Twice-Exceptional Kids: Who They Are and How to Help Them Thrive

When Kodi Lee appeared on America’s Got Talent, he did so with the help of a cane and his mother. Walking to center stage and speaking took immense effort. After Lee introduced himself, his mother explained that he is blind and autistic. He’s also a talented musician, making him a prominent example of someone who is twice-exceptional, or 2e – terms used to describe people who are intellectually or artistically gifted and have at least one disability.

Families with twice-exceptional kids face unique challenges depending on the specifics of their giftedness and disability.

The first challenge most 2e kids face is receiving an accurate dual diagnosis. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism aren’t always easily identifiable until a child has already started school. And because the exceptionality of 2e kids is multifaceted, giftedness will sometimes mask a disability or vice versa. This can leave kids feeling confused or isolated without knowing exactly why they feel that way.

“Unfortunately, twice-exceptional kids face social risks both from being too intelligent and gifted and also from being disabled,” Lagoy says. “I have seen twice-exceptional kids labeled as ‘loser’ or ‘weirdo’ and without many friends.”

Although twice-exceptional kids can be highly creative, have a sophisticated sense of humor and unique talents, they’re also more likely than their peers to be easily frustrated, opinionated, and argumentative, according to the Colorado Department of Education. It’s a combination of these traits that can make peer interactions difficult.

How Parents Can Help Twice-Exceptional Kids

Once twice-exceptional kids are identified, Julian Lagoy, MD, a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry in California, suggests parents allow them to be inquisitive and encourage them to pursue activities that bring them joy. “At home, parents can pay attention to their child’s interests to find certain hobbies which will increase their happiness and contentment.” As with Lee, music may unlock a creative capacity for 2e kids. But the options are virtually endless. For example, some twice-exceptional children thrive in visual arts or computer programming.

Lagoy also encourages parents to work with their child’s school to incorporate social goals into their individualized learning plan. “Since a lot of twice-exceptional kids are at a disadvantage in social situations, schools should focus on activities that involve teamwork and social building skills,” he says. For example, educators could coach 2e kids on how to help their peers without simply feeding them correct answers or sounding judgmental when others are struggling. Such goals can be mutually beneficial for the twice-exceptional student and their classmates.

With so much variation amongst 2e kids, there’s no one right way or even set of methods to best help them realize their potential. But the common denominator for parents is attentiveness. A team approach is typically necessary, and parental observations help teachers, therapists, and other adults create a holistic plan.

Excerpted from “Twice-Exceptional Kids: Who They Are and How to Help Them Thrive in Fatherly. Read the full article online.

Source: Fatherly | Twice-Exceptional Kids: Who They Are and How to Help Them Thrive, | ©2022 Fatherly

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