more humble perspective: it took me years of therapy to cry (although I tried to speed up the process by bringing an onion, chopping board and knife) and say “Some things are hard for me.”
No matter how gifted they are, some things are hard for your kids.
Whether it is a difference in social thinking like Asperger’s, a difference like dyslexia, anxiety or ADHD traits, or even existential depression, any of these aspects of one’s experience can have challenging implications.
The combination of precocious understanding and lagging skills is complicated and confusing for your child. Their cognitive abilities and a longing for self-acceptance can make them impenetrable to feedback, out of fear of hearing criticism.
If your child struggles to understand their own complexity, how can you support them?
Talk openly with them about their exceptionalities. Ask how their mind works, and if it is fun to be them. Provide opportunities for self-exploration and understanding. Listen for any metaphors that give texture to their experience. And listen carefully.
Each person can have a custom-tailored self-understanding to better prepare them to have shared understanding with others. They say that in both love and therapy, you can only go as far as you have gone yourself. Go there with them.
I recommend preventive counseling for gifted and 2e kiddos, because complicated minds can build complicated traps.
And explore any other family members or historical figures who may share some of their exceptionalities. (Personally, I love knowing that my grandfather was a machinist with a keen attention to detail).
If possible, find mentors to engage them in their areas of strength while gently encouraging skill development where they lag behind.
A gifted/2e person does well to go far in their self-understanding, so that they can have more internal space to understand others and the world around them.
That understanding can lead to more acceptance, of self and others, and help increase ease and fun.
Have you talked with your kid openly about their giftedness and twice-exceptionality? How did it go? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!
And next, Jade will return to discuss Type 6: The Autonomous Learner in more detail. I know I personally can’t wait to read it!
Bob Yamtich, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California, has a private practice providing therapeutic communication coaching to gifted and 2e families. He and his wife are expecting their first child and are curious to see how many exceptionalities their new babe will have. You can learn more about his work at www.bobyamtich.com.
*This blog post is based on the article, Profiles of the Gifted and Talented (Betts, George, and Maureen Neihart. Profiles of the gifted and talented. Gifted Child Quarterly, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), 1988. Web. 2013. <http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10114.aspx>.).