By Linda Neumann.
First published in the SENG Update, December 2006.
At one time or another I think all parents have probably wished that their child had come with a manual – a document that would spell out everything they needed to know to understand and raise their child. Most likely, parents of gifted children have wished this more intently and parents of twice– exceptional (2e) children even more. Despite a lack of math skills, I’ve come up with a formula that seems to be true for the parents of 2e kids: 2e = 3R.
The meaning? Understanding twice-exceptional kids takes three times the research. First, we need to know how their gifts and talents shape these children. Then we need to understand their learning deficits – whether these are learning disabilities, attention deficits, or some other type of learning difficulty. Finally, and probably most important, we need to understand how these two sets of characteristics come together – the blending of the child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Where should a parent begin? The Internet is a good place, and the first stop should be Hoagies’ Gifted (www.hoagiesgifted.org). This mammoth and well-organized website can point you to all things gifted on the web. One area of the website is devoted to twice-exceptional topics, and another has the articles from the disbanded ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education.
Parents can get a good foundation in learning disabilities by visiting these two websites:
· LDonline (www.ldonline.org)
· SchwabLearning (www.schwablearning.org)
To get up to speed on special education law and advocacy for children with disabilities, go to Wrightslaw (www.wrightslaw.com). This extensive site includes a law library and an advocate library, plus the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities, a listing of advocates, clinics, associations, and other special needs resources for each state.
A website that addresses the combination of giftedness and LDs is Uniquely Gifted (www.uniquelygifted.org). Here you can find resources and articles on a wide range of disabilities as well as on giftedness, assessment, developing IEP’s, dealing with social/emotional issues, and many other topics. It’s also a good source of information on homeschooling gifted and special needs kids. People new to the 2e world will appreciate the page that defines acronyms from the gifted and special education fields.
Parents of 2e children need information as well as support. One of the best places to get both is by joining an online community. Also known as listservs or email discussion lists, these communities have members from across the nation and around the world who are willing to share their experiences – both good and bad – with others. Two listservs specifically focused on 2e kids are:
· GT-Special (focused on 2e kids): vcbconsulting.com/gtworld/gtspeclist.html
· GT-Special Home (focused on homeschooled 2e kids): gtworld.org/?
You might be able to find others as well.
A great way to find support and get information in the real (as opposed to the virtual) world is by joining associations and attending their conferences. Parents can find a number of sessions on twice-exceptional topics at the annual conferences of SENG and AEGUS (Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students). National and state gifted conferences often offer sessions of interest as well. But for those who would rather not spend the time and money to attend conferences, the Internet offers an alternative: the website “Our Gifted Online Conferences” found at orion.neiu.edu/~ourgift/. This free online forum works like a listserv but with guest experts. Several times a year an expert conducts a conference related to raising and teaching gifted and talented children. Sometimes the topics relate directly to twice-exceptional children; other times 2e issues are raised as part of the discussion of the gifted topic. The archives from past conferences are available for browsing.
Please don’t expect that once you’ve visited all of these websites, your research will be done. Research is an ongoing part of life for the parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. However, you will be off to a good start. From these sites you can learn about books and articles that you’ll want to read, about professionals and other resources that sound promising, and about what’s worked and hasn’t worked for others in your situation. Then, even if you don’t have that manual for raising your son or daughter, you’ll feel much more confident about what you can do to meet your’s child’s needs.
Linda C. Neumann is the editor of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, a bi-monthly print and electronic publication that focuses on twice-exceptional children – those who have high abilities and LDs, either learning differences or learning disabilities. Written for parents, educators, mental health professionals, and others who work with these children, issues feature articles by experts in the field plus reviews of books, websites, and other resources. Visitors to the newsletter website (www.2eNewsletter.com) can find additional information about twice-exceptional topics and subscribers can access back issues.