To parent twice exceptional children is often difficult and leaves many parents with more questions than answers.
A twice exceptional child is a child that has a special need but also possesses an intellectual gift. The disabilities can range from Asperger Syndrome to OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder and everything in between. These children have above average intellect, which makes them unable to function in traditional settings and they also have a disability that adds to their degree of difficulty.
Parenting twice exceptional children requires a different parenting process and a great deal of patience.
These children are often very misunderstood and therefore take a great deal of punishment before parents really figure out what is going on. Because they tend to be acting with high impulsivity, they often are prone to their parent’s anger rather than understanding the confusion in their minds. These children often have poor social skills and cannot properly articulate their needs or desires in a relationship. This can lead to a great deal of confusion and what might seem like defiance toward the parents.
In the classroom, the twice exceptional children are often the most misconstrued.
In fact, it is usually first discovered that a child falls under the twice exceptional category when they start school. Some parents deal with the hyperactivity or highly creative natures, but don’t realize the spectrum of their problem until they begin a structured day in the education system. Oftentimes, these children will lack the organization and study skills that are needed to make it in a classroom setting. They exhibit discrepant behavior and their performance may be lacking. They may demonstrate poor academic performance in one of several areas of study. They are often known to have poor written expression and can be extremely stubborn.
On the other side of the spectrum, they are advanced in their thought process and ideas.
They tend to do well in classes, like art, that allows them to be imaginative and curious. Writing stories and things that allows them to use their vivid imaginations will often entice the creative juices. Their minds do not function like other children and this is why they often fall through the cracks labeled as special needs, when actually they are very intelligent with a disability.
Parents of twice exceptional children will learn the importance of a schedule.
Any variations in a schedule can cause great disruption in these children’s lives. In school, these children will often require IEP’s and 504 case plans and need to be pulled from their classroom and put into smaller groups. While most are able to be mainstreamed, there are some that will need to attend special schools. They work best one on one or in a system that allows them to advance and work at their own pace. The gifted child will often be very bored with mainstream curriculum and will get into a great deal of trouble when they become bored. For them, a dedicated action plan must be devised to ensure the success of their education. Without really studying the child and their needs, it would be easy for them to fall through the cracks and be labeled as a special needs child without the ability they truly have.
Parenting twice exceptional children is not easy.
Thankfully, there are a few resources to help gain support. Books like, “When the Brain Can’t Hear”, “Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior” and “When the Labels Don’t Fit: A New Approach to Raising a Challenging Child” are great resources.
There are also support groups both locally in bigger cities and online that can be of great benefit. There is no one thing that works for every child; trial and error is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. These children don’t fit into a mold like so many others, and they certainly need to learn to use their intelligence and passion and put it into areas they can utilize.
While it is hard to understand twice exceptional children, time and patience and an active support system will be beneficial. Here are more resources for understanding gifted children.